Let’s Read The Fifth Sorceress ch. 12.5



Journey to Shadowood

“Shadowood” sounds like a location from a late-90s JRPG.

Quote time!

The two who remain shall seek the one who abandoned their cause, and find him secluded, and alone in his use of the craft. And the Chosen One shall take up three weapons of his choice and slay many before reading the Prophecies and coming to the light . . .


I continue to be amazed at how this prophecy just spells out the exact events of the plot. Wait what if the entire book is the prophecy OH SNAP PLOT TWIST

Tristan and Wigg travel for a few days, passing tons of refugees from the city.

Those heading south would be trying to reach either Florian’s Glade or the coastal city of Warwick Watch.

Those are pretty good city names. Can’t argue with those.

The Rogue’s Roost was one of the largest hostels in the country,

I remember one time reading the first page of a fantasy novel I was kind of sort of interested in. The characters walk out of an inn called “The Crossed Daggers” and I immediately stopped reading. “Rogue’s Roost” isn’t quite that bad, but it’s getting there.

Despite the ongoing refugee crisis, the Inn still has food and empty rooms, because like a lot of fantasy this is a plastic Lego version of Ye Olde Past where inns exist for the protagonists to stop and rest at. This is also why horses never tire, swords never break or grow dull and areas are randomly infested with bandits and other enemies for the heroes to fight.

Occasionally the men would grab at the women, and sometimes it was all the girls could do to break away from their advances.

God is this what the entire quest portion of the book is going to be like, Tristan and Wigg passing through the epic fantasy version of the Disneyland It’s A Small World ride? BEEP BOOP ACTIVATE STOCK TAVERN SEQUENCE BEEP

Naturally Tristan is all angry and wants to stop the women from being groped. Why is he the only one? Because shut up, that’s why.

The innkeeper was a fat, greasy man with little pig’s eyes.

Well he’s clearly evil then, evil men are all ugly and evil women are all hot, but in the wrong sort of way.

Wigg produced the bag of kisa and threw several of them on the countertop.

Earlier it was claimed that the currency is called “kasi”. SPELL CHECK. YOUR BOOK. DO IT.

Tristan knew exactly what the man was talking about. ‘You sell the barmaids, don’t you?’ he asked, no small amount of anger in his voice.

‘Indeed I do’ – Pig-man leered – ‘whether they want to be sold or not.


God this book

He found himself looking up into the face of one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. She was tall and shapely,

ha ha ha oh my god are you fucking serious how can anyone be this lacking in self-awareness

Clumsily, she asked, ‘What would you like to drink? I’m afraid that there is only wine or ale, but the red wine is fairly good, if you like that kind of thing.’

That doesn’t sound like “clumsy” or nervous dialogue to me. If you want your dialogue to be clumsy it should be clumsy without you saying it’s clumsy. Otherwise it’s like if you wrote

“Our circumlocution of the edifice will commence forewith,” Lord Cullington said, stammering so badly that Bella Swanington could hardly understand him


“Let’s go over there,” Bob said, as usual trying to impress them all with his vocabulary


Clumsily, she asked, ‘What would you like to drink? I’m afraid that there is only wine or ale, but the red wine is fairly good, if you like that kind of thing.’

ANYWAY the barmaid’s name is Lillith and she used to be nobility or whatever. In the space of three days she somehow ended up here, working for the evil tavern dude. For some reason she just blurts all of this out to two strangers.

She looked at each of them in turn, with a fear that Tristan had seen far too much of in recent days. She lowered her head, and a tear started to come.

She also cries single tears, of course.

‘You little Tammerland bitch!’ he shouted. ‘If you don’t bring me my ale soon, instead of me paying you, you will be paying me!’ He made a circle between his left index finger and thumb, and lasciviously ran his other index finger back and forth inside of it.


The actual point of all of this is to present the old chestnut where Tristan wants to stop and help every person in trouble (by which I mean every woman being raped/in danger of rape) and Wigg has to remind him that they have a more important mission and getting themselves killed won’t help anyone.

Hey have you all been hankering for some more needless complexity? Well buckle up because it’s time for an explanation of Shadowood! It’s a safe haven, created by the wizards. Let’s have Tristan not know about it! But wait how could that be possible? It’s secret! But how could it be secret? It’s surrounded by a canyon! But he would have heard of a canyon that large. The canyon is invisible! But earlier Wigg said invisibility was thought to be impossible and that he and Tristan had performed it for the first time in escaping the throne room. It’s like, special invisibility because you have to have endowed blood and be trained to see it or something!

This is a textbook case of the Jenga block analogy I talked about in my writing advice post- you can see the author stacking unnecessary complexity on top of complexity and writing himself into a corner, instead of just not having Shadowood be a secret location that Tristan has never heard of. Instead why not make it a location familiar to him, but one that he believes is just a tract of empty wilderness? Boom. Problem solved.

‘So how do we get across?’

‘There is a bridge, of course.’

Tristan shook his head. This was all starting to sound like a bad dream. ‘A bridge? A simple bridge? Why don’t we just fly across on some of your blue lightning bolts?’ he asked sarcastically.

I legit have no idea what is going on in this conversation.

BLAH BLAH BLAH MORE TALKING oh my God why do we need an explanation of everything that’s about to happen? Couldn’t we just see it happen? Tristan doesn’t actually need to know all of this miles and miles before they ever reach Shadowood, he could just get there and see the canyon or whatever. Anyway there’s a gnome guarding the bridge across the canyon. Yes, really. That wasn’t a joke before, we’re entering the gnome zone.

Gnomes have been in Eutracia for as long as we have. But before the war, some men found it to be great sport to hunt them down and kill them, and sometimes take the opportunity to rape their women.




These poachers came to be known as gnome hunters.


‘Actually,’ Wigg said, ‘for me it is extremely simple. You see, I have been specially trained to see it – another safeguard against the Coven. But as for you, with no training in the craft whatsoever, well,


Woah, okay, Jesus. Things got a little weird there. The gnome zone is a strange place.

There’s yet more talking about the Vagaries or whatever, then Lillith comes back again. There’s some absolute bullshit where a dude wants to drag her off and rape her and Tristan pretends to buy her for the night to stop him, but then the greasy innkeeper is like “mwahahaha I’m going to charge you loads” so Tristan acts like a badass and does shit you only see in ultra-cliched movies to intimidate him.

Anyway this chapter is absolutely gigantic and it looks like Lillith is going to become the next party member after they make their hasty escape, so I’ll save the rest for another post.

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11 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Fifth Sorceress ch. 12.5

  1. Pingback: Let’s Read The Fifth Sorceress ch.12.5 | Doing In The Wizard

  2. zephyrean

    > The characters walk out of an inn called “The Crossed Daggers” and I immediately stopped reading.

    Names of various establishments can be easily this bad or worse IRL. Of course, it takes skill to write an interesting story in a setting parts of which are intentionally boring, skill that is evidently absent here. But if I were writing a book about, idunno, startup culture, I’d invent the most insipidly twee name for the fictional app (then google to check if anyone already used it for their real product), and I wouldn’t immediately look down on a fantasy author trying to do something similar.

    Place names are also over the, ahem, place. Looking at the map of the surrounding area, I see unique names such as Radiant, New Envy, Long Ice, Bear Corner, Empty Mills, Electrosteel, the two neighboring villages Cooks and Spoons, two more neighboring villages Cages and Cells. And on the other hand, how many Petersvilles does an single area code need? Five? Ten? Oh look a New Petersville, what a bold attempt at originality except there are three of those already.

    1. braak

      My favorite are place names that clearly belong as part of a pair, but the other member of the pair doesn’t exist — for instance, near where I live there’s a town called Upper Dublin, but there’s no Dublin or Lower Dublin anywhere around.

      There used to be a Dublin, but it got renamed a long time ago, leaving Upper Dublin sort of out in the cold.

  3. Signatus

    I hate the objectivization of women as much as I hate the bestialization of men. In these books, women are presented as sexual objects, reduced to helpless females who are, thereby, used to make the protagonist be angry by the abuse these females are going through, even when he has no qualms at unflowering females in, again, a context where virginity IS important to achieve a good marriage. Tristan knows he can’t love women back, yet he doesn’t tell them this to let them choose whether they actually want to risk their chances (or marriages in the case of married women) for a one time experience that’s going to report them no benefit whatsoever if it came into the light.
    Since you can’t have your hero slicing the heads of some well mannered and peaceful townsfolk, these writers need to represent the worst of human beings thus bestializing men. Always in the same way, in a sexual way. Not one men, ALL of them, all the men in the tavern are brutal, primitive creatures unable to control their instinctive, primal urges. The worst part is these writers make it seem as if all men were like this, which is utter bullshit.

    Real life society is brutal, yes. Gang rapes are actually something happening now, the same as sexual slavery. Troops in different wars have gone into towns and cities and raped the surviving women. Yes, this HAS happened, but real life is more complex than that. In real life, these are a MINORITY, and actually most of society are pretty good guys who wouldn’t be looking aside in a situation as the one described in this book.

    “‘Indeed I do’ – Pig-man leered – ‘whether they want to be sold or not.”

    No, just no. Look, I’ve seen what happens in a humanitarian crisis. People will go into pillage and thievery to survive. Gangs will be formed to get access to survival resources. Yes, I’m aware that human nature can get nasty when under a crisis.
    But for goodness sake, people don’t loose all their principles just like that.

    Anyways, talking about Shadowood, lets go back to the first chapter of the book. Yes, that chapter where Wigg claimed they have made an oath to not kill anyone unless in self defense. That oath they step on whenever they feel like it. Wigg mentions that the canyon is invisible, therefore people who roam into Shadowood just… fall to their deaths. Something the wizards seem to be totally cool with.

    Making a spell as in Harry Potter to make people simply turn around was THAT complicated?

    “Gnomes have been in Eutracia for as long as we have. But before the war, some men found it to be great sport to hunt them down and kill them, and sometimes take the opportunity to rape their women.”

    Because that’s something hunters deffinitely do. They hunt the male wolf and rape the female. Yep… makes sense.

  4. Fibinachi


    That’s not the Shadow-wood, that’s preeetty obviously the Shado-wood, so named for Shado; first of the line of incredibly shady rogues. Do you share singular shared consonants in english? I don’t think so.

    Also, one of the largest inns in the country pimp out their barmaids (sometimes against their will)

    That’s a Kvothe-level of what? That’s a thought-trap. The more you think about it the more it harms everything else by association.
    What, the local watch just let this happen? The forced barmaids had nowhere at all to go? The large inn, with its sizable customer base, operating near a wizard safe-zone, faced no censure against the practice of selling its staff? People notice! People talk! This means that *every single visitor* in the history of the place opted to participate or just not inform anyone else (over nighting wizards and nobles included), or that the inn-owner operates a network of bribery, corruption and skullduggery so as to give the evil sorceress empire a run for it. What about female patrons? Look, you can’t hide “i’m actually chattel and the owner beats me to make me do this” from everybody, words get out. The reason secret vice rings are secret is because the ones who advertise that openly get burned to the ground by families upset that their daughters are being pimped out. By implicit admission everyone in this kingdom is now a worse person who openly – openly! – support the forced servitude of women for sexual favours.

    How does that happen? What? Argh. Just argh. What? My head.

    1. ronanwills Post author

      The Innkeeper claims he’s only been doing this for the last three days, which rests on the assumption that society has broken down to the point where he can get away with it easily, but is still intact enough that running an inn is a profitable and stable business.

      The book seems to be positing a very particular kind of societal collapse where everyone just starts acting like dicks, but everything else basically carries on as normal.

  5. Hal


    Why is the bartender’s sole motivation in life rape? Who does the serving if all the barmaids are busy being forced into prostitution all the time? Why would anyone write a book where the subject of gnome rape comes up? Why would an editor read the line about gnome rape and think that was acceptable? The level of obsession with rape in this book is pathological.

    Moving onto some slightly less enraging but still dumb things, I would love to see a fantasy novel where Ye Olde Tavern’s servers are like, just the owner’s family or maybe just one servant (who could maybe even be a man or a non-sexualized woman!) instead of these dumb medieval Hooters type places.

    Lillith is probably going to be evil just based on the name alone and the fact that this book hates women. I guess she has to be an aristocrat to be Tristan’s love interest, though, because his perfect pure genetics could not be tainted by filthy commoner blood or some shit. My guess is that originally, the invasion was supposed to take place over a longer period of time, or this section was supposed to happen later, but then the author changed things and never bothered to revise it. So Lillith has managed to run from her home and find a new job as a refugee in a tiny period of time.

  6. Elspeth Grey

    Gosh I love the old Flemish masters.

    I’m constantly amazed by how anyone reads this “Tome.” Page 1,282 of CHAPTER ONE?

    Maybe they keep letting prophesied bad things happen because they only skimmed.

  7. reveen

    Gnome rape?


    I mean, like, fucking hell. How do you come up with this shit?

    The characters walk out of an inn called “The Crossed Daggers” and I immediately stopped reading. “Rogue’s Roost” isn’t quite that bad, but it’s getting there.

    Hey, let’s freely admit on our signage that violent criminals frequent our inn, that’ll bring in customers!

    Also, let’s loudly tell people that we pimp out our employees. Everyone’s okay with rape, right?

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

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