Wow, it's been awhile since I did this one. Well, the reason is that it starts out with something that fills me with SUCH HULK-LIKE RAGE that I just kept putting it off.
So when we last left Richard and Kahlen, Kahlen had just gotten sexually assaulted by Richard's brother, so she used her iron fingernails o' doom to rip open his chest. I honestly don't know if the guests noticed.
Richard goes scampering after Kahlen, who seems remarkably unperturbed considering some guy was grabbing her ass and grinding on her crotch. Most women would be… upset. Enraged, even.
"Kahlan, I'm sorry . …"
She cut him off. "Do not apologize. What your brother did, he was not doing to me, he was doing to you."
"To me? What do you mean?"
"Your brother is jealous of you." Her face softened. "He is not stupid, Richard. He knew I was with you and he was jealous."
Okay, time to break out the RageFace, people!
… with a side-image of "chewing on something to express my fury!"
Words cannot express just how much this pisses me off. Yes, a woman is sexually assaulted in public, but of course it can't be about HER. Sexual assault isn't about the VICTIM. It's all about the Stu and how special and enviable he is!
And yes, this is EXACTLY the sort of shit you can expect from Terry Goodkind. I dunno what he's like in his everyday life, but in his writings he's insufferably misogynistic. Not in the "I hate da wimmenz" way, but in the repulsive way where he's unaware that hey, this perspective is insensitive jackassery that just shows his insensitivity to women - which you'll continue to see in the characterization of Kahlen. You know the strong, independent Confessor in the TV series, who could be vulnerable but was still tough? Yeah, she's nowhere to be found in these books.
He was furious with Michael, and at the same time he was ashamed of his anger. He felt as if he were letting his father down.
WHY?!?!??!?!?! His brother just molested a woman in front of EVERYONE, and for some reason Richard feels guilty about being pissed at him?! What planet is he from?!
"That's no excuse. He's First Councilor; he has all anyone could want. I'm sorry I didn't put a stop to it."
"I did not want you to. It was for me to do. What he wants is whatever you have."
"How did you know?"
"Last week he molested my teddy, Mr. Buttons!"
"… well, uh, sorry about that."
"If you had stopped him, having me would be a contest he would have to win. This way he has no more interest in me."
Yes, and you could only rebuff him AFTER he started humping on you.
And you notice that Kahlen doesn't deny that Richard "has" her? She's known the dude for a day, and she's already referring to herself as his possession. I might let this slide in a different book, but… just a paragraph or two ago, she declared that Michael sexually assaulting her was all about Richard.
So they wander through what is clearly a rather large town, since the place has small houses set close together, well-placed trees and yards with white fences. I bet they also have a friendly family dog, pearl-wearing housewives and freckle-faced kids getting up to wacky hijinks. This isn't a medieval village - this is Pleasantville!
Seriously, this is like a town from a 1950s sitcom. I thought that Eragon's quaint mountain resort was bad, but this is UNREAL.
"You seem to know a lot about people. You're very perceptive, I mean about why they do what they do."
"Almost like you're being used by a hack author to cover up for the fact that he doesn't know how to show instead of telling."
"Is that why they hunt you?"
… he seriously thinks that elite Robin Hood ninjas are hunting this woman down across a DEADLY MAGICAL BARRIER…. because she's perceptive about people?!
No, the answer is even stupider than that: "They hunt me because they fear truth. One reason I trust you is because you do not."
- Yes, she can't reveal anything without shoehorning in a compliment to Richard The Speshul Snowflake.
- Being unafraid of the truth doesn't make a person trustworthy. You could argue that it would make a dangerous person even scarier.
- And seriously, if you're not gonna tell anyone why they're hunting you, JUST SAY YOU WON'T.
- Don't give us lame pseudo-"wisdom" like "They fear truth" as an excuse. It ain't workin'.
- And of course, she has known this guy for a grand total of what, an hour? And now she not only trusts him, but has a complete map of his personality.
- DEATH TO THIS BOOK.
"You aren't about to kick me, are you?"
A grin came to her face. "You are getting close."
…. uh, what was that? Kick him? Is this some joke that didn't translate?
So they dribble about friendship, and Kahlen basically says that she won't tell him anything but she still wants to be friendsies.
"Good," he said cheerfully. "After all, I am a `seeker of truth.' "
"I am also an eater of pasta and a groomer of cats, and I like to give myself silly titles."
So this shocks Kahlen, and Richard explains that Zedd has called him that his entire life because he always wants to know the truth. We haven't seen any evidence that Richard is more interested in truth than any other person in the world, but I'm just a gullible sheep who believes everything the author says!
Also, this is total mentor fail on Zedd's part. Yes, take the Chosen One to a remote planet province and have him raised by nice ordinary people… and then hang around him all the time while giving him Significant Nicknames. That would be like if Obi-Wan kept visiting the Lars family to play "uncle" to Luke, and kept calling him "Little Jedi."
Kahlan jerked to a halt, grabbed his shirtsleeve, and spun him to face her wide eyes.
He was a little grossed out by the fact that her eyes were taking up her whole face.
So then Kahlen refuses to say any more, and Richard starts getting curious. His need to know the answers started to shoulder its way around in his mind. It's called being "curious." It's not a special trait. Most people have it to some degree.
And even though she said she totally wasn't going to tell Richard anything more because it would endanger him, Richard asks ONE QUESTION and Kahlen starts telling him more.
"They are the followers of a very wicked man. His name is Darken Rahl. Please do not ask me any more for now; I do not wish to think of him."
Darken Rahl. So, now he knew the name.
SERIOUSLY? That is the villain's name?! That's the most obvious, silly, cliche villain name since Dr. Evil Nastypants McCannibal! If I didn't know that Terry Goodkind had no sense of humor, I'd think he was writing a parody.
Gotta wonder why he didn't go all the way with the name, though. I mean, if you're going to give your antagonist a name like "Darken," why not give him a similarly villainous surname? Why go with something neutral like "Rahl" instead of "Darken E'vile"? It's like naming your villain Malignant Jones or Monstroso Smith.
And why is it so significant to Richard that he knows the bad guy's name? He doesn't know anything about him except his name - hell, until just now, he didn't even know that they were under the command of one man.
(I'd also like to mention that the ONLY reason that this didn't totally suck in the TV series is that Darken Rahl was played by Craig Parker, who is awesome, which eclipsed some of the name's silliness)
Anyway, Richard is not feeling so great because of his injured hand, but apparently it doesn't occur to Mr. Expert Woodsman-Ranger that maybe the mega-mystery plant is POISONOUS and he should take a look at the THORN WIGGLING INTO HIS BODY. That sort of thing doesn't go away if you just get a good night's sleep.
Better to give her the bed, he thought; he would sleep in his favorite chair, the one with the squeak. That sounded good, too; it had been a long day and he ached.
I don't care how squeaky your chair is. Sleeping in it will just make you achier, not less so, because chairs aren't meant to be slept in.
It turns out that there is ANOTHER reason Richard wants to go home - he left something important there. And even though it's something else he had to have, a very important thing his father had given him, he hasn't thought about it in the 3-and-1/2 chapters so far, until he was almost home. Yes, clearly it's vitally important.
His father had made him the guardian of a secret, made him the keeper of a secret book,
It was called Twilight, and was a book of evil.
and had given Richard something to keep always, as proof to the true owner of the book, that it was not stolen, but rescued for safekeeping.
… the receipt?
It was a triangular shaped tooth, three fingers wide. Richard had strung a leather thong to it so he could wear it around his neck, but like his knife and backpack he had stupidly left the house without it. He was impatient to have it back around his neck; without it, he couldn't prove his father wasn't a thief.
Maybe I'm missing something vitally important, but how does a giant shark tooth prove that you own a book? I mean, if they were decorated with similar patterns or something, I could understand there being a connection. But…. just because you own a big ol' tooth, it proves that your daddy didn't steal a SuperSpeshulSecret book?!
So they walk… and walk…. and walk… and eventually they get to where Richard's house is. But then he notices something with his Speshul Ranger Superpowers!
"Maybe nothing," he whispered, "but someone has been up the trail this afternoon." He picked up a flattened pinecone, looking at it for a short time before tossing it away.
"How do you know?"
"Spiderwebs." He looked up the hill. "There aren't any spiderwebs across the trail. Someone has been up the trail and broken them. The spiders haven't had time to string more, so there aren't any."
- Seriously? Spiders spin up enough webs in about twelve hours to be worth noting?!
- I've been on little-traveled forest trails, and I can tell you that spiders don't tend to put spiderwebs across them…. because they learn that trails are where PEOPLE go, and they get broken.
- And yes, this is a trail that Richard presumably goes down and up EVERY SINGLE DAY. I'm pretty sure the spiders would figure out that this was not a place to catch food.
- It's "spin," not "string."
- So the flattened pinecone that someone stepped on is NOT a sign that someone has been there, but the lack of spiderwebs (meaning maybe the spiders just didn't spin them there) is PROOF.
- Seriously, who lives in this place, Shelob?
He shook his head. "I don't know. Either someone came out of the woods back by the clearing, and then went up the trail, a very hard way to travel" - he looked her in the eyes - "or they dropped in out of the sky."
Ahem… YOU SAW A FLYING THING IN THE FIRST CHAPTER. Which was earlier in the same day. Has he totally forgotten everything?!
He wasn't running away without the tooth his father had given him for safekeeping.
He gave you a BOOK for safekeeping. The tooth was just to prove that he didn't steal it… somehow.
So they creep like creeping ninjas that creep up to the house… and immediately find that the place has been wrecked, with broken windows and Richard's crap thrown all over the place. Clearly the Forces of Evil are extremely bad at searching for stuff without being noticed.
Richard stood. "It's been ransacked, just like my father's house."
"Richard!" she whispered angrily. "Your father may have come home just like this. Maybe he went in just like you are about to do, and they were waiting for him."
… and what is he supposed to do? Live in the woods for the rest of his life?
Since the house has only one door, which seems unwise anyway, they can't go in any other way.
"All right," he whispered back, "but there's something inside I have to get. I'm not leaving without it. We can sneak around the back, I'll get it, and then we will be away from here."
FERFUKSAKE, this is one freaking sentence after we've been told that the door is the ONLY door. What is the point of sneaking around to the back to get something?! Is he gonna melt right through the wall?!
So again, they creep like creeping ninjas to the back of the house, and… you wanna bet that nobody is inside the house, and all this creeping is just filler?
There was movement at his feet. A snake wriggled past his foot. He waited for it to pass.
Yep, it's filler.
So he looks in the conveniently modern glass window into his bedroom… and then post-industrial architectural norms strike again. Yes, the medieval woodland guide has a separate bedroom with a bed, and BOOKS. I don't even know why I'm surprised. But conveniently his tooth and book are untouched out of ALL THE THINGS IN THE HOUSE. The Robin Hood ninjas SUCK.
There was a squeak from the front room, a squeak he knew well.
It was his pet gerbil, Rameses!
No, it's actually that chair that is allegedly as good as a bed, meaning that somebody is sitting inside his house waiting for him. Then an entire paragraph is devoted to Richard asking a squirrel not to make any noise at him, and the squirrel deciding not to do that. I am not kidding.
Also, again… the Robin Hood ninjas suck epicly at their job. Yes, they're so stealthy that they sit in a squeaky chair in a way that makes it squeak… when they're waiting or Richard to come home and bust in. Wouldn't crouching behind something so they can spring out and surprise him be a better idea?
Wait, they're also stupid because of their decision to trash Richard's house in order to lure him in. Think about it: if they HADN'T trashed his house and thrown all his stuff in the yard, then he would have just walked in the door with no suspicions because HEY, it's his house! And he LIVES THERE! But they trashed the place, which MIGHT have made him suspicious. He could have left again and returned with a few dozen people. IDIOTS.
So Richard reaches in and grabs the conveniently unmolested book and tooth, then runs back to where Kahlen is.
He crossed his lips with his finger to let her know to keep silent.
Dude, you were talking right outside your house. I think they already know you're there.
But no, that would be exciting. Instead they determine that since incredibly stupid spiders have spun spiderwebs over a nearby trail, it must be safe. And they're going to Zedd's house. Yippee.
The old man's house was too far to reach before dark and the trail was too treacherous to travel at night,
Um, this might be a stupid question, but why does Zedd live so far away? We've already established that most of the people in the area live in a pleasant suburban town with a massive marble mansion in the middle of it, so why do Richard and the crazy old wizard live off in the boonies?!
Oh wait, we're going with the "Ol' Ben" approach.
Coldly, he wondered if whoever was in his house could be the same person who had murdered his father.
… your house just got torn up and smashed by the dude who may have killed you father, and you're "cold"?
So he thinks for awhile about the friggin' obvious for awhile. It's even more boring than it sounds.
He had already gotten away with his life when he shouldn't have once this day. It was foolish to trust in luck once; twice was arrogance of the worst kind. It was best to walk away.
Sez the guy with the TOXIC THORN OF DEATH wriggling into his body and absolutely no sign of concern about it.
We're also told this charming detail: His father's belly had been cut open and his guts had been spread out all over the floor. How could anyone do that? Why would anyone do that? Charming. Well, my guess for the motivation of the killer is: they're evil, so there. Goodkind seems like the sort of author for whom that would make sense.
"Well, did you get whatever it was you went to get?"
"So what was it?"
"My iPod, my lucky boxers, my pet gerbil…"
She turned to face him with both hands on her hips and a scowl on her face. "Richard Cypher, you expect me to believe you risked your life to get your backpack?"
If she tugs her braid or folds her arms under her breasts, I'm officially calling Wheel of Time ripoff. (Actually, I will call that, but later on)
So Richard threatens to kick her, which puts the Li'l Womman in her place. And then he reflects: He could tell Kahlan was a person who was used to getting answers when she asked a question. And I guess by that he means a bossy bitch.
So that night they decide to go camp by wayward pines - and no, I don't know what those are. I guess they're pines that lean to the side… or maybe pines that do naughty things and have not seen the error of their ways. Or a show by M. Night Shyamalan.
The tooth hanging around his neck nagged at him.
"… and you never talk to me anymore. You just sit around the house and drink beer, watch TV and masturbate. Why don't you get a REAL job?!"
His secrets nagged at him.
… what secrets? We haven't been told any!
He wished his father had never made him the keeper of the secret book.
Waaa waaaa waaa. Even Rand isn't this annoyingly whiny as a hero.
So then Richard comes to the GENIUS CONCLUSION that none of the readers could possibly have guessed: that the people who tore through his house and his dad's house were looking for… the secret book! Wow! Who could have guessed that, except anyone with a brain?! And yeah, they tore apart every single book in the house, but it apparently didn't occur to them to LOOK INSIDE A BAG. Clearly the Forces of Evil would never check inside A BAG! In the same room as those books they tore apart!
What if it was the secret book they were looking for? But that was impossible; no one but the true owner even knew of the book.
Teh stoopid, it burns.
Listen carefully, el sucko. If nobody except the true owner knows about the book, then there's no reason for it to be "secret."
And his father . .. and himself . . . and the thing the tooth came from.
Why would the thing the tooth came from know about the book?! That's like saying that a cow knows what about the contents of the purse that will be made from its hide.
The thought was too farfetched to consider, so he decided he wouldn't.
It's official: the Designated Hero is an idiot.
So then Richard starts swatting a mosquito… which Goodkind calls a "fly." Well, there ARE bloodsucking flies, so I'll give him a pass on that. For some reason, Kahlen stops him and then covers his mouth.
"Listen to me." Her whisper was so low he had to concentrate to hear her. "Do exactly as I say."
"Put on the maid costume-"
"Do not move. No matter what happens do not move. Or we are dead."
"Can I scratch my nose?"
So what is this horror that would reduce him to shrieking with fear?
From across the clearing, fading evening light reflected in two glowing green eyes as their gaze swept in his direction. It stood on two feet, like a man, and was about a head taller than him. He guessed it weighed three times as much.
"… is that thing sparkling in the sunlight?"
"Shhh, our shitty book will become even shittier if that thing gets in!"
No, it's some sort of strange, long-tailed, furry, big-toothed…. thing. Seriously, I cannot envision this thing. The closest I can come is to a sort of furry crocodile.
And for some reason, this generic fantasy creature is SO terrifying that Richard almost screams, wets himself and faints.
But our stalwart hero can't actually do anything awesome like fight a giant bear-crocodile, so he just lies there while the creature attacks a poor helpless li'l bunny.
Well, not exactly like that. More like this.
So for some reason the bunny's screaming and running alerts the bear-croc to it. Not only does it eat the bunny, but it decorates itself in the bunny's blood. Lovely. I'm assuming this thing is practically blind, since otherwise it probably would have noticed the two idiots cowering nearby.
Oh, and bear-croc has wings. Yeah, the thing we've heard of sounds VERY aerodynamic. Should I call it a bear-dragon now?
Nah, that would be too awesome.
So it flies away in a very undignified way, and the two of them are relieved. Richard thought of the country people who had told him of things from the sky that ate people. He hadn't believed them. He believed them now.
YOU SAW A FRICKING FLYING MONSTER IN CHAPTER ONE! You have been hearing stories about people vanishing and/or being killed by something that flew! AND YOU DIDN'T PUT THE PIECES TOGETHER?!
Sweat covered her, too; around her neck it was tinted red. He felt an overwhelming sense of sadness for her, for the terrors in her life. He wished she didn't have to face the monsters she seemed to know all too well.
"I'm so scared of that monster that I just shat myself! But instead of thinking about THAT, I'll think about how sad it is that you even recognized that monster!"
So what was that thing? According to Kahlen, "It was a long-tailed gar."
Um, a gar?
They were attacked by a FISH?! Seriously?
Mr. Goodkind, a gar is not a freakish bear/croc/dragon surrounded by flies. It's a kind of ugly fish. It's like talking about a priest… and meaning "construction worker."
"This is a blood fly. Gars use them to hunt. The flies flush out the quarry, the gar grabs it. They smear some on themselves, for the flies. We are very lucky."
… and what about its ears and eyes? These two weren't hidden very well.
"Long-tailed gars are stupid. If it had been a short-tailed gar, we would be dead right now. Shorttail gars are bigger, and a lot smarter."
"And they taste DELICIOUS with a white wine sauce!"
She paused to make sure she had his full attention. "They count their flies."
Yes, because I'm sure they can organize their flies in little rows to be counted.
So Richard has finally had enough of Kahlen being secretive and vague about everything, and he demands to know what's going on. Can't blame him for that, since his life is in danger, he's lost his dad, he can't go home, and he's being bitten by bloodsucking flies.
"Kahlan, I'm your friend...
…. I'm your friend, not your enemy."
Yes, he used the phrase "I'm your friend" twice in one paragraph. Someone is trying a little too hard to convince the woman he's known for less than 24 hours that they're best buds.
Then he starts rambling about how he almost died when he was a little boy, and Zedd saved him. Kahlen thankfully shuts him up before he can go on a Robert Jordan storytelling spree and bore us into oblivion.
"You're right. I will answer your questions. Except about me. For now, I cannot."
Yes, actually she can. But Kahlen likes to play the "mysterious femme fatale" card for all its worth.
Then… she doesn't answer his questions. Wow, what a shock. Instead she demands a fire, presumably to distract him.
He couldn't help but to laugh as he got to his feet. "Sure. There's a wayward pine right over there on the other side of the clearing. Or if you want there are others up the trail a little way."
… is "wayward pine" code for something? Or maybe it's a franchise of inns? Like a McDonalds or Starbucks?
"Right," he smiled, "we'll find another wayward pine up the trail."
"What is a wayward pine?" she asked.
It involves a post-apocalyptic future and suspended animation. Um, spoilers.
And that… ends the chapter. Seriously, it ends on an unanswered question… and not even a question that MATTERS, but a question about local plant life.