Apologies about the lateness of this post, I was busy finishing a first draft of a new novel. Let’s get right to it, because this chapter is a real doozy.
Shannon (the Small) brings Wigg and Tristan to Faegan, who lives inside a giant tree. It’s filled with herbs and plants that are used for magic, which Wigg hasn’t seen since the war.
Near the end of the war the Coven burned all of the fields that contained them, so as to keep them from us.
We’ve had several oblique hints about the level of destruction involved in the war, and it makes me wonder what the sorceress’ actual goal was since they appeared to have no qualms with basically burning Eutracia to the ground in the act of conquering it.
‘Cat’s claw, sneezeweed, romainia,
‘The master will see you now,’ he said imperiously.
It’s rubbing me the wrong way how Shannon is treated like some sort of buffoon- he seems to be Faegan’s right-hand man, which legit makes him an important person, but whenever he acts like it it’s played for comedy. I mean, the character is completely cartoonish and impossible to take seriously, but I don’t think that’s why he’s being turned into a joke. I think it’s his height- Succiu’s “hunchback”/dwarf servant Geldon (the book can’t seem to make up its mind) was also played for hi-larious comic relief until the story decided to give him an actual serious role.
Since he’s surrounded by gnomes I expected Faegan to be completely ridiculous, but he’s actually a Mysterious Cool Dude in a wheelchair (the sorceresses evidently paralyzed him) with a magic cat.
A dark blue cat with a silver chain around its neck sat patiently on the floor next to the man in the chair and stared at the visitors, unperturbed. But there is no such thing as a dark blue cat, Tristan thought.
I WANT A DARK BLUE CAT
Well okay I already have a better one:
Your wizard cat ain’t got shit on this guy, Faegan.
Over the eyes rested long, arched brows; the gray hair was rather raggedly parted down the middle and fell over his shoulders. A large, hawklike nose hung over a long, thin-lipped mouth. The strong jaw commanded respect.
I always find it kind of jarring and poorly written when characters are described like this (the eyes, the hair, the nose instead of his eyes etc). Maybe that’s just me though.
Faegan starts questioning Wigg about Tristan and then Wigg is like “Bwaah you betrayed us” (the wizards think he fed information of some kind to the sorceresses, remember) but Faegan is like “Forsooth I did not, let me tell you my secrets have you seen my cat” and Tristan pulls a hissy fit because he’s a gigantic baby.
you are busy being coy with your secrets,’ he said firmly.
What, it doesn’t bother you when Wigg does that?
‘True, there is much yet to talk about this night,
Of course there is.
What Tristan saw below him took his breath away.
What Tristan saw next would remain lodged in his memories forever
Endless talking and characters having their minds repeatedly blown. Just what we’ve come to expect from this book.
Faegan has like a magic garden or whatever, and he’s worked out a way to communicate with the giant butterflies from back at the start of the story. This isn’t quite as incredible as we were lef to believe.
There’s some more wacky butterfly adventures- the wackiest of butterfly adventures, in fact- then Faegan invites Tristan and Wigg to dinner.
The female gnomes looked very much like the males both in their faces and in their broad and stout, rather than curved and sensual bodies.
Oh for the love of
NOT ALL WOMAN HAVE “CURVED AND SENSUAL BODIES”
PUT YOUR DICK BACK IN YOUR PANTS
Faegan explains that he betrayed the wizards because they kidnapped his daughter and then tortured him. Well it’s nice to finally get that misunderstanding cleared up like ten chapters after we, the reader, found out what really happened. The only new information we get is that Failee learned the Chimeran Agonies (the thing she’s been doing to Shailiha) while reading Faegan’s mind.
‘We both made terrible mistakes,’ he said. ‘Banishing the sorceresses, instead of killing them, was yours.’
Yes, exactly what I’ve been saying from the start.
Faegan explains that Shailiha is being turned to the sorceress’ side as they speak and he has a man-outburst and is like I MUST PROTECT MY SISTER ZOMG.
‘Your sister is in Parthalon, the kingdom across the Sea of Whispers that is ruled by the Coven. I have long believed that the two nations at one time shared a common heritage because of the same basic similarities in language and customs, but as yet there is no way to be sure.
Now you may be thinking that this is an obvious plot hole- no one knew there was any land across the Sea of Whispers- but we do get an explanation a little later. A stupid explanation. It involves pigeons.
Faegan explains (although we already know all of this so it’s superfluous) that the sorceresses are hoping to turn Shailiha to their side and make her their leader, after which they’ll perform some powerful act of magic that requires five sorceresses.
Therefore, not only have I read the complete volume of the Vagaries, but I could, if I chose to, also practice them.’ He smiled coyly for a brief moment. ‘I would not, however, enjoy the side effects should I practice them mistakenly, as has the Coven.
What side effects? Turning them into kinky bisexuals?
REMEMBER THAT BULLSHIT?
‘You enchanted these birds?’ Wigg asked skeptically, the infamous eyebrow arched.
‘True,’ Faegan answered, a smile finally coming to his lips. ‘As a result they are imaginably swift,
They’re…imaginably swift? What?
[Geldon]’s enforced loneliness and hatred of the Coven is so great that he began taking the chance of randomly sending out birds with messages, simply letting them go in the air, not knowing where they would end up or that there was even a nation called Eutracia.
Aaaand this is where the plot bend so far it breaks. This is just way too convenient. There has to have been a more believable way for Geldon and Faegan to get in contact with each other.
Faegan explains (in great detail) what the sorceresses are planning, such that when we actually see the scene itself it will assuredly feel like a retread. Seriously, we don’t need an explanation of where the sorceresses will be standing and what exactly the ritual (called the Blood Communion) involves down to the finest detail.
Anyway all of this will result in the Reckoning, which will basically give the sorceresses complete mastery over the entire world, turning everyone into mind-controlled slaves. As evil plans go I guess that’s more interesting than “blow up the planet for the lulz”, but not by much.
Oh wait never mind, it turns out Failee only has part of the information on the Reckoning (although she believes she has all of it), and will likely perform it incorrectly. If this happens the entire world will cease to exist!!!!!!
This all feels remarkably similar to Wizard’s First Rule, where the fate of the world hung on the granular nit-picky minutiae of magical ceremonies.
‘Then, Tristan, you must think back to the actual appearances of the orbs. Do you remember the lightninglike strikes of energy that shot to and fro inside each of them as if trying to escape? In order for Failee to invoke her ritual, she’ll need to call forth so much magic from each of the orbs that she will create a massive tear in each of them such as has never
This goes on for pages. Seriously dude, we don’t need to know the specifics, just tell us that doing the ritual wrong will blow the world up.
And the explanation for why Failee would even attempt this given how badly things could go wrong is “because she’s insane”. Come the fuck on, that is the laziest character motivation in the history of literature.
And no she’s not “mad”, there is no mental illness whose sole effect is to make you do irrational evil shit. Look through the DSMV all you want, you won’t find Hitler Syndrome in there. Mental illness doesn’t turn people into megalomaniacal villains.
In addition, their own, lesser practice of the Vagaries has started to lead them down the road to dementia as well, which to a certain degree makes them more willing followers.’
THAT’S NOT WHAT DEMENTIA IS
‘It is also the reason for their bizarre sexual needs.’
Faegan tells Tristan that the sorceresses aren’t actually getting power from kinky sex, it’s just their MAAAAAAAAAAAADNESS making them believe it, and Shailiha will be the kinkiest of all due to her powerful blood and
Woah. What just happened? I have a headache.
Okay joking aside… what the fuck? All of this would be absolutely hilarious if it wasn’t presented in such an insulting way. The story is trading in the well-worn idea that mental illness = evil, and the sexual politics here are shockingly regressive. Faegan actually refers to the sorceresses’ proclivities as an illness. Keep in mind this isn’t just the constant rape- we were outright told that practicing dark magic turned the sorceresses bisexual and made them like bondage.
This chapter is incredibly long and tedious- there’s lots and lots and lots of talking- but eventually they get around to telling Faegan his daughter was alive this whole time but is now dead, and then there’s a prophecy where Tristan is going to get a cool weapon or something, I don’t care.
The pigeon Geldon sent a few chapter ago arrives to tell them that Shailiha has been fully turned and is getting up to all sorts of
naughty sweaty hot depraved things, oh and also the Blood Communion thing is going to happen in six days so, you know. Better hurry.
Luckily, Faegan knows some sort of Vagary portal spell that will take them to Parthalon immediately. Hooray!
Blah blah blah, talking talking talking, even more talking, Tristan now has a price on his head for killing his dad or something, whatever, talking talking talking, Tristan has to kill Shailiha, blah blah. Tristan says goodbye to Shannon in the most nauseating way possible.
‘Thank you, Master,’ Shannon said to the prince. ‘But I truly hope I never claim that right.’
‘You called me “Master,” ’ Tristan said, smiling to him. ‘I don’t think you meant to say that. There is only one master here.’
HOORAY FOR CLASSISM
And then the chapter ends. Hoo boy, this was a long one. The characters just will not stop fucking talking.
We’re now on Part V: The Recluse so I guess we’re getting toward the finale. Only 30% of the book to go!