It's travel filler time! YAY! And by that I mean
So this chapterette… really, it's just a paragraph… is about a vast timberland stretching some seven hundred miles in length and two hundred in width. It is the Greatwood, one of the mightiest forests in all of Mithgar.
- This is just my media-oversatured brain at work, but my first thought was of Timbaland.
- I really wish that McKiernan would stop trying to measure exactly how many miles/leagues things are.
- And in case you don't know how much seven hundred miles is… it's just a little under the distance between Chicago and New York City. This is a big-ass forest.
- And just to be pissy, McKiernan comes up with names for practically everything in this world. In some cases, he comes up with MULTIPLE names for them, like Guula, Ghuls, Ghola, etc.
- So how come the forest is only called "The Greatwood"?! It's so… modern English.
In this woodland dwells the race of men known as the Baeron.
They are known for wearing clown shoes and playing the marimbas. They are a strange people.
So what is so special about the Baeron that they have to have a chapterette all to themselves? Why, they're big. Really big. That's… the reason.
Huge they are, the males growing to six feet ten or more, the females to six feet six.
Wooch. That's a LOT of backaches! I mean, that means all their women are taller than John Cleese!
So, why am I bothering to comment on this? It's because if you've read certain classic fantasy books, the Baeron will seem a teeny tiny wee wibbly familiar.
Yeah, they're basically the Beornings. They existed in a book I love.
What are the Beornings? They are basically a bunch of very big humans who live out in the middle of
Greatwood Mirkwood, can turn into bears, and live in harmony with the land. They're also vegetarians, in case you're wondering. Does that sound familiar?
We're also told that the Hidden Ones might live here… or maybe they don't since it doesn't have that magical "don't you cross my fairy lawn!" atmosphere. Either way, it doesn't really matter, because the Hidden Ones have nothing to do with this story.
In the midst of the northern half of the Greatwood there exists an immense area where only grass grows; trees encroach not upon this mighty meadow, some eighty miles by forty.
Dude, that's not a meadow. When the length of your "meadow" is the distance between NYC and Philadelphia - which aren't even in the same STATE - it is a PLAIN.
So what is the significance of this giant field o' doom? Why, it's where the Baeron get girlfriends! It turns out that every summer… well, I assume that's what "Mid-Year's Day" means… the Baeron spend two weeks gettin' to know each other, partying, and probably having a lot of crazy woodland sex.
It is simply called The Clearing,
Because unlike everyone else, the Baeron have no interesting language.
These are powerful days of kinship and courtship and celebration, there in The Clearing,
There is much beer, drunken shagging, dancing to bad electronica and talking about feelings.
After it all ends, the Baeron men and women, some newly mated, fade back into these wide woods, returning unto scattered thorps or to isolated dwellings ...... there in the vast Greatwood. And in a few months, lots of them get divorced because some of these people knew each other for a maximum of two weeks, which isn't long enough to find out if you're really compatible as people, let alone talk about important things like beliefs, children, household arrangements, toilet paper, who sleeps against the wall, whether your spouse is gay, who goes shopping, etc.
Yeah, I know that marriage in a medieval society was usually based on things OTHER than love and compatibility, but… this feels like the high fantasy version of a Vegas wedding.
And I'm sure you're wondering what this has to do with the overall book. Well, surely this means that a Baeron will end up being part of the fantasy quest team, right? WRONG. They have no importance to the story whatsoever. And since future books actually DO involve the Baeron as main characters, this makes it doubly pointless.
So why do we have a chapterette on the people who haven't got anything to do with the story? BECAUSE, BITCHES! EDITOR! EDITOR!