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So since the previous chapter ended with the beginning of the backstory AT LONG LAST, in this chapter we finally find out what's happening! We finally discover what plot-rich happenings are afoot! We learn what secrets have been discovered by the flame seer...

... wait, false alarm. Actually we just hear about the geography.

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SONUVABITCH!


Bordered on the north and east by the Rimmen Mountains, on the south by the River Rissanin, and on the west by the mighty River Argon, there lies a vast forest named Darda Erynian, the Great Greenhall, or Blackwood of old.

Nothing bores me witless in a book like details about rivers and mountains that just window dressing. Or worse, they're mentioned once and then never again.

And... the river Argon? CRAP, RUN FOR YOUR LIVES BEFORE IT SUCKS OUT YOUR WILL TO LIVE!


Through the northern quadrant of this hoary weald runs an ancient east-west trade route, the Landover Road, and along this wooded way merchants and travelers fare.

  1. Yes, readers, "hoary weald" is an acceptable if incredibly old-fashioned phrase. 
  2. But I don't know why he insists on using Old English words even when they don't fit.
  3. Yes, Tolkien sometimes did that... but not very often. 
  4. It doesn't really make your books seem more authentically old-timey to use descriptive words that people have to google.
  5. Especially when the writing style is inconsistent.



By no other path do common folk journey across this forest realm, for it is said that these woods are ... occupied ...

And it's very rude when common folk barge in without knocking!

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by fierce Elves and huge men

Wooooowwww, that in NO way resembles Mirkwood which is the home to Tolkien's Wood-Elves and Beornings.


and, worse yet, by the Hidden Ones—all lurking back among the dense green foliage, in the shadows, in the shade.

They all suffer from severe Vitamin D deficiency.


And of the merchants and travelers, caravans and groups, riders and walkers who pass this way, seldom do any stray far from the road, but instead they hie along its length till they are quit of these looming, foreboding woods.

And if they need to sleep, they just lie on the road and hope nobody runs over them. Because that's way better than being found by any of these allegedly good guys.


Even in winter when the leaves are fallen and nought but desolate trunks crowd 'round and exposed branches slash at the sky,

Wow. Who knew that trees were so active in the wintertime? Not only do they huddle, they attack the sky!


even then the woods are filled with trepidation, perhaps more so than in summer, for the barren tangle then looks dead and grasping, as if its harsh woody claws would seize any living fool within reach and rend him asunder.

... if nobody goes INTO the woods, how can they be filled with trepidation? Or are the trees filled with trepidation? This is such a confusing comment, because woods can't really feel any emotions.

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With its whispered reputation it is not surprising that common travelers are apprehensive when passing through the forest; one of its names is, after all, Blackwood, so called because of the dark unease permeating the vast forest.

Well that... is a really weird name. People don't give names like that because somebody feels uneasy there. I mean, the Black Forest isn't called that because it's actually black, or because people were frightened of it. It's called that because the conifers blocked out the light.


Some say these woods are indeed warded by the Hidden Ones—Angry Trees and Living Mounds and Groaning Stones and Pysks and Giants and other creatures of lore and legend,

Yes, all those creatures of lore and legend that we can't actually identify because they aren't really a part of actual lore and legend, so the author has to TELL US what the hell they are.

Also the author established in other books that the only "Giants" in his series are living stone ones who live in areas with a lot of rock. Wouldn't a large forest be exactly the sort of place where they WOULDN'T be?


all with arcane ways of turning aside those who are unwelcome—and woe betide the unfortunate soul who ignores the warnings and intrudes too far into this shadowy domain,


So in other words, their "arcane ways" are pretty sucky, or they would manage to do more than "warn" people. What, do they have tiny signs that they put up around themselves?

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for he will never be seen alive again ... or so it is said.

Somehow I'm imagining the Elves, Beorning knockoffs and various "creatures of lore and legend" surfing the Internet and posting all sorts of urban legends about themselves... which is actually a funny idea.


In spite of the lore and legend, here it is the Dylvana dwell, here in Darda Erynian, for the Elves know the truth of these woods.

They know that there's good money in sending booze down to Laketown! Wait... wrong story.

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