Let’s Read The Fifth Sorceress ch. 7



Commander Kluge (of the minions of day and night) is having sex with Sicciu en route to Eutracia. Sicciu is all sexually voracious and shit, like all evil women are.

As you are aware, the First Mistress does not know of the times that we share together in this way, and would indeed not be pleased to learn of it.

INTRIGUEEEEE or whatever.

Sicciu gives Kluge a rundown of their current situation vis-a-vis the mission to stomp all over Eutracia, while they’re both naked of course.

‘Besides, a full explanation of tomorrow could take hours,

What is it this time? What long-winded overly-complicated drivel is going to be explained in exhausting detail? Do they have to open the five Seals of Neptune at the precise moment of crossing the halfway point between Eutracia and Wherever, but make sure to open the penultimate seal first and the second seal last, unless the third moon is in its fifth aspect in which case the penultimate opening must consist of the previous second opening, followed immediately by the reverse of the previous first opening? Of all the ways this book resembles Wizard’s First Rule, the constant need to over-complicate everything and append weird rules and sub-clauses to anything magical for no apparent reason is the most striking and the most frustrating.

Sicciu’s actual plan is only marginally less complicated. It involves murdering a bunch of slaves and stacking their bodies up in a specific way, for reasons that Sicciu declines to go into right away. As she explains all of this Kluge reels with stupefied shock and incomprehension, because this is a badly written book.

His brain fairly screamed the bizarre nature of it at him.

Reading this sentence caused me physical pain.

She was apparently now lost in her own thoughts.

When the characters in this book aren’t sputtering in utter confusion, they’re lost in their own thoughts. It’s a wonder these people ever get anything done.

As for the actual invasion, Sicciu explains all of that as well, because characters taking about the things they’re going to do is way more fun that reading about them just doing those things.

Yeah, I’m going to say this is as close to a universal rule as you’re likely to see. Characters should always be doing things, not talking about doing things. If they’re talking, then the talking should constitute doing, ie it moves the story forward and/or contributes to character building and/or does something else besides just waste the reader’s time. If the characters absolutely must talk about doing something then it better be because the thing they’re talking about doing is going to be really difficult or painful, or one of them is reluctant to do it and that reveals something about their character, or they’re talking through some kind of moral dilemma in a way that’s interesting and revealing. It absolutely should not just be a flat, dull recitation of a series of instructions, because that’s fucking boring no matter how many times the POV character has their mind utterly shattered by the stupefying incomprehensibility of the plan.

Anyway Kluge and Sicciu talk for a long time and do the sex, and Kluge is all jealous because he doesn’t have endowed blood and Tristan does and he’s like “I’m going to kill Tristan super dead”. Yawn. The next day, it’s time to put Sicciu’s utterly baffling and incomprehensible plan into action, vis a vis killing some slaves and stacking their bodies up.

The children were perfect miniatures of the adults

My brain fairly screams the incomprehensibility of this sentence at me.

The wind suddenly stops and it gets really cold, so I guess this is whatever Sicciu’s plan was supposed to counteract. If there was some kind of magical impediment to the Sorceresses coming back across the sea, why didn’t Wigg mention it back in the prologue? He used some kind of magic to propel their boat further to the east, was that him casting this spell or something? It was very unclear. Or maybe I was just too bored to pay attention.

And remind those flying monkeys of yours that they are to take absolutely no action unless I order it


A fog bank appears and turns into two giant fog-hands, which grab the ship. This is described in a very dull and not interesting way, although we do get lots of descriptions of how paralysed with amazement Kluge is. Poor guy needs to take a chill pill.

There were faces, dozens of huge faces that were each at least ten feet across, lying flat in the ocean just a couple of feet below the surface, staring up blankly at the sky

Okay that’s pretty creepy.

Each of the faces was different, yet they were all somehow the same


They are the Necrophagians

The Necrophagians would be a great name for a death metal band

Apparently these guys love eating dead bodies or something, hence the dead slaves. Apparently the sorceresses struck some kind of bargain with them three hundred years ago to cross without payment, so now to cross again they have to pay four times the amount. Which frankly seems like the author blatantly papering over a plot-hole, but whatever, at least something mildly interesting is finally happening.

After KLUGE TIME is complete it’s over to King Nicholas for some NICHOLAS TIME. Nicholas and Wigg are riding horses out in the woods, ostensibly just for funsies but actually because Wigg has to finally reveal what the big deal with Tristan going into the caves was, and simultaneously introduces a whole pile of unnecessary plot holes.

It turns out (basically) that the Prophecies of the Tome indicate some bad shit is going to go down during the abdication. Needless to say, Wigg and Nicholas suspect it might be sorceress related, as much as they don’t want to believe it. Nicholas naturally raises several good points, such as why not move the abdication somewhere else, or if it needs to be in the palace, why not hold it in the secret underground wizard HQ.

Now, keep in mind that there’s a very specific reason why the sorceresses are striking during the ceremony: part of the process involves Nicholas taking off the Paragon and the wizards turning all of their energy toward recharging it. It’s literally the only time that the sorceresses could attack without being instantly blown to pieces.

So naturally, Wigg shoots all of these suggestions down and insists that no, they have to do it in the palace, and they can’t do it in the secret underground wizard HQ because then the general populace couldn’t come and watch and everyone would be disappointed (no seriously, this is actually the reason). He argues against moving it out of the palace on the grounds that it’s the safest and most fortified structure in Eutracia, which is true, but he’s ignoring the fact that the sorceresses can’t interrupt the ceremony if they don’t know where it’s being held. Just go to some random field on the other side of the country and do it there.

Also: Wigg and Nicholas are acting like the prophecy has only just started to be fulfilled when Tristan went into the caves, thus marking him as the Chosen One, but Wigg also said earlier that he’s known Tristan was the Chosen One since birth, in which case they’ve had the last thirty years to plan for this exact scenario.

This is a classic example of the jenga-block problem I described in a recent post: Newcomb decided that the book was going to have a prophecy detailing everything that will happen and also that the sorceresses can only attack during the abdication ceremony, and thereby instantly wrote himself into a corner. The obvious way of solving it would be to just make it so the ceremony has nothing to do with the wizard’s vulnerability and have the Sorceresses pose a threat through sheer force of numbers or something, but instead we get this utterly nonsensical scenario where the heroes know pretty much exactly what’s going to happen and can see it coming from miles away, but choose not to take any action to avoid it for incredibly contrived reasons.

But despite all that, we can see no way to proceed other than by following tradition.’

No shut the fuck up, there are a ton of other things you could do.

‘Is Tristan still adamant about wearing those same dark clothes of his, instead of the traditional ceremonial robes of his upcoming office?’


Perhaps it is only fitting that my son serve as king in the clothes of the people.

“The people” wear leather pants and carry around holsters of knives? Seriously?

Nicholas asks Wigg to at lease save Tristan and Shailiha even if him and Morganna die, and of course he sheds a single tear because this book was written by slapping a bunch of cliches together.

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13 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Fifth Sorceress ch. 7

  1. Pingback: Let’s Read The Fifth Sorceress ch.8 | Doing In The Wizard

  2. Pistasch

    What’s keeping these wizards from having a secret ceremony first and a bread and circuses people pleasing one later? Maybe they could even trick the sorceresses to attack when the wizards are at maximum power?

  3. q____q

    I totally agree with you that stuff should always be happening but there’s this method to create tension by telling the plan beforehand and then having it go wrong at some point when it’s actually happening and the reader (/viewer, I’ve seen this in anime, I think) is like “Oh shit, how they’re going to solve this now?!”

    Now that I’ve wrote it down I’m not really sure if knowing the plan actually adds to the tension because we would gather that something just went wrong anyway, right? Or not?

    1. ronanwills Post author

      I think that can work well, when done right. But the plan has to be relatively simple- it can’t be this labyrinthine affair that the characters spend an entire chapter explaining in excruciating detail.

    2. Austin H. Williams

      Knowing the plan can definitely add to the tension when we’re watching/reading the characters work through it and against all the obstacles in the way of it. And of course, it can keep us guessing about what is going to go wrong and what the consequences will be…

      Unfortunately, in pieces of shit like this, we know exactly what’s going to happen, we already know the consequences, and instead of dramatic tension we have eye-breaking infodumps and endless inane prattle.

  4. Mr Elbows

    you mean children aren’t just short adults???

    (also “Necrophagians” literally means “Death Eaters”)

  5. Signatus

    “The children were perfect miniatures of the adults”

    I guess the slaves are reptilians. I’d rather think that because the other option is terribly disturbing.

    You brought some pretty valid points in this chapter. Specially the fact that, in books, something should be happening. This book feels like a first sketch where all the dribble hasn’t been taken out. Newcomb keeps on explaining what’s going to happen next, leaving nothing to the imagination and destroying any attempt at suspense. It’s hard to want to read forward when you pretty much know everything that’s going to happen.

    As for the whole ritual stuff, it seems like Newcomb realized that, wizards being aware of the events, it made sense to try something to avoid the fate. Therefore, he needed to explain the reasons why they were not taking any obvious action, as readers would start to question everything themselves (kind of the corner Rowling wrote herself in with the timeturners). Instead of taking the obvious approach (the wizards didn’t know anything about the attack, therefore the sorceresses could have taken everyone by surprise), he made a mindfuck of an explanation that’s even more stupid than saying nothing.

    Anyways, I see nothing wrong in usng prophecies when these are done well (I avoid them like the pest, just because I don’t want something like that conditioning my writting). If the prophecy was ambiguous enough that the greatest of minds haven’t been able to understand it, it could make the story work. The problem is everything is clear to Wigg, he knows who the Chosen One is, and what’s going to happen, and yet he has taken no action.
    I was going to suggest a way to proceed, but the whole book is stupidly written from the first paragraph and any try at making the plot work would only be a fix of that first stupid choice. The sorceresses were defeated. Their heads of power weakened and humiliated. Just kill them, that’s the obvious choice.

    Newcomb had to invent a “Wizards don’t kill” oath only to have a story, when it would have been way easier to have the sorceresses simply flee Autracia and “boom”, you have your story and it is way more coherent than what you have created so far. Maybe go into hiding. Maybe Sailhia (how the fuck do you write that?) is against the whole “women can’t learn magic” stuff and works her gift in secret, thus bringing a way more interesting story and a more interesting “villain” with an actual reason to hate the wizards aside from “they defeated us, VENGEANCEEE!”. But I guess that would take a less mysoginistic writer to actually pull out this sort of book.

    Which brings me to the point, there have been several times (because this book repeats itself more than garlic) where there has been mentioned of wizards turning to evil and sorceesses working in the good side against the evil ones. Yet the men are only forced to vow to use only the vigors and women are completely banned from using magic, ANY magic at all. Really, Newcomb?

    1. Signatus

      BTW, what’s up with noob authors and their tendency to use “single tears”? Haven’t they ever cried?

  6. Pingback: Let’s Read The Fifth Sorceress ch.6 | Doing In The Wizard

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