Let’s Read The Fifth Sorceress ch.10

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It’s back over to Sicciu and Natasha, who are being generically evil and celebrating their victory on the deck of their warship. The royal family are dead, the army has been defeated and the Minions are burning and pillaging o’er the land. The only downside is that Tristan and Wigg escaped.

‘I will gladly tell the First Mistress that it was her fault, and her fault alone,’ Succiu said defiantly, her lip in a sneer and her eyes narrowed. ‘What you do not know is that we all told her, repeatedly, that the recalling of certain of the stalkers and harpies before the invasion was madness.

I’m sure that’s going to work out really well.

We’re just about due for another long-winded conversation (it’s been two whole pages) so Sicciu spends ages explaining exactly why Tristan escaping is bad. Also Natasha really wanted to rape him and sample his legendary boning prowess, because this book is awful.

They plan on just leaving regardless of whether Kluge can find Tristan and Wigg in two days. I’m not really sure why they don’t just stay longer and make sure he’s dead. They also don’t contact Failee and ask for further instructions vis a vis the Tristan situation, because reasons. Most things in this book happen because of reasons.

‘You realize, of course, that if the wizard and the prince are not found and killed, you will be staying behind, here in Eutracia, for as long as it takes to do so.’

Why not just leave a bunch of the minions? Maybe Kluge will stay as well.

Succiu raised a long, painted nail in front of Natasha’s face as she continued.

Succiu must have learned Finger Magic at the same school Wigg went to.

(Also I just realized I’ve been spelling her name wrong for the last nine posts)

Then Succiu spends ages and ages explaining how Natasha should make sure to kill Wigg first (that’s first, not second, you see, second comes after first) because, you see, Wigg is a wizard, and whereas Tristan has endowed blood (you see) he hasn’t been trained, whereas, you see, Wigg, you see, both has endowed blood and has been trained, which makes him more powerful, and therefore, more dangerous than Tristan, and thus Natasha should kill him first. You see.

After that’s done they go check in on Shailiha, who is being kept in luxurious surroundings in a locked room, with handmaidens to attend to her. Unfortunately she’s been driven insane by all the bloodshed and stuff. I happen to know where her character progression goes so trust me, her storyline isn’t nearly at the apex of its laziness yet.

The sorceresses plan to just start acting like Shailiha was always one of them on the assumption that when she regains her mental faculties she’ll believe it. I…. guess trauma could work like that? Maybe? I know Stockholm syndrome is a very real phenomenon, but this just seems too neat and easy. Why would she just forget that she isn’t a sorceress?

There wasn’t actually all that much to say about this chapter, so before we leave it’s time for a Random Tangent. This one’s about revenge.

I was recently watching Anita Sarkeesian’s video about Jade, protagonist of Beyond Good and Evil (the Ubisoft game, not the Nietzsche book). The thing I like about the Feminist Frequency videos is that they’re not just pop culture critiques; often they sidestep into general narrative advice, advocating for and suggesting ways that writers can move away from simplistic cliches and into stories with greater depth and cultural relevance. This video in particular has some strong words about the prevalence of the revenge plot in games, which dovetailed nicely with my own growing frustration at the trope in all mediums.

In The Fifth Sorceress, Tristan is motivated at least 50% by a desire for revenge. He’s asserted several times over the last few chapters that he burns with a desire to kill Kluge, Natasha and Succiu and avenge his family. And when you think about it, isn’t that a really cheap character motivation?

Picture the average revenge-obsessed protagonist (you have ample examples to choose from). He- because it’s almost always a he- is usually portrayed as consumed with bloodlust and a desire to kill. Works that fancy themselves savvy will often portray this as a distinct negative (or at least pretend they’re doing this and then not, hello Watch_Dogs), implying that the character’s quest is foolish and self-destructive. These characters are often portrayed as having nothing left to animate them except their desire for revenge: they’re men with nothing to lose and no life to return to, which is precisely what makes them so dangerous.

And the thing is, I can accept that in a story that’s supposed to be about an obsessive murderer and their violent rampage, but that’s often not how these stories are framed. Usually, we’re supposed to see these character as heroes. Which is bullshit, because they’re not. Isn’t a hero someone who goes and does the dangerous thing just because it’s the right thing to do, rather than because they have a pressing personal reason to do the thing? Most revenge-heroes probably never even thought about the crime boss or the dark lord or the evil whats-it until it encroached on their own life. That’s not heroic to me.

This is the exact same reason why Chosen One plots are such flaming bullshit. Oh, the hero was “Chosen” to do the thing? I don’t care. Give me a hero who decides to do the thing without any special destiny, just because doing the thing is right. I’ll follow a hero like that to the end of the earth, but I won’t follow Angry Revengeman to the nearest bus stop.

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8 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Fifth Sorceress ch.10

  1. Pingback: Let’s Read The Fifth Sorceress ch.11 | Doing In The Wizard

  2. braak

    A thing about revenge that I think is interesting — it comes up a lot as a plot device in kung fu movies, and in those movies it’s often the case that a protagonist has to not just fly off the handle in a rage, but go and train with a secret Shaolin master or something before he can be prepared to get his revenge. And the reason for that is that the purpose of revenge in this case isn’t to satisfy a feeling of grief or anger; it’s about a person’s responsibility to his murdered family.

    I think that especially lately, and especially in the West (and very especially in America, a subject On Which I am an Authority), we’ve kind of dropped the idea of revenge as an act of social or familial responsibility, the same way we’ve dropped basically ALL ideas about social or familial responsibility, and that leaves western writers in a place where revenge plots actually don’t make any sense. It doesn’t follow that people are going to spend years of their lives devoted to it, there’s no tension between personal feelings and primary responsibility, or between the moral requirement of revenge and sort of scruples about the kinds of people being revenged.

    Reply
  3. Elspeth Grey

    Excellent point about heroes. If you want fiction to have a real impact, and a positive one, heroes need to choose to make the world a better place. Because that’s what heroes in the real world do.

    I think that’s why I imprinted on Sam Vimes so hard as a teen and it hasn’t worn off. He’s just an unpowered citizen who goes after improving things for the people around him because that’s what justice means to him.

    Reply
  4. Signatus

    “they’re men with nothing to lose and no life to return to, which is precisely what makes them so dangerous.”

    This is the main reason behind revenge consumed “heroes”, but in my opinion, that’s not actually very accurate. In Taken, Liam Neeson was dangerous because he HAD something to loose, and was willing to go till the end of the world for his daughter.
    People who have nothing to loose don’t have any reason to fight. Otherwise, homeless would be the most dangerous people in the world.

    Anyways, completely agree with you. Chosen Ones and revenge driven characters are not very interesting.

    As for the portrayal of females in this book… look, I’m sure Shailiah went through a lot, but I’m sure a lot of women go through a lot constantly and don’t loose their minds. In this book, women are either feeble flowers or insanely evil. Unfortunately, this is a recurrent theme in bad fantasy written by mysoginistic men as those (makes me wonder whether they’ve ever seen a woman in their lives). Remember Goodkind how the main character (don’t remember her name), suddenly snapped because she thought Richard was dead.
    I don’t think we’re all that mysterious, really. I can’t understand why it’s so hard for these kind of writers to portray something closely resembling the behavior of a real life woman.

    Reply
  5. Pingback: Let’s Read The Fifth Sorceress ch. 9 | Doing In The Wizard

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