... when is the plot going to start? We're ten chapters in, and I still don't know what the hell is going on except the usual fantasy tropes. WE HAVEN'T EVEN STARTED YET. We've been in Granny's hobbit-hole for four chapters, dammit!
Kale’s foot hit a loose rock in the shadowy tunnel as she followed the others into the depths of the mountain.
INTO the depths of the mountain?! We already were IN the depths of the mountain! How much deeper can you go?! And I hope you're fond of that damn rock, because it sticks around for the rest of the paragraph.
And since these last nine chapters haven't had enough pointless, it's time for CLOTHING DESCRIPTIONS!
His yellow jacket glowed green in the pale blue light.
Someone had fun with watercolors!
She only rarely caught a glimpse of Leetu farther ahead. And she hadn’t seen Granny Noon in quite a long time.
... can we keep it that way? Please?
The elder emerlindian headed the small procession.
She was riding on a giant Snoopy float, followed by Garfield and Popeye.
Kale’s skirt felt cumbersome. She had never worn anything but short trousers that hit just below her knee. Granny Noon had given her a long skirt and soft leather boots that came up her calves. Her legs tangled in all these trappings. She constantly tripped. And it seemed she was always clumsiest when Leetu watched.
- Remind me again why Kale gives a damn about what Leetu sees her do.
- And why is it in most Christian stories, nobody ever says, "You know what? If you don't like me, that's YOUR problem, douchebag. Watch me not care what you think!"
- It's like a damn children's show. Everybody HAS to be friends and be thinking nice sparkly thoughts.
- Where was I?
- Oh yeah, the clothes. Well, it took about two minutes for ChristianFantasyBellaSwan to turn into a whining pain in the ass. Again.
- It makes sense that Kale would feel a little strange in a new kind of clothing that she had never worn before. However, wearing boots and a skirt rarely "tangles" your legs, unless the skirt is... well...
Those look like the only ones that could get tangled, boots or no boots.
It turns out that Kale DOES like her cape, but since she's the Christian Fantasy Bella Swan, she whines about how she has to try to keep it from getting dirty. Yes, they're going to a SWAMP, but heaven forbid she get a little dirt on her sparkly silver camo-cape.
She didn’t like wearing the new clothes in these awful underground passages. She didn’t like the clammy dirt, the musty smell, and the shadows. She didn’t like not being able to see all the time, and she didn’t like not knowing where they were going.
MOOOOMMMMYYYYYY, I don't like this place I don't wanna I don't lik dirt I don't like funny smells I don't like broccoli I don't like knee socks I don't like Madison I don't like Scott I don't like rain I don't like blue I don't like I don't like I don't like WAAAAAAHHHHHHH....
To the gateway. But where is this gateway, and how long will it take us to get there?
That is what I wanna know. The sooner the filler ends, the sooner the sad excuse for a plot can start.
I don’t like being so deep in the mountain at all.
Don't make me whip out the crying baby picture again, bitch!
So it turns out that this is a DIFFERENT tunnel than the one they entered by. I honestly don't know why they aren't just coming by the way they came in, since no reason is actually mentioned. I guess it's because Kale needed something to bitch and moan about. Goody.
Embedded lightrocks glimmered in a natural scattering.
... are these things supposed to be natural? How are they formed?! What causes a ROCK to have phosphorescence?! DAMMIT, ANSWER SOMETHING ALREADY.
I think this wouldn't bother me as much in a book where small things weren't explained, but the big things WERE. Like how in Lord of the Rings, we get mentions of stuff that has happened in the past, but it's usually not huge or related to the main plot. But in this book, the big stuff isn't explained either. It's just filler scene after filler scene.
So while Kale is whining about the place, Paul apparently realized that this is boring even for her book. So a little animal frightens Kale, which eats up another page or two.
Snarling teeth flashed close to the ground. She jumped back. A dark animal, no bigger than a rat, skittered into the shadows.
... but since this is a FANTASY novel, it can't just be a rat. Everything has to be renamed! Except chameleons!
Because Kale is a huge wuss, she runs to Dar and asks what it is.
“Dark, quick, ugly teeth.”
“A druddum.” Dar kept walking, no faster than before. “They won’t hurt you as long as you’re with someone.”
I love how incredibly vague she is, and how he's INSTANTLY able to tell what animal it is. I mean, there's only ONE quick dark ugly-toothed animal in the world, right? It just makes sense!
So Kale starts using her Magic Mind-Reading Powers, and amazingly does not say "I mind-rape in the name of God." She picks up that he's teasing her, so he gives her a whole speech on the druddums and their habits... which are basically like rats. So there's no reason we couldn't have had rats in here, except for some reason Paul needs to fill up even more space that didn't need filling.
And because we haven't had enough of the damn druddums, another one freaks Kale out for no real reason. Dar thinks this is funny. Dar is being a douchenozzle.
“I once came upon a druddum’s nest,” he said. “I stopped short before it saw me and watched awhile. It had a piece of smooth cloth and turned that scrap over and over in its paws, stroking it like a pet. Its eyes were half closed, and it hummed one note almost the way a cat would purr. That druddum sat on a mirror, and lots of shiny things poked higgledy-piggledy out of the dried grass of his bed.”
... well, that's nice. So let's guess what impact the druddums will have on this story? Come on! Let's guess! Let's play the guessing game!
That's right! This conversation is absolutely 100% pointless!
- And in case you're wondering, no, there is no real difference between druddums and rats. You could substitute the word "rat" for every mention of druddums, and NOBODY would notice.
- Also, if these druddums are so damn common that they are used instead of "rats," how the hell has Kale never encountered one before?
- And what makes this even worse? They mention rats, meaning that rats exist in this fantasy world. Which means that Paul went to all the trouble of making up a fantasy version of a species that already existed.
“They run through these tunnels at great speed and sometimes run smack into walls. That druddum probably scared itself spitless by running into you.”
Either say "shitless" or get off the pot.
So now it's boring conversation time!
“How far until we reach the gateway?” she asked.
“I’ve never been to this gateway, so I don’t know.”
"But afterwards, there will be cake."
“Dar, do you read my mind?”
“Nah, I don’t have the talent.”
Which is probably the way to avoid saying, "Nah, there's nothing to read."
“Not at all?”
“Not even a whisper.”
... is Paul trying to make my jokes for me?
“Dar, can you block me from reading your mind?”
"I want to practice my mind-raping techniques, so this would be the perfect chance!"
So they natter on for awhile, and then Kale starts whining again about how tired she is. Seriously, what kind of slave is she? She has absolutely no physical stamina and no endurance!
It was exciting to get up before dawn and have Granny Noon talk to me and just me. But now I wish I’d slept more.
But I guess the crazy old bitch had to give useless infodumps to SOMEONE, and I was the one least likely to get revenge.
And my muscles are sore again. I’ve done more climbing, running, falling, hiking…more everything!…than I ever did in River Away. I thought I worked hard as a village slave, but at least I got to sit and peel vegetables once a day. I even got to sit when I milked cows. Don’t these people ever sit down and rest?
"WAAAHHHHHH, I wish I were a slave again! I'm having to walk after a whole night spent in a comfortable bed! That's SO much harder than a slave's life! A slave's life is easy and luxurious compared to having to... WALK places!"
So having done her standard "I hate not being a slave!" crapola, Kale then fondles her egg and thinks about how speshul it is. And since it's a Sue egg, it magically restores her strength and stamina.
... I hate this book.
Granny Noon had explained how the magic of the egg worked to heal her.
Because Wulder forbid she actually explain anything useful ONSCREEN.
Kale thought over the words carefully.
Smoke began pouring out of her ears.
Granny Noon talked a lot about Wulder, and she always talked in a tone of voice that gave Kale the shivers. A nice kind of shivers.
Granny Noon talking about Wulder gives me shivers too. Not a nice kind. A "holy fuck, did no one edit this book?" kind of shivers.
The old emerlindian spoke of a great mystery, one revered for ages and ages by people Kale had never heard of. She knew the things Granny Noon said were true, but they didn’t seem to have anything to do with a slave girl turned servant. She thought the words Granny Noon used must have come out of distant places and wondrous times.
- ... I'm sorry, was that WORLD-BUILDING you just tried to hand-wave past me with a SINGLE SENTENCE?!
- This is INCREDIBLY lazy. OFFENSIVELY lazy. I mean it. I have never seen a series, even among the bad ones, that actually brought up the face that vital backstory existed, but didn't bother to explain WHAT THE HELL that backstory was. Paul is actually telling us, "Yeah, I know people expect some sort of backstory for the dragons, but I'm too lazy to bother figuring this out because I'm too busy having Kale whine and coming up with fantasy names for rats."
- And the worst part? It's not like anything interesting is being said NOW! Yes! Paul is beating us over the head with crappy filler, because the stuff like WORLD-BUILDING and COSMOLOGY aren't interesting enough for her!
- DAMMIT, I hate this book.
- Also, what mystery? What does a mystery have to do with dragons?!
- Why would they "revere" a MYSTERY?
- And who the hell were these people? Why would I care? What did they have to do with dragons?
- AND WHY THE HELL WEREN'T WE TOLD ABOUT THIS?!
When the storytellers and minstrels tell of legends in the tavern on a Saturday night, they use words like “long ago and far away.” But Granny Noon talks as if that “long ago and far away” is here and now.
Possibly because she's senile.
So Kale continues fondling her egg and freaking out every time a druddum appears. And even though they managed to walk for a long time without encountering one, suddenly there are dozens and dozens of them.
“Come on,” he urged. “If we stop for you to recover every time we meet something unpleasant, we might as well give up the quest now.”
"WAAAAAAHHHHH IDON'TLIKETHIS IDON'TLIKETHIS IDON'TLIKETHIS...."
"Leetu, is it too late for us to just bring the creepy guy who collects chainsaws?"
Kale bit back a response. Well, Master Dar, I didn’t really ask to be included in this quest. I had a destiny, and that destiny was to go to The Hall, not follow some fancy-dressed doneel through endless tunnels with nasty rat-things running crazy—
I'm not sure why she IS biting back her response, because honestly these people have all but kidnapped her. I say "all but" because she's too spineless to bother saying, "To hell with you all, I'm going to the city."
Also, I don't think Kale knows what the hell a destiny is. If something happens to you, clearly THAT was your destiny. Because it happened. ... DUH.
So then Paul runs out of filler, so they finally get to... I guess it's the gateway, but it feels more like like Granny Noon got tired of walking and decided to make a pretentious speech full of cliches.
“You will now pass out of my authority,” said Granny Noon,
What authority? They stayed in your guest rooms, you crazy old crone. They didn't sign in blood on the dotted line.
“into realms that hold danger, not only for you, but for all of the seven high races."
"... who apparently didn't think that this mission was important enough to bother sending an army. So I guess it's not very dangerous after all."
"I am not to walk with you, but I do follow you with my hope."
"And by 'hope' you mean some useful information?"
"Sorry, it's my job to dispense nothing but vague hints."
"And mind-raping advice."
"You will be strong. You will be courageous."
"You will get the flu."
"Each of you will give of yourself for the good of the others."
"You're going to run into a tribe of cannibals, so each of you should expect to sacrifice a leg for the team."
"Do not let fear enslave you. Do not let frenzy bind you."
"Unless someone puts on Manos, the Hands of Fate. Then panic is totally allowed."
"Seek truth. Seek honor."
"Obey your call to serve Paladin.”
"... whoever the hell he is."
So then the area behind Granny Noon just... spontaneously turns into a gateway. There's apparently nothing to show that a gateway is there, and it apparently is triggered by pompous farewell speeches instead of... a switch, a button, a DHD...
The young emerlindian returned the affectionate gesture and then silently slipped into the shimmering air. The lights held her for a second, and then she was gone.
... yeah, I'm gonna run with this joke.
Granny Noon chuckled, leaned over and hugged the doneel, pressing her brown cheek to his furry side whiskers where the drooping eyebrows mingled with his long mustache.
Does anyone else suspect that if this were a movie, Dar would be played by Sammo Hung?
Eh, I take it back. Nobody in this book is cool enough to be played by Sammo Hung, especially when he plays a character named White Eyebrows.... who has white eyebrows longer than his face.... who battles a flock of evil skulls called INSOMNIA. Damn, that was a weird yet strangely awesome movie.
“Well, young o’rant girl,” said Granny Noon, “are you frightened?”
"Of course, I'm frightened of cauliflower and tissues, so that doesn't mean much."
I have yet to see evidence of it.
So Granny Noon randomly addresses her as "Kale Allerion." Is this significant? Of course it is! The old bitch knows about her "secret speshul past," but she apparently decided not to tell her anything because... no reason.
“Go, child. Your destiny is on the other side of the gateway.”
"But MYYYYYY destiny was to go to the HAAAAALLLLL and be treated like crap, because I like being a SLLAAAAVVVVVEEE..."
"Shut up and go through the damn gateway, kid."
Kale hung back. “Granny Noon, I’m not worthy.”
Yeah, one minute ago she was whining about how she didn't ask to go on this trip and she never wanted to, and now she's all "I'm not worthy!"
“None of us is, dear.”
So before Kale goes through the Stargate.... uh, the gateway, Granny Noon gives her some more useless information.
“Trust Wulder,” said the old woman’s mellow voice in her ear. “Follow Paladin’s lead. That’s best. You’ll be fine.”
Yes, trust someone who hasn't been identified and follow the lead of someone you don't know. Clearly that is the best approach.
So then Kale goes through the Stargate and.... yes, yes it appears that almost this entire chapter was filler. It's just walking, talking about rats, whining and laziness.