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Sisal Two-Step
May 29, 2006

mom without jaw
dad without wife


assigned fighter at birth

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Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Sisal Two-Step posted:

Popping in from page 1 to say that I'm really enjoying this thread so far! I like the balance between the original text and OP's commentary.

Also like how Green correctly identifies the Only Two Genders: Fighters and Non-fighters.

Thank you! You will see from the text that she also only identifies two types of sex: earth shattering and rape.

wizzardstaff
Apr 6, 2018




There's also the two types of parents: useless and abusive.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


As promised!

Leng posted:

NANOWRIMO HAS ARRIVED AND THE REWRITE HAS BEGUN!

Now that you're all duly alerted, this is the last time I'll plug the Let's Rewrite thread in here. Once NaNoWriMo wraps, I'll let everybody know when normal Let's Read programming will resume (at this stage, December, though we'll see how I feel by end of my NaNo attempt).

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016



I am disturbingly pleased by your continually quoting me about how bad this series sucks.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Hi all and happy Thanksgiving to American goons!

A quick update from me: now that NaNoWriMo is drawing to a close, I can say with a reasonable amount of confidence that I have two more chapters left in the rewrite before I can call Rewritten Book 1 done (about 10k-12k words). I should finish the first of those before the end of NaNoWriMo to hit my word count goal, though the final chapter is going to fall into next week.

That means the Let's Read will resume from 7 December, rather than 1 December, give or take a day (mainly so I can have a complete break from the Blendingverse for a few days). See you guys back here then!

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


quote:

CHAPTER SIX

Bron Kallan, Fire magic

We're about to meet the hot dumb jock of the entire series.

quote:

“I hate this, Bron, I really hate it,” Nialla complained, leaning up on her elbows in the bed. “I expected you to stay for a while, and here you are getting ready to leave.”

Just so you know that Bron's an Evil Villain, he's the kind of guy who will and then leave his partner to figure out theirs. Mainly because unlike the other Evil Villains, Bron is apparently not into messed up nonconsensual BDSM stuff.

quote:

“Some of us do have obligations in this life, Nialla,” Lord Bron Kallan replied distractedly while checking his long, dark-red hair in Nialla’s full-length mirror. “I happen to have an appointment this afternoon, and I don’t care to be late for it.”

“You don’t dare be late for it, you mean,” Nialla retorted, trying to be as cutting as most of the ladies of their class. “Everyone knows they’re making you be in one of their silly little pretend Blendings, the ones they’re forming to make Adriari’s Blending look good. Adriari’s will be the first Seated Blending with more women than men, and we all think it’s just marvelous.”

In text confirmation that basically everyone in the nobility knows that the Blending competitions are fixed. There's either a plothole here, or Rion's childhood was that awful that somehow this critical piece of intel never made it to him. I'm going to give Green the benefit of the doubt here, because Rion's childhood is all sorts of atypical but I feel like she forgot about this angle.

quote:

“That’s because none of you can think,” Bron retorted with a snort, turning to look directly at her. “The only reason the Advisors have chosen a predominantly female Blending this time is because women are easier to give orders to. Instead of arguing about things they don’t like, they simply cry a little and then obey. The Advisors are tired of sharing the running of this empire with a strong Blending, so this time they’ve chosen a weak one.”

Written and published after second wave feminism guys. Green actually lived through it, and I can't understand why she wouldn't use fantasy as a vehicle for showing how the world could be, instead of rehashing the same crap that already happened in a way that completely lacks any sort of nuance.

quote:

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Nialla returned with a sniff, abruptly changing her position when she discovered how flat her breasts looked in the old one.

You know she's part of the Evil Villain entourage, because no female character other than Tamrissa and Jovvi are allowed to be fully realized characters in their own right. And I personally have my doubts about those two.

quote:

“No one in their right mind would choose a weak Blending, not when they have to be strong enough to defend us from all those crises the Prophecy always talks about. You’re just jealous because you’ll be nothing but stage dressing for the performance the Advisors will put on.”

In case you forgot about that Prologue back in Book 1.

quote:

“Of course, Nialla, you’re correct as always,” Bron said smoothly, not about to try to explain the difference between strong in talent and strong in character to the featherhead. Nialla had just one talent, and Bron had already made use of it. “It’s been as marvelous as always, and I’ll certainly see you again soon.”

In point of fact, we'll see Adriari's Blending on screen exactly twice, and they'll prove to be neither strong in talent nor strong in character.

quote:

“If I’m free,” Nialla put in, her pretty face set in a sulk, getting the last word as she so loved to do. Bron ignored it as he left her bedchamber, but his mood was far from light and forgiving. There were quite a few things Nialla didn’t know about, and the uncertainty of one of them had been keeping him in a perpetual temper.

So, after closing her bedchamber door, when he saw the antique piano in her sitting room, he suddenly got an idea. She’d had to wait years to get her hands on that piano, it had cost her a fortune in gold, and it was her pride and joy. But she’d called him stage dressing and pettily jealous, and for that she needed to be punished.

It took only an instant for Bron to embrace the power, and then he directed his flames to the piano’s sounding board. He didn’t want to burn it to ash, and also made sure nothing else in the instrument was damaged. He simply worked to fire-harden the wood, which would render it useless as a sounding board. The entire piano would be useless until the board was replaced, but replacing it would destroy the instrument’s value as a fully-original antique. Nialla would have the choice of giving up playing the thing as she so loved to do, or losing half the investment she’d made.

I am a classically trained pianist. Any time people make "art" out of destroying pianos I have to look away and cringe. If anyone ever has the opportunity to go tour a high end piano factory (I highly, highly recommend the Steinway factory tour in Queens for US goons; their other factory is in Hamburg for Europe goons and if you're near neither of those places, but close to Asia, then try the Kawai or Yamaha factory in Hamamatsu, Japan, though neither of those are easily accessible by public transport), you should because it's just amazing craftsmanship.

What Bron just did is a crime against the universe and I hate him for it. I feel like Green was following the anti-Save the Cat principle (even though Save the Cat wasn't published when Green first wrote this) - in case you didn't pick up on the numerous other cues before this malicious act of vandalism.

quote:

Feeling how much his mood had lightened, Bron left Nialla’s house and called over his carriage and driver. The man was there and waiting for him, of course, and would have been in the same place even if Bron had been twice as long in coming out. His drivers were either constantly and immediately available or they were dismissed, something they were all well aware of.

It wasn’t necessary for Bron to tell the driver where to go next, as he’d already listed his itinerary for the man this morning. That was another thing his drivers had to have, a good memory. He was a busy man, and didn’t care to be constantly interrupting his thoughts to give directions.

However, I can get behind this. If I were rich enough to pay a private driver, I too would expect this level of service from my employee, as I would assume anybody else who is able to afford a private driver. Is there some sort of different standard that I'm unaware of?

quote:

Once Bron was settled the carriage moved off in the direction of Kambil Arstin’s house, where the meeting was being held this week.

Yay, what fun. So not only do we have to slog through ANOTHER meeting, we get to watch multiple people get ready for the meeting.

quote:

The Advisors had appointed fools from the lower nobility to work with their group of five and strengthen their talents, and once a week an Advisor’s agent held a meeting in one of their homes to discuss the group’s progress. It was usually a rather unpleasant time, as agents had a tendency to act as if they were one of the Advisors themselves. Bron hated to be told how badly he was doing because of his laziness, but this week’s meeting ought to be different.

Here comes the theme: the nobility suck and all of their children, including the grown adults, are a bunch of babies, because said nobility cheated at life and gave their kids everything and never required them to earn anything.

quote:

He smiled at that thought, knowing the meeting ought to be different for all five of them. It was certainly true that Bron’s parents knew how much he hated to be pushed and rushed and so had never distressed him with unreasonable demands, but now he had a special purpose for pushing himself. The five of them had decided, privately, of course, that they would become the Seated Blending. Adriari and her five were weak in all ways, and their competition would be very public. When Bron’s five defeated Adriari’s in front of hundreds of people, they would become the ones who were ultimately Seated on the Fivefold Throne.

And there would be nothing the Advisors could do about it.

Actually...

quote:

Bron’s smile changed to a grin as he pictured the way they would all assure the Advisors how loyal and obedient they would be once Seated. That would mollify and silence all protests from the Advisors, but once their Five was Seated their first official action would be to arrest that pack of fools.

Bron have you heard of this thing called Spirit magic?

quote:

Simply dismissing them and sending them home would be a good deal more satisfying, but Delin said they were too dangerous to be treated lightly.

Accurate.

quote:

Bron’s grin disappeared as his thoughts turned to Delin Moord, high lord and Earth magic practitioner. Delin might have been the one to first suggest that they go against the Advisors wishes, but Bron couldn’t swear to that. For some reason he thought of it as his own idea, one that Delin simply supported. Bron sometimes found himself confused in Delin’s presence, but most often he felt flattered. Delin’s power and social standing were a bit higher than his own, but it was always clear that Delin admired him. Most certainly as he should.

Delin is definitely doing all of the manipulating however spoilers for Book 3 on a reread this makes me wonder if Kambil was actually already messing around with his prospective Blendingmates. This is the first POV of someone who later is revealed to be under someone's control and this internal narration is fishy, which would actually be a nice bit of foreshadowing on Green's part.

quote:

And Bron was certainly the leader of the group that everyone looked up to. Delin made that clear every time they got together without the agent, just as he quietly took over handling things when the agent did happen to be there. Lord Rigos and his high-handed ways tended to upset Bron, and it was a relief to have Delin handle the man for him. Especially since Delin made no effort to keep control.

Bron smiled again, pleased that Delin’s loss was his gain. Almost every member of the nobility Bron knew was as ambitious as he to gain independent gold and power, but not Delin. He seemed content to let others take the lead, which was probably very wise of him. As unassuming as the man was, he’d never get very far.

Keep Bron's impression of Delin in mind as we read through the next set of chapters. He is not very smart.

quote:

But the carriage was moving too slowly, Bron suddenly noticed. A glance at a clock before leaving Nialla’s house had shown that Bron was running late as usual, something his driver should have known without being told. He’d certainly have to dismiss the man tonight, no matter that the low-class peasant had worked for him for years. The man deserved to be dismissed, but now he needed to be hurried.

While Bron's earlier expectations were reasonable, this really isn't UNLESS his driver actually has Spirit magic, in which case I suppose it would be, technically. Except we're in an Empire where people basically are told not to use the innate magical abilities that they're born with.

quote:

Bron leaned forward to shout at his driver, picturing how upsetting Lord Rigos would be when Bron walked in late again…

That has to be a typo. I think Green meant "picturing how upset Lord Rigos would be..."

Summary:
There's nothing in the text to indicate what day in the overall timeline it is, because as you might recall from Tamrissa's annoying closing narration at the end of Book 2 Chapter 5, she's inserting these next bits as pseudo flashbacks/alternate POVs or whatevers because...reasons. Anyway. This was the shortest chapter so far, except for the Prologue in Book 1.

Bron Kallan (Fire magic) is a hot dumb jock who casually vandalizes his lady friend's antique piano because she insulted his ego during their post-coital conversation.

Counts so far:
(I'm gonna carry the counts forward for Book 2 stuff, but keep it all together since all of the books in the first series just kind of blur into one gigantic mess. The sequel trilogy is actually better written in some ways, so worth starting the count anew, except for maybe tea drinking and baths)

NAMED ON-SCREEN CHARACTERS WHO WE'LL NEVER SEE AGAIN: 22
Book 1: Mildon Coll, Phor Riven, Jeris Womal, Eldra Sappin, Fod, Lord Astrath, Torrin Ro, Vish "the Fish", Jamrin, Hark, Reshin, Fellar, Ennis, Vosin, Parli Hafford, Regensi, Weeks, Adept Aminto, Mem Follil, Toblis, Kogrin, Lemmis Admen, Miklas
Book 2: Nialla

TOTALLY INDISTINCT ON-SCREEN LOCATIONS: 10 (9 in Book 1)
Book 1: Rincammon, Haven Wraithside, Tamrissa's house in Gan Garee, Port Entril, testing facility in Gan Garee, Regensi's shop, Ginge's tavern, Magross bridge, mastery facility outside Gan Garee, Nialla's house

MEALS ON-SCREEN: 15
Book 1: Day 1 (lunch, dinner), Day 2 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 3 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 4 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 5 (lunch, dinner), Day 6 (breakfast, lunch)

EUPHEMISMS FOR BODY PARTS: 9
Book 1:
Male: <character name>'s body (x2), discomfort (x1), manhood (x1), desire (x2), renewed need (x1), large and hard, the most perfect of men (x1)
Female: womanhood (x1), entrance of ultimate bliss (x1), desire (x1), incredible tunnel (x1)

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT: 3
Book 1:
Male: love (x1), my fleeting love (x1)
Female: sweet girl (x1)

ANTAGONISTS: 12 (11 introduced in Book 1)
General: Unnamed Chairman/Ollon Kapmar (?) and the five Seated Highs in each aspect, Eltrina Razas, Bron Kallan
Lorand: Eskin Drowd
Jovvi: Allestine and her henchmen Ark and Bar
Clarion: Hallina Mardimil, Eskin Drowd
Tamrissa: Storn and Avrina Torgar, Beldara Lant, Odrin Hallasser, Soonen
Vallant: Mirra Agran

PLOTHOLES: 39
COACH RIDES: 22 (21 of them in Book 1)
MEETINGS IN COACHES: 4
OTHER MEETINGS: 3
INTERRUPTED MONOLOGUING: 31
"CLIFFHANGERS": 18
POINTLESS TAMRISSA NARRATION: 11
TEA DRINKING: 22
BLATANT MORALIZING: 19
BATH SCENES: 9
WILFUL MISUNDERSTANDINGS: 6
MIND CONTROL: 5
BADLY WRITTEN SEX SCENES: 2

REPETITIVE POV EVENTS:
  • Oh noes, a fireball (Book 1: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Pass or die (Book 1: Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  • Bathroom encounters (Book 1: Chapters 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
  • Don't rain on my parade! (Book 1: Chapters 19, 20)
  • Uniform fitting (Book 1: Chapters 20, 21)
  • Random encounters: Round 1 (Book 1: Chapters 25, 32, 33, 35, 38)
  • One, two, three, four, five (Book 1: Chapters 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35)
  • A favorite object appears out of thin air (Book 1: Chapters 36, 37 x2, 38)
  • Proof of mastery: Level 1 (Book 1: Chapters 39, 40, 41, 42, 43; Book 2: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Animal cheer squad (Book 2: Chapters 1, 4, 5)

Possible fixes:
Cut this POV! It won't feel this way for another twenty or thirty chapters but the POVs from the antagonist Blending we mainly get are from Delin then Kambil, because they are the two most proactive antagonists in the whole series (Book 3 spoilers: and because Kambil has put his other Blendingmates under control so they are basically his puppets).

Leng fucked around with this message at 03:57 on Dec 10, 2020

there wolf
Jan 11, 2015

by Fluffdaddy


Green is a libertarian and lady libertarians believe that sexism is bad, but treating it like a cultural problem to be tackled collectively is worse. Women need to just be tough and smart enough to convince men that they're equals, also women and men have different roles, also some women just deserve to be treated like poo poo because they ask for it with their weakness. It is, as should be no surprise, an insensible mess.

wizzardstaff
Apr 6, 2018




Men should be tough enough that women respect them, but not so tough that they become sadistic sexual predators. Women should be tough enough to stand up for themselves against these bad men, but they shouldn't be so tough that they become like men themselves. Self-driven women are good, ambitious women are bad. Sexually confident women are good, sexually proactive women are bad.

Also people have the power and responsibility to chart their own course in life without being influenced by external factors, but the number one predictor of whether someone is a good person is how permissive their parents were.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


there wolf posted:

Women need to just be tough and smart enough to convince men that they're equals, also women and men have different roles

wizzardstaff posted:

Women should be tough enough to stand up for themselves against these bad men, but they shouldn't be so tough that they become like men themselves.



Dare I ask what the libertarian view on trans and gender diversity is? Or is that a horror show that should best be avoided?

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


quote:

CHAPTER SEVEN

Selendi Vas, Air magic 

We've had the hot dumb jock; now meet his counterpart, the hot rich bimbo.

quote:

“Selendi, dear, why are you rushing around like that?” Mother asked from where she sat at her precious loom, paying more attention to the weaving than to her own daughter. “I did remind you of your appointment just when you asked me to, you know.”

“No, Mother, I don’t know any such thing,” Selendi retorted, throwing the scarves she didn’t want to the floor. The chest was piled high with them, every scarf ever bought except for the one she wanted. “You were supposed to have reminded me over an hour ago, not ten minutes ago. Since you know how I hate to be late to appointments, I’m convinced you waited the extra hour on purpose.”

This is the second set of the parent/child interactions that we get to see on screen (the first being Tamrissa and her parents) and it's going to be the template for 90% of the parent/child dynamics in the nobility.

quote:

“But dear, you were with that marvelous young what’s-his-name, the son of Alette Rumil,” Mother protested in that high voice she used when she felt unjustly accused—and which never failed to jangle Selendi’s nerves even more. “He’s going to be a very important man some day, just like his father, so how could I interrupt?”

“You could have done it easily, and he probably wouldn’t even have noticed,” Selendi told her with an angry glance her mother never saw. “He’s as thick in the head as Alette has always been, and he’s only good for one thing. He may well be a very important man one day, but only if he can perform as he does now, face down in a bed.”

The inconsistence levels around what "very important" is off the charts and we'll come back to it. For now, just note that hot and dumb Bron is not good enough to be "very important" despite his father being very important, but also the hot and dumb son of Alette Rumil is good enough to be "very important" because his father is very important.

quote:

“Don’t be crude, dear, it isn’t ladylike,” Mother corrected absently, the same thing she always said when she’d driven Selendi into the foulest of moods. “Alette is simply a bit … easygoing when it comes to understanding things, and her son obviously takes after her. But he also takes after her in looks, you’ll have to admit. He’s one of the handsomest men I’ve ever seen.”

Uh, yay? Selendi's mom only objected to the fact that Selendi phrased her observation as an insult, as opposed to telling her off for sleeping with him or disagreeing with her.

quote:

“You’ve always been partial to blondes, and if you weren’t sitting there doing manual labor I would have brought him in to meet you,” Selendi said, partially distracted by the fact that she’d now discarded every scarf in the chest, and still hadn’t found the one she wanted. “What could have happened to it? I know I saw it in here only a few days ago.”

“Please don’t be disgusting, Selendi,” Mother protested, finally looking up from the ridiculous contraption. “I’m not doing manual labor, I’m indulging in one of the most popular current hobbies. I’m sure the boy would understand since his mother does almost the same thing when she remembers, so next time do bring him in to meet me. After that I’ll handle the matter myself, but what are you looking for?”

I'm getting serious super rich kid Instagram model vibes off Selendi.

quote:

“I want that pale blue scarf of yours,” Selendi answered, turning away from the scattered mess. “It’s the only scarf that goes really well with this dress, and I’m not leaving here until I find it.”

“You should have told me what you were looking for sooner, dear,” Mother said with that defensive reproof she was so good at producing. “I loaned the scarf to your sister two days ago, and she hasn’t returned it yet.”

“Mother, how could you?” Selendi demanded, finding that the last straw. “You should have known I’d want the thing, you were there when I had the final fitting on this dress! Now there’s nothing decent to go with it and I’ll look like the frump of the ages, all because you never think about me. If I had the time, I’d cry. My own mother, caring nothing about me…”

Selendi let her voice trail off, actually almost as wounded as she’d said she was. Every time Mother gave something to Leta, it was one less thing to be given to her. She didn’t know how Mother could treat her like that, but at least her protest had silenced the silly woman with well-earned guilt. And she had to leave right now, otherwise she really would be late.

“But dear, can’t you simply change your dress?” Mother began, trying to throw off responsibility the way she always did. “It seems to me—”

If I were Selendi's mother, I would just treat both of my daughters like twins and buy two of everything, because I am a rich noble's wife and this is not the parenting battle I want to die on a hill for.

quote:

“We’ll have to continue this discussion later, Mother,” Selendi interrupted as she headed out of her mother’s bedchamber. “And you can be sure I’ll remember this the next time Emar Rumil comes to visit. Do enjoy your manual labor.”

The sound of Mother’s indrawn breath of disappointment gave Selendi a good deal of satisfaction, but she hadn’t the time to enjoy it now as thoroughly as she would have liked. Her carriage would be waiting outside, so she used thickened air to push the stupid servants out of her way, including the one carrying the tea service. Both service and tea ended up on the floor with a crash, but it didn’t matter in the least. Selendi was already past the mess and halfway out the door, so she didn’t even get her hem splashed.

Since the protagonists are so awful, Green needs to make the antagonists really awful so you don't root for them by accident. Hence Selendi's casual everyday physical assault on the servants aside.

Also, doesn't a tea service by definition include the tea that is inside the tea pot that forms part of the tea service along with the tea cups? Did she mean "Both servant and tea ended up on the floor"? Really sucks to be that person, because they probably just got third degree burns from the scalding hot tea.

quote:

Her driver knew the way to Kambil Arstin’s house, so she simply had to say where she was going and they were on their way. Her driver was an absolute delight, and not too bad in bed, either. She’d used him a time or two when no one else was available, and the way he’d strutted afterward had amused her. Most peasants knew when they were more than ordinarily privileged, and his strutting would remain amusing as long as he didn’t try to put on airs with her.

This is the second time Green's used the pun "put on airs" with a character who has Air magic.

quote:

Not that he would, unlike some of the men of her own class. Most of them were absolutely insufferable, even the thick-headed ones like Emar Rumil. Bron Kallan was one like that, and as soon as she tried him in bed she’d probably tell him exactly what she thought of him. Unless he was as good as she’d heard. If he was she’d wait until she tired of him, which wasn’t likely to take long. It never took long with any of them, probably because they were so insufferable.

Spoilers, Green does not write the horrible sex scene between Bron and Selendi. I kind of wish she did; mainly because these two characters are both so crazy selfish that I can't imagine either of them caring about whether or not the other person had a good time, or communicating well with each other, so it would actually be a hilarious scene of bad sex instead of just being badly written bad sex pretending to be good sex.

quote:

Selendi made herself more comfortable on the carriage seat, finally having the time to think about where she was going. The rest of the five she’d been forced to join were men, but they seemed to want as much out of life as she did. It was difficult to imagine men being dissatisfied when most of them at least had the chance to do anything they pleased. Their mothers were never constantly at them, insisting this or that wasn’t ladylike or refined enough. She was beyond being sick of hearing about limits, and had hated it even more when the Advisors’ agent had forced her to do what she had no real interest in.

But that made their secret plans all the more delicious. When she and the men defeated that stuck up Adriari’s five to become the Blending that would eventually be Seated, they’d be able to begin their plans for absolute freedom. The Advisors would regret having made them participate in this stupid waste of time called competition that only the peasants took seriously, and her parents at least would regret how little they’d cared about her over the years.

Selendi smiled at that thought, wondering what she might do to them first. Her father did something or other in the government, so dismissing him would be easy. And if she told him it was happening because Mother had been so cruel to her… Yes, that should settle Mother’s hash nicely. The least she would lose would be her collection of “handsome” boys, which would certainly make her regret that she hadn’t been more generous with her most important daughter.

Also part of Green's theme: all of the Evil People are Evil because they want vengeance on people whom they believed did them wrong; our protagonists just want to be left alone, except they are allowed to have homicidal fantasies about exacting vengeance on people whom they believe to have treated their friends wrong, and that makes them Heroes who are clearly Not Evil.

quote:

That still left Leta to be gotten even with, which would certainly turn out to be something of a problem. Selendi frowned and shifted in annoyance at the thought of her older sister, whom everyone said took mostly after Father. Leta had no more magical talent than anyone else, but somehow she’d always managed to do exactly what she wanted to. The one time they’d had a serious argument, Selendi had lost.

She still had to take a deep breath at the memory of that, to calm the rage tinged with fear she always felt when thinking about it. They’d both been a lot younger, Selendi barely into her teens with Leta three years older. They’d been arguing about something Selendi couldn’t quite remember the details of, but it had been an important something to Leta. She’d usually shrugged over and ignored anything Selendi did, but that time she’d refused to back down. Yes, now she remembered. It had been when Selendi had told the servants to throw away that useless stand of books in the solarium, to make room for the new lounge chair Selendi had just had delivered.

“No, those books will not be touched,” Leta had announced coolly, sending the servants away. “I haven’t finished reading them yet, and I won’t want them thrown out even when I have finished.”

“Then throw away some of the books in your apartment so you can move these in,” Selendi had countered reasonably, determined to make things work out right. “Or get Father to throw away some of his, and put them in the library. I don’t care what you do with them, as long as you get them out of here.”

“Someone should have mentioned to you sooner that you don’t own this house,” Leta had said with a sound of ridicule that had made Selendi feel completely incensed. “If Father wants the books moved then I’ll move them, but you have no say in the matter. Try to confine your selfishness and spoiled-brat behavior to your own life. Mother has to put up with it because she caused it, but I didn’t so I don’t.”

And Leta had started to turn away, arrogantly considering the matter settled. That had brought Selendi up to true fury, and without thinking she’d reached toward Leta with her talent. She’d actually done very little practicing with Air magic until then, but what she’d lacked in finesse she made up in strength. She thickened the air around Leta, just enough to make it unbreathable, knowing Leta’s feeble Air magic would never be able to save her.

And Leta’s Air magic hadn’t. It was Leta herself, obviously holding her breath, who turned back to Selendi and slapped her so hard across the face that Selendi was knocked down. In deep shock she’d half-lain on the floor, her ears ringing and her cheek blazing with pain, and Leta had bent down to take her by the hair and painfully yank her head up.

“It’s a shame this must be the first time anyone has ever raised a hand to you,” Leta had growled softly in a voice that sent shivers through Selendi. “If you’d been properly punished sooner, I would have been saved the trouble of having to do this. Listen to me, you little slut, and believe what I say: if you ever try to use your ability against me again, I’ll kill you. Afterward I’ll be hysterical because of the ‘accident’ and everyone will commiserate and comfort me, and you’ll be dead. Don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m not serious. If you have to learn the truth the hard way, you’ll never learn anything beyond it. And from now on stay completely out of my way.”

Make Leta the protagonist–I mean, the antagonist instead.

quote:

She’d shoved Selendi away then and had straightened and left, but it had been quite a while before Selendi had been able to leave herself. Leta had terrified her, and as much like Father as Leta was, Selendi didn’t doubt for a moment that Leta had spoken the absolute truth. She’d taken pains to stay away from her sister and her sister’s possessions after that, but her hatred of Leta had grown stronger and stronger over the years.

So she had to do something to get even with her sister once they were in power, but she didn’t know what or how. She couldn’t very well face Leta personally, but maybe one or two of the men… Yes, that might work, especially when they needed her cooperation to win the Throne. She would cooperate in return for a small favor, one they owed her anyway simply because she was there. She’d have to mention the point after they spoke to that agent, and the loathsome man was gone.

Selendi, once again more pleased with the world, settled back to enjoy the rest of the ride. Being involved with men somewhere other than bed might not be so bad after all, but which ones should she send after Leta? She’d have to think about it for a while, but one of them would have to be Delin Moord. He’d be able to frighten even Leta, if even half of what she’d seen in his eyes the time or two he’d let his mask drop was true…

Why don't you tell us exactly WHAT you saw in Delin's eyes? Oh because Green is writing this.

Summary:
Bron Kallan (Fire magic) is a hot dumb jock who casually vandalizes his lady friend's antique piano because she insulted his ego during their post-coital conversation. Selendi Vas (Air magic) is a hot rich bimbo who is a spoiled brat.

Counts so far:

NAMED ON-SCREEN CHARACTERS WHO WE'LL NEVER SEE AGAIN: 24
Book 1: Mildon Coll, Phor Riven, Jeris Womal, Eldra Sappin, Fod, Lord Astrath, Torrin Ro, Vish "the Fish", Jamrin, Hark, Reshin, Fellar, Ennis, Vosin, Parli Hafford, Regensi, Weeks, Adept Aminto, Mem Follil, Toblis, Kogrin, Lemmis Admen, Miklas
Book 2: Nialla, Emar Rumil, Leta Vas

TOTALLY INDISTINCT ON-SCREEN LOCATIONS: 11 (9 in Book 1)
Book 1: Rincammon, Haven Wraithside, Tamrissa's house in Gan Garee, Port Entril, testing facility in Gan Garee, Regensi's shop, Ginge's tavern, Magross bridge, mastery facility outside Gan Garee, Nialla's house, Vas residence

MEALS ON-SCREEN: 15
Book 1: Day 1 (lunch, dinner), Day 2 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 3 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 4 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 5 (lunch, dinner), Day 6 (breakfast, lunch)

EUPHEMISMS FOR BODY PARTS: 9
Book 1:
Male: <character name>'s body (x2), discomfort (x1), manhood (x1), desire (x2), renewed need (x1), large and hard, the most perfect of men (x1)
Female: womanhood (x1), entrance of ultimate bliss (x1), desire (x1), incredible tunnel (x1)

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT: 3
Book 1:
Male: love (x1), my fleeting love (x1)
Female: sweet girl (x1)

ANTAGONISTS: 13 (11 introduced in Book 1)
General: Unnamed Chairman/Ollon Kapmar (?) and the five Seated Highs in each aspect, Eltrina Razas, Bron Kallan, Selendi Vas
Lorand: Eskin Drowd
Jovvi: Allestine and her henchmen Ark and Bar
Clarion: Hallina Mardimil, Eskin Drowd
Tamrissa: Storn and Avrina Torgar, Beldara Lant, Odrin Hallasser, Soonen
Vallant: Mirra Agran

PLOTHOLES: 39
COACH RIDES: 23 (21 of them in Book 1)
MEETINGS IN COACHES: 4
OTHER MEETINGS: 3
INTERRUPTED MONOLOGUING: 31
"CLIFFHANGERS": 18
POINTLESS TAMRISSA NARRATION: 11
TEA DRINKING: 22
BLATANT MORALIZING: 19
BATH SCENES: 9
WILFUL MISUNDERSTANDINGS: 6
MIND CONTROL: 5
BADLY WRITTEN SEX SCENES: 2

REPETITIVE POV EVENTS:
  • Oh noes, a fireball (Book 1: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Pass or die (Book 1: Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  • Bathroom encounters (Book 1: Chapters 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
  • Don't rain on my parade! (Book 1: Chapters 19, 20)
  • Uniform fitting (Book 1: Chapters 20, 21)
  • Random encounters: Round 1 (Book 1: Chapters 25, 32, 33, 35, 38)
  • One, two, three, four, five (Book 1: Chapters 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35)
  • A favorite object appears out of thin air (Book 1: Chapters 36, 37 x2, 38)
  • Proof of mastery: Level 1 (Book 1: Chapters 39, 40, 41, 42, 43; Book 2: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Animal cheer squad (Book 2: Chapters 1, 4, 5)

Possible fixes:
Selendi actually has a pretty sad/messed up character arc (Book 5 spoilers: turns out that the reason she keeps sleeping with all these men is because she was sexually abused by her father as a young girl and she's trying to recreate that experience with another guy because once she got older, her father stopped sexually abusing her). Unfortunately she's too dumb to actually do anything effective plotwise. In the hands of a better author, she could have been so much more interesting, though I think functionally Eltrina is like a more competent version of the "woman trying to play the game as a man but in her way" minus the abusive childhood.

So yeah, I'd cut this POV altogether along with Bron's POVs. We can get exactly the same information about her characterization via Kambil and Delin in a few chapters.

Leng fucked around with this message at 03:57 on Dec 10, 2020

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


quote:

CHAPTER EIGHT

Homin Weil, Water magic

And now we get to meet the only "headline" character who is not good looking or smooth or charming or courageous or any other positive attributes whatsoever other than the fact that he is a High in Water magic, i.e. the token who is about as far from Vallant as you can get.

quote:

Homin crept through the bedchamber, holding his breath to keep it from coming out in great, noisy gasps. His father’s new wife Elfini was currently taking her nap, and the last thing Homin wanted to do was waken her. She’d certainly arranged things so that he would awaken her, but it was just possible he might get around that. Actually he had to get around it, as the time to leave for the meeting was fast approaching. Going through the litany would take much too long, but if Elfini awoke she would certainly insist on it…

“What are you doing in my bedchamber, Homin?” Elfini’s voice came suddenly out of the dimness, nearly making Homin’s heart stop dead. “This is supposed to be my nap time.”

“I—I need my—identification bracelet,” Homin croaked unsteadily, his insides tightening with every word. He hadn’t even straightened out of his hunched-over posture, and probably wouldn’t until he was out of there again. “I—took it off for my—bath, and when I returned from the—bath house it was gone. I—looked everywhere for it—before realizing you must have—accidentally walked away with it. I can’t go to the meeting without it, so—”

“So you came barging into my bedchamber as if I were one of the maids,” Elfini interrupted, her tone very flat. “But now that you are here, we can review the lesson. You do remember the lesson, don’t you?”

“Elfini, please,” he begged in a whisper, unable to look at her where she sat up in the bed. “I’m not my father, and I don’t enjoy this sort of thing. I just want my identification bracelet back, and then I can—”

“How dare you try to be impertinent with me, boy?” she interrupted again to demand, her voice much colder than it had been—which he hadn’t thought would be possible. “Recite the first of the lessons I taught you, and do it now!”

“Elfini is the mistress of this household,” Homin recited at once, too frightened not to. “Elfini is also the mistress of everyone in the household. If anyone in her household disobeys or displeases Elfini, she will not hesitate to discipline them. Please, Elfini, I’m going to be late—”

“And you claim to understand what you just babbled out?” Elfini said, scorn dripping from every word. “You insist you disliked your first taste of discipline, but your actions fairly beg for another dose. But I do have to remember how delicate you are. Go to my special wardrobe, and fetch out the light whip.”

Here's the first obvious instance of nonconsensual weird BDSM stuff that tells you we're in an antagonist POV.

quote:

“Lord Rigos will force me to tell him why I’m late!” Homin blurted out, his desperation almost as great as his fear. “You know how frightened I am of him, and when he turns those eyes on me I simply can’t lie. He’s already said he’ll take stern measures with anyone who tries to disrupt our group, and the anyone includes our families. Lord Rigos is—”

“I know who Lord Rigos is!” Elfini snapped, furious anger now rippling her control. “We’ve known and hated each other for a number of years now, and he’d just love to interfere with my—Homin, your bracelet is here on my night table. Come and get it and then go to your meeting, but report to me as soon as you return. You’re a very naughty boy, and I don’t allow naughty boys under my roof.”

"furious anger now rippling her control" has to be one of the worst dialogue tags, ever.

quote:

The flood of relief made Homin stagger, but he caught his balance then forced himself to go closer to where Elfini sat. Because of the dimness he was just about on top of the night table before he saw the bracelet, and after a nervous glance at his stepmother he snatched it up. He’d almost expected her to grab his wrist when he reached for the bracelet, but that wasn’t the way she did things.

“Come directly home after that meeting,” she said, her shadowy face and inflexible voice sending shivers through him. “And don’t say a word to Lord Rigos beyond what you absolutely must. If he disturbs my household, you’ll be the one who pays for it.”

“Yes, Elfini,” he said as quickly as possible, now backing away from the bed. “I’ll be home as soon as the meeting is over, and I won’t say a word.”

We're going to get a recap of all of this again later, by the way.

quote:

She made a sound that was probably dismissal, but in any event that was the way Homin took it. He turned and fled her bedchamber, and didn’t slow down until he was through the house and out the front door. His carriage waited outside so he climbed right in, told the driver to take him to Kambil Arstin’s house, and only when the carriage began to move did he make the effort to try to relax.

Sweat beaded his forehead so thickly that he needed to blot it with the handkerchief from his pocket to keep it from rolling down into his eyes. Homin was no stranger to fear, but Elfini was somehow worse than his mother had been. Mother had been the same sort of woman, incredibly strong and a firm believer in discipline, but she’d given most of that sort of attention to Father, who actually craved and needed it. Only occasionally had she felt it necessary to teach Homin his place, and the lessons had been hard but not unduly harsh. Elfini, though…

So did the late Lady Weil understand the concept of consent? Or was Homin actually abused by his mother as a child as well, if he lived in constant fear and Elfini is "somehow worse" than his mother, which implies that he didn't think someone could be worse than his mother?

quote:

Elfini apparently wanted to break him, just as if he were strong and virile and defiant. Homin whimpered softly as he hid his eyes behind the handkerchief, at a loss to understand how she could think of him like that even for a moment. He hated and feared discipline and so made every attempt to do exactly as Elfini wished, but she still wasn’t satisfied. If only Mother hadn’t taken sick and died…

But Mother was gone and Father had been so overcome with grief and loss that he’d married Elfini almost immediately. Homin had the feeling Father partially regretted his haste, but it was much too late now to change things. Father might be rather powerful and even feared in his government bureau, but at home he had no more say over matters than Homin did. Possibly less, now that Homin had been drafted as a member of a competing Blending.

Oh, well, that last part is interesting information! Having your offspring drafted as a member of a competing Blending is detrimental to your political position? Green doesn't go into the politics any more than this and I wish she would. We know the competitions are fixed, we know that they've picked the winners in advance, we know that all the competitions are given mind control drugs, so why even go through this farce of drafting in noble competing Blendings? Is it a political punishment or fine? This is way more interesting than everything else that has happened in the 3 noble POV chapters so far and we will never discover anything more to it.

quote:

Time and distance were working together to drain the tension from Homin, so he took the handkerchief from his eyes and leaned back in his carriage seat. The drive would be long enough for him to pull himself together, but the day was rather warm and he needed something to help calm him even further. To that end he brought down some moderately cold water from the upper reaches of the sky, applied it to his brow, then sighed in temporary satisfaction.

Obligatory wielding of magic in a petty or vindictive way by one of the noble antagonists because– oh wait, it's neither petty nor vindictive and Homin is the only one I'm feeling any sort of sympathy for, and it's way more sympathy than I felt for most of the protagonists when they were first introduced in their chapters.

quote:

“Very temporary satisfaction,” he muttered, already beginning to dread the meeting with Lord Rigos. No one of their class had any interest in wasting time being part of a pretend Blending for the competitions, not when everyone knew who had been chosen to win this time. But the Advisors needed challenging Blendings from the nobility to make the sham look good, so they sent out agents like Lord Rigos to coerce people into cooperation. He still didn’t understand how they’d been chosen, not when people without normal ability were somehow involved.

Write about this instead!

quote:

But he had been chosen, along with the other four, and now the other four had embroiled him in some sort of secret plot. Homin had been very tempted to tell Lord Rigos about it and then withdraw completely, but the thought of what he might achieve had stopped him. If their rather silly little plot succeeded somehow, they each would have their own wealth, power—and households. He would no longer need to share his father’s house, and would never need to see Elfini again. He could look for his own woman, one who would be gentle with him, just as Mother had been…

So...Homin has Oedipal issues too? I'm so confused. Vallant's only heir to a merchant as opposed to a noble's only son, and he can afford to rent out a SUITE in a seaport inn permanently. Does Homin's abuse extend to financial abuse too?

quote:

And he would no longer need to lie, as he had about Lord Rigos. Homin had taken the chance that Elfini would, at the very least, be wary of Lord Rigos, and that part of his desperate, hastily-made plan had worked. She did indeed know the Advisory agent, but hadn’t needed to bother threatening Homin into silence. Lord Rigos couldn’t have cared less about the five of them, as long as they were all able to make some kind of showing in the competitions.

Having just attempted my own rewrite, I can now pick out why this bit bothers me. We SAW this happen from Homin's perspective, but instead of interweaving Homin's thoughts so we can get a sense of being in the scene with him, we just get the flat he said/she said dialogue exchange with weird dialogue tags and THEN an internal monologue afterwards that gives us Homin's thoughts. WHY? It would have taken so little effort to just MOVE THIS PART like a few pages earlier and adjust the tenses so we see what he's thinking as he's trying to figure out a way to escape Elfini.

Instead we get this weird reflection in the carriage, so it feels like a complete retcon instead of a character who would otherwise be a completely passive incompetent participant being dragged along by the plot showing a hint of an initiative that gives us some hope for future chapters.

quote:

Homin’s carriage now passed the fringes of a pretty little park, a taste of the countryside in the middle of the city for those who didn’t care to travel out to the real countryside. It would have been wonderful to have his driver turn into that park and drop him off, with orders not to come back or tell anyone where he was. Losing himself would have been marvelous, but he couldn’t have stayed lost. As soon as the next mealtime came around he would be forced to return home, where Elfini would be waiting even more angry than she was now.

There has got to be financial abuse going on. A noble who can't even afford to eat out anywhere except at home (presumably because he doesn't carry any money)? Why can't he just charge it to his father's account? Has the concept of credit not been invented in the Gandistran Empire yet?

quote:

And he couldn’t face the thought of her discipline, he really couldn’t. Faint beads of sweat formed on his brow again at what would be waiting for him when he returned home, but he had no idea how to avoid it. There were days and days yet before he would need to stand with the others in the competitions, so even if he begged Lord Rigos’s help he wasn’t likely to get it. He’d be over the disciplinary session by the time he was needed, so Lord Rigos would simply sneer and dismiss the matter.

But maybe someone else wouldn’t. Homin sat straighter when the thought came, an idea he hadn’t considered before. The trouble with Elfini was affecting his practice performances, and the others in the group would be unhappy over that. They’d all agreed that they would work to be at their very best, and then they’d have no trouble winning over Adriari Fant’s group. Delin Moord had spoken to each of them individually, supporting and encouraging them, scolding them when they needed it, using his charm to get unanimous agreement.

So maybe Delin would be willing to use his charm on Elfini. Homin had promised not to speak to Lord Rigos, but he hadn’t said a word about Delin. And Delin had said they were to come to him with any problems they might have. It might work, it just might actually work…

Green's REALLY trying to build up Delin with three introductory chapters all ending on this kind of note. In contrast, despite the repeated mentions of Adriari's Blending, they are so worthless that the "twist" Green has planned for Book 3 (all of the recent Seated Blendings are made up of Middles rather than Highs so they're easier to control, so Adriari's group are all Middles too) is seen coming a mile away, hence why I'm not including them in the antagonist count.

quote:

Homin dabbed at his brow one last time before putting his handkerchief away, now actually looking forward to the meeting. Or rather to the time after the meeting, when he would be able to speak to Delin. His membership in the group might turn out to have more benefits than he could have possibly imagined…

I really wish Green would learn that it is possible to end chapters (and entire books) without trailing off like this.

Summary:
Bron Kallan (Fire magic) is a hot dumb jock who casually vandalizes his lady friend's antique piano because she insulted his ego during their post-coital conversation. Selendi Vas (Air magic) is a hot rich bimbo who is a spoiled brat. Homin Weil is the token fatty who's been abused his entire life and is currently being abused by his stepmother.

Counts so far:

NAMED ON-SCREEN CHARACTERS WHO WE'LL NEVER SEE AGAIN: 24
Book 1: Mildon Coll, Phor Riven, Jeris Womal, Eldra Sappin, Fod, Lord Astrath, Torrin Ro, Vish "the Fish", Jamrin, Hark, Reshin, Fellar, Ennis, Vosin, Parli Hafford, Regensi, Weeks, Adept Aminto, Mem Follil, Toblis, Kogrin, Lemmis Admen, Miklas
Book 2: Nialla, Emar Rumil, Leta Vas

TOTALLY INDISTINCT ON-SCREEN LOCATIONS: 12 (9 in Book 1)
Book 1: Rincammon, Haven Wraithside, Tamrissa's house in Gan Garee, Port Entril, testing facility in Gan Garee, Regensi's shop, Ginge's tavern, Magross bridge, mastery facility outside Gan Garee, Nialla's house, Vas residence, Weil residence

MEALS ON-SCREEN: 15
Book 1: Day 1 (lunch, dinner), Day 2 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 3 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 4 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 5 (lunch, dinner), Day 6 (breakfast, lunch)

EUPHEMISMS FOR BODY PARTS: 9
Book 1:
Male: <character name>'s body (x2), discomfort (x1), manhood (x1), desire (x2), renewed need (x1), large and hard, the most perfect of men (x1)
Female: womanhood (x1), entrance of ultimate bliss (x1), desire (x1), incredible tunnel (x1)

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT: 3
Book 1:
Male: love (x1), my fleeting love (x1)
Female: sweet girl (x1)

ANTAGONISTS: 14 (11 introduced in Book 1)
General: Unnamed Chairman/Ollon Kapmar (?) and the five Seated Highs in each aspect, Eltrina Razas, Bron Kallan, Selendi Vas, Homin Weil
Lorand: Eskin Drowd
Jovvi: Allestine and her henchmen Ark and Bar
Clarion: Hallina Mardimil, Eskin Drowd
Tamrissa: Storn and Avrina Torgar, Beldara Lant, Odrin Hallasser, Soonen
Vallant: Mirra Agran

PLOTHOLES: 40 (39 of them in Book 1)
COACH RIDES: 24 (21 of them in Book 1)
MEETINGS IN COACHES: 4
OTHER MEETINGS: 3
INTERRUPTED MONOLOGUING: 31
"CLIFFHANGERS": 18
POINTLESS TAMRISSA NARRATION: 11
TEA DRINKING: 22
BLATANT MORALIZING: 19
BATH SCENES: 9
WILFUL MISUNDERSTANDINGS: 6
MIND CONTROL: 5
BADLY WRITTEN SEX SCENES: 2

REPETITIVE POV EVENTS:
  • Oh noes, a fireball (Book 1: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Pass or die (Book 1: Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  • Bathroom encounters (Book 1: Chapters 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
  • Don't rain on my parade! (Book 1: Chapters 19, 20)
  • Uniform fitting (Book 1: Chapters 20, 21)
  • Random encounters: Round 1 (Book 1: Chapters 25, 32, 33, 35, 38)
  • One, two, three, four, five (Book 1: Chapters 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35)
  • A favorite object appears out of thin air (Book 1: Chapters 36, 37 x2, 38)
  • Proof of mastery: Level 1 (Book 1: Chapters 39, 40, 41, 42, 43; Book 2: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Animal cheer squad (Book 2: Chapters 1, 4, 5)

Possible fixes:
Homin also had the potential to be much more interesting than the token nod to "diversity" (hahahahahaha, it's so bad that the only diversity represented in Green's books is whether someone is hot or not), mainly because he is actually quite different to the other characters. But I guess it was too hard to try and write a character that was so different because Green pretty much drops the Homin POVs as soon as the first subplot he's involved with is over and then Book 3 spoilers he just becomes an extension of Kambil. So yeah, I'd be cutting this POV too.

Leng fucked around with this message at 03:56 on Dec 10, 2020

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


quote:

CHAPTER NINE

Kambil Arstin, Spirit magic

This guy is supposed to be the most sympathetic one out of all the antagonists. I like the idea of having an antagonist that could reasonably be the protagonist in another version of the story. Unfortunately this is Green so there's not enough nuance in the story to support this. The main characters are right and righteous saviors of the world and anybody standing in their way is just supporting an evil and corrupt regime.

quote:

“Since your guests should be arriving soon, I’ll get out of the way, Kambil,” his grandmother said, giving him one of her usual warm smiles. “But if you need me for anything, don’t hesitate to call. I won’t be doing anything important.”

“You’ll be working on your poetry, and you’re the only one in the entire world who doesn’t consider that important,” Kambil countered with a snort as he took her hand and helped her out of the chair. “It’s this meeting that’s unimportant, Grami, so don’t even think you’ll be disturbed. If necessary, I’ll see to it.”

“Don’t do anything rash with that Lord Rigos around, love,” Grami warned, her smile having disappeared. “He’s as nasty and dangerous as his father before him, and the fact that he has no talent to speak of is a point of pride with him. He hates those who do have strong talent because of his jealousy of them, but he’ll never admit that.”

“I know, Grami,” Kambil told her gently, patting her hand before releasing it. “I knew all about him five minutes after we met, and continue to make sure I never turn my back on him. Have you suddenly decided you did a terrible job of training me?”

“No, love, I’m just a worrier,” she replied, good humor immediately restored. For the millionth time Kambil noticed that she was still a handsome, vital woman, thank any Unknown Aspect that might have had anything to do with the matter. Grami was Father’s mother, and had come to live with them after Kambil’s mother died in childbirth with the infant who would have been his sister. She’d been the center of his universe forever, and even Father was able to relax and enjoy her presence.

Spoilers for Book 5 I think: Grami Arstin is actually a real piece of work. She's basically a High in Spirit magic herself, and put her own husband, her son, her daughter-in-law and her grand children under her control. It's super messed up and she would have been a fantastic antagonist.

quote:

“Yes, you are a worrier, and I love you for it,” Kambil said, walking her half way to the corridor which led to her wing of the house. “I’ll come to your apartment later, and tell you how things went.”

She patted his arm in agreement before continuing out of the wide sitting-entertainment area, her step firm and brisk but not at all hurried. Grami almost never hurried, not unless she considered the matter worth hurrying for. She was different from everyone else he knew, kind of crazy, lots of fun, and someone he loved with everything in him. And she never told him what to do, even when she didn’t like what he’d gotten involved in.

Spoilers continued: like this is some crazy skill in Spirit magic - the fact that Grami has her grandson under such strong and subtle control that Kambil comes off reasonably sane for most of his POVs. The worst part is Green doesn't really do foreshadowing that well so the reveals that come later feel like they come out of nowhere

quote:

“Like this whole affair,” Kambil muttered, turning back to see that everything in the sitting area was prepared for the arrival of his guests. It might have been some comfort if he’d fallen into evil company through his own efforts, but he’d actually had nothing to do with being made a part of this group. He’d been noticed by some Guild man or other and been assessed a strong talent, so when they’d needed someone with Spirit magic to round out a group, he’d been drafted.

So is being drafted into the competitions politically detrimental or not? We'll get some reveals later on in Book 3 or 4 where Kambil discloses the fact that his father apologized to him for the fact that he was being drafted, despite the fact that he was a) loved by his family, b) had a good governmental job lined up, c) doesn't have any behavioral issues so people see him as an asset rather than a loose cannon. The inconsistency here really bugs me.

quote:

And now he was part of another group, and that was only a bit more voluntary than his membership in the first. The others had decided that they wanted to be the new Seated Blending, and had made plans to defeat the Blending chosen by the Advisors. It couldn’t possibly turn out to be as easy as his four associates expected, but they were all too emotionally involved with the idea to see anything but the end result they aimed at.

So for his own safety, Kambil had made it clear to all of them that he was with them. He wasn’t usually a timid man, rather to the contrary, but heroics were definitely not in order with this group. None of them had the least amount of self control, and there was no doubt that they would react violently toward any one or any thing trying to stand in their way. Even Homin Weil, who seemed to be afraid of everything including his own shadow. All that one needed was a trigger of a particular kind…

These guys cannot possibly be the only noble pretend Blendings that have come up with this idea. And the complete avoidance of "what happens to people who were in noble pretend Blendings" as a topic is so irritating.

quote:

Kambil sighed, when he really would have been happier cursing out loud. Because his associates were so far out of balance, he had to be constantly in control of himself in case of an emergency. He was just as human as they were and therefore just as likely to lose his temper over something, but now he couldn’t afford to. Physically he happened to be larger than all of them, but now he was stuck in the role of gentle giant.

This time Kambil had to take a deep breath before running a hand through his very light brown hair. Unbalance seemed to be catching, because he’d never had this much trouble controlling his temper before. Now all it took was the thought of being in the same room with the others…

Can you not just use Spirit magic on yourself? Because every other aspect can affect themselves with their own talent.

quote:

“Excuse me, Lord Kambil,” a voice said, and he turned to see one of the servants. “Lord Rigos’s carriage has just pulled up, and you asked to be informed when it did.”

“Yes, thank you,” Kambil said, using a final deep breath to pull himself together. “Show Lord Rigos in, and have one of the maids bring the tea immediately.”

Kambil is the only member of the nobility (other than Rion) whom we ever see demonstrate basic courtesy to servants and staff.

quote:

The servant bowed his agreement and withdrew, leaving Kambil alone again for the moment. But that wasn’t likely to last, as Rigos usually arrived only a few minutes before the others were due. Not that most of the others were expected to be on time. Unless the meeting was being held in their own house, Kambil was the only one who appeared when he was supposed to. Rigos knew that as well as he did, but the Advisory agent enjoyed seeing the others squirm when he pretended he’d been waiting for hours.

“Lord Rigos,” the servant announced, and Kambil looked up to see the small man stroll into the room. It was unfortunate that he was both ordinarily talented and small in stature, as well as fiercely aware of his dignity. He’d certainly been teased unmercifully as a child, and now used his position to get even with the world. His hair and eyes were very dark, setting off his olive skin and framing his usual expression of cruelty hiding just behind extreme boredom.

I hate the fact that Green constantly info dumps us to the point where even minor characters get info dumps about them, instead of just letting us deduce who these characters are and what they're like from seeing them interact with other characters.

quote:

“Good afternoon, Lord Kambil,” he said in a voice that would never be deep enough to satisfy him. “Obviously it was too much to hope that one or more of your associates would arrive before me.”

“If you like, I’ll make the effort to do that next week, when we meet at Homin’s house for the first time,” Kambil said with a friendly, ingenuous grin. “I’ve never been there, but I have faith that my driver will be able to find the way.”

“I’m sure he will,” Rigos answered with a very small flash of true amusement. “Unlike the drivers of so many of the others, who all seem to lose their way on a regular basis.”

They were discussing last week’s meeting at Delin Moord’s house, when Kambil had been the only one to arrive on time. Each of the others, when they finally rushed in, insisted in turn that they hadn’t been late, it was their driver’s having gotten lost that caused the delay. When Bron Kallan, the last to arrive, used the same excuse the other two had used before him, the situation had turned pathetically ridiculous.

Is this the Blendingverse equivalent of "my dog ate my homework"?

quote:

“Yes, you’re truly a jewel among the dross,” Rigos murmured as he drifted around the room, looking at the displayed examples of Kambil’s father’s collection of antique teacups. “I feel so much closer to you than I do to the others, as though you and I were just alike and I might tell you anything. It’s my fond hope that you feel something of the same.”

Kambil was instantly alert, knowing Rigos felt nothing of the sort. The agent hated all of them just about equally, with a bit extra thrown in for Kambil because of his added height.

It would be nice, while we're in the head of a Spirit magic user, to understand why Rigos hates them all so much. Is it political tension between their families? Is it because Rigos really wanted to be doing something else instead but he's stuck shepherding around ungrateful brats for a farce of a competition? Is it purely for shallow reasons?

quote:

“Well, we do have quite a lot in common,” Kambil allowed slowly and thoughtfully, as though he had no idea what Rigos might be after. “Our fathers have almost the same position in society, but you’ve gone ahead and established your own position. I haven’t managed that as yet, so it wouldn’t be fair to say we’re just the same.”

“I’m sure you’ll begin to establish your own mark as soon as this competition business is over with,” Rigos said, turning to smile at Kambil. He’d enjoyed having his superiority pointed out, just as Kambil had meant him to. “When that happens we’ll be even closer, and right now I’d like to confide in you. As a preview of situations which will certainly come to be, if you take my meaning.”

The look in Rigos’s dark eyes had sharpened, and Kambil suddenly knew exactly what he meant. Rigos was promising him an influential—and well-paid—position, but in return for—what?

What's suss is that Kambil should be picking up on the fact that this is entirely a lie, since we'll see later in Book 4 that only the winning Blending is left standing, and everyone else gets drugged and sent off to the armies – though since all of the noble Blendings except this one were killed in the first round of the competitions so it's unclear whether noble survivors would have been sent away as well. Unless Rigos was lying earlier in order to cover up this lie, which then either means Kambil is not that good at Spirit magic (unlikely) or there are limitations to Spirit magic.

quote:

“I’d like to feel that you can confide in me under any circumstances,” Kambil said, even more carefully than before. “How can I help you?”

“Well, actually, it would not be me you were helping,” Rigos replied casually, scratching at one ear as he moved back toward Kambil. “A good friend of mine is also involved with doing things with the groups chosen for the competitions, and she’s worried about something. I told her I would think about the situation, and let her know if she was definitely worrying about nothing.”

“Ah, there’s a lady involved!” Kambil exclaimed with a grin, pretending he believed it. “Now I understand your interest in the matter. Again, how can I help?”

“You can help me to decide if she’s imagining things,” Rigos answered with a smile that would make a shark uneasy. “You see, she’s somehow gotten the idea that some of the groups have plans they’re not mentioning, like that they mean to actually try to win the competition. We both know they’d have no chance whatsoever doing it, but she’s still afraid they might try. Are her fears, in your opinion, completely groundless, or is she wise to suspect that something might be going on?”

“I suppose it depends on who the members of the particular groups are, but in general I’d say the poor little thing has let her imagination run away with her.” Kambil made certain to show a good deal of amusement as he said that, as though he were sharing the joke with Rigos. “You really must remind her that none of us wanted to do this in the first place, so sudden conversions to ambition would be completely out of character. They would have to exert themselves and make an effort, after all, and judging by this group I can’t honestly picture anything like that. Can you?”

“Not really,” Rigos grudged, forced into conceding the point. “When people can’t even manage to make a meeting on time—Well, there was always the possibility that someone would be that foolish.”

We know the commoner Blendings were drugged, but what about the nobles? Is this confirmation that they were also drugged? Like I really see nothing being used to coerce the noble participants, except through political pressure on their families and those parents then enforcing the requirements on their children. Do we not have a single noble rebel who cut ties with their family like Tamrissa did? Are there no noble kids who inherited their parent's position early?

quote:

“If they are, they have my sincere condolences,” Kambil said, then gestured to the service a maid had brought and left. “Let’s have some tea while we wait, and continue our discussion sitting down, like civilized people. I’d still like to know what you mean about my achieving a mark of my own after this competition nonsense is over.”

TEA!

quote:

Kambil let a flash of intense interest and casual greed show briefly in his expression, but not so briefly that Rigos didn’t notice it. An innocent man who was uninvolved in plots and plans would certainly pursue the subject, and that should put Rigos even more off-guard—which it did.

Uh, please explain how you flash intense interest and casual greed briefly in your expression. That sounds like a microexpression to me, which is not really something you can control, as far as I understand how physiology works. Of course, if Spirit magic users could force themselves to feel those emotions, that would make sense.

quote:

“When I referred to your future achievements, I was proposing a trade of favors, so to speak,” Rigos explained as he reached out to pour himself a cup of tea, no longer paying more than token attention to Kambil’s reactions. “You attend quite a lot of receptions that the members of the other groups do, which means that if there’s something to be heard, you’re most likely to hear it. If you’ll do me the favor of passing on anything you might hear, I’ll be pleased to return the favor by recommending you for any post which might catch your eye.”

“Now that’s what I call an interesting trade of favors,” Kambil said with a distracted nod, as though he were thinking about the matter. “I’ll certainly be glad to pass on anything I might hear, and trust to your generosity when an interesting post turns up.”

We will never see Kambil schmoozing with other nobles. Because that would be interesting and require the politics of this world to be fleshed out.

quote:

“If you happen to hear anything of real value, my generosity will be just about guaranteed,” Rigos began, then abruptly fell silent when a servant appeared.

“Lord Kambil, Lord Delin’s carriage is just pulling up,” he said. “He should be shown in in another moment or two.”

“Thank you,” Kambil said, then turned to Rigos with a grin. “Well, that’s one silver din I’ve won from my grandmother. I bet that Delin would be the first to arrive, but she put her silver on Homin. She thought he would be too afraid to show up late again, but I know him better than that. He’s also too scatterbrained to plan far enough in advance.”

“Unfortunately true,” Rigos granted with a nod and another cruel smile, apparently believing the story Kambil had come up with on the spur of the moment. He didn’t want Rigos to know that he had the servants watching for people’s arrival, or Rigos might begin to wonder what he could be up to. He’d have to tell the servants to be more discreet in the future… “And we may have to do something about Lord Homin,” Rigos added. “We do need this group to make some sort of showing, but right now—”

So Homin could totally have just gone to Rigos and asked him to sort out his domestic situation! I really don't find conflicts caused by deliberate misunderstanding to be interesting.

quote:

His words broke off as Lord Delin Moord was announced, and they both turned to look at the man. Handsome and charming was too pale a phrase for Delin, communicating nothing of the personal power he radiated when he entered a room. The man was better than six feet tall, almost as large as Kambil, in fact, but somewhat more sleekly built. Women tended to lust after him at first sight, drooling over his long black hair and light blue eyes and muscular body, and Delin was usually only too willing to accommodate them.

“Good afternoon, gentlemen,” he said negligently as he joined them, looking around with amusement. “I was delayed getting started today, but it looks like I’m still the first one here.”

“Yes indeed, Lord Delin, but after what I said to Lord Homin last week, about not having been on time yet, you shouldn’t be the first,” Rigos answered sourly. “I was just mentioning to Lord Kambil that something will have to be done about the situation, before it comes to the attention of my superiors.”

“What do you expect to be able to do about Homin short of ejecting him from the group?” Delin asked with continuing amusement. “And if you do that, everyone else including myself will vie to take over his tardiness in order to be the next one ejected. Do you have any idea who I could have been with right now if I hadn’t had to come here?”

“Some infinitely enchanting lady, I’m sure,” Rigos returned dryly, obviously—“feeling”—nothing of what Kambil did. Delin was pretending just as hard as Kambil had, and apparently with an equal amount of success. “No, Lord Delin, I won’t be ejecting Lord Homin from the group, but I will have to do something.”

The contrast between how Delin is introduced and where his arc ends is night and day.

quote:

Kambil and Delin exchanged a quick glance as Rigos turned away from them, both of them very much aware that Rigos was deliberately not going into details. It was almost certain that he had something definite in mind, but he didn’t seem ready to share the something yet.

This is a classic Green sentence and I hate it with a passion. It's her go to technique for creating "suspense" and all it does is annoy me.

quote:

Delin helped himself to a cup of tea while Rigos and Kambil chose chairs, and then the newcomer joined them. They sat chatting about nothing of consequence for a number of minutes, and then Selendi Vas was announced.

Why is this sentence even here? Why are we getting blocking information that reveals nothing about plot, character or setting? Why couldn't we have had some sort of interesting transition? Keep in mind that we've had THREE WHOLE CHAPTERS to introduce all of these people except for Kambil and Delin. I HATE THIS WRITING.

quote:

“Lady Selendi, how gracious of you to grant us your presence,” Rigos drawled as she bustled in. “And no more than twenty minutes late.”

“I almost didn’t come at all,” Selendi replied as she looked around, then made directly for the tea service. “The scarf I wanted to wear with this dress was nowhere to be found, so I had to force myself to leave the house without it. If anyone of consequence sees me looking like this, I’ll simply die right on the spot.”

All three men exchanged wry glances at that, but none of them bothered to tell Selendi that she’d just said they were all completely inconsequential. She would know they were wrong and would argue the point, and even seeing her pretty face flushed with anger while she tossed her light brown hair in indignation wasn’t worth getting her started. In point of fact Kambil thought she looked lovely in that gray silk dress embroidered with blue, but he didn’t say that either. Selendi took a compliment as an invitation, and Kambil was in no mood to be swallowed alive.

And with three paragraphs, Green's just rendered Selendi's entire chapter redundant. She doesn't even rotate through all of the noble Blending's viewpoints like she religiously does with the main characters, so her editor really should have made her axe the last 3 chapters.

quote:

Once the girl had a cup of tea she chose her own chair among them, and the chatting went on. This time, however, only a few minutes went by before Bron Kallan was announced.

AGAIN???

quote:

“Sorry to be late, people, but there is such a thing as common courtesy,” he drawled as he strolled into the room, one hand smoothing his dark red hair. “I tried to leave the sweet little thing earlier, but she simply wouldn’t hear of it. What can one do when one is … so much better than average?”

“One can learn a bit of responsibility,” Rigos answered him dryly, not in the least amused. “I’ve decided to fine tardiness, Lord Bron, but not simply in gold. Your parents will be called before an Advisory board in two days time, and not only will they be required to pay over twenty gold dins, they’ll also be made to apologize to the Advisors for not having raised you with a greater sense of responsibility. And it will be made perfectly clear that their embarrassment is entirely your doing.”

“Why am I being singled out?” Bron demanded, his broad, handsome face flushing with anger where he’d stopped on his way to the tea. “I’m not the only one who’s been late, not even today. I can see Homin isn’t here yet, so what about him?”

“He’ll be subject to the same fine and punishment, only in a larger amount,” Rigos answered, unimpressed with Bron’s aggressive stance. “Originally I intended the procedure only for him, but your cavalier attitude has convinced me to apply it to everyone who shows up late. That means the same goes for you, Lady Selendi, except that your parents will need to produce only ten gold dins.”

“But you can’t do that,” Selendi denied with a headshake, her frown showing a touch of confusion. “Father will be furious, and Mother will try to give me one of those idiotic lectures. No, I’d hate that, so you simply can’t do it.”

Rigos has obviously never heard of the study that was done on parents being fined. Is the Advisory board supposed to be a terrifying political body with insane powers or kind of like getting dragged into the principal's office when your kid decided to eat all of the crayons?

quote:

“I can and I will,” Rigos said comfortably, obviously enjoying himself immensely. “I’ve already gotten the approval of my superiors, and my associate is now waiting outside in his own carriage, noting down four arrival times. The information will be given to the Advisors even before our meeting is over, and then things will continue as I’ve described. I wonder if you’ll be getting the same spanking and lecture Lady Selendi will, Lord Bron. I mean, a man who’s so obviously more than average…”

Yet another spanking reference. Apparently used unironically.

quote:

Rigos let the words trail off in a drawl, either not feeling or ignoring the waves of hatred coming from the husky Bron. Kambil could feel the uncertainty also coming from Bron, as though the red-haired man was uncertain of what his parents’ reaction would be. Considering the way they’d indulged him all his life there shouldn’t have been a problem, but public humiliation has a way of reaching even the most foolishly indulgent of parents.

I don't know. I feel like anyone who has been a parent would be pretty familiar with the experience of being publicly humiliated by their children. It's kind of a rite of passage.

quote:

And Rigos was obviously not as unimpressed by their talents as he pretended to be. The small man had made it clear that someone else was around who would report to the Advisors, so doing away with him would be pointless. It was a clever move, but overlooked one possibility: when irresponsible people get angry, they sometimes act before considering consequences. If Bron lost control and burned Rigos to ash where he sat, it would help Rigos not at all that Bron would certainly be prosecuted for murder.

Why does every single character go straight from zero to murder?

quote:

But Bron, after a glance at Delin, simply continued on to the tea service without another word. Kambil had caught the very slight headshake Delin had given Bron, but Rigos wasn’t seated in a position to have seen it. Selendi still glared daggers at the agent while the silence dragged on, but after another moment Delin broke it.

“Forgive me, Rigos, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to revamp your policy,” he said in his usual smooth and friendly way, full self assurance radiating from him. “I was nearly late myself today, and through no fault of my own. If my parents were disturbed and distressed simply because of a random occurrence, I’d be very upset. For that reason you can either rescind your … punishment, or I’ll be forced to withdraw from this group.”

“Forgive me, Lord Delin, but I’m afraid you can’t withdraw,” Rigos countered, vicious delight fairly oozing out of him. “You were told right from the beginning that your participation was required rather than requested, and that hasn’t changed.”

“On the contrary, you yourself have changed the circumstance,” Delin disagreed, still completely unruffled. “The Advisors may require our services, but they cannot require us to put up with humiliation. I’m prepared to argue the point in front of a full assembly of the major Houses, who can override an Advisory decision by unanimous vote. When it’s pointed out to them that allowing the Advisors to humiliate us today will surely see the same thing happening to them tomorrow, I expect we’ll see the first unanimous House vote in quite some years.”

Wait wait wait wait wait. This went by so fast that I forgot the detail was even here in the first place. The political structure in Gan Garee is now very confusing. The way all the characters carried on for the first book implied it was an absolute co-monarchy (oliogonarchy?) with their key advisors, but now there's an assembly comprised of major noble Houses? Do the House(s) actually meet to ratify Advisory decisions? What about the Seated Blending? Also the Prologue referred to Duchies, so what is going on?

quote:

“Do you really expect to assemble the major Houses on your say-so?” Rigos came back, Kambil noticing that the agent sounded a good deal more assured than he felt. “In their opinion you’re just a boy, and not even heir to your father’s estate and position. You’d be wasting your time, and I know it even if you don’t.”

“Of course I would be wasting my time, but my father would not be in the same position,” Delin countered, faint amusement now coloring his words. “Once I explain the situation, Father is certain to insist on doing just as I said, to save himself from the possibility of the loss of an incredible amount of face. Don’t you think your father would do exactly the same?”

Rigos sat without answering, and Kambil knew that was because Delin was right. Rigos’s father would do exactly the same thing, the political situation allowed for nothing else. At the level of power their fathers operated on, even a mild rebuff from the wrong person could mean a loss of standing. Something like this could well ruin a man of great power, and no one who’d accumulated that much power was willing to let it go quite that easily.

Loss of standing and therefore influence, sure. How does this "ruin" anybody who still controls the same amount of property, etc?

quote:

“So I’m afraid you’re going to have to find another way to turn this group punctual, or you won’t have a group to worry about.” Delin’s words were very gentle, with none of the victory Kambil knew he felt coming through at all. “I suggest you see to the matter now, before it grows beyond the control of our efforts.”

And ends up in the hands of our fathers, Kambil knew he meant. Rigos also knew it, and after a rather long hesitation he rose to his feet and went to a bell pull. When a servant appeared in response to the summons, Rigos was writing something at the desk which stood to one side of the room. The something was rather short, and after sealing it into an envelope he gave it to the servant along with low-voiced instructions, then returned to his chair.

Nothing more was said on the subject of punishment, but Kambil knew the matter wasn’t yet over with. Rigos seethed inwardly as he sipped at his tea, and the smug expressions Bron and Selendi wore weren’t helping in the least. Rigos had been bested and now felt humiliated, and Kambil would have put gold on the possibility—no, the virtual certainty—that he would find a way to get even. What Delin had done had been necessary, but it certainly hadn’t been wise.

It would have been way more interesting if Rigos hadn't bothered gloating whatsoever and just had the plan proceed. But that would require Green to do less infodumping via dialogue and be strategic about the use of description. And also stuff would have actually happened.

quote:

Selendi kept eyeing Bron where he sat sprawled on a couch, but before she could decide to join him there Homin was announced. The man rushed in completely out of breath, obviously having moved too fast for someone with such an excess of weight.

“I know I’m late, but I can explain!” he blurted as soon as he saw Rigos, the fear in his light eyes more than clear. “I somehow managed to misplace my identification bracelet, and had a terrible time finding it again. You told us we weren’t to go anywhere without it, so—”

“So perhaps you shouldn’t have taken it off to begin with,” Rigos interrupted, his tone very cold. “At least this time your excuse is more imaginative, but it’s still just an excuse and will be treated as such. You need to be broken of your habit of tardiness, and I will certainly see to it. Find a seat now, so that we may begin.”

Homin glanced longingly at the tea service, but he’d been ordered to sit so he found a chair and obeyed. He was also terrified over Rigos’s threat, and Kambil could feel him struggling to cope with the terror. Selendi was annoyed and bored, Bron was amused but bored, Homin was terrified, and Rigos was silently furious. The only one Kambil got nothing from was Delin, who no longer even felt that faint sense of victory from having bested Rigos.

And he himself, what did he feel? Kambil tried to analyze his feelings, but his sense of frustration over being trapped with the others was too thick to work through. He was certain there would be trouble no matter what he did to try to stop it, and that realization simply added to the frustration.

So there was nothing for him to do but go along with everyone, hoping a chance to change things would appear. Disaster waited ahead of them in one form or another, caused by any one of half a dozen things done by any of his four “associates.” The pit was there, waiting only for someone to propel all of them into it, which could happen at any time.

Oh no, looming vague sense of "disaster", wow, this is so convincing!

quote:

Which meant he’d have to keep his eyes wide open, and head matters off before they went too far for anyone to pull them back. He just hadn’t as yet figured out how he would do that…

Said right after Kambil is reflecting on his own ineffectualness.

Summary:
Bron Kallan (Fire magic) is a hot dumb jock who casually vandalizes his lady friend's antique piano because she insulted his ego during their post-coital conversation. Selendi Vas (Air magic) is a hot rich bimbo who is a spoiled brat. Homin Weil is the token fatty who's been abused his entire life and is currently being abused by his stepmother. Kambil is basically a male version of Jovvi minus the sex work.

Counts so far:

NAMED ON-SCREEN CHARACTERS WHO WE'LL NEVER SEE AGAIN: 24
Book 1: Mildon Coll, Phor Riven, Jeris Womal, Eldra Sappin, Fod, Lord Astrath, Torrin Ro, Vish "the Fish", Jamrin, Hark, Reshin, Fellar, Ennis, Vosin, Parli Hafford, Regensi, Weeks, Adept Aminto, Mem Follil, Toblis, Kogrin, Lemmis Admen, Miklas
Book 2: Nialla, Emar Rumil, Leta Vas, Grami Arstin

TOTALLY INDISTINCT ON-SCREEN LOCATIONS: 13 (9 in Book 1)
Book 1: Rincammon, Haven Wraithside, Tamrissa's house in Gan Garee, Port Entril, testing facility in Gan Garee, Regensi's shop, Ginge's tavern, Magross bridge, mastery facility outside Gan Garee, Nialla's house, Vas residence, Weil residence, Arstin residence in Gan Garee

MEALS ON-SCREEN: 15
Book 1: Day 1 (lunch, dinner), Day 2 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 3 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 4 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 5 (lunch, dinner), Day 6 (breakfast, lunch)

EUPHEMISMS FOR BODY PARTS: 9
Book 1:
Male: <character name>'s body (x2), discomfort (x1), manhood (x1), desire (x2), renewed need (x1), large and hard, the most perfect of men (x1)
Female: womanhood (x1), entrance of ultimate bliss (x1), desire (x1), incredible tunnel (x1)

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT: 3
Book 1:
Male: love (x1), my fleeting love (x1)
Female: sweet girl (x1)

ANTAGONISTS: 15 (11 introduced in Book 1)
General: Unnamed Chairman/Ollon Kapmar (?) and the five Seated Highs in each aspect, Eltrina Razas, Bron Kallan, Selendi Vas, Homin Weil, Kambil Arstin
Lorand: Eskin Drowd
Jovvi: Allestine and her henchmen Ark and Bar
Clarion: Hallina Mardimil, Eskin Drowd
Tamrissa: Storn and Avrina Torgar, Beldara Lant, Odrin Hallasser, Soonen
Vallant: Mirra Agran

PLOTHOLES: 41 (39 of them in Book 1)
COACH RIDES: 24 (21 of them in Book 1)
MEETINGS IN COACHES: 4
OTHER MEETINGS: 4 (3 in Book 1)
INTERRUPTED MONOLOGUING: 32 (31 in Book 1)
"CLIFFHANGERS": 18
POINTLESS TAMRISSA NARRATION: 11
TEA DRINKING: 23 (22 in Book 1)
BLATANT MORALIZING: 19
BATH SCENES: 9
WILFUL MISUNDERSTANDINGS: 6
MIND CONTROL: 5
BADLY WRITTEN SEX SCENES: 2

REPETITIVE POV EVENTS:
  • Oh noes, a fireball (Book 1: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Pass or die (Book 1: Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  • Bathroom encounters (Book 1: Chapters 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
  • Don't rain on my parade! (Book 1: Chapters 19, 20)
  • Uniform fitting (Book 1: Chapters 20, 21)
  • Random encounters: Round 1 (Book 1: Chapters 25, 32, 33, 35, 38)
  • One, two, three, four, five (Book 1: Chapters 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35)
  • A favorite object appears out of thin air (Book 1: Chapters 36, 37 x2, 38)
  • Proof of mastery: Level 1 (Book 1: Chapters 39, 40, 41, 42, 43; Book 2: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Animal cheer squad (Book 2: Chapters 1, 4, 5)

Possible fixes:
This one event–the noble Blending meeting with Rigos–takes place over this chapter and the next chapter. I would cut Kambil's POV and cover the whole event from Delin's perspective, and you'll see why once we get into the next chapter.

Leng fucked around with this message at 03:58 on Dec 10, 2020

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


quote:

CHAPTER TEN

Delin Moord, Earth magic

The only character who is called out as a psychopath by every other character.

quote:

Delin sat completely relaxed while Homin babbled out his excuse for being late, letting nothing of agitation reach him. He’d spent some time in the beginning raging at blind chance for linking him with this pitiful group, but then he’d finally seen the truth. There were more advantages than disadvantages in being part of this Blending, and once he understood that he’d even been able to test them.

The plot thickens, in regards to how much of the fixing of the competition and what happens to noble survivors is generally known to the nobles.

quote:

To begin with, this group accepted his leadership without argument. Another man, brighter than Bron Kallan, would be harder to convince that he was leader rather than Delin, and would also be harder to manipulate. The others tended to avoid arguing with Bron because of the man’s uncertain temper, which let Delin run everything without being obvious about it.

Because Green is completely opposed to having competent antagonists, it's not enough that the noble Blending are all just awful people anyway, they also have to be at each other's throats constantly for internal power struggle reasons. She has a theme about leadership going on where the people who should be in charge are people who are competent but don't want to be in charge, and people who want to be in charge should be automatically barred from the position (and a character actually will come right out and say so in Book 6 or something). The idea is you would then force the competent people to be in charge as a weird reverse prison sentence where you basically tell them they just need to lead the Empire for X years and after that they can retire and do whatever and that would be their incentive because you would only allow good and competent people to be in charge.

So American goons, how exactly do libertarians vote at all the US elections? Because if I'm not mistaken, you have no compulsory voting laws and also by Green's thematic definition here, anyone who runs for office wants to be a leader and therefore is not suited to be a leader.

quote:

It was difficult for most people to believe, but the other members of this group were almost as powerful in their talents as he was. Erratic or objectionable personalities aside, there didn’t seem to be anyone else in their class who could match them.

Why–in a world where there is a whole magical talent that revolves around RATING how strong magical talents are AND you can literally feel someone's magical strength in your own aspect–would this be hard for most people to believe?

quote:

That meant there was no one anywhere who might be considered equals, since peasants certainly didn’t count.

Another theme that will get bashed into our heads repeatedly, over and over again. I just finished reading all three of the Baru Cormorant books which are out (which if you have not read, you really should because they are amazing books) and while Hesychast's philosophy is basically nature determines everything, it's just treated with such nuance by General Battuta that I'm feeling completely bludgeoned coming back to Green here.

quote:

And Rigos Baril had no idea that that was so. It had been something of a blow to discover that Rigos—of all people—had been assigned to bully his group into behaving properly. The two of them had been enemies from boyhood, and if Rigos had gotten the least hint of what Delin was up to, the slimy little no-talent would have reported him immediately. At the moment Delin’s father’s political position was slightly better than Rigos’s, and exposing Delin’s plan would change that circumstance drastically.

It's kind of hilarious that the antagonists are all overgrown children whose go to threat is "I'll tell Daddy/Mommy on you!" which is Green's whole theme about abusive parents screwing up their children, though I think this written shortly after the term "helicopter parenting" was coined but before it really took off. I think I would take a lot less issue with Green's plot and characters if she had done the entire thing as satire instead of attempting it as a High Fantasy Adventure (seriously who would think this even remotely qualifies as high fantasy? It barely qualifies as adventure) and ripped out all of the repetition.

quote:

But Rigos saw only the weakness of the group, nothing of their strengths. He was a fool to be so blind, and doubly a fool for thinking Delin would let him get away with humiliating the others. They would have exploded out of control and ruined Delin’s plans, so Delin had had to pretend a personal objection to Rigos’s nonsense. By making it a political issue he’d forced Rigos to back down, which had also made it unnecessary to kill him.

And Delin didn’t want to kill Rigos, at least not yet. He first wanted the other man publicly humiliated with a serious loss of status, and then he wanted Rigos to see his father ruined. Then and only then would Delin kill him, but not quickly. Ending a life slowly was so exquisitely delicious an idea, that Delin was prepared to defend Rigos if it became necessary—until the time arrived to taste that special, long-anticipated banquet he’d promised himself…

I would be a lot more horrified reading this if Delin was the only homicidal character in these books. Except we've seen eerily similar (if less specifics in the description) thoughts from Vallant who is meant to be one of the protagonists so

quote:

“Now then,” Rigos said, drawing Delin’s attention back from the realms of marvelous daydreams.

DUN DUN DUN FORESHADOWING

quote:

“I have the weekly reports from your trainers, and we’ll go over them one by one. Some of you are performing adequately, but others…”

Someone needs to tell Green that most (sane) people HATE meetings and spend as much of their lives trying to avoid them and that it is probably a bad idea to structure so much of her story around meetings. I know this is technically the same meeting as the one from Kambil's chapter but I hate this stupidity so much I'm going to increment the counter again.

quote:

Rigos let the words trail off as he glanced around, surely trying to terrorize as many of the others as possible. But they were his people, his special Blending, and if Rigos tried to go too far Delin would haul him up short.

Somehow "haul him up short" feels incomplete - surely our psychopath should be thinking about strangling Rigos with his own entrails or something.

quote:

“Earth magic, Delin Moord,” Rigos announced, giving most of his attention to the report in his hands. “Works fairly diligently, but tends to be too casual about practice… Advancement through the exercises satisfactory… Attitude: less than fully eager to cooperate… General progress: average but adequate.”

Delin listened to that and the rest with faint amusement. He’d carefully worked out what his image ought to be, and had made sure not to show his trainer anything in the way of unsuitable enthusiasm. It so happened he had practiced rather diligently, but not where his trainer could see it and not to extremes. He didn’t need all that much practice, after all, not when he was as good as he was.

This is where the logic behind this whole competition goes from falling apart to spontaneous combustion. Why the hell do the nobles even bother? They use the competitions as a political penalty/opportunity to clear the "deadwood" from their ranks (we will hear this basically verbatim later in Book 3 or 4) so why bother even training anybody at all? For a government so supposedly fixed on accumulating wealth to benefit those in power, this is a ridiculously expensive outlay for basically zero return on investment.

I miss reading a book with an accountant protagonist in a world where the economics actually make sense.

quote:

“… and so forth and so on,” Rigos was finishing up. “I believe it’s fairly clear that there aren’t many objections to the progress made by our Earth magic practitioner. If that was the worst report I’d be pleased, but unfortunately it’s not. The next report is on Selendi Vas, Air magic.”

Rigos abruptly had Selendi’s full attention, and the girl seemed poised to be indignant. She wasn’t at all the sort to put herself out doing something that wasn’t her own idea, but for the moment Delin was satisfied to have her that way. He already knew how to get the strongest response out of her when he decided it was needed, and for that reason had spoken to Bron. The man had intended to make her his next conquest, but now would wait—even if invited—until Delin gave him the go-ahead.

Continuing with the classic Green style of using cryptic little internal narration like this and then doubling up on a "for dummies" explanation via butler and maid conversations later, this will get explained in a dialogue between Delin and Kambil at some point in Book 3.

quote:

“Work habits are a bit sloppy and ill-disciplined,” Rigos went on, reading the evaluation with relish. “Practice is almost certainly being ignored, as progress has been somewhat slow. Exercises are sometimes regarded as indignities, but are executed when trainer insists… Attitude is extremely sensitive to all criticism, therefore subject must be treated gently… Overall progress … painfully slow.”

“Maybe that was written because the trainer didn’t get what he kept asking for, and I don’t mean teaching results,” Selendi blustered, fully indignant but obviously hesitant to show it too strongly.

Spoilers - yes he did and technically he wasn't the one who was asking, and yes we will also get this recap from a Selendi POV later. Ugh.

quote:

“He’s a dull and tedious fool, and usually completely unreasonable. I’m a lot more accomplished than I was to begin with, so that proves he’s lying.”

“No, Lady Selendi, it only proves how good a job he’s done,” Rigos corrected, his tone sour. “But you’re not the only one at fault, so let’s continue. Kambil Arstin, Spirit magic.”

Delin glanced at Kambil, the one member of his group that he wasn’t yet entirely sure of. Kambil was certainly a full member of their class, but at times he made Delin uneasy. He wasn’t a pliable fool like the others, his only weakness seemed to be a lack of shallowness, and he wasn’t filled with burning, unrealized ambition. That last was what disturbed Delin the most, but he had no choice about waiting and seeing.

So. Hamfisted.

quote:

“Work habits are efficient and based on a full sense of cooperation,” Rigos recited with relish, as though deliberately taunting Delin. “Practice is sometimes overlooked in favor of other undertakings, but progress is satisfactory in spite of that. Exercises are being progressed through at too slow a rate, but that seems to stem from excessive caution. Attitude is excellent in this subject, and overall progress is only just under the best to be expected.”

“His trainer sounds like he’s in love with him,” Selendi commented archly, doing a poor job of hiding her jealousy. “Maybe if I tried that with my trainer…”

You did, little wannabe Cersei, and it didn't work!

quote:

“I would suggest, Lady Selendi, that you first try applying yourself to the work,” Rigos answered when Kambil just sighed and shook his head. “This is the sort of report I expect to get on all of you in the near future, so kindly keep it well in mind. The next is Bron Kallan, Fire magic.”

Bron looked up languidly, but the glance he sent to Delin showed something of his true state of mind. Bron feared Rigos because of the agent’s higher social and political position, and was therefore delighted to have Delin to stand behind.

“Work habits are more casual than organized, but something of an effort is being made,” Rigos read, his voice now neutral. “Practice is done when the subject is reminded about it, but otherwise is ignored. Exercises are being progressed through too rapidly, without true mastery being attained. Attitude is generally fair, except when subject is ‘fired up’ about some matter, and then it approaches an acceptable level. Overall progress is almost acceptable, except for the matter of lack of mastery.”

“It looks like I’ll have to show him the area where I am a master,” Bron drawled, uncertain relief in his eyes. “Other than that, though, it didn’t sound too bad.”

“It also didn’t sound too good,” Rigos countered, ruthlessly crushing Bron’s optimistic outlook.

In case each of the POV chapters weren't blunt enough, Green has to infodump us all this stuff as well. Am I supposed to be scared for the protagonists or not? Because right now I'm just seeing another bunch of clowns who are incompetent when Our Heroes just effortlessly breezed through their first level masteries. Why are we wasting all of these pages on the opposite noble Blending when the true conflict is actually with the organizers?

Spoilers for the end of Book 2 and Book 3 there will be one "confrontation" between Rion and Kambil at the end of this book, which is a conversation at a masked ball, then they will actually fight each other as Blendings at the end of Book 3 where–to no one's surprise–the noble Blending gets steamrolled by the protagonists and only survive because the competition is fixed. Zero suspense whatsoever and there's not even the draw of "oh but I want to see HOW it happens because the how will be interesting" that usually hooks a reader along because it is literally impossible for Green to write an interesting scene. Somehow she takes all of her interesting ideas and then bleeds the interesting parts out of them during her writing process!

quote:

“There’s considerable room for improvement, which I expect to see rather soon. And last, as dessert, so to speak, we have Homin Weil, Water magic.”

The extreme relish in Rigos’s voice wasn’t missed by Homin, who froze where he sat huddled into himself. Impatient intolerance tried to flare up in Delin every time he looked at Homin, but that would have been futile. Homin couldn’t help being the fearful lump he was, his presence in the group did most to quiet any suspicions Rigos might have had, and most importantly, Delin had no choice but to use him.

“Work habits are all but nonexistent in this subject,” Rigos read, making some small effort to appear dispassionate. “Practice is apparently out of the question, for some reason the subject is unable to explain. Exercises are slow and painful attempts that tend to defy advancement for a longer period of time than they should, and the prevailing attitude is a constant expectation of failure. For these reasons, despite the subject’s potential, overall progress has been extremely slow when it appeared at all.”

Homin’s eyes were now closed, and his over-fleshed face had gone pale. He seemed to know that he wasn’t destined to escape as lightly as everyone else had, and he was perfectly correct.

“Perhaps you’d care to explain to me, Lord Homin, why it is that you’re unable to practice,” Rigos said in a voice chipped from a block of flint. “Your trainer may not be able to understand, but surely the matter can be clarified here and now.”

“I—it’s too disruptive to the household to practice,” Homin muttered, eyes still closed. “I did try, Sir, I really did, but it caused too much—disruption.”

“You drowned someone?” Rigos inquired politely, his brows somewhat raised. “You flooded your father’s library? You ruined your mother’s brand new entertaining room furniture? You turned everyone’s underclothes damp? Help me to understand just how disruptive you were, Lord Homin.”

The terrified man simply shook his head in defeat, most likely understanding that nothing he said would do any good. And Delin knew he was correct again, which Rigos promptly proved for the second time.

“Apparently the matter is too trivial for you to be disturbed over it,” the agent stated, his tone now as flat as his stare was hard. “You’re the worst offender, Lord Homin, but none of your associates is innocent. Each and every one of you needs to improve his or her performances, otherwise forming you into a Blending will be futile. And you’re scheduled to soon be formed into one, which at this point will also turn your group into a laughingstock. Do you really want to become known as the worst challenging Blending to stand up for the nobility?”

Okay, forget the satirical take, how about stripping out the sex mechanic and everything that would be age inappropriate and setting this in like...junior high or something? I don't know the American terms but in Australian equivalents where high school starts in Year 7, it's like a Year 8 house group being berated by their house teacher for not paying attention in their classes. Which in my experience is not something house teachers do, that kind of conversation is saved for the parent/teacher night meetings, but let's say the kids knocked over a library shelf or something.

quote:

He looked around at all of them then, the look on his face fierce. “Yes, that’s what will happen when you perform in the competitions. Everyone will laugh at your efforts, but that doesn’t include the Advisors. You may take my word for the fact that they will not be laughing, but they will certainly have something to say to you afterward. And to your families.”

Hahaha wow, bonus equivalent threat of being sent to the principal's office and having your parents called.

quote:

The others promptly began to look almost as upset as Homin, but it was the opening Delin needed. He’d been looking for a reason to speak up, and now he had it.

“And our families are certain to be displeased with us for failing in our duty to the Advisors,” he said with a weary sigh. “This is hardly a trivial matter like punctuality, so we’ll need to do something about it. Hopefully it will be the right something, and next week’s reports will be much improved. We’ll certainly discuss the matter as long as necessary once you’ve left, even if it takes the rest of the afternoon and evening.”

“I knew I could count on you to see the consequences clearly, Lord Delin,” Rigos purred, delighted to have what he considered a concession of defeat from Delin. “I’m also taking steps to remedy the problem, but that’s for the future when the solution has been approved by my superiors. Right now I’ll leave you to your discussions, which will hopefully prove fruitful enough to avoid the necessity of any other action.”

Delin hadn’t the faintest idea what Rigos was talking about, but the Advisory agent was definitely threatening them with something. And yet the something could be avoided so it was obviously time to advance to the next part of the plan. When Rigos stood they all did the same, except for Selendi, and exchanged polite bows of goodbye. Rigos left the room slowly, his lack of hurry deliberate, but nothing was said among them even when he was out of sight. Kambil glanced around before sauntering after the small agent, and was gone for a few minutes. Silence reigned until he returned, a relieved expression on his face.

“I personally watched his carriage pull away,” Kambil announced as he headed for the bar rather than the tea service. “I also have three servants on watch, just in case he decides to return unexpectedly. Every time that man talks to me, I experience the urge to find a bath house at once.”

“Slimy is much too kind a description of him,” Delin said with a smile, suddenly feeling considerably better about Kambil.

Someone with life experience as a high school teacher please do a rewrite from Rigos's perspective.

quote:

“But we really do need to discuss our next move, and Bron has told me he’s ready to do just that.”

“Yes, I certainly am,” Bron agreed after glancing at Delin and clearing his throat. “You all know we’ve been dragging our feet deliberately to keep them from becoming suspicious, but the time for that is over. They’ve now demanded that we do better, so we’ll have to oblige them. But remember to do it slowly and in spurts, not all at once and immediately. They’ve threatened us into improving, so it ought to please them when we do. Are you going to have a problem with that, Homin?”

The question was obviously because of Homin’s expression, which showed his agitation barely calmed. The man apparently had something of a problem, and he pushed himself to his feet and went to the tea service before answering.

“I—normally would have no trouble showing the necessary improvement,” he said, paying attention only to his shaking hands, which were engaged in pouring him tea. “My problem goes beyond the normal, however, and I’m—afraid I’ll need to—speak with our—general troubleshooter.”

Apparently Homin had had to force himself to ask for help, and Delin found himself distantly pleased. One of his people had need of him, and had had the good sense to speak up rather than ruin the plans.

“That means you want to speak to me,” Delin said, making himself appear flattered. “Certainly, old man, it will be my pleasure to assist you. Let’s step to the other side of the room to keep from disturbing the general conversation.”

Uh, no. No you do not do this. Once again, this is not how you run meetings. You have one general agenda, usually structured so that people can leave as they get done with their parts. Rigos has left, but you guys are still supposed to be finishing the rest of your meeting. If you need to have a separate discussion between a subset of the attendees, that's tabled (or "taken offline" as the current hot business jargon goes) until the REST of the agenda is done, so you don't have to do a recap for 40% of the attendees.

Has Green never been to a meeting in her life? Is this why she writes so many meetings, because she's got meeting envy?

quote:

Homin nodded and followed Delin to the far side of the large room, the cup and saucer in the heavy man’s hands clattering faintly as he moved. Delin knew that that was due to nervousness rather than to clumsiness, and turned to the other man with a soothing smile.

“Now what can I do for you?” he asked gently. “I’m assuming this has something to do with that odd explanation you gave about not being able to practice.”

“Yes, it does,” Homin admitted at once, but with a quaver in his voice. “I couldn’t tell Lord Rigos, of course, not when I’d been specifically ordered to keep silent around him—”

“Ordered?” Delin interrupted, now having to fight to keep his tone light and easy. How dare some outsider give orders to one of his people? Homin wasn’t much, but he now belonged body and aspect to Delin.



quote:

“Yes, ordered,” Homin confirmed with a sigh, his eyes trying to close again. “My father’s new wife, Elfini. She insists on being in complete charge of the household and everyone in it, and won’t hear of my practicing. She can’t control it, you see, so she simply refuses to allow it. The one time I tried she used one of her whips on me, and it was the next day before I could move my back without fainting from the pain.”

“I’d heard the rumor about your father’s taste in pleasure, but until now I hadn’t quite believed it,” Delin said after sipping from his own teacup, which he’d carried with him.“Your father is such a strong, uncompromising man in public… But I’ve also encountered the lady Elfini, so there’s no longer any doubt. And she flatly refuses to let you practice?”

“She’s now going beyond that,” Homin said, visibly fretting all over again. “She took my identification bracelet while I was bathing, and if she and Lord Rigos weren’t enemies I’d probably still be begging for its return. And she means to punish me when I return home, simply because she knows how I loathe and fear it. I’ll never be able to accomplish anything with her doing things like this, so I wondered if you … I mean, would it be possible for you to … speak to her?”

“Speak to her?” Delin echoed, mostly hearing that phrase about Elfini and Rigos being enemies.

I do not understand how–if political influence is everything–all of these noble characters wouldn't have internalized a deep understanding of the complex web of political relationships and histories between all of the different houses. We now have characters infodumping to each other.

quote:

The possibilities inherent in that situation were fascinating, giving Delin a marvelous idea. “Why, yes, Homin, I’ll be glad to go home with you and speak to her. But there’s a stop I have to make on the way, so I’m afraid you’ll be put to the bother of waiting a short while. Will you mind terribly much?”

“Not at all, Delin, I won’t mind at all,” Homin babbled, his relief turning him even more pathetic. “I’m sure your charm will change her mind, and I’ll be able to become a full member of our group. I don’t know how I can thank you…”

“Tut, tut, thanks aren’t necessary, old fellow,” Delin replied, putting an arm around Homin to turn him back toward the others.

"Wot wot, old chap, let's drink some more tea"

quote:

“We’re here to help one another, so that all of us might benefit. Right now we need to rejoin the others, and go into a bit of detail about the proposed changes in our efforts. After that you and I will leave together, eh?”

Homin agreed with loose-lipped gratitude, all but laughing over having Delin on his side. And Delin felt almost as pleased, just for a different reason. Rigos would regret ever having challenged him, and might even live a very long while with that regret. Delin hadn’t made up his mind about that part of it yet, but there was plenty of time.

Yes, plenty of time to add new wrinkles to old plans…

That... that is not how you use that idiom. Wrinkles are BAD THINGS that happen to plans! You do not want there to be wrinkles in your plans, least of all add them to your own plans.

quote:

Now you’ve met our opponents, and certainly know them better than we did to begin with.

HOW ARE YOU WRITING ANY OF THIS TAMRISSA. YOU HAVE TO LITERALLY BE MAKING THIS STUFF UP because there's no way you would have any ability to get access to this knowledge while you're writing this during the events of Book 5.

quote:

I remember hearing someone wonder aloud about why it is that people struggle to make better lives for them and their families, and then turn around and ruin their children by indulging them too far or being too hard on them. The man was referring to the nobility, but I can’t see that they have a monopoly on children-ruining. You don’t even need gold and social position to do that, just … well, maybe it comes from having been ruined in some way yourself.

And finally a full statement of not just the theme, but Green's beliefs via her self-insert Tamrissa.

quote:

But wondering how people got the way they are is the last thing you think about when you’re faced with needing to deal with them. Their being unbalanced doesn’t mean they’re incompetent,

Actually, in this case they are CLEARLY incompetent. Green is on record as saying her area of interest is in following hyper competent people who struggle with being capable in basic skills. Her whole narrative is structured around how these super flawed heroes save the day despite of their flaws. Except instead of showing that they're actually hyper competent, she just nerfs all of the other characters and they don't really have real flaws.

Contrast that to Stormlight Archive where so many of the protagonists are deeply flawed or have serious issues that they struggle with to the point where spoilers for Rhythm of War I was really tired of having another arc of Kaladin at the very bottom. His journey is amazing, the payoff was incredibly moving and no doubt if I struggled with depression myself I would be feeling so validated with every chapter but I really didn't need so much dramatizing in so many chapters because well, we know what it's like for Kaladin. We get it.

quote:

and usually they have no qualms of conscience to keep them from doing anything they please to you. But I’m sure you already know that, so let’s get back to what happened in what order.

So can you please stop making your useless commentary Tamrissa? You are a waste of ink.

Summary:
Bron Kallan (Fire magic) is a hot dumb jock who casually vandalizes his lady friend's antique piano because she insulted his ego during their post-coital conversation. Selendi Vas (Air magic) is a hot rich bimbo who is a spoiled brat. Homin Weil is the token fatty who's been abused his entire life and is currently being abused by his stepmother. Kambil is basically a male version of Jovvi minus the sex work. Delin is an acknowledged psychopath.

Counts so far:

NAMED ON-SCREEN CHARACTERS WHO WE'LL NEVER SEE AGAIN: 24
Book 1: Mildon Coll, Phor Riven, Jeris Womal, Eldra Sappin, Fod, Lord Astrath, Torrin Ro, Vish "the Fish", Jamrin, Hark, Reshin, Fellar, Ennis, Vosin, Parli Hafford, Regensi, Weeks, Adept Aminto, Mem Follil, Toblis, Kogrin, Lemmis Admen, Miklas
Book 2: Nialla, Emar Rumil, Leta Vas, Grami Arstin

TOTALLY INDISTINCT ON-SCREEN LOCATIONS: 13 (9 in Book 1)
Book 1: Rincammon, Haven Wraithside, Tamrissa's house in Gan Garee, Port Entril, testing facility in Gan Garee, Regensi's shop, Ginge's tavern, Magross bridge, mastery facility outside Gan Garee, Nialla's house, Vas residence, Weil residence, Arstin residence in Gan Garee

MEALS ON-SCREEN: 15
Book 1: Day 1 (lunch, dinner), Day 2 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 3 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 4 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 5 (lunch, dinner), Day 6 (breakfast, lunch)

EUPHEMISMS FOR BODY PARTS: 9
Book 1:
Male: <character name>'s body (x2), discomfort (x1), manhood (x1), desire (x2), renewed need (x1), large and hard, the most perfect of men (x1)
Female: womanhood (x1), entrance of ultimate bliss (x1), desire (x1), incredible tunnel (x1)

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT: 3
Book 1:
Male: love (x1), my fleeting love (x1)
Female: sweet girl (x1)

ANTAGONISTS: 16 (11 introduced in Book 1)
General: Unnamed Chairman/Ollon Kapmar (?) and the five Seated Highs in each aspect, Eltrina Razas, Bron Kallan, Selendi Vas, Homin Weil, Kambil Arstin, Delin Moord
Lorand: Eskin Drowd
Jovvi: Allestine and her henchmen Ark and Bar
Clarion: Hallina Mardimil, Eskin Drowd
Tamrissa: Storn and Avrina Torgar, Beldara Lant, Odrin Hallasser, Soonen
Vallant: Mirra Agran

PLOTHOLES: 43 (39 of them in Book 1)
COACH RIDES: 24 (21 of them in Book 1)
MEETINGS IN COACHES: 4
OTHER MEETINGS: 5 (3 in Book 1)
INTERRUPTED MONOLOGUING: 32 (31 in Book 1)
"CLIFFHANGERS": 18
POINTLESS TAMRISSA NARRATION: 12 (11 in Book 1)
TEA DRINKING: 24 (22 in Book 1)
BLATANT MORALIZING: 19
BATH SCENES: 9
WILFUL MISUNDERSTANDINGS: 6
MIND CONTROL: 5
BADLY WRITTEN SEX SCENES: 2

REPETITIVE POV EVENTS:
  • Oh noes, a fireball (Book 1: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Pass or die (Book 1: Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  • Bathroom encounters (Book 1: Chapters 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
  • Don't rain on my parade! (Book 1: Chapters 19, 20)
  • Uniform fitting (Book 1: Chapters 20, 21)
  • Random encounters: Round 1 (Book 1: Chapters 25, 32, 33, 35, 38)
  • One, two, three, four, five (Book 1: Chapters 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35)
  • A favorite object appears out of thin air (Book 1: Chapters 36, 37 x2, 38)
  • Proof of mastery: Level 1 (Book 1: Chapters 39, 40, 41, 42, 43; Book 2: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Animal cheer squad (Book 2: Chapters 1, 4, 5)

Possible fixes:
Now that the first rewrite attempt is done (it focused on becoming a High), from here on out I'm going to be speculating about what I would do in rewriting Book 2 (which would focus on the competitions). I will try and keep the discussion at a structural level, rather than getting too bogged down in the details.

So, to begin with, if I'm gonna get antagonist POVs–especially if it's from a character who has been set up as someone that deserves to be hated–I'd like it to feel very different from being in the POV of a protagonist. Being in Delin's head is nowhere near as creepy as it should be. The Stormlight antagonists POVs Taravangian/Sadeas/Moash are all amazing because you can see exactly why these characters think the way they do, and their actions are totally consistent with who they are, and the whole of it–both their way of thinking and their actions–is so completely repugnant.

Also the second book should usually raise the stakes or expand the world, and here we've got neither. The stakes are the same, and the expansion to the noble POV which SHOULD have given us a whole lot of rich political intrigue is completely lacking in detail because of course Green's picked a useless bunch of spoiled rich kids who don't know anything and don't do anything as her POV characters.

Opening Book 2 with Eltrina's POV (perhaps as a prologue) instead of sticking it at the end of Book 1 (and moving those first five chapters of Book 2 into Book 1) would have been so much better. We would have gotten all of the recap that Green clearly wanted to do, but we would have expanded the world at the same time. Eltrina is actually an Influential Person Doing Things and Knows Stuff, so she's perfect for us to get teasers of the imminent threats and the political games behind the competitions.

Hobnob
Feb 23, 2006

Ursa Adorandum


Leng posted:

So American goons, how exactly do libertarians vote at all the US elections? Because if I'm not mistaken, you have no compulsory voting laws and also by Green's thematic definition here, anyone who runs for office wants to be a leader and therefore is not suited to be a leader.
This theme gets used a few times by Arthur C. Clarke, who wasn't noticeably libertarian. To the extent where the leaders of a society get chosen randomly, for a strictly limited term. (And from living in the US, though not being American myself, libertarian basically means "Votes conservative, but also wants weed legalization").

quote:

I think I would take a lot less issue with Green's plot and characters if she had done the entire thing as satire instead of attempting it as a High Fantasy Adventure (seriously who would think this even remotely qualifies as high fantasy? It barely qualifies as adventure) and ripped out all of the repetition.
There's been a bit of a shift of definitions here. It used to be fairly set (e.g., see the Encyclopedia of Fantasy) that a "high fantasy" was a constructed world with magic and so on - so Green's stuff certainly fits - as opposed to a "low fantasy" where magic intrudes into our world (think say the Harry Dresden novels). But more recently, I think because the canonical example given of high fantasy is always The Lord of the Rings, people have been using high fantasy to mean "looks like Lord of the Rings", i.e. there must be Elves and Dwarves and poo poo. I've even seen ASoIaF referred to as low fantasy, perhaps because it's too grimdark to seem high.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Hobnob posted:

There's been a bit of a shift of definitions here. It used to be fairly set (e.g., see the Encyclopedia of Fantasy) that a "high fantasy" was a constructed world with magic and so on - so Green's stuff certainly fits - as opposed to a "low fantasy" where magic intrudes into our world (think say the Harry Dresden novels). But more recently, I think because the canonical example given of high fantasy is always The Lord of the Rings, people have been using high fantasy to mean "looks like Lord of the Rings", i.e. there must be Elves and Dwarves and poo poo. I've even seen ASoIaF referred to as low fantasy, perhaps because it's too grimdark to seem high.

To be honest, it's a crappy and useless definition anyway, probably used more for marketing than anything else. In Tolkien's view, Middle Earth is supposed to be our world, but very very long ago, so he himself would argue that LOTR isn't high fantasy even though everybody gives his text as the definition of high fantasy.

And maybe I'm just being too critical here. Green's world building is just so flimsy (oh, magic is part of this world? Everybody can do magic? Okay, so HOW has it actually made the Blendingverse fundamentally different to 17th century England besides the most casual of find/replace surface behaviors of people when they remember that they have magical powers?) and the writing is so bad that even though technically the plot is on an epic scale (the fate of the Empire/known world) so much of the action deals with stupid character high school level drama that it never feels that way.

wizzardstaff
Apr 6, 2018




I'm just grateful that Green decided to shake up the structure a bit when introducing the antagonists. We could have had five chapters of meeting preparations instead of three.

Kchama
Jul 25, 2007

YAP YAP YAP


I've been reading a story recently that takes the whole central theme of bad parenting and how it screws up people in a fantasy world and does a million times better job. The Villainess's Pet, about a young noblewoman who has no appreciable skills or name to trade on who attaches herself to various noblewomen who have a lot more social power than her and basically acts as a safety valve for them. Their society has real trouble with how emotions are seen as weakness, and everyone is encouraged to hide them or face social punishment. So she lets them vent and also gives them praise and encouragement to get through their stress. It's not all positive to the protagonist as she sometimes suffers physical and emotional abuse in their venting, but the noblewoman is always so thankful that she is let into the higher society and gifts are lavished upon her, so she sees it as a fair trade. Hence her status as a 'Pet', where its her lesser absolute status that makes it safe for them to vent to without losing face. She is seen by some as a social leech, but it lets her survive without having to suffer what her parents would have done to her if she hadn't: Marry some old man so her family can have some of his status and power. And basically everyone has similar abuse done to them in the name of power. The titular Villainess is the crown prince's fiancee who has suffered his overly permissive parents, so he has more or less slacked off with his studies required to become a ruler and spends all of his time having sex with any woman he can get his hands on, while she is forced to be pure and chaste or face severe punishment, as well as undergo extremely strict schooling, leading to a lot of unhappiness and strain in her relationship with the crown prince and her father. And her father is actually one of the better parents because he eventually realizes how much he's hosed up and works to fix it. The theme is actually there from the start but it actually only starts becoming OBVIOUS later on because the author takes her time to build it up so it's not dumped on you so blatantly.

Sorry for the long rambling, but it's just urgh Green lays the whole theme on so thick and doesn't really say anything about it. The missed potential is so frustrating.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


quote:

CHAPTER ELEVEN 

Jovvi didn’t have long to settle herself in the coach before it stopped again near a Fire magic symbol. Beside the round metal disk mounted on a post was Tamma, who had a heavy man standing and waiting with her. The man opened the coach door and helped Tamma inside, all the while radiating such strong fear and uncertainty that Jovvi had to block him out of her awareness. But as soon as the door was closed the coach continued on, so the distraught man was quickly left behind.

We are picking up right back where Chapter 5 left off, so all of the protagonists can have repetitive conversations recapping what happened in Chapters 1-5 in their various coach rides because we've had 4 chapters of filler in the 5 intervening chapters.

I'm starting to think that Green maybe would have done very well publishing this as a web serial on Wattpad or something.

quote:

“Let me guess,” Jovvi said to Tamma with a happy grin of relief. “You’ve already tested for some of your masteries, and you’ve gotten them.”

“Every one of the first six,” Tamma answered, holding up a small leather pouch. “Six silver dins for six masteries, and full permission to go home even though it’s only early afternoon. But the going-home part was for their benefit, I think. Unless I was imagining things, they were so nervous they couldn’t wait to get rid of me.”

“You weren’t imagining things,” Jovvi said, losing her good mood. “That man beside you was very frightened, just like the people I was with. I gained all four of the first masteries along with the four silver dins, and suddenly became a different person to them.”

“Yes, they went from condescension to fear in six—or four—easy steps,” Tamma said, leaning her head back on the coach seat. “Tomorrow may be a different story, but whether it is or not—What can they possibly be so afraid of? Are we suddenly going to turn into some kind of monsters, and they know about it but aren’t allowed to warn us? I’ve learned to dread what I’m not being told about, Jovvi, and this feels like a new version of the same old situation.”

“Somehow I don’t think it is,” Jovvi replied, her brow wrinkling in thought. “The fear was for what we are now, not for what we might turn into. And in a way it was a very specific fear, personal to the people involved. I have no idea what details are involved, but it feels—”

Jovvi gestured with one hand, finding it impossible to put her impressions into words. The fear had been both personal and impersonal, and wasn’t specifically involving now. Now seemed to be generating no more than extreme nervousness, but later…

Somewhere Green must have read an actually good book that had some really beautiful and effective juxtapositions that were also insightful. And her takeaway must have been "Aha! Clearly the secret is to stuff all of my prose with words that mean opposite things and my readers will think that I, the author, am incredibly clever and articulate."

quote:

“It feels as if we’d better watch even more carefully as we continue to move ahead,” Jovvi went on, seeing the way Tamma now listened closely. “I think it’s safe to say there’s something coming that they know about but we don’t, but it’s not necessarily bad for us.

Yes, why, watching is obviously the right answer in the face of vague impending doom, rather than actively doing stuff to investigate what is going on. And why is Green getting her protagonists to undercut all of the (terrible) work she's done to establish that vague sense of doom?

quote:

If they knew we were certain to be Seated, for instance, they’d worry about what we might do once we were in power.”

“I hadn’t considered that possibility,” Tamma said slowly, her brows raised. “Or at least I hadn’t considered it seriously. Maybe that’s because the worst I would do to any of them is have them fired, and I don’t mean in my aspect’s way.”

“Very often people expect to see others acting in a manner they themselves would act in,” Jovvi said, nodding her agreement with Tamma’s intentions. “You and I know we would never cause them any real harm just to get even, but chances are good that in our place they would cause harm. Small, spiteful people worry about things like that, so they’re punished by their own attitudes.

Two grown women discussing how they are completely oblivious to how the world works. We are supposed to believe that all of society is terrible and cutthroat, shaped by a corrupt nobility, yet Jovvi and Tamrissa are all like, oh why would people be afraid of powerful people when the entire Empire revolves around people accumulating power and abusing those with less power? We are the noble and smart protagonists who are Good People so clearly the problem is that anyone reacting like this is just being small and spiteful.

quote:

Let’s not let that spoil our pleasure over what we’ve accomplished.”

“You’re absolutely right,” Tamma agreed with a firm nod, and then she laughed. “Especially when that accomplishment was so easy, at least for me.

Are we done with congratulating ourselves for being complete Mary Sues yet?

quote:

I’m still somewhat nervous about the next batch of tests where I’ll have to do the same thing while protecting myself against attack, but I’m suddenly starting to believe I can do it. That makes a big difference, doesn’t it? Believing in yourself, I mean.”

“It certainly does,” Jovvi told her with a grin, enjoying her bubbling delight. “I’ve been saying that all along, but it’s the kind of thing you have to discover for yourself. Until then, all the saying in the world won’t convince you it’s true. I just wish Lorand understood that more clearly.”

“Yes, I’m worried about him too,” Tamma said with a sigh. “He’s such a nice person that I wish I could help… But he’s gotten past his fear so far, so maybe he’ll be able to continue doing it.”

“Forcing yourself to do something and doing that something freely bring two different results,” Jovvi said with a headshake, already having considered the point. “Lorand will probably manage now, but what happens when he reaches the real competitions and has to face someone as strong as he is? Even if he hesitates only a moment before reaching for more power, that moment could cause him to lose.”

“But how do you get around something that’s frightened you for years?” Tamma asked, her pretty eyes wide with concern. “I’m doing it—part way—by remembering I have nothing to lose, but I didn’t start out being afraid of dying. If I had… Would I have been able to get this far?”

“One day soon you’ll discover that you’re a lot stronger than you’ve ever been allowed to believe,” Jovvi told her, automatically soothing Tamma’s sudden, extreme agitation. “That’s when you’ll understand why you’ve been able to accomplish what you have—and why you can accomplish anything you decide on. Lorand… Lorand already knows he’s strong, both in character and in ability, and it isn’t death he fears. People who worry about burnout usually have a different picture giving them nightmares.”

“Mindlessness,” Tamma said with a nod, back to being calm again. “But that’s almost the same as being dead, since you have no idea about what’s going on around you. It’s knowing everything and being helpless to change any of it that gives me the shudders, so maybe Lorand ought to try my brand of trouble. I have to admit it’s less crippling than his.”

"Clearly Lorand's flaw is just a stupid not real flaw, and we had to give him one because otherwise he would be too perfect and there would be no unnecessary drama."

quote:

“Maybe we can talk him into taking a temporary loan,” Jovvi said with as much of a smile as she could manage,

FORESHADOWING!

quote:

then suddenly decided she needed to change the subject of discussion. “But while we’re talking about the others, what do you intend to do about Vallant Ro? He hates the way you’ve been ignoring him, and I have the impression that he might decide to do something about it.”

“He’ll find out rather fast that there’s nothing he can do,” Tamma replied, abruptly closing herself off against listening calmly and reasonably. “I had to learn the hard way that he makes me more vulnerable than I am alone, and I don’t intend to waste the lesson. He won’t ever have the chance to put me in an embarrassing situation with my father again.”

“At the risk of starting a serious argument, I’m going to tell you what the truth is, rather than what you’ve talked yourself into believing.” Jovvi spoke slowly after something of a hesitation, hoping hard that she wasn’t making a mistake. “Friends do tell each other the truth, even if both the telling and hearing are painful. Will you forgive me in advance for being blunt?”

Tamma sat staring down at her hands where they twisted together in her lap, but she didn’t say anything about not being willing to listen. She might be expecting Jovvi to take her silence as a refusal, but Jovvi preferred to take it in a positive way.

“All right, so you won’t forgive me in advance,” she said after a moment, fortified with a deep breath. “You may even hate me after this, but I don’t hate you so here goes: it wasn’t Vallant who embarrassed you in front of your father, and vulnerability isn’t what’s upsetting you. You’re doing this because of jealousy, Tamma, and because you have no idea how a real, beneficial relationship between a man and a woman works. If you like, I’ll explain what I mean.”

No please don't explain how you think romantic relationships should work Green, I really hate these little lectures of yours.

quote:

Once again there was just the creak and jangle of the coach’s motion to break the silence, so Jovvi took that as an encouraging sign and continued.

“Let’s start with the jealousy aspect,” she said, noticing the small red spots which had appeared on Tamma’s cheeks. “You may not even really know what jealousy is, because you’ve never associated with a man you liked well enough to be jealous about. If that’s the case, let me assure you that finding out you’re not the first woman he’s involved himself with and immediately hating the idea is nothing unusual. Most women react that way, but some are wise enough to see how foolish they’re being.”

This time Tamma shifted a bit on the coach seat, a sign that she was listening even if she neither looked up nor spoke. And there was a small frown on what Jovvi could see of Tamma’s face, an even better sign.

“What you must make yourself understand is how unreasonable it is to expect that a grown man you’ve just met had no life before your meeting. If that were true you’d probably find you couldn’t stand him, because he had either no personality or an unpleasant one. If you want to be the first woman in a man’s life, you either have to be born right next to him, or accept one no one else wants to associate with.”

“How would I go about managing that first option?” Tamma said suddenly with a wry expression, briefly glancing up. “The one about being born next to him, I mean. And I’m not jealous of that floozie my father pranced into my house. Any man who ever saw anything in her couldn’t possibly find anything of interest in me.”

“That’s jealousy,” Jovvi stated, but with a grin. “And you have to remember that he didn’t find her interesting enough to marry. Maybe she saw other men in addition to him, and that soured his enthusiasm. Men are strange, even the best of them. They’ll do everything in their power to continue seeing their favorite courtesan, who probably has anywhere from four to a dozen patrons beside himself. But let his wife try to take even a single lover, and suddenly he wants nothing more to do with her.”

“That’s probably because they think they own their wives,” Tamma said, then gestured away the whole idea. “But maybe that’s why I’ve lost interest. Once you ‘belong’ to a man he starts to see you as a possession, and I have no intention of being anyone’s possession ever again.”

“You haven’t lost interest, and not all men are like that,” Jovvi disagreed again, but gently and without the amusement. “Vallant would probably be one of the exceptions, but I think you’re too afraid to find out. If you had let him stand beside you and support you when your father brought that girl to the house, you wouldn’t have been embarrassed. But then you would have had to face the start of a serious relationship with Vallant, and you can’t cope with something that new and that far beyond your experience. You decided to use anger to free yourself from a terrifying situation, which in this instance does make you a coward.”

“I told you I was one,” she muttered, misery radiating from her slender body, but then she made the effort to square her shoulders. “And since there’s no argument about it, I might as well admit that his interest scares me silly. I don’t know how to deal with it, Jovvi, even if it made me feel like a carefree child at first. I hadn’t realized how … complex a relationship with a man can be, so I’m much better off not being involved at all.”

“There are times when we have to force ourselves to do the right thing,” Jovvi told her, feeling the strength of the girl’s resolve with a sinking sensation. “Very often we’re wise to back away from something we know we can’t handle, but not all the time. In situations like this, where you can gain so much, you have to force yourself to take the chance.

Because this is the sort of fascinating conflict that I would love to read about in dialogue rather than seeing the characters struggle with it and work through it.

NOT.

In case you haven't already figured it out, Green has a very simple formula. It goes something like:
Character A is being dumb
> Character B points how Character A's dumbness with Facts and Logic
> Character A acknowledges Character B is so right
> roll dice to see whether
1) Character A's problem magically goes away now that they have "the answer" from Character B; or
2) Character A throws their hands up and goes "I know but I still can't oh woe is me" and continues being dumb for another book until Event X happens and they acknowledge that Character B was totally right and now their problem has magically disappeared due to the revelation.

But somewhere in every situation will be one character telling another character how they're being dumb and what the Right Answer is.

quote:

And what if he decides not to let you ignore him? He won’t hurt you, I know that for a fact, but men can be such incredible pests when they put their mind to it…”

“But Jovvi, I just earned six masteries in Fire magic,” Tamma countered reasonably.

And even before you had your masteries, you spent two years in an abusive marriage without once trying to defend yourself.

quote:

“Even if he were the sort to hurt me, what could he possibly do?”

Jovvi parted her lips to answer that question, then discovered that she couldn’t, not in just a few words. It took a greater knowledge of normal men than Tamma had, but she did have to give one example.

“Well … suppose he decides to do something completely innocuous, like follow you around,” Jovvi finally suggested. “He’s not threatening you, he’s not trying to touch you, and he’s not even trying to engage you in conversation. All he’s doing is following you around like a puppy, making cow eyes at you any time you glance at him. How are your masteries going to help you with that?”

“But that wouldn’t be fair!” Tamma protested, suddenly turning upset. “If he’s not trying to hurt me, how can I defend myself?”

This is foreshadowing for a pointless love triangle that happens across Books 4 and 5.

quote:

“That’s the whole point,” Jovvi said slowly and clearly, knowing the girl was still having trouble understanding. “That’s the way a normal man might decide to pester, and you won’t be able to justify hurting him even to yourself. Or maybe especially to yourself. You have to handle the matter differently, in a much more reasonable way. Why don’t you take him aside and tell him the truth?”

“Do you really think that will make him stay away from me?” Tamma asked in turn, new hope in her eyes. “I hate it when he talks to me the way he did this morning, so sincerely and sounding so wounded. It made me want to comfort him, but I can’t afford to do that.”

“No, you can’t,” Jovvi agreed in a mutter, now almost as depressed as Tamma had been a moment ago. “And I said I’d tell you the truth, so I have to keep on with it. If you sit down and talk to him I don’t think he’ll leave you alone, especially not if he sees the way your eyes brighten at the thought of comforting him. He’ll know you’re just as interested in him as he is in you, and he’ll never give up trying to make you admit it.”

Uh Jovvi weren't you just saying that Tamma should try having a relationship?

quote:

“As if admitting it would make a relationship easier and more possible,” Tamma said, her voice filled with weariness. “Then what am I going to do, Jovvi? If he starts to follow me around, I’ll probably have a screaming fit.”

“It’s possible I may join you in that,” Jovvi muttered again, then let the following silence tell Tamma she was out of ideas. She’d never had trouble turning away a man’s interest, but then she had a talent Tamma lacked. And she’d never been half in love with the men she turned away, and Tamma certainly was. And now, with Lorand, she was in the process of learning how difficult it was to dismiss certain men from your thoughts. Maybe Tamma would come up with something they could both use.

Spoilers: she doesn't.

quote:

The rest of the ride went by too quietly, and from all the thinking Jovvi did there should have been the smell of burning wood. Tamma was obviously also thinking, but Jovvi had never seen a more unproductive time. Except, possibly, where their questions about the competitions were involved, and even those were being slowly answered.

No, they are not! Also you guys are not asking any good questions.

quote:

When they pulled up to the residence with no sign of the coach the men had used, Jovvi hoped that was because she and Tamma had gotten home first. If not, and she ran into Lorand, there was an excellent chance that she would join Tamma in that screaming fit a lot sooner than either of them had expected…

OMFG

Summary:

Day 6 (continued)
Jovvi and Tamrissa have girl chat about Vallant and Lorand in the coach ride home, bonus Green lecture included.

Counts so far:

NAMED ON-SCREEN CHARACTERS WHO WE'LL NEVER SEE AGAIN: 24
Book 1: Mildon Coll, Phor Riven, Jeris Womal, Eldra Sappin, Fod, Lord Astrath, Torrin Ro, Vish "the Fish", Jamrin, Hark, Reshin, Fellar, Ennis, Vosin, Parli Hafford, Regensi, Weeks, Adept Aminto, Mem Follil, Toblis, Kogrin, Lemmis Admen, Miklas
Book 2: Nialla, Emar Rumil, Leta Vas, Grami Arstin

TOTALLY INDISTINCT ON-SCREEN LOCATIONS: 13 (9 in Book 1)
Book 1: Rincammon, Haven Wraithside, Tamrissa's house in Gan Garee, Port Entril, testing facility in Gan Garee, Regensi's shop, Ginge's tavern, Magross bridge, mastery facility outside Gan Garee, Nialla's house, Vas residence, Weil residence, Arstin residence in Gan Garee

MEALS ON-SCREEN: 15
Book 1: Day 1 (lunch, dinner), Day 2 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 3 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 4 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 5 (lunch, dinner), Day 6 (breakfast, lunch)

EUPHEMISMS FOR BODY PARTS: 9
Book 1:
Male: <character name>'s body (x2), discomfort (x1), manhood (x1), desire (x2), renewed need (x1), large and hard, the most perfect of men (x1)
Female: womanhood (x1), entrance of ultimate bliss (x1), desire (x1), incredible tunnel (x1)

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT: 3
Book 1:
Male: love (x1), my fleeting love (x1)
Female: sweet girl (x1)

ANTAGONISTS: 16 (11 introduced in Book 1)
General: Unnamed Chairman/Ollon Kapmar (?) and the five Seated Highs in each aspect, Eltrina Razas, Bron Kallan, Selendi Vas, Homin Weil, Kambil Arstin, Delin Moord
Lorand: Eskin Drowd
Jovvi: Allestine and her henchmen Ark and Bar
Clarion: Hallina Mardimil, Eskin Drowd
Tamrissa: Storn and Avrina Torgar, Beldara Lant, Odrin Hallasser, Soonen
Vallant: Mirra Agran

PLOTHOLES: 43 (39 in Book 1)
COACH RIDES: 25 (21 in Book 1)
MEETINGS IN COACHES: 5 (4 in Book 1)
OTHER MEETINGS: 5 (3 in Book 1)
INTERRUPTED MONOLOGUING: 32 (31 in Book 1)
"CLIFFHANGERS": 18
POINTLESS TAMRISSA NARRATION: 12 (11 in Book 1)
TEA DRINKING: 24 (22 in Book 1)
BLATANT MORALIZING: 20 (19 in Book 1)
BATH SCENES: 9
WILFUL MISUNDERSTANDINGS: 6
MIND CONTROL: 5
BADLY WRITTEN SEX SCENES: 2

REPETITIVE POV EVENTS:
  • Oh noes, a fireball (Book 1: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Pass or die (Book 1: Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  • Bathroom encounters (Book 1: Chapters 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
  • Don't rain on my parade! (Book 1: Chapters 19, 20)
  • Uniform fitting (Book 1: Chapters 20, 21)
  • Random encounters: Round 1 (Book 1: Chapters 25, 32, 33, 35, 38)
  • One, two, three, four, five (Book 1: Chapters 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35)
  • A favorite object appears out of thin air (Book 1: Chapters 36, 37 x2, 38)
  • Proof of mastery: Level 1 (Book 1: Chapters 39, 40, 41, 42, 43; Book 2: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Animal cheer squad (Book 2: Chapters 1, 4, 5)

Possible fixes:
I'm actually beginning to think that all of these conversations that happen in the boring coach rides could just be cut completely from the book and you wouldn't feel like you've missed anything. Inevitably whatever the characters discuss in the coach rides, the other half of the characters aren't there for it so it will get recapped in far less painful detail later.

Leng fucked around with this message at 11:57 on Dec 18, 2020

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


quote:

CHAPTER TWELVE 

Lorand was the first to be picked up by the coach, and at first he thought he might be the only passenger. By now he was used to being the last in the group to accomplish whatever they were supposed to be doing, so he half expected the other men—and the women in their own coach—to have returned to the residence hours earlier.

With all of this stuff about coaches and even plot points revolving around the immediate arrival of coaches instead of having to wait for one, I don't think Green ever worked out any of it. Is "the coach" Tamrissa's own private coach or one paid for by the testing authority? It only serves to highlight the stupidity of the forced co-living in a private residence situation, since you can't just set up a regular schedule of coach departures to and from the mastery facilities and the communal living areas.

quote:

So it surprised him when they began to slow, and he looked out of the lefthand window to see Vallant Ro and Pagin Holter waiting beside the symbol for Water magic. Two strange men stood with them, just as Hestir, his Adept guide, had waited for the coach with him. It had been Hestir’s idea rather than Lorand’s, and even from a distance it seemed that Ro and Holter were no more eager for the company than he had been.

The coach slowed to a complete stop, and Lorand’s two residence-mates climbed inside without wasting any time. The two strangers looked as if they meant to wave goodbye, but Ro and Holter ignored them completely as they settled into the seats opposite Lorand. Then the coach was moving again, and both men let out sighs of relief.

“I think I was happier when they were lookin’ down at us,” Ro said to Holter, and then, when the small man nodded emphatically, added to Lorand, “We earned their masteries, both of us. Before that I was one of their group of ‘boys,’ and Holter was lower than dirt. Now we’re both really important men, and that made me very nervous.”

“I know what you mean,” Lorand agreed with a sour nod. “Before I tested I was ‘dear boy’ to my Adept guide, but afterward I was ‘sir.’ And I didn’t like it nearly as much as I thought I would.”

“Made me feel like more uv a stranger’n anythin’ yet,” Holter put in, a painful expression on his face. “Din’t ’spect ’em t’ make me a brother, but a little friendliness wouldn’a hurt. But they wus jest as scared as Ginge an’ them others, so we ain’t never gonna have friends agin.”

Lorand could feel the pain radiating from the small ex-groom, and groped for something comforting to say as he exchanged a glance with Ro. Holter needed friends the way most people needed food and shelter, but at the same time he seemed to be refusing to accept it.

Hold on a moment, since when is Lorand joining in with the other sociopathic protagonists? The need for human connection is a basic, fundamental one. I'd argue that most people need friends in the same way that they need food and shelter too–Pagin is not an anomaly in this regard. Also aren't you supposed to still be in mourning for Hat? I mean your supposed best friend is presumed dead and it's been less than a week. I get that Hat is a terrible friend but I'm not getting the sense that Lorand understands what friendship entails either.

quote:

Ro parted his lips to say something, but that was when the coach began to slow again.

Lorand looked out to see Rion standing beside the symbol for Air magic, but no one was with him. Ro saw the same and again they exchanged glances, both clearly wondering and worrying. Was Rion alone because he hadn’t attained any masteries? They’d have to find out, but they would also have to be delicate about it.

When the coach stopped Rion got in, a neutral expression on his face. Lorand waited for the man to settle himself beside him, and then he cleared his throat.

“We were wondering how you managed to be waiting alone,” Lorand said in as light a tone as he could produce. “The rest of us were forced to put up with the company of our guides, so we’d like to know your secret.”

“There’s no secret involved,” Rion said, sounding distracted and sober. “I simply told the man to go away, and he did. They may not take you seriously to begin with, but once you pass their foolish little test their attitude changes completely.”

“Yes, Ro and Holter and I were just discussing that,” Lorand replied with a great deal of relief.

We've now reached an all time low, where we are now getting recaps of recaps within the same chapter paragraphs apart.

quote:

“And Holter said something I was about to disagree with when the coach stopped. You said we would never have friends again, man, but you’re forgetting something important. You and me and everyone in our group are now friends, and no one will ever be able to change that. Don’t you think that counts for something?”

“He’s right,” Ro agreed quietly when Holter simply looked uncomfortable. “We’ve all had to say goodbye to our old lives, knowin’ we’ll probably never be looked at the same again by our family and friends. But in their place we’ve got each other, and you won’t find us turnin’ our back on one of our own. If you think you don’t belong with us, that’s your idea, not ours.”

Do never ask Vallant to go cheer somebody up. He's so unempathetic that he's literally telling a man who is grieving the loss of his friends and his entire known existence that "it's all in your head" and to just get over it.

quote:

“I know you been tryin’ t’treat me kindly,” Holter said after a brief hesitation, apparently struggling for the right words. “You’re all good folk who don’t like talkin’ down a man jest ’cause he don’t use purty words, but you cain’t see yer bunch frum th’ outside. You all fit t’gether, even Mardimil there who din’t fit in nuthin’ to start with, but me? I don’t fit, friend, an’ never will. If y’ever hadda choose betwixt Ro an’ me, which one would y’choose?”

Lorand started to say he didn’t see a reason for choosing, then understood Holter’s point. Ro and Holter shared the aspect of Water magic, and if everyone else needed to choose between them, their choice would be obvious.

Not to me! Ignoring the authorial choice to given Vallant POVs, what have we actually learned about either of the Water magic users and the rest of the characters that would lead us to this conclusion, except for the superficial traits of Pagin is not a tall hot blond and he speaks with a low class dialect?

quote:

But why would they have to choose? The only place they would need a single representative of each aspect would be—

“Wait a minute,” Lorand said, completely sidetracked. “Unless I’m mistaken, you’ve seen something the rest of us have missed. Are you saying they’ve kept us together like this because they plan to form five of us into a Blending? But this is a twenty-fifth year, so that has to be absurd. We’re here to try for High positions, not—”

Lorand discovered he couldn’t say the words, but Ro didn’t have that trouble.

“Why not as candidates for the Fivefold Throne?” he demanded, revelation widening his eyes. “We don’t know how good we are compared to other applicants, but the testin’ authority does. If they think we’re good enough, who’re we to argue? Holter, you’re a genius!”

“Definitely more observant than the average man, and also quite astute,” Mardimil put in, studying Holter quietly. “The theory seems an excellent one, and may indeed prove correct. In the event that it does, our friend’s question becomes more than academic—assuming we are the ones who are allowed to choose. Cynicism, however, suggests the choice will belong to those who consider themselves our superiors.”

Everyone looked startled at that, even Holter, but Lorand knew his own expression must be stranger yet. Funny how he’d never seriously thought about being part of one of the challenging Blendings, even though the possibility had always been there.

Did you guys literally forget you had this EXACT CONVERSATION after Pagin pointed out the EXACT SAME REVELATION back in Book 1 Chapter 18. It's been like...at least 100k words of filler ago for us but for you guys it's been FIVE DAYS.



quote:

“I think that covers the question about choosin’,” Ro said after the moment they all seemed to need to adjust to the new situation. “We could be kiddin’ ourselves and find they don’t want us after all, but we should be braced in case they do. And we’ll have to tell the ladies about this.”

“I hope they haven’t already thought of it themselves,” Lorand said with a small headshake. “I was starting to believe that women are generally sharper than men, but Holter has helped to restore my self esteem. Since he’s definitely a man, there’s still hope for me.”

Everyone including Holter chuckled at that, but then the conversation died completely.

More Green

quote:

Mardimil and Holter withdrew back into their brown studies, Ro fell into one of his own, and even Lorand was captured by his thoughts.

More textual evidence that Green was trying to set this in the late 17th century or similar.

quote:

He’d been concentrating so hard on winning to a Seated High position, that he’d never even considered being part of a challenging Blending. Now that he’d been forced to consider it, he saw the benefits in the changed circumstance immediately.

If winning a Seated High position would let him make a happy, permanent life with Jovvi, how much better would it be if the two of them were part of the winning Blending? Their careers would last no more than twenty-five years, but Lorand was fairly certain that would be time enough to put aside enough gold for a comfortable retirement.

In the Prologue, you were pointing out all of the ways that you, as a Middle in Earth magic, could make money especially given your rare skill with animals. Even when thinking about being a High, you were dreaming about gold. Green is trying really hard to paint all of the protagonists as wanting to win for moral reasons but my only conclusion is that they're all oblivious to their own greed. You do not need to be part of the Seated Blending to earn and put aside gold for a comfortable retirement!!!

quote:

He chuckled at that thought, then spent the rest of the ride daydreaming about how wonderful it would be if—when!—Jovvi became his alone.

Hahahahahahahaha you've got no idea.

quote:

They were only a block or two away from the residence when a coach passed them going in the opposite direction. That said the ladies had gotten back before them,

So these are the testing authority's coaches? They're running a private fleet of coaches to ferry people to and from six residences for the commoner challenging Blendings? All in different neighborhoods? And housing in Gan Garee is in such short demand that across the presumably thousands (or even tens or hundreds of thousands) of people living in the Empire's capitol that it's a competitive process to apply?

The noble challenging Blendings eventually get moved into a residence of their own in like...the back end of this book or the next book, but that means there's only another six houses at most.

Green is seriously saying with her world building that it's hard to find 12 houses in the whole capitol that are suitable.

Once again, how tiny is this Empire?

quote:

which raised Lorand’s spirit even more. He wanted to see Jovvi and tell her how much better their prospects for happiness had become,

Yes, by all means, continue with your awful attitude of telling the woman how she's wrong. In this case, there has been no tangible change to your future prospects from where you were before, so it's even worse.

quote:

but when they left their coach and entered the residence, the entire downstairs appeared deserted except for the servants.

“I believe I could use a quick trip to the bath house,” Mardimil said, taking Lorand’s attention from looking around. “Would anyone mind if I made the time solitary? I promise to be in and out as quickly as possible.”

Lorand shrugged and shook his head to show that it was fine with him, and Ro did the same. Holter had already disappeared as usual, so Mardimil nodded in turn and headed directly for the back hall and the bath house.

Oh thank goodness! Yay for avoiding yet another–

quote:

“I could use a bath myself, but waitin’ until he’s done won’t hurt,” Ro said then. “I’ll just go to my bedchamber and get a wrap to wear instead of these clothes, and if I take my time he ought to be finished just about when I’m ready to start.”

“I could use the same, so if you don’t mind I’ll join you,” Lorand replied. “Unless you’re in need of the same solitude? Personally, I could use someone to talk to.”

“That makes two of us,” Ro agreed, clearly not simply being polite. “Let’s meet back down here in that sittin’ alcove near the back door, and when Mardimil comes out of the bath house, we’ll go in.”

...damnit!

quote:

Lorand was happy to add his own agreement, so they went upstairs and separated to go into their respective bedchambers. Just for an instant before he opened his door, Lorand fantasized finding Jovvi in his bed, gloriously naked and eagerly waiting for him.

Seriously?!??!??!?! There's nothing more than pure physical attraction holding these people together. I do not buy that they are in love, not for one second.

quote:

Then he opened the door and found the chamber empty, which made him sigh as he walked in and closed the door again. If he didn’t get things straightened out with Jovvi soon, he just might find himself daydreaming about her at the wrong time. Like when he was supposed to be achieving a mastery, and that couldn’t be allowed to happen. Only the best of the best would be chosen to be in a challenging Blending, so that’s what Lorand would have to be.

Of course, now that Lorand has had this internal thought, you know that there's no possibility of him screwing up. Because this is a Green novel and Green's protagonists are perfect because we couldn't have them failing for any reason.

quote:

He took his time getting out of his clothes and into a wrap, but he still reached the sitting alcove near the back door first. He had no idea how long he would have to wait for Ro, but before he had time to consider the question the man appeared. And a moment after that Mardimil came in through the back door, wearing a towel wrapped around his middle and carrying his worn clothing. He nodded his thanks for their patience when he saw them, then headed for the front hall and the stairs leading upward. That meant the bath house was now theirs, so they went outside together and walked to it.

We needed this useless paragraph...why?

quote:

The silence he and Ro maintained during the walk and while they undressed felt somewhat strained to Lorand, so he decided to restart the conversation and see how it went. If the strain disappeared, all well and good. If it didn’t, he might have to cut short his own bath time.

And we're meant to think Rion is the socially awkward one.

quote:

“Once I’m dressed again, I intend to go looking for Jovvi,” Lorand stated with a brief glance over his shoulder, giving most of his attention to entering the bath. “She and I have a—disagreement going on between us, but that’s no reason for us to avoid each other. I still don’t know why she seems to feel for me what I feel for her, but I’m not about to question the best luck I’ve had in my entire life.”

“You and Jovvi?” Ro blurted as he followed Lorand into the bath. “I had no idea—But what about what was between you and Tamrissa?”

“What made you think there was ever anything between me and Tamrissa?” Lorand asked curiously as he bent his knees so that his whole body would be wet. “The lady is charming and delightful and was wonderful about helping me with part of my problem with Jovvi, but that’s all there ever was between us. Is simple friendship what you were talking about?”

Dude. You are the worst at reading people. I liked you much better when you were looking out for Rion in the tavern.

quote:

“I suppose it was,” Ro answered with a grin, just standing there in water up to his chest. “I didn’t know it was, but I’m happy to say I know it now. I like you, Coll, and I would have hated to find that I had no choice but to murder you in cold blood. Now murder won’t be necessary, so I can get on with plannin’ other, more pleasant things.”

This is supposed to be a joke, but we've been in Vallant's POV and seen him daydreaming about murdering Tamrissa's father and intended second husband, and we've also been in Rion's POV and seen him plotting to murder Lorand. The psychopath quotient here is off the charts.

quote:

“Ah, now I understand,” Lorand said with his own grin, also understanding about the strain in the silence they’d earlier shared. “You’re having a problem with Tamrissa, and you were afraid I’d take advantage of that to make time of my own with her. Well, you can believe it won’t be happening, so what do you have in mind for healing the rift between you two?”

“Nothin’ yet,” Ro admitted, losing his grin and relief together. “I’ve decided I’m not about to give up tryin’ to get through to her, but how I’ll do that I can’t quite figure out. What I do know, though, is that if I choose the wrong way of handlin’ it, life could get really … hot for me.”

Ro submerged after saying that, leaving Lorand momentarily puzzled over what he’d meant. Then he remembered that Tamrissa was a potential High in Fire magic, and quickly began to pity Ro. The worst Jovvi could do to him if she decided she didn’t want him around was turn off his interest, and that would only be temporary. What Tamrissa could do to Ro was an entirely different story, and Lorand had to duck under the water to wash away the picture of it.

Vallant is a literal High talent in Water magic, the elemental opposite of Tamrissa's talent of Fire, and his magical powers includes the ability to summon ice. I don't see the problem! Also Green is so symbolically predictable with romantically pairing ice and fire together. GRRM ASOIAF chat: I'm still holding out for Winds of Winter, because please let that be the book where the long foreshadowed Jon/Dany stuff happens and I hope it's actually good because I was so mad after A Dance with Dragons came out that I was tempted to throw my Kindle and I'm like...60% certain it won't turn out as bad as the TV series.

quote:

The two men used soap and shampoo first, and only then chose resting areas to relax in for a while. The constantly recycling water was fresh and warm, silently urging soaking, so they let themselves be talked into it.

The ordering of these two sentences plus the word choice makes me go

quote:

Once they were settled, though, Ro looked over at Lorand with a less hopeless expression.

“You know, our conversation in the coach comin’ back here may have given me an idea,” he said, using one hand to smooth down his soaking wet hair. “I don’t know any more about Blendin’s than the next man, but if we’re goin’ to have any chance at all we have to be as … close as possible to each other. That means she’ll have to stop actin’ the way she’s doin’, and give me a chance.”

“That sounds logical to you and me, but don’t forget she’s a woman,” Lorand warned.



quote:

“I hate throwing cold water on your idea, but I’d hate seeing you turned into a pile of ash even more. She could decide that business about our being a challenging Blending has nothing to do with how she treats you, and you’d need a compelling—and not necessarily logical—counter argument.”

“You’re right, blast it,” Ro muttered, obviously unhappy but just as obviously not depressed. “I’ll have to add somethin’ else, like … like tellin’ her animosity will be too distractin’. We’ll have to be payin’ attention to workin’ together, but her thinkin’ hate-thoughts and me thinkin’ unrequited love-thoughts might ruin it for everybody. She’s not the sort who’ll hurt others just to get what she wants.”

“No, she isn’t,” Lorand agreed, considering the idea critically. “But you’ll first have to get her to believe that the attitudes will affect us as a group.

The worst part about the Valissa dramas is how pervasive it becomes to every freaking chapter. SHUT UP GUYS I would like to have more action adventure and less juvenile "we're on/we're off/we're in love/we hate each other" drama.

quote:

It’s too bad we don’t know more about how this Blending thing works. Both for your problem and for our general one.”

“Since anybody tryin’ to form a Blendin’ on their own faces arrest and summary execution, it’s no wonder the details about it are hard to come by.” Ro now looked thoughtful, his gaze on Lorand. “What the bunch of us did in that tavern to break up the fight might be illegal, but it can’t be anythin’ like what a real Blendin’ does. Bottom line is we didn’t blend, we only worked together.”

“And there’s no reason to call it a Blending if the members of it don’t blend,” Lorand agreed, now sharing the thoughtfulness. “But now that you mention it, I wonder why it is illegal for people to form their own Blendings. People with ordinary talent can’t possibly even come close in strength to the Seated Five, so what’s the point?”

This is a good question! You guys should go and investigate this! Of course you're not going to, because all you guys do is sit around and wait for things to happen to you!

quote:

“Truthfully, I wish I knew,” Ro admitted, his brow furrowed. “Every time we think about or discuss this mess we’re in the middle of, we come to a conclusion that answers one question but breeds a dozen more. I can’t help thinkin’ we’re in way over our heads, and no matter how long we tread water we’ll come to the point where we’re too tired to go on doin’ it. If we don’t have a good, solid ship to climb up into by then, our only other option will be to drown.”

“I refuse to drown, and even beyond that I’ll never let Jovvi drown,” Lorand stated, not at all surprised at the hardness in his voice. “I’ll never stand by and watch something hurt her, and I’ll protect myself in order to be there to protect her. If that means we’ll have to build a ship to climb up into when the time comes, I’m ready to start.”

Ro nodded his agreement with the same hardened expression Lorand knew he wore, which undoubtedly meant that Ro had made the same vow relating to Tamrissa. It felt good to know that the other man would stand firm with him, but not much other good was particularly apparent.

This is such a toxic depiction of what a romantic partner should be and I was reading this for the first time as a fourteen year old girl.

quote:

They would almost certainly have a fight on their hands, but what sort of fight?

OMFG.

quote:

And what, if anything, would winning gain them? The answer to that should have been obvious, but was it…?

DOUBLE OMFG.

Summary:

Day 6 (continued)
Jovvi and Tamrissa have girl chat about Vallant and Lorand in the coach ride home, bonus Green lecture included. Vallant, Lorand, Rion and Pagin rehash the point about being a challenging Blending, then Vallant and Lorand finally clear up their misunderstanding about their respective romantic targets in yet another bath scene.

Counts so far:

NAMED ON-SCREEN CHARACTERS WHO WE'LL NEVER SEE AGAIN: 24
Book 1: Mildon Coll, Phor Riven, Jeris Womal, Eldra Sappin, Fod, Lord Astrath, Torrin Ro, Vish "the Fish", Jamrin, Hark, Reshin, Fellar, Ennis, Vosin, Parli Hafford, Regensi, Weeks, Adept Aminto, Mem Follil, Toblis, Kogrin, Lemmis Admen, Miklas
Book 2: Nialla, Emar Rumil, Leta Vas, Grami Arstin

TOTALLY INDISTINCT ON-SCREEN LOCATIONS: 13 (9 in Book 1)
Book 1: Rincammon, Haven Wraithside, Tamrissa's house in Gan Garee, Port Entril, testing facility in Gan Garee, Regensi's shop, Ginge's tavern, Magross bridge, mastery facility outside Gan Garee, Nialla's house, Vas residence, Weil residence, Arstin residence in Gan Garee

MEALS ON-SCREEN: 15
Book 1: Day 1 (lunch, dinner), Day 2 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 3 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 4 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 5 (lunch, dinner), Day 6 (breakfast, lunch)

EUPHEMISMS FOR BODY PARTS: 9
Book 1:
Male: <character name>'s body (x2), discomfort (x1), manhood (x1), desire (x2), renewed need (x1), large and hard, the most perfect of men (x1)
Female: womanhood (x1), entrance of ultimate bliss (x1), desire (x1), incredible tunnel (x1)

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT: 3
Book 1:
Male: love (x1), my fleeting love (x1)
Female: sweet girl (x1)

ANTAGONISTS: 16 (11 introduced in Book 1)
General: Unnamed Chairman/Ollon Kapmar (?) and the five Seated Highs in each aspect, Eltrina Razas, Bron Kallan, Selendi Vas, Homin Weil, Kambil Arstin, Delin Moord
Lorand: Eskin Drowd
Jovvi: Allestine and her henchmen Ark and Bar
Clarion: Hallina Mardimil, Eskin Drowd
Tamrissa: Storn and Avrina Torgar, Beldara Lant, Odrin Hallasser, Soonen
Vallant: Mirra Agran

PLOTHOLES: 43 (39 in Book 1)
COACH RIDES: 26 (21 in Book 1)
MEETINGS IN COACHES: 6 (4 in Book 1)
OTHER MEETINGS: 5 (3 in Book 1)
INTERRUPTED MONOLOGUING: 32 (31 in Book 1)
"CLIFFHANGERS": 18
POINTLESS TAMRISSA NARRATION: 12 (11 in Book 1)
TEA DRINKING: 24 (22 in Book 1)
BLATANT MORALIZING: 20 (19 in Book 1)
BATH SCENES: 10 (9 in Book 1)
WILFUL MISUNDERSTANDINGS: 6
MIND CONTROL: 5
BADLY WRITTEN SEX SCENES: 2

REPETITIVE POV EVENTS:
  • Oh noes, a fireball (Book 1: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Pass or die (Book 1: Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  • Bathroom encounters (Book 1: Chapters 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
  • Don't rain on my parade! (Book 1: Chapters 19, 20)
  • Uniform fitting (Book 1: Chapters 20, 21)
  • Random encounters: Round 1 (Book 1: Chapters 25, 32, 33, 35, 38)
  • One, two, three, four, five (Book 1: Chapters 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35)
  • A favorite object appears out of thin air (Book 1: Chapters 36, 37 x2, 38)
  • Proof of mastery: Level 1 (Book 1: Chapters 39, 40, 41, 42, 43; Book 2: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Animal cheer squad (Book 2: Chapters 1, 4, 5)

Possible fixes:
The only new thing that happened was Vallant and Lorand figuring out that they aren't competing for the same woman's affections. This would have been more interesting if they actually had some sort of confrontation but no. Green's trying to paint her protagonists as mature adults who don't brawl. Which is all fine, but there was no dramatic tension in this scene whatsoever. I am so bored reading this. If I had to guess the proportions, I'd say these books are like 50% annoying on the nose dialogue and 45% awful pointless introspection, with 5% of everything else.

I think what I would do differently is have some of the characters already be in established relationships or have a history together, so there's less of this initial awkwardness in figuring stuff out. The question of who should be the POV characters is also potentially interesting; I don't think rotating through all five POVs was helpful in telling the story because of so much overlap but sticking purely to Lorand's POV would be boring. I think a Jovvi or Rion POV could be interesting–Rion especially since that gives us an in to the world of political intrigue between the noble houses (though Rion's backstory would need some changing).

wizzardstaff
Apr 6, 2018




quote:

Once they were settled, though, Ro looked over at Lorand with a less hopeless expression.

“You know, our conversation in the coach comin’ back here may have given me an idea,” he said, using one hand to smooth down his soaking wet hair. “I don’t know any more about Blendin’s than the next man, but if we’re goin’ to have any chance at all we have to be as … close as possible to each other. That means she’ll have to stop actin’ the way she’s doin’, and give me a chance.”

“That sounds logical to you and me, but don’t forget she’s a woman,” Lorand warned.

"We need to be on good working terms with each other, so she'd better warm up to me as a romantic partner." That's....not how it works, dude.

(Well, it actually is how it works because of Strictly Heterosexual Sex Magick, but he has no reason to know that yet because as they just finished saying, they don't know anything about that yet.)

Also Leng, check the inbox on the account you made for the google docs rewrite.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


wizzardstaff posted:

Also Leng, check the inbox on the account you made for the google docs rewrite.

Oh wow what a cool holiday gift!

All I can say is, thanks (again!!!) for your support and all of the time you have invested and continue to invest in the threads. I hope I can continue to deliver good posts for you!

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


quote:

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Rion handed over his worn clothes to a servant with orders to have them washed and ironed at once,

Somebody should really tell Lorand at this point that he doesn't need to do his own laundry.

quote:

then continued on up to his bedchamber. Wearing nothing but a towel about his middle would have made him feel ridiculous at one time, but right now it felt like a statement of freedom and independence.

Okay, I have whiplash. So Vallant made a point of being surprised when Rion wasn't a ball of flabby guts, and now this. Were we meant to get a memo at some point that showed Rion to be somebody who is self conscious about his body?

quote:

Mother would have thrown a fit if she’d found him walking around one step short of absolute nakedness, and he would have been lectured for an hour on top of it. But now Mother’s likes and dislikes no longer concerned him—although the same couldn’t be said for her wants and demands.

After removing the towel and donning a thick cotton wrap instead, Rion walked to a chair and sat heavily. After he’d achieved his masteries and had had tea and a sandwich served to him by Padril, he’d forced the Adept to sit down and answer some very direct questions. Padril had squirmed and sweated and hadn’t been entirely forthcoming, but Rion had learned enough to feel deeply disturbed.

To begin with, Padril’s superiors would not be standing between Rion and his mother. The truth was that Hallina Mardimil had too much gold and power for anyone not of the high nobility to be willing to cross her, and Padril had lied when he’d said they would. He hadn’t even known who Rion’s mother was, only that there was some sort of to-do over the name on Rion’s identification card. When the Adept had learned that it was the Hallina Mardimil who was Rion’s mother, he’d turned as white as the shirts the applicants wore.

And that had given Rion an odd idea, so he’d pressed until Padril admitted it: the name of Rion’s mother had frightened Padril because the man was a member of the lower nobility, just as most of the Adepts were. Each aspect had one or two representatives of the lower orders who were allowed to call themselves Adepts, but all the rest were from the nobility.

And yet there weren’t any other members of the nobility around. Rion had pointed that out, and then had demanded to know where they were to be found. That was when Padril had hemmed and hawed, and had finally insisted that he knew nothing about the testing facilities for nobles. He himself had gone through the same thing Rion had, and Rion must have simply missed seeing his lesser peers. Or maybe they’d already gone through the testing procedure, and the only ones left had been commoners.

That last suggestion was too much of a real possibility for Rion to argue it, but it still left his final question unanswered. When Rion had put it to Padril, the man had paled again, and then he’d shaken his head.

“Really, sir, how could I be expected to know why you alone of your peers have been sent through these facilities?” the man had asked, sweat beginning to bead on his forehead. “I’ve never been involved in high politics myself, of course, but just like everyone else I’ve seen it being played at. Someone in your mother’s position is bound to have at least one powerful enemy, someone with enough influence to have her son sent to the wrong place in order to embarrass her. That’s the only possibility I can think of, but it makes a good deal of sense.”

It did indeed, which Rion had to admit as he leaned his head back in the chair. It also had implications which came close to making Rion ill. If it had made him angry instead he wouldn’t have minded, but he seemed to have lost his anger somewhere.

This is why Rion is the best. He noticed something weird going on during his masteries, he got them out of the way and then he followed through and got actual answers!

Interestingly, the line "[Padril] himself had gone through the same thing Rion had" implies the lower nobility who make up the Adepts aren't treated any differently to the commoners, and it's only the noble challenging Blending candidates who are given private tutoring. Even more convoluted weirdness in the plotting/world building because that makes no sense whatsoever.

quote:

Then a knock came at the door, interrupting the mood, so he rose and went to the door. He was prepared to enjoy the relief of any distraction, but couldn’t help raising his brows when he saw Tamrissa standing there.

Yep, she's here for exactly what you think.

quote:

“I—hope I’m not disturbing you,” she said, taking in his wrap with a glance and a faint blush. “I only need a moment of your time, and then you may certainly return to your privacy.”

“Please believe that the last thing your presence could be is a disturbance,” Rion assured her, meaning every word. “Did you wish to speak to me here, or would you prefer to come in?”

He stepped back to allow her access to the chamber if she wished it, and surprisingly she did. She hesitated a very long moment before coming inside, and her expression was determined when she used a gesture to ask him to close the door. He did so with brows raised high, then obeyed her next gesture which motioned him closer.

“I don’t want any of the servants to overhear us,” she whispered quite low, looking up at him with a delightfully delicate blush on her cheeks. “Jovvi and I need to speak to you men later, preferably after dinner when we can pretend to gather to celebrate over glasses of brandy. We’re certain some of the servants are being paid to report everything they hear us say, so we’ll have to have a pretend conversation going while we talk about what we need to. You are willing to join us in the pretense, aren’t you?”

Reading sections like this, I'm reminded of a 15 minute children's musical I was invited to critique. The writers were following the principle of "tell them what will happen, show the thing happening, then tell them what just happened" because that's what they believed to be effective writing for children. The general consensus was even in a kids musical, they could loosen up a lot on that repetition.

I am getting serious déjà vu here.

quote:

“As it’s for the good of the group, I’ll certainly participate,” Rion responded in a matching whisper, then couldn’t help sighing. “But as far as being of use is concerned, I’ll probably be more of a hindrance.”

“How can you say that?” Tamrissa demanded indignantly in a hiss. “The support you helped Jovvi give me made it possible for me to move forward with everyone else, instead of letting self-doubt bog me down forever. I even achieved my first masteries today—” Her words broke off, and a stricken look replaced the indignation. “Oh, Rion, don’t tell me you didn’t achieve your masteries?”

“But of course I did,” Rion said with a smile, deeply touched by her very obvious concern. “That isn’t the source of my difficulty, so please don’t be unnecessarily disturbed.”

“Then what is bothering you?” she asked more calmly, obviously noticing that he’d quickly lost the smile. “If it’s something I can help with, you have to give me the chance to do it. Very few people have actually been on my side in my life, so I refuse to abandon one who is.”

“I sincerely wish it were something you could assist with,” he said, finding her fierce determination as delightful as the rest of her. “I have no doubt but that I would be well protected, from anything and everything one could imagine.”

“Please, Rion, I’m not your mother,” she responded, now looking faintly annoyed. “I won’t ever protect you, but I will do everything in my power to help you protect yourself. So why don’t you tell me about what’s bothering you? Sometimes just talking things out makes you feel better about them.”

Somehow Tamrissa, who has never had a friend in her life, is giving another person who's never had a friend in his life this advice. I just do not buy this.

quote:

“I doubt that will happen this time, but if you insist,” Rion agreed slowly. The truth was that he really didn’t want to go back to solitary fretting, not when he might have such pleasant company for a time. “Please take a seat while I consider the best place to begin.”

She nodded happily and went to the chair near the one he’d been using, so he reclaimed his own place and bent forward with forearms on knees and hands clasped tight.

“I’ve discovered that I’m the only member of the high nobility to go through processing in the facilities we’ve all so recently shared,” he said hesitantly, trying his best not to offend her. “I thought it strange that I came across not a single one of my peers, and now I’m told there are other facilities for the use of my class equals. But I’ve been sent through these facilities.”

“I’m personally very glad you were, but other than that I don’t understand,” Tamrissa said, sounding disturbed. “If the people of your class are treated differently, why weren’t you?”

“The answer to that is the source of my disturbance,” he replied with a mirthless smile, still looking down at the carpeting. “There are two possibilities, each one equally repugnant. The first, of course, is that Mother arranged the whole thing to be certain I would be kept isolated from my peers, just as I have been all my life. She would then have been able to come forward and ‘rescue’ me from an intolerable situation, which she was certain it would be.”

“And that, she must have thought, would keep you from trying to break free ever again,” Tamrissa said angrily. “It makes sense from her twisted point of view, and I quite believe her capable of it. So what could the second possibility be?”

“It concerns politics, which tends to be a nasty, bloodthirsty game among the nobility,” Rion answered. “I don’t know everything there is to know about it, not when Mother kept me almost completely cut off from the rest of the world, but I do know how ruthless it can be. It’s been suggested that one of Mother’s enemies caused me to be separated from my class equals, the object being to embarrass Mother enough to undermine the strength of her position.”

What a convenient authorial out to not have to go to the trouble of figuring out the complexities of cutthroat high politics. Even though that would be way more interesting than everything else in the plot.

quote:

“And never mind what happens to you, because you’re an unimportant pawn?” Tamrissa demanded so indignantly that Rion looked up in surprise. “Well, you’re not an unimportant pawn, you’re our friend, and I really resent someone trying to use you like that. I can see why you’re disturbed, but I don’t understand why you’re letting it get you down. They threw you to the wolves, but instead of being devoured you’ve become one of the pack. Doesn’t that interfere with their plans to some extent?”

“I hadn’t looked at it that way, but I suppose it does,” Rion admitted, again surprised. “And about my becoming a member of the wolf pack… If someone hadn’t tried to maneuver me into something they were certain I’d never be able to handle, I’d never have learned to handle it. It looks like I ought to be grateful instead, even if the battle to control my movements does escalate.”

“You mean they might fight over you?” Tamrissa asked, back to frowning. “But what would they get out of it?”

“If it’s Mother alone, she’ll win possession of me again,” Rion explained, but without the depression he’d felt before. “If it’s an enemy of hers, she’ll fight to possess me again to restrengthen her political position, and her enemy will fight to embarrass both me and her and ruin it. So if I simply manage to hold onto my independence and keep moving ahead, both sides should be frustrated. Unless they try something unexpected.”

This is considered a power move in an apparently bloodthirsty game of continual one upmanship.

quote:

“If they do, then the rest of us will help you to cope with it,” Tamrissa said promptly, refusing to let anxiety get a grip on him. “You keep picturing yourself as all alone, Rion, but you really aren’t. Or don’t we count as much as members of the nobility would?”

“In one way you count for more,” he said gently, reaching over to touch her hand in brief reassurance. “This group had no reason to welcome me into its midst, but the fact that it did anyway is, in my opinion, more a strength than a weakness. But on the other hand you’re volunteering to go up against some very powerful people on my behalf, and that makes me frightened for you. They could well destroy you just to get at me, and I’d never be able to bear that.”

I would believe this a lot more if these antagonists ever actually try to do something that's deadly enough to qualify as destruction. Oh no, someone tried to change the name on my identification! Woe is me, I must immediately collapse like they've stabbed me. Let me slowly expire upon this awfully uncomfortable chair which is akin to a torture device!

quote:

“If they consider us as helpless as you do, we should be able to give them quite a shock,” Tamrissa returned with an unsteady smile. “I might have to keep reminding myself that I’m not helpless, but it’s been getting easier to do and the others don’t have my problem. We’ll all stand together against whatever comes, so won’t you please stop being upset?”

“Only because you ask it, lovely lady,” Rion responded, finding it impossible not to laugh gently. “You’ve restored my sense of perspective as well as my mood, and I only wish I could do as great a favor for you.”

Facts and Logic!

quote:

“Well, if you mean that, you can,” she replied, suddenly blushing a bright red and no longer able to meet his gaze. “I mean, only if you really want to. It’s a great imposition, I know, and I can’t imagine where I’ve gotten the nerve to ask in the first place, so if it’s really too much of a bother…”

“Tamrissa,” he interrupted softly, certain she meant to continue on in the same unintelligible way for the rest of the afternoon. He also took her hand gently in his, and although she stiffened slightly she didn’t pull away. “Tamrissa, I don’t understand a thing you’re saying. I would, as I said, be delighted to return the favor, but first you must tell me what the return favor is supposed to be.”

“Oh … yes … of course,” she said after swallowing heavily, her cheeks still flaming. “I haven’t actually specified yet, have I? Well, it’s really very simple. I’d … like you to … take me to bed.”

Yes, really. She's fresh out of two years of abusive marriage, so terrified of both emotional and physical intimacy that just the thought of being kissed was paralyzing and has told Jovvi flat out that sex is the worst thing in the world while chocolate is the best. But somehow she decides to proposition Rion after knowing him for less than a week. Wait until you guys find out how she thinks this makes sense in the next chapter.

quote:

And that, from Rion’s point of view, was the biggest surprise and shock of the day!

You and me both, buddy.

Summary:

Day 6 (continued)
Jovvi and Tamrissa have girl chat about Vallant and Lorand in the coach ride home, bonus Green lecture included. Vallant, Lorand, Rion and Pagin rehash the point about being a challenging Blending, then Vallant and Lorand finally clear up their misunderstanding about their respective romantic targets in yet another bath scene. Tamrissa propositions Rion for sex.

Counts so far:

NAMED ON-SCREEN CHARACTERS WHO WE'LL NEVER SEE AGAIN: 24
Book 1: Mildon Coll, Phor Riven, Jeris Womal, Eldra Sappin, Fod, Lord Astrath, Torrin Ro, Vish "the Fish", Jamrin, Hark, Reshin, Fellar, Ennis, Vosin, Parli Hafford, Regensi, Weeks, Adept Aminto, Mem Follil, Toblis, Kogrin, Lemmis Admen, Miklas
Book 2: Nialla, Emar Rumil, Leta Vas, Grami Arstin

TOTALLY INDISTINCT ON-SCREEN LOCATIONS: 13 (9 in Book 1)
Book 1: Rincammon, Haven Wraithside, Tamrissa's house in Gan Garee, Port Entril, testing facility in Gan Garee, Regensi's shop, Ginge's tavern, Magross bridge, mastery facility outside Gan Garee, Nialla's house, Vas residence, Weil residence, Arstin residence in Gan Garee

MEALS ON-SCREEN: 15
Book 1: Day 1 (lunch, dinner), Day 2 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 3 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 4 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 5 (lunch, dinner), Day 6 (breakfast, lunch)

EUPHEMISMS FOR BODY PARTS: 9
Book 1:
Male: <character name>'s body (x2), discomfort (x1), manhood (x1), desire (x2), renewed need (x1), large and hard, the most perfect of men (x1)
Female: womanhood (x1), entrance of ultimate bliss (x1), desire (x1), incredible tunnel (x1)

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT: 3
Book 1:
Male: love (x1), my fleeting love (x1)
Female: sweet girl (x1)

ANTAGONISTS: 16 (11 introduced in Book 1)
General: Unnamed Chairman/Ollon Kapmar (?) and the five Seated Highs in each aspect, Eltrina Razas, Bron Kallan, Selendi Vas, Homin Weil, Kambil Arstin, Delin Moord
Lorand: Eskin Drowd
Jovvi: Allestine and her henchmen Ark and Bar
Clarion: Hallina Mardimil, Eskin Drowd
Tamrissa: Storn and Avrina Torgar, Beldara Lant, Odrin Hallasser, Soonen
Vallant: Mirra Agran

PLOTHOLES: 43 (39 in Book 1)
COACH RIDES: 26 (21 in Book 1)
MEETINGS IN COACHES: 6 (4 in Book 1)
OTHER MEETINGS: 5 (3 in Book 1)
INTERRUPTED MONOLOGUING: 32 (31 in Book 1)
"CLIFFHANGERS": 18
POINTLESS TAMRISSA NARRATION: 12 (11 in Book 1)
TEA DRINKING: 24 (22 in Book 1)
BLATANT MORALIZING: 20 (19 in Book 1)
BATH SCENES: 10 (9 in Book 1)
WILFUL MISUNDERSTANDINGS: 6
MIND CONTROL: 5
BADLY WRITTEN SEX SCENES: 2

REPETITIVE POV EVENTS:
  • Oh noes, a fireball (Book 1: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Pass or die (Book 1: Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  • Bathroom encounters (Book 1: Chapters 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
  • Don't rain on my parade! (Book 1: Chapters 19, 20)
  • Uniform fitting (Book 1: Chapters 20, 21)
  • Random encounters: Round 1 (Book 1: Chapters 25, 32, 33, 35, 38)
  • One, two, three, four, five (Book 1: Chapters 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35)
  • A favorite object appears out of thin air (Book 1: Chapters 36, 37 x2, 38)
  • Proof of mastery: Level 1 (Book 1: Chapters 39, 40, 41, 42, 43; Book 2: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Animal cheer squad (Book 2: Chapters 1, 4, 5)

Possible fixes:
Rion is the wrong viewpoint character for this part. This chapter should have been split up with the first part tacked on at the end of his first level masteries back in Book 2 Chapter 3 and the second part shoved into the next chapter which is from Tamrissa's POV.

I think I've figured out Green's formula–unlike other authors who generally make sure each chapter has an arc–she likes her chapters to have a V shape kind of structure, where the current chapter always straddles the end of the arc begun in an earlier chapter and kicks off another arc that will be continued in the next chapter so she can end on a convenient cliff hanger. That tavern sequence from Book 1 is actually satisfactory because it's the only sequence where she breaks from this formula.

I wonder how much of these books could be fixed simply by splitting up the chapters differently. The plotholes, grating prose and lack of character development would still be problems but the stupid trailing off in the middle of stuff would be gone.

RosarioImpale
Oct 27, 2007


Oh man.

I read these books in my early/mid-teens (by picking them out because of their covers, as appears to be true of everyone who read them at that age), and every so often, twenty years later, I think "man, I kind of want to reread them" and can't find them anywhere. Googling the author got me mostly her romance works if I found her at all, and I'd almost convinced myself I'd imagined reading this series. I'm loving this breakdown, especially going over plot beats that I somehow liked as a teen and now finding them.... um, lacking. Thank you for this!

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING

Obviously there's a sex scene in this chapter. Things are a little murky about whether genuine consent is given. So uh, proceed with caution and skip this chapter entirely if you need to.

quote:

CHAPTER FOURTEEN 

“I beg your pardon?” Rion answered blankly, as if I’d spoken in a language he didn’t know. “I couldn’t have heard what I thought I did … could I?”

“Oh, you don’t want to, and now I’ve gotten you upset again,” I babbled, more embarrassed than I’d ever been in my life. “I’ll just leave, then, and we can both forget I ever said anything about—”

This is the first time I genuinely feel bad for Tamrissa. Rejection hurts and for someone with her past, it would be terrifying. Or maybe confusing, since she's self-admitted that she's hot stuff. This is a point in the story where a little MORE introspection would be nice, so we can tell what she's thinking and feeling other than "embarrassed". If we had the lead up to this moment from her perspective that'd help us understand her attempt at growing as a character better, but Green decided to go with Rion because FIVE FIVE FIVE.

quote:

“No, please be calm, it’s all right,” he soothed in that deep voice of his, one big hand coming gently to my arm to keep me from rising. “Your request just startled me, coming as unexpectedly as it did. I assure you I’m not in the least reluctant, but I do find myself curious. I’d thought your interest had turned to Vallant Ro, so I don’t understand why you’ve put this request to me rather than to him.”

“I suppose you are entitled to the full truth,” I granted him, shifting uncomfortably in the chair.



quote:

He was really such a handsome man, and was studying me so closely… “Vallant Ro is the reason I’m doing this, so I can’t very well ask his help. I’d meant to ask Lorand because he’s a friend, but then I realized that you’re a friend as well.

If she had gone to Lorand, it would have forced the issue of his Book 7/8 spoilers hypocrisy much earlier than Green wanted so here's reasons for why she didn't.

quote:

I—don’t want Vallant to be interested in me, and something Jovvi said suggested he might lose his attraction if I allow another man to lie with me.”

“Are you certain that that was what Jovvi said?” Rion asked, frowning just a little. “If it is, I fail to see the point.”

“Well, most men apparently dislike sharing their women,” I explained, developing my own frown.

A "strong" female character written by a woman who is supposedly a feminist refers to women in general as possessions belonging to men. This is a horrible, horrible, horrible thing to read as a fourteen year old girl trying to figure this stuff out.

quote:

“I know Lorand feels that way and Jovvi says it’s not unusual, so I’m inclined to believe it. And it also occurred to me that we may just manage to get ourselves out of this competitions mess, and then discover that we need something to do with our lives. Jovvi means to open a residence for courtesans if that happens, and has invited me to remain with her. I thought I would be of more use if … I …”

I couldn’t quite bring myself to discuss the details of the matter, at least not with Rion. He’d changed so much since the day he’d first come to the residence, and was no longer quite as innocent as I felt.

Or, as has been pointed out by other people in this thread, you could just stay on as a landlord, or a silent partner in Jovvi's business. Nobody says you have to join in on the frontlines as well. If you really don't want to, you don't have to.

quote:

“How strange that the matter should disturb some men,” Rion said, shaking his head and shrugging. “Considering the pleasure involved, it seems mean-spirited to refuse to allow someone the experiencing of it. And how is one to learn all the possibilities of the act, if one refrains from indulging?”

Rion: "I'm doing this for (and not because I just discovered sex and I desperately wanna bang you)"

quote:

“Is it really all that pleasurable?” I asked without looking at him, fighting to hold down nightmare memories. “Everyone says it is, but my dreams still writhe with the pain of my own experiences. And if it’s supposed to be pleasurable, why did my husband make it such an abomination for me?”

“Anyone who turns pleasure into torment and pain must surely be very ill,” Rion said quickly but gently, reaching out to touch my hand briefly in comfort. “It seems logical to assume that the man received his own pleasure by denying you yours, which almost certainly means he was taught to behave in such a way. The fault, then, would lie with those who taught him such a thing, and also with him for not understanding his lacks and seeking to remedy them. Let’s begin our own pleasure right now, and hopefully you’ll soon forget the rest.”

Rion: "You are obviously trying to force yourself to do something despite two years of horrific sexual and other abuse but since you were the victim and not the perpetrator, you have nothing to worry about because it's not his fault either, just the fault of the unknown people who taught him to behave that way, most probably his parents or more likely society at large. Anyways, let's right now and hopefully you'll totally forget all of the recent trauma that's been giving you nightmares because I am the Highest Aspect's gift to all women "

quote:

“Now?” I echoed as my heart began to thump, my head flying up to let me see if he were joking. “But I was thinking about later, in the deep night, when everyone will be asleep…”

“And you and I will sneak about like thieves, feeling as though we did something shameful?” he countered, this time taking my hand and gently holding it. “That would be foolish, lovely lady, especially since we have the opportunity at this very moment. Come, let’s put your apprehensions to rest once and for all.”

Rion: "I gotta jump you right now before you come to your senses and realize that maybe this is something you haven't really thought through all that well and change your mind, because then I might never get to bang you."

quote:

“But it’s still light out!” I blurted as he rose to his feet, using the hand he held to urge me to do the same. “In daylight… I couldn’t possibly…”

“Allow me to ease your apprehensions,” he said softly, and suddenly we were plunged into a dim, gray world where he was no more than an indistinct outline.

Isn't it so convenient that Rion has Air magic?

quote:

“This shield of opaque air can’t quite manage blackness at this time of day, but surely it will do? I’m barely able to see you, which should keep your sense of modesty intact. Do you agree?”

He’d removed the shield again by then, so I didn’t bother to tell him that it wasn’t entirely modesty which moved me. And we certainly did have the time right then, since the episodes with my husband had only seemed endless. In reality they hadn’t taken very long at all, and I’d probably be best off going ahead and getting it well behind me. So I nodded to Rion,

This is a great (terrible) example of (un)informed "consent" for a fourteen year old girl reading this. Because this is the exact kind of script a fourteen year old girl should be seeking to emulate: let a guy who you think is a friend do whatever he wants to you after he handwaves all of your objections (that are most likely not being made for logistical reasons but because you are emotionally NOT READY for this) because you're just best off going ahead and getting it over and done with.

Green, you have no idea how much damage you have done by writing this scene and the way you have portrayed it afterwards.

quote:

which made him smile that incredibly attractive smile.

TAMRISSA NO THAT WAS NOT CONSENT IT CAN STILL BE RAPE EVEN IF THE PACKAGING IS IN A DECEPTIVELY MORE PLEASANT FORMAT COMPARED TO YOUR DEAD HUSBAND.

quote:

“Marvelous,” he said, drawing me up by the hand he still held and then kissing the hand. “Come along, then, and we’ll begin at once. Would you prefer to have the shield up before we start to remove your clothing?”

Tamrissa, who is suffering severe PTSD after two years of sexual abuse and violence in a horrific marriage that she only escaped due to her husband dying of chronic health issues, has just been coerced into having sex with a guy who's only had sex on one occasion with a woman he believed to have been a paid sex worker in a cheap tavern somewhere in a seedy part of Gan Garee (though according to Lorand he heard Rion and Naran going for at least seconds that night BUT STILL).

This is a Very Bad Idea. I am so uncomfortable reading this.

quote:

“We?” I echoed, beginning to follow him toward the bed almost without thinking about it. “My husband always demanded that I come to him … unclothed, except for the times he tore off what I happened to be wearing. But you can’t tear these clothes, not when I need them for the practice and qualifying area.”

“Lovely lady, I would never be so barbaric as to destroy your clothing,” he said with obvious disapproval, stopping near the bed. “When I was a child, some of the other children managed to get me alone and began to try tearing off the brand-new outfit Mother had just presented me with. I had no idea why they were doing it and so was terrified, but I distinctly remember the episode as being painful before I thought to use my magic to force them back away from me. With that in mind, your clothing would stay intact even if they were worthless rags.”

“You really had a terrible time growing up, didn’t you?” I said, putting my free hand to his arm in shared compassion.

...and that's it. That's all Rion has to do to demonstrate that he cares about her feelings. Because while yes, a single childhood incident where other children tore your new clothes off you is pretty traumatic especially if you are very young, this IN NO WAY can be equated with the TWO YEARS of suffering that we can infer Tamrissa experienced.

quote:

“And now I wonder… My father didn’t want my sisters and me forming attachments to any of the boys we associated with at school and at receptions, so any time one of us seemed interested in a particular boy, he paid the boy to get us alone and pretend to attack us. That was to make sure we would be available for the husbands he picked out for us, and that we would still be untouched when we married. Oddly enough, most of the boys took his silver eagerly. I finally found out about it when, during one of the times my husband drank too much, he shared that very amusing story with me.”

And OMFG on top of this messed up stuff?!??!?!??!

quote:

“Personally, I find it a good deal less than amusing,” he said, a sharp look in his eyes. “But I fail to see what connection your experience had with mine.”

Yeah THIS GUY who is not in tune with his feelings at all is NOT THE RIGHT GUY to be working through all your sexual trauma with. Really.

Though to be fair, neither are Vallant and Lorand, both of whom have their own issues.

Really Tamrissa, the healthiest thing for you to do is to GO TO JOVVI your new best friend and ask her to: 1) work some Spirit magic healing, not to mess around with your mind but to help you begin to process your trauma in a healthy way; and 2) explain to you how to feel comfortable with your own body and discover what you enjoy!

And I can't believe I have to say this, but obviously not in the stupid male fantasy way but just as a friend who is comfortable with her own sexuality and very experienced and who won't judge you.

Though who knows, you are so inexperienced that you might be bi or gay but you wouldn't know, would you, because you're rushing into sleeping with Rion because of your crappy "logic" that it'll somehow make Vallant less into you and for practice in the hypothetical future where you join Jovvi's stable of courtesans.



quote:

“Well, we decided your mother might have arranged to have you sent here with us because she thought you would find it intolerable, and would immediately run back to her. Do you think she might have dressed you in a particularly ridiculous outfit that time, and then gave those children a chance to attack you? If she knew how vicious they would be, she could have used the opportunity to bind you more closely to her.”

“It never occurred to me before, but I believe you’re right,” he agreed slowly, his expression hardening. “She’s obviously been manipulating me since the day I was born, and with each new thing I learn I find myself more determined to continue on with my present course of action.

this random tangent in the middle of what should be verbal foreplay. Does anyone buy that these two characters are making a genuine connection here?

quote:

But speaking of courses of action, let’s dismiss thoughts of parental misbehavior and continue on with what’s been barely begun.”

He released my hand and lifted me into his arms so abruptly that I squeaked in startlement. But before the fear began to pound and flash I was set down on the far side of the bed, and Rion had released me.

This. Is. Not. A. Good. Sign.

quote:

“I have no wish to make this anything but pleasurable for you, dear lady,” he said, his expression having softened. “If at any time you wish me to cease what I happen to be doing, you have only to say so. We’ve both of us been forced to the pleasure of others far too often for this to be done in any other way.”

Green would point to this statement here as the reason for why what follows is not rape.

quote:

The absolutely determined look in his eyes as he said that should have frightened me, but strangely enough it was more reassuring. I believed Rion in a way I would have had trouble believing almost anyone else. The kind of pain we’d each been given had, for the most part, been different, but it provided a shared bond that neither of us could deny. The smile I gave Rion didn’t have to be forced, and he seemed to know it. He showed one of the same kind, sat down on the bed, and then his shield of air was around us again.

Does ANYONE buy this? We've seen throughout the course of the last...60 chapters or so, that Tamrissa isn't exactly the most stable of people.

quote:

“I’ve also taken the precaution of putting a block of thickened air before the door,” he murmured as he moved just a little closer. “We won’t be disturbed and you certainly won’t be embarrassed, so put all thoughts of distraction from your mind.

Rion: "Yes this magical obstruction of Air that your Fire talent cannot nullify is totally there for your comfort and protection and absolutely in no way is here to block your only path of escape."



quote:

Now, let’s begin by making you more comfortable. You’re surely not old enough yet nor … over-endowed so far as to be corseted?”

“No, not quite yet,” I answered with a laugh for the way he’d put it. Only matrons who were beginning to lose their figures—and younger women who spent too much time at table during meals—descended to the shameful expedience of using corsets to alter their appearance. To admit to wearing one was the same as admitting yourself a failure as a woman, and few women had the nerve to do either. “But Rion—how did you find out about corsets?”

“A servant we had for a time, when I was a boy,” he replied, matching my laugh. “I wondered aloud why some of Mother’s friends and acquaintances looked as though they’d been stuffed into dresses and gowns too small for them, and he told me about corsets. But he also warned me not to mention them in Mother’s hearing, so that was one lecture I escaped.

Uh, no. Corsets =/= tight lacing. Bernadette Banner has some words for you to disabuse you of these idiotic misconceptions:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rExJskBZcW0

quote:

May I help you to remove your blouse?”

I felt very shy as I nodded my agreement, but it helped that the gray shadow who was Rion didn’t rush through doing it. I was the one who pulled my blouse out of the skirt top, and then we shared the opening of the buttons. I expected the blouse to be removed immediately then, but Rion simply moved closer, opened the blouse just a little to expose only the tops of my breasts, and began to kiss me there.

At first I was quite tense and nervous, but after a few moments of nothing else happening I began to notice how the touch of his lips felt. Feather-light, gentle and warm, an appreciation rather than a demand… Apprehension began to change to a tingling of sorts, one I’d never experienced before.

By then I’d relaxed back against the pillow above my head, finding that enjoyment of this beginning process wasn’t difficult. Rion’s nearness was slightly disconcerting, so I closed my eyes to stop the automatic cringing my body kept trying to do—and that was when Rion changed the location of his kissing. I gasped when his lips and tongue caressed my left nipple, but was able to keep from crying out. This time no pain followed the caress, the very first time it hadn’t.

I don't even know what to say here. She's never experienced physical arousal, ever. Every sexual contact she's ever had in the past has been inextricably linked to pain. She's forcing herself to stop automatically cringing.

quote:

And things continued on that way. Rion spent an incredibly long time proving to the frightened part of my mind that my responding to his delightful urgings would not result in my being immediately hurt. By the time his fingers found the buttons of my skirt I actually almost believed it, and so helped him to remove my skirt, petticoats, stockings, and shoes. My blouse had already been put aside, which meant that he was able to begin to kiss me all over.

"Almost believed it"? That means you DON'T BELIEVE IT.

quote:

Again, quite a bit of time passed, but none of it seemed wasted. Rion’s kissing became quite intimate, and although he did absolutely nothing to hurt me, I soon discovered that I neared the end of my ability to endure any more of that kind of attention. Moaning and moving against him feebly was the best I could manage, but strangely enough that proved to be sufficient. He stopped what he was doing, moved above me, and then we were joined together.

Rather than hating and fearing his presence inside me, I discovered that it was just what I wanted. Again my nervousness and anticipation of pain came to nothing, so I was able to eventually join his movement as his murmurings urged me to do. We also shared a kiss, and that made the relief, when it came, much sweeter. Rion’s relief came just a short while after my own, and he kissed me one final time before withdrawing and lying on the bed beside me.

We both breathed rather heavily from our exertions, but I recovered first and found something to be curious about. I therefore kindled a very small flame to light the gray dimness a bit, and turned to look at Rion where he lay. He’d discarded his wrap quite some time earlier, and the sight of his bare chest was, surprisingly, not in the least upsetting.

“That was really lovely and I’d like to thank you,” I said when his gaze, accompanied by a smile, moved to me. “It seems everyone was right about the pleasure,

I can tell Green thinks that what she's written is two people having amazing sex.

But to me, the whole thing reads like one person taking advantage of another person's sexual inexperience and insecurity, where the latter doesn't even really understand what informed consent means and probably is unable to distinguish physical arousal from genuine desire. It reads like a rape fantasy masquerading as consensual sex.

Imagine reading this as a fourteen year old girl.

Imagine subconsciously internalizing all of this messaging about men and "their women", that any objections you might have against becoming sexually intimate with a male friend are silly, any sexual abuse you experienced is not the fault of your abuser, that you should suppress any signs of your discomfort (like cringing, flinching, etc) because the best thing for you is to just "get it over with", that your feelings of insecurity or fear or anxiety or whatever else are just temporary and don't merit any more consideration after they've been addressed by Facts and Logic.

Now imagine there's a cool older guy you've been crushing on for ages. You can hardly believe he's paying any attention to you of all people, instead of the cooler, older girls he must know. He picks you up in his own ride unlike the boys your age who can't drive. You're in his bedroom, on his bed, and there's nobody else home. He's twice your size, he's on top, he's kissing you and it's kinda nice but you're finding it hard to breathe and you're not really sure if it's from the kissing or because he's half-crushing your rib cage. Then his hands are moving and you're not really sure about that either but you're on the other side of town in an area you don't know and you need him to give you a ride home, or at least to the closest train station.

Next thing you know, he sticks one hand up your skirt and uses the other one to shove your hand down his pants.

What does everything that you've read or seen on TV or in movies tell you you're supposed to do?

quote:

but … Rion, wherever did you learn all that? If your mother kept you so closely tied to her, how were you able to avoid her often enough to gain such expertise?”

“It’s hardly expertise,” he replied with a pleased laugh, raising one hand to my face—which did not cause me to flinch back.



quote:

“I’ve only just begun to learn, but I had a marvelous teacher. She’s the most … compelling person I’ve ever known, and the more time that passes without my seeing her, the more frantic I become. I’ve discovered that she’ll also need protection from my mother, so I don’t dare try to find her until I have gold in my pocket and the power of a sufficiently advanced position in my hand. But then I will find her, and she and I won’t need to be parted again.”

“Well, if I can help in any way, you just let me know,” I told him firmly. “No one can deny that we’re really close friends now, and friends are supposed to help one another. You will let me help, won’t you?”

“It will be my pleasure and delight,” he answered with a grin that made him look especially handsome,

This is what passes for humorous banter, according to Green.

quote:

and then he glanced at my flame. “Tell me something: isn’t that glow supposed to be in the palm of your hand? It seems to me that anytime I’ve seen someone with Fire magic use a glow like that, it was in their palm. And someone said once that the glow had to be in contact with the magic user, but apparently they were mistaken.”

“Well … maybe not entirely,” I said, groping for an explanation that would not upset him. “At school we were taught the same thing, that the glow had to be in the palm of your hand because it was linked directly to the magic user’s bodily output. It’s a … controlled leakage of the user’s Fire affinity, and is supposed to go out if you try to separate it from contact with your flesh.”

“But yours isn’t going out,” he observed, happily not looking upset in the least. “Are you doing something else, then?”

“Actually … no,” I admitted, then decided I might as well tell him all of it. “I discovered accidentally that I could disconnect the glow from me without having it go out, but I’ve never told anyone. None of them could do it, you see, so I thought…”

“That what they didn’t know couldn’t hurt you,” he finished when I didn’t, his hand now coming to smooth my hair.

Continuing the trend of terrible post coital conversations to shoehorn in random exposition about the magic system, how the protagonists are all special snowflakes and never any answer as to why, they just are.

quote:

“I’m certainly familiar with that state of affairs, so please be assured that I’ll say nothing about it to anyone. It would seem logical that friends also keep each other’s secrets.”

“I think that would feel incredibly wonderful,” I said, gingerly reaching out to put just my fingertips to his face. “Having someone be trustworthy enough to keep your secret, I mean. This is the first time I’ve ever trusted someone to do that, and I feel glad rather than sorry. But I really must run. I still have to speak to Lorand before dinner, while Jovvi speaks to Pagin Holter and Dom Ro.”

“I would suggest that you dress before you run anywhere,” Rion said with a chuckle that made me blush. “I, personally, would enjoy the sight of your marvelous body immensely, but the others might become … disconcerted.”

“Disconcerted,” I repeated in a grumble while he continued to chuckle. “I’ve never heard it called that before…”

From crippling PTSD to casually joking around with being a sex object in just under 3000 words.

quote:

The two of us were just joking, of course, but as I dressed, part of my mind insisted on thinking about what Vallant Ro’s reaction would be to seeing me naked. The rest of me didn’t care, of course, not about anything concerning the man, but that one small part … now that I knew how pleasurable lying with a man could be … it couldn’t be even better, as Lorand claimed, with someone who meant something special…

Vallant Ro didn’t mean something special, and I had to be determined to keep it like that…



Summary:

Day 6 (continued)
Jovvi and Tamrissa have girl chat about Vallant and Lorand in the coach ride home, bonus Green lecture included. Vallant, Lorand, Rion and Pagin rehash the point about being a challenging Blending, then Vallant and Lorand finally clear up their misunderstanding about their respective romantic targets in yet another bath scene. Tamrissa propositions Rion for sex, he delightedly obliges and it's really hard to tell if she gave informed consent.

Counts so far:

NAMED ON-SCREEN CHARACTERS WHO WE'LL NEVER SEE AGAIN: 24
Book 1: Mildon Coll, Phor Riven, Jeris Womal, Eldra Sappin, Fod, Lord Astrath, Torrin Ro, Vish "the Fish", Jamrin, Hark, Reshin, Fellar, Ennis, Vosin, Parli Hafford, Regensi, Weeks, Adept Aminto, Mem Follil, Toblis, Kogrin, Lemmis Admen, Miklas
Book 2: Nialla, Emar Rumil, Leta Vas, Grami Arstin

TOTALLY INDISTINCT ON-SCREEN LOCATIONS: 13 (9 in Book 1)
Book 1: Rincammon, Haven Wraithside, Tamrissa's house in Gan Garee, Port Entril, testing facility in Gan Garee, Regensi's shop, Ginge's tavern, Magross bridge, mastery facility outside Gan Garee, Nialla's house, Vas residence, Weil residence, Arstin residence in Gan Garee

MEALS ON-SCREEN: 15
Book 1: Day 1 (lunch, dinner), Day 2 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 3 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 4 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 5 (lunch, dinner), Day 6 (breakfast, lunch)

EUPHEMISMS FOR BODY PARTS: 9
Book 1:
Male: <character name>'s body (x2), discomfort (x1), manhood (x1), desire (x2), renewed need (x1), large and hard, the most perfect of men (x1)
Female: womanhood (x1), entrance of ultimate bliss (x1), desire (x1), incredible tunnel (x1)

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT: 3
Book 1:
Male: love (x1), my fleeting love (x1)
Female: sweet girl (x1)

ANTAGONISTS: 16 (11 introduced in Book 1)
General: Unnamed Chairman/Ollon Kapmar (?) and the five Seated Highs in each aspect, Eltrina Razas, Bron Kallan, Selendi Vas, Homin Weil, Kambil Arstin, Delin Moord
Lorand: Eskin Drowd
Jovvi: Allestine and her henchmen Ark and Bar
Clarion: Hallina Mardimil, Eskin Drowd
Tamrissa: Storn and Avrina Torgar, Beldara Lant, Odrin Hallasser, Soonen
Vallant: Mirra Agran

PLOTHOLES: 43 (39 in Book 1)
COACH RIDES: 26 (21 in Book 1)
MEETINGS IN COACHES: 6 (4 in Book 1)
OTHER MEETINGS: 5 (3 in Book 1)
INTERRUPTED MONOLOGUING: 32 (31 in Book 1)
"CLIFFHANGERS": 18
POINTLESS TAMRISSA NARRATION: 12 (11 in Book 1)
TEA DRINKING: 24 (22 in Book 1)
BLATANT MORALIZING: 20 (19 in Book 1)
BATH SCENES: 10 (9 in Book 1)
WILFUL MISUNDERSTANDINGS: 6
MIND CONTROL: 5
BADLY WRITTEN SEX SCENES: 3 (2 in Book 1)

REPETITIVE POV EVENTS:
  • Oh noes, a fireball (Book 1: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Pass or die (Book 1: Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  • Bathroom encounters (Book 1: Chapters 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
  • Don't rain on my parade! (Book 1: Chapters 19, 20)
  • Uniform fitting (Book 1: Chapters 20, 21)
  • Random encounters: Round 1 (Book 1: Chapters 25, 32, 33, 35, 38)
  • One, two, three, four, five (Book 1: Chapters 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35)
  • A favorite object appears out of thin air (Book 1: Chapters 36, 37 x2, 38)
  • Proof of mastery: Level 1 (Book 1: Chapters 39, 40, 41, 42, 43; Book 2: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Animal cheer squad (Book 2: Chapters 1, 4, 5)

Possible fixes:
If there are going to be sex scenes that are portrayed as amazing consensual sex, then there needs to be informed consent present on all sides and it needs to be unambiguous. Period.

I can't believe I had to type that.

wizzardstaff
Apr 6, 2018




I have a hard time believing anyone would find that scene sexy, even if they shared Green's politics and blindness to consent issues. "Beep boop, I'm looking for sex, Facts and Logic say we should bone. Now we are doing foreplay. Now you are inside me. Ah! I have had my relief! Now we tell jokes."

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


quote:

CHAPTER FIFTEEN 

Vallant came down to dinner feeling very much like a conspirator, and apparently everyone else felt the same. Or almost everyone else. Jovvi, the one who had told him about the proposed false party scheduled for after dinner, seemed as natural and pleasant as always. The others, though…

As Vallant took his place at the table—sitting next to Lorand Coll where Beldara Lant had originally been seated, and opposite Jovvi—he glanced around. To Vallant’s left, on the opposite side of the table, was Rion Mardimil, who seemed a good deal quieter than usual. Then came Jovvi, who smiled warmly at everyone including Pagin Holter, who was seated next to her on her other side. Beside Vallant was Lorand Coll, who toyed with his eating utensils while apparently deep in thought.

And at the head of the table between Holter and Coll, looking glorious in a dinner dress of pink satin, Tamrissa sat looking everywhere but at him.

Because it's soooooo important to understand where everybody is sitting! (T = Tamrissa, L = Lorand, V = Vallant, R = Rion, J = Jovvi, P = Pagin):

pre:
     T     
P         L
J         V
R         
Literally all that happened was Eskin disappeared off the end of the table and Vallant moved up one seat. Why is this seating arrangement so important that it warrants more words than giving characters actual characterization?

quote:

He’d meant to speak to her this afternoon, but when he’d knocked on her door he’d gotten no answer. Jovvi later told him that Tamrissa had gone to speak to Mardimil and Coll just as she had sought out him and Holter, and Vallant hadn’t had to ask why it hadn’t been Tamrissa who contacted him. She apparently still refused to speak to him or even to acknowledge his existence, and his frustration level was mounting rapidly.

Leave the woman alone, Vallant. Seriously.

quote:

“My goodness, this place feels more like a mourning house than a residence for the victorious,” Jovvi suddenly announced as the servants began to bring out their meal. “Am I mistaken in believing that we all achieved our first levels of mastery today? No? Well then, we’ll just have to celebrate our success after dinner, if all of you will unbend enough now to simply smile.”

Subtlety is not Jovvi's strong suit.

quote:

Vallant thought she was telling them that maintaining a funereal atmosphere while pretending to have a party just wouldn’t do, as even a blind and deaf fool would become suspicious about what they might really be doing. It was an excellent point, and it was quickly proven that he wasn’t the only one to pick up on it.

Uh, yeah, that IS what she just said. And if you thought you had to translate that, then I guess maybe it's a good thing Jovvi isn't subtle.

quote:

“I suppose I should be smiling,” Coll agreed, actually managing something that could be called a small specimen of a smile. “I hadn’t expected to gain those masteries quite so soon, which means I thought I’d have more time before needing to face the next level. There are a couple of things waiting that I’d much prefer not to think about.”



quote:

“But I have to think about what comes next in my aspect,” Tamrissa put in, giving Coll a wan smile. “I’ll need to do the same thing I did today, only this time while I defend myself from attack. And don’t ask me why I’ll be attacked, because I haven’t any idea. My supposed Adept guide will be doing the attacking, and although she isn’t quite as strong as I am, it was hate at first sight for the both of us.”

We've now gotten to the point where Green has her characters hang lampshades on her terrible convoluted plot holes.

quote:

“But that’s exactly why we need to celebrate,” Jovvi said, interrupting as Vallant was about to indignantly announce that no one would attack Tamrissa while he stood alive and able. Belatedly he realized what a stupid thing that would have been for him to say; Tamrissa would not have welcomed his interference even if they were getting along, and interfering in any event would almost certainly cost her the mastery.

Dude just thinks he's gonna be able to launch a pre-emptive strike at any would-be attackers. Is this supposed to be romantic?

quote:

But his sudden worry about her was almost enough to distract him from his own problems.

“We all have things ahead of us that we’d rather not think about,” Jovvi continued, her glance at him suggesting she’d interrupted him on purpose.

Man, you're really dense. That's a pointed "keep your mouth shut" look, not a suggestion.

quote:

“That’s why we ought to celebrate tonight, so as not to rob ourselves of the victories we’ve earned. I want to pat myself on the back tonight, and let tomorrow take care of itself for now. Does anyone else feel the same?”

One by one they all roused themselves to agree with her while showing at least a small amount of enthusiasm, so the matter was settled.

Conveniently forgetting that Spirit magic is A Thing. Not to mention that none of you are good at pretending so this has to be the most unconvincing farce in the world.

quote:

After dinner they would have a party,

I KNOW this has only been said like twelve times already.

quote:

and in the meanwhile they began to apply themselves to the food. By the time the second course arrived they were beginning to chat with one another, and the serving of dessert found them all a good deal more relaxed.

What, no inane descriptions of the food in this meal?

quote:

Tamrissa had called over one of the servants earlier and had given the man what seemed to be instructions. It seemed odd that it wasn’t Warla, Tamrissa’s companion and temporary majordomo of the residence, who gave the servants their orders, but Vallant hadn’t even seen the girl today. She might be away seeing to personal business, or simply taking a rest from the frantic running-about she’d been doing.

spoilers for Book 5 I am secretly hoping that Warla's disappeared off to report to Ristor, the leader of the hidden Sight magic people

quote:

But Warla, sweet and helpless little thing that she was, wasn’t Vallant’s primary concern.

The woman who was his primary concern

I don't know why but Green consistently writes like this and it annoys the hell out of me. Nobody thinks like this!

quote:

finished her cup of tea, then rose to tell everyone that it was time they began their party. They all dutifully rose in turn and followed after her, but not to the library, where they’d had their first gathering. Tamrissa led them to the back door and outside instead, then gestured to the garden.

“It’s such a lovely evening that I thought we might have our party outside,” she said, sounding as though the idea had been spur-of-the-moment and hers alone. “I had the servants light the paper lanterns to make everything look more festive, and a table with brandy and glasses, a tea service and cups, and even some honeyed nuts and sweet cakes has been set up. Let’s go and enjoy ourselves.”

What kind of illumination was Tamrissa planning on exactly, if they weren't going to use lanterns?

quote:

The others all made sounds of approval and agreement, so Vallant added his own sounds of the same sort

this is the worst kind of prose.

quote:

and walked with everyone to the white-clothed table which had been arranged for them. With everything already brought and prepared there was no need to have servants under foot, which was the main reason for the party in the first place.



quote:

“This garden is almost as lovely at night as it is during the day,” Jovvi said in normal tones as she looked around, then she lowered her voice without changing expression. “Lorand, can you tell whether or not there are any listeners lurking in the shadows where the lantern light doesn’t reach? That one servant standing near the house won’t be able to hear what we say, but I want to be certain he’s the only one out here.”

“I hadn’t realized I’d be able to tell,” Coll responded just as softly, but with a surprised expression he quickly wiped away. “But you’re right and I can distinguish plant and animal life from human, and there’s none of it out here but us.”

Isn't that a fine and dandy skill that would be super handy and has not been foreshadowed whatsoever?

quote:

“I’m glad to have you confirm my own opinion,” Jovvi told him with one of her beautiful smiles. “I felt nothing in the sense of a human being out there, but it is possible for some people to hide from my perceptions. Blanking your mind completely and simply listening can do it… But that isn’t what we’ve gathered here for.

No, please go on, finding out more about how magic works would be so much more interesting that what you guys are about to discuss.

quote:

While we each supply ourselves with a glass of brandy, I’ll tell you that I’ve confirmed the guess that we don’t have any time to waste. If we’re going to be part of the competitions, we have to qualify for them as quickly as possible.”

“What makes you think so?” Coll asked as the group drifted toward the table holding the drinkables. “We all agreed that we have to keep moving forward, but why the sudden rush?”

“My Adept guide admitted that the competitions are almost on us,” Jovvi said, picking up the bottle of brandy to play hostess. “When I mentioned that everyone at the lower level had to qualify by week’s end or not at all, and that meant the competitions were only a few days away, she corrected me by saying, ‘Well, more than just a few.’ The correction was reluctant so I’m sure it wasn’t deliberate misdirection, but please note she didn’t even say something like ‘two weeks’. She said ‘more than a few’ days, which could even mean less than a week.”

“It looks like it’s a good thing we all got our first level masteries today, then,” Tamrissa put in after a moment, during which time a heavy silence had begun to form.

Yes. That's right. Everything that we saw happen in Chapters 1-5 of this current book is going to be recapped yet again in this scene.

quote:

“I’m not looking forward to having Soonen, my Adept guide, attack me, but I’m certain she isn’t nearly as strong as I am. And neither is that male Adept who witnessed my masteries, which reminds me about something else which should be mentioned. Were the rest of you also treated differently after you achieved the masteries than you were before them?”

“Yes, I was, and I didn’t like it,” Coll answered, also smiling his thanks to Jovvi for filling his brandy glass. “The man nearly got down on all fours to offer his back as a seat, and that reminds me about something. Tamrissa said her Adept guide was a good deal weaker than her, and so was mine. If that goes for everyone else’s guides as well, why in the world are those people allowed to call themselves Adepts? I can’t quite believe that we’re the strongest talents ever to come by.”

“But of course we’re not,” Mardimil said with a small laugh after sipping at his brandy.

Spoilers for Book 5: yes they are

quote:

“Those people are allowed to call themselves Adepts because most of them are members of the lower nobility. They were undoubtedly given the positions as repayment for political debts to their families, and they’re the strongest representatives those families were able to supply. All those stronger than them are either members of other families, or uninterested in wasting their time in such a way.”

Or being drafted into the other noble challenging Blendings.

quote:

“But—that’s stupid,” Vallant couldn’t help protesting, even though the idea of political favors was nothing new to him.

This is the first time you've ever had any sort of thought that indicates you are familiar with the concept of political favors.

quote:

“Givin’ somebody a job they should have to qualify for makes the whole system rotten, especially since we almost died gettin’ to where we are. Where do those fools get off handin’ out things like Adept positions while everybody else has to fight just to stay alive?”

“Not everybody else,” Jovvi corrected, smiling as she lowered her voice even more. Vallant hadn’t actually started to shout, but without the reminder he might have. “Obviously members of the nobility are excused from having to go through what we did, but that shouldn’t surprise any of us. The testing authority is made up of people from the nobility, so they’ve obviously been running things to suit themselves.”

“Which, as Ro said, is stupid as well as unfair,” Coll told her, clearly as annoyed as Vallant had become. “Everyone claims to understand that natural selection usually produces the strongest and smartest members of a species, even if it’s as far from kind as you can get. By excusing their own people from having to compete or be brushed aside they can only have weakened the nobility, which they ought to be bright enough to understand. But if all this is true, what are you doing here, Mardimil?”

“That was my question as well,” Mardimil replied wryly, speaking to all of them. “The answer seems to be one of two possibilities, which are one, my mother caused me to be here in order to convince me how horrible the world is away from her side, or two, an enemy of hers arranged my presence, thinking possibly to see me fail, but in any event to embarrass her. Whichever the cause, my presence is no accident.”

Remember this conversation. It's going to come back in Book 4.

quote:

“I’d be willin’ to put money on that,” Vallant agreed, his sense of outrage suddenly turning to come forth on Mardimil’s behalf. “Personally I’m glad you’re here, but that’s one dirty way to treat somebody who’s supposed to be one of your own.”

We will never get any further explanation on why Vallant is suddenly so outraged on Rion's behalf. They've shared one bath, during which they first insulted each other and then agreed to exchange information, then Vallant thought Rion gave him a magical invisible cloud and wanted to thank him later for it (but of course he has forgotten all about that now in his outrage and so the topic will never come up until it's forced in Book 5).

quote:

“It doesn’t surprise me either,” Coll said with a grim nod. “It takes intelligence and compassion to show a sense of honor, and those testing people obviously have neither. But how does that affect what we were discussing this afternoon, about us being chosen as members of a challenging Blending, I mean?”

“What’s this?” Jovvi and Tamrissa said almost together, just using different words. “What makes you think we’ll be chosen as members of a challenging Blending?” Jovvi finished for both of them.

Are you serious? Both of you ALSO forgot this conversation from the first dinner less than a week ago?

quote:

“Well, that was one of the things we meant to tell you right away,” Coll said ruefully, his glance around making Vallant feel as though he and the other men had been keeping secrets. “Holter there was the first to notice that except for Water magic, our residence holds only one representative of each of the five aspects. And if you add to that the fact that when two of our group didn’t qualify as quickly as the rest of us they were moved out, you have at the very least an extremely strong possibility.”

Make Pagin the protagonist. Notice he's not saying anything in this meeting. Probably because he's not a Main Character and therefore Green only has him speak when he's conveniently infodumping or pointing out stuff the main characters are too dumb to figure out. My headcanon is that he's just a nice guy trying to let these idiots feel like they are smarter than they actually are.

quote:

The ladies exchanged a glance without saying anything, both of them looking faintly stunned, and then Jovvi raised her brows.

“That would explain why we’re suddenly being treated so deferentially,” she suggested, her tone nevertheless sounding faintly skeptical. “Something still doesn’t feel quite right, though, but I can’t seem to put my finger on it.

This is what passes as foreshadowing for Green. Just have one of the characters point out "it doesn't feel right".

quote:

Well, hopefully it will come to me later, but right now I have a question: why two representatives of Water magic?”

“Probably because Holter and I have been runnin’ neck and neck until now,” Vallant put in when Holter refused with a headshake to voice his own theories. “They must be waitin’ to see which of us will do better, and then they’ll choose that one.”

“So we really do have to be as good as possible to qualify,” Tamrissa said, but to the group in general rather than to him. “Sometimes I get the feeling that being too good will ruin our chances rather than help them, but that’s ridiculous. If they’re putting together challenging Blendings, they’ll want the best of the best.”

“They should want that,” Jovvi agreed, “but sometimes I get the same feeling. We’ll have to try to find out, but let’s not be obvious about it. If the opening to ask a useful question doesn’t come up naturally in casual conversation, don’t anyone bring it up. I can’t get past the feeling that we’re walking a tightrope here, and one misstep is all it will take to plunge us into the abyss.

Please stop using that metaphor. We've seen over and over again that you could faceplant and your situation would be no worse. Also none of you are able to come up with any useful questions, let alone ask them, and the majority of you never try to find out anything. If it were for Rion and Pagin, I'm pretty sure you guys would just sit around in a circle wailing about how terrible your lives are, all the time.

quote:

It’s possible I’m just being a silly woman about all this…”

She let her words trail off as she glanced around, making the statement a question that any or all of them were free to answer. No one accepted the offer, though, so Vallant put in his own copper’s worth.

“If you’re bein’ a silly woman, then I’m bein’ the same,” he admitted heavily, doing no more than looking down at the brandy he held.

I should have started a count of how many times a woman self-deprecatingly refers to herself as "silly" but I would have to re-read Book 1 for that and I'm not going to put myself through that agony right now.

quote:

“I keep gettin’ a feelin’ very much like yours, which takes the … pleasurable excitement from the possibility of bein’ put in a challengin’ Blendin’. If they’ve been handin’ out Adept positions to people who don’t deserve them, what about the Seated Blendin’ itself?”

“I’d say that was another matter entirely,” Coll protested while everyone else made sounds which showed their disturbance over the idea. “The general public has no idea about what goes on in these testing facilities, so they can get away with just about anything they please. The major competitions are another matter entirely, which people travel for days to come to see. With anything that public, they have to play it straight.”

“I’m inclined to agree,” Mardimil said thoughtfully. “I’ve never seen a challenge involving the Blending, of course, but I did attend one against the Seated High in Water magic. The competition took place in front of a very large audience, and there was no doubt about the outcome. The challenger seemed very strong, but the Seated High proved stronger.”

They won't figure this out until Chapter 17 in Book 3, after one of the main characters witnesses one of these challenges.

quote:

“So we may have a chance after all,” Tamrissa said, her brows raised in partial disbelief just as Jovvi’s had been. “I think what we have to decide now is whether or not to go for it. Please, Dom Holter, tell us your opinion. You’re the only one of us who seems to have done any real thinking about this.”

Yes he is. Because the rest of you are idiots.

quote:

“Yeah, I done some thinkin’ on it, ma’am, but I don’t see as how it helps much,” Holter answered slowly, obviously reluctant to speak but unable to refuse Tamrissa. “It waren’t me who made the real point, but Dom Mardimil there. He said like as not we ain’t gonna get th’ choice, just have it made fer us. That sounds like a purty fair guess t’me, so I’ll jest go along with ’er.”

Of course Green has to deflect back to her main characters. Can't have them being outdone by a minor character.

quote:

“A statement which gives us all something to think about,” Jovvi suggested in a distracted way. “It might be best if we pretend to be partying for a while, and return to serious conversation after we’ve had the chance to consider what we’ve heard. Does anyone think we ought not to?”

No one spoke up to disagree with the suggestion, so the fairly tight group simply dissolved a bit as people moved a step or two away to drink their brandy and do some thinking.

Uh. Okay. Does 6 people just wandering off drinking and thinking by themselves scream "party" to you guys?

quote:

Vallant finally took a sip from his own glass, but just a sip to bolster his courage. The time had come to speak to Tamrissa, and he wasn’t about to play the coward and let it slip past.

It's called being a stalker.

quote:

The object of his intentions stood alone just a few feet away, clearly doing the thinking Jovvi had mentioned. Vallant moved slowly and calmly until he stood beside her, his back to most of the others.

“Before you dismiss me again, you’d better add this to your thinkin’,” he said very softly. “If we do get chosen to be a challengin’ Blendin’, we’ll all have to work together in order to win. If you keep tryin’ to pretend I’m not even alive, you could be the reason we lose.”

“You’re forgetting about Dom Holter,” she said, still not looking at him but surprising him by responding without hesitation. “He could be the one chosen to represent Water magic, and then there won’t be a problem.”

Atta girl!

quote:

Vallant blinked, not having seriously considered that even for a moment. The outlook was no reflection on Holter and his abilities, simply an awareness of Vallant’s own.

Or simply a reflection on the fact that you're an arrogant rear end in a top hat.

quote:

“But what if he isn’t chosen instead of me?” Vallant pursued almost at once. “I happen to like Holter and respect what he can do, but I’m the better practitioner. Once I prove that everyone will be forced to acknowledge it,

Wow, he sounds like Beldara, doesn't he? But it's acceptable because he's got a and also a main character.

quote:

so I repeat: Are you goin’ to keep on blamin’ me for somethin’ I’m not guilty of and make us lose, or will you listen to reason and bring us closer to winnin’?”

She hesitated a brief moment, still gazing at the lantern-lit garden, and then she showed a very odd smile.

“Isn’t it strange how our chances of winning have suddenly come to depend on my listening to you,” she said, a very faint tremor in her voice. “It so happens I don’t believe that, Dom Ro, so please find someone else to tell your tall stories to. This incredulous little girl simply isn’t interested.”

Tamrissa's knocking Vallant back and putting him in his place is the only thing salvaging this chapter for me.

quote:

“But why not?” Vallant demanded, fighting to keep his voice soft and his temper from flaring out of control.

Because you're an rear end!

quote:

“You know I’m not guilty of anythin’, so why can’t we go back to the way things were before two vindictive people forced their way in here and between us?”

Honestly the last thing she needs to do is to jump straight into a relationship with someone like Vallant.

quote:

“Because the … ‘way things were’ should never have happened,” she replied in a whisper, now looking down at the brandy glass in her hands. “I’ve … thought about the whole thing, and I realize now that I was wrong to lead you on. The truth is I’m … involved with a large number of other men, so becoming involved with you as well would simply be unfair. I know you dislike the idea of … sharing a woman, so it would be best if we forgot the entire thing. Please excuse me now.”

As pointed out in the previous chapter, this was a terrible idea to begin with and now she's actually going through with it. You can guess where this is going.

quote:

With that she hurried away from him, and Vallant was too open-mouthed with confusion and startlement to even consider following. She’d been “leading him on?” How? By making him all but drag her out for a simple walk in the garden? And was he really supposed to believe that she was involved with a “large number” of other men? He almost wished she was, and with men who would give her pleasure rather than pain. She’d had enough hurt in her life to justify any change for the better.

Just wait until Book 5 to see how sincere Vallant is.

quote:

But he wanted to be the one to give her that pleasure, along with excellent reasons for letting him be the only man to do it.

Vallant is yet to realize that sexual compatibility is just one thing on a list of many things that women want in a partner. Personally, I'd rank "treating me like a person", "respecting my decisions" and "listening to me" way higher.

quote:

He’d been raised to understand that the decision should always be the woman’s choice, and it was his place to influence her choice only with superior ability, not with superior strength. He’d never minded rising to the challenge, so to speak, one of the things which had made him so popular with the ladies.

You're not doing a great job of that, buddy. She's told you repeatedly that she wants nothing to do with you, so LISTEN and stop bugging her. And is this crap about "superior ability" anyway? The only way I can read it is "superior ability in bed" given the context. You can influence her choice by being a good human being, how about that?

quote:

So where could she have gotten the idea that he disliked having to share a woman? It was true he had no intentions of sharing Tamrissa once he made her his wife, but if she needed something like that to make her really happy… He would do his best to make it unnecessary, but if his best wasn’t good enough and her happiness depended on it… drat it, where had she gotten those ridiculous ideas?

Where indeed?

quote:

Vallant took a calming sip of brandy, trying to rid himself of the feeling that he stood alone on the deck of a sinking ship without a single bit of dry land in sight. He would even have settled for a log canoe if it were seaworthy, and would refrain from spinning him around in dizzying circles. He’d managed to get Tamrissa to talk to him, but the conversation had ended with her being “honest” and “fair” with him. The whole thing was ridiculous, but what was he supposed to do now?

Leave her alone! Go find courtesans, which is what you swore to do way back in Chapter 5 of Book 1.

quote:

Frustration returned to Vallant with the question, and it was only worsened by seeing Coll in what looked like a pleasant conversation with Jovvi. He wanted to have the same with Tamrissa,

No, you don't. You just want to bang her.

quote:

but the maddening woman had gone to the refreshment table, and was apparently replacing her glass of brandy with a cup of tea. What could he say to her…?

Here it comes.

quote:

And then an idea came, one that wasn’t very nice but which still made Vallant grin slightly.

It's really telling what kind of person Vallant is.

quote:

So Tamrissa was involved with a “large number” of other men, was she? Only a real innocent would say something like that and expect to be believed, but she was the one who’d opened the door. If he pretended to be hurt by having been “led on” by her, he could then insist that the only way she might make it right was to give him what she was giving all those other men.

Vallant.

quote:

Vallant chuckled just a little as he watched Tamrissa, knowing he would never actually force her into his bed.

Yeah, but SHE doesn't know this, you dimwit. You've seen first hand how she reacts to just being threatened with being kissed and you're going to do this anyway. Because you want to marry her.

quote:

His aim would be to get her to admit she was spinning yarns, and then they could go on from there. But if she refused to admit it and became determined to prove she spoke the truth, there was only one thing he would accept as proof. The choice would be hers, but then it would be his turn to exercise some ability…

In text confirmation that the earlier reference to "superior ability" is indeed in relation to how good he is in bed.

quote:

Vallant quickly added some details to his plan, then began to walk toward Tamrissa to start it. She stood gulping her tea, something she’d certainly want to do again once he began to speak to her, but he was only half way there when an interruption came. One of the house servants appeared on the path, and cleared his throat loudly for attention.

“Please excuse the interruption, gentles,” he said when he got that attention. “I must announce that there’s a caller at the door.”

It's obviously been way too long since a random encounter, so

quote:

Everyone but Pagin Holter seemed to freeze in place, and that included Vallant. They hadn’t yet been told who the caller was for, but each of them stood clenched in the fist of dread. Someone was about to be given trouble again, but which of them? That was the question: which…?

Plus Green needed an excuse to 1) defer the next Valissa dramabomb and 2) end on another stupid cliffhanger.

Summary:

Day 6 (continued)
Jovvi and Tamrissa have girl chat about Vallant and Lorand in the coach ride home, bonus Green lecture included. Vallant, Lorand, Rion and Pagin rehash the point about being a challenging Blending, then Vallant and Lorand finally clear up their misunderstanding about their respective romantic targets in yet another bath scene. Tamrissa propositions Rion for sex, he delightedly obliges and it's really hard to tell if she gave informed consent. After dinner, the main crew + Pagin hold a meeting during a sad pretend garden party to recap the recap in the first five chapters of the book.

Counts so far:

NAMED ON-SCREEN CHARACTERS WHO WE'LL NEVER SEE AGAIN: 24
Book 1: Mildon Coll, Phor Riven, Jeris Womal, Eldra Sappin, Fod, Lord Astrath, Torrin Ro, Vish "the Fish", Jamrin, Hark, Reshin, Fellar, Ennis, Vosin, Parli Hafford, Regensi, Weeks, Adept Aminto, Mem Follil, Toblis, Kogrin, Lemmis Admen, Miklas
Book 2: Nialla, Emar Rumil, Leta Vas, Grami Arstin

TOTALLY INDISTINCT ON-SCREEN LOCATIONS: 13 (9 in Book 1)
Book 1: Rincammon, Haven Wraithside, Tamrissa's house in Gan Garee, Port Entril, testing facility in Gan Garee, Regensi's shop, Ginge's tavern, Magross bridge, mastery facility outside Gan Garee, Nialla's house, Vas residence, Weil residence, Arstin residence in Gan Garee

MEALS ON-SCREEN: 16 (15 in Book 1)
Book 1: Day 1 (lunch, dinner), Day 2 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 3 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 4 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 5 (lunch, dinner), Day 6 (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

EUPHEMISMS FOR BODY PARTS: 9
Book 1:
Male: <character name>'s body (x2), discomfort (x1), manhood (x1), desire (x2), renewed need (x1), large and hard, the most perfect of men (x1)
Female: womanhood (x1), entrance of ultimate bliss (x1), desire (x1), incredible tunnel (x1)

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT: 3
Book 1:
Male: love (x1), my fleeting love (x1)
Female: sweet girl (x1)

ANTAGONISTS: 16 (11 introduced in Book 1)
General: Unnamed Chairman/Ollon Kapmar (?) and the five Seated Highs in each aspect, Eltrina Razas, Bron Kallan, Selendi Vas, Homin Weil, Kambil Arstin, Delin Moord
Lorand: Eskin Drowd
Jovvi: Allestine and her henchmen Ark and Bar
Clarion: Hallina Mardimil, Eskin Drowd
Tamrissa: Storn and Avrina Torgar, Beldara Lant, Odrin Hallasser, Soonen
Vallant: Mirra Agran

PLOTHOLES: 43 (39 in Book 1)
COACH RIDES: 26 (21 in Book 1)
MEETINGS IN COACHES: 6 (4 in Book 1)
OTHER MEETINGS: 6 (3 in Book 1)
INTERRUPTED MONOLOGUING: 32 (31 in Book 1)
"CLIFFHANGERS": 19 (18 in Book 1)
POINTLESS TAMRISSA NARRATION: 12 (11 in Book 1)
TEA DRINKING: 26 (22 in Book 1)
BLATANT MORALIZING: 20 (19 in Book 1)
BATH SCENES: 10 (9 in Book 1)
WILFUL MISUNDERSTANDINGS: 6
MIND CONTROL: 5
BADLY WRITTEN SEX SCENES: 3 (2 in Book 1)

REPETITIVE POV EVENTS:
  • Oh noes, a fireball (Book 1: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Pass or die (Book 1: Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  • Bathroom encounters (Book 1: Chapters 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
  • Don't rain on my parade! (Book 1: Chapters 19, 20)
  • Uniform fitting (Book 1: Chapters 20, 21)
  • Random encounters: Round 1 (Book 1: Chapters 25, 32, 33, 35, 38)
  • One, two, three, four, five (Book 1: Chapters 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35)
  • A favorite object appears out of thin air (Book 1: Chapters 36, 37 x2, 38)
  • Proof of mastery: Level 1 (Book 1: Chapters 39, 40, 41, 42, 43; Book 2: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Animal cheer squad (Book 2: Chapters 1, 4, 5)

Possible fixes:
I stand by my earlier comments to cut the stupid conspiracy angle. It leads to stupid chapters like this one and it's not robust enough to stand up against any serious, competent investigation.

If I were to keep the conspiracy plot, I would do it from Jovvi's POV since she was the one who introduced all the to begin with. The standard promise in a conspiracy plot is the protagonists will outwit the antagonists–i.e. they uncover the conspiracy and overcome it with cleverness by taking advantage of loopholes in the system that facilitates the conspiracy. That means she would be the only one to believe in the conspiracy, and she'd have to do some work to convince the others that there IS a conspiracy. She either convinces them with proof or engages them to help her in exchange for favors/gold and by the end of Act I, the whole team should be all in. Act II would be discovering the conspiracy. Act III would be about beating it.

You guys will see later on in Book 3 how Green has put her characters in the unfortunate position where they can't really do anything effective in a conspiracy plot, except for One Critical Thing, that Book 3 spoilers of course doesn't go anywhere because the conspiracy is deep and they're idiots, and even their temporary victory was basically handed to them and never in doubt at all.

We are now roughly 30% of the way through Book 2 (which properly ends 5 chapters into Book 3, following the pattern of Book 1) and due to go to our next POV rotation. So on that note, Merry Christmas everyone and I'll see you back here in the new year for the next cycle of antagonist POVs.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


TRIGGER WARNING for rape in this chapter

quote:

CHAPTER SIXTEEN 

Delin Moord spent a bit longer listening to Bron tell everyone just how much their abilities should “improve” by the following week, and then he encouraged the meeting to end. They all had other demands on their time, demands which couldn’t be ignored without making people suspicious. If their group was to be seen as having no intentions concerning winning the competition, they couldn’t afford to spend too much time discussing the matter.

Please, do tell me what these "demands" are, because we literally never see you guys do anything other than go out to eat at dining parlors or have sex.

quote:

And Delin had something fairly important to take care of. Homin needed help with his father’s new wife, and Homin was going to get it. Nothing could be allowed to interfere with the purpose of the group, which was what interfering with one of its members really accomplished…

If you turn your heads sideways, squint really hard and read this backwards, it almost doesn't quite entirely not resemble one of those sage sayings.

quote:

“I’m ready, Delin,” Homin said, bringing Delin out of his thoughts. “Shall we travel together in one carriage, letting the other one follow?”

“Yes, and we’ll use mine,” Delin said, seeing that Bron and Selendi were already at the front door, being shown out by Kambil. “But let’s not advertise your predicament. If anyone asks, we’re merely going to the local entertainment district for some tea and private conversation.”

You've both been drinking tea during this whole meeting. And leaving Homin's carriage there is not suspicious whatsoever.

quote:

Homin nodded jerkily, as though he would find it possible to disobey even a suggestion,

Did Green mean "as though he found it impossible to disobey even a suggestion"?

quote:

then trailed along behind Delin to the door. Delin used warmth when he thanked Kambil for the hospitality of his house, deliberately reminding himself that Kambil had acted for the good of the group. He still didn’t really like the man, but that was unimportant beside the fact that Kambil was now one of his.

Dude's a High in Spirit magic, I don't think you're fooling anyone Delin.

quote:

Delin went to his carriage while Homin scurried to his own to tell his driver to follow, using the time to give his own driver instructions.

Wait, what? So what's the point of taking the one carriage anyway? Oh, because you need to have another meeting.

quote:

When Homin finally joined him, puffing a bit from having hurried, they were immediately off.

“You do remember, I hope, that I have a stop to make before we continue on to your house,” Delin said as Homin settled himself on the seat opposite. He hadn’t dared to sit next to Delin, of course, which showed there was some hope for him. “It shouldn’t take too long, but when a lady is involved a gentleman should never rush.”

“Oh, I quite understand,” Homin assured him, nevertheless paling a bit. “You’ll need to mention to Elfini that the delay was on your behalf, and hopefully she’ll be reasonable about it.”

“I’m certain she’ll be reasonable,” Delin assured him, smiling as he made himself more comfortable. “For some reason the ladies look upon me rather favorably, and I expect Elfini to be no different.”

Homin made a sound that was more hopeful agreement than certainty, then remained silent. Which was quite useful, as Delin had plans to make.

That's right, Delin's telling Homin that he needs to wait around for him while he visits a courtesan.

quote:

It didn’t take long for them to reach their local entertainment district, an area of perhaps two blocks in the center of their residential district. Going into the city proper for a simple afternoon or evening out would have been too bothersome for people like them, who lived a fair distance out, so entertainment districts had been approved and built. There were dining parlors for full meals, tea rooms for snacks, theaters for plays and auditoriums for music recitals.

There were also gambling parlors and pleasure parlors, but those were devoted to people with more sophisticated tastes than the ordinary. They were located behind the small number of exclusive shops the district also boasted, and one had to be brought to them by someone who was already a member. Delin had meant to go there after the meeting, but now his plans had changed. And he wouldn’t have vouched for Homin in any event. Those places had certain standards, and people like Homin simply didn’t measure up.

His carriage took them instead to one of the tea rooms, one which also offered discreet apartments on its upper floors for brief or long term rentals. Delin was one of those few who kept a permanent second home there, one no one else knew about. The ladies he brought to the apartment assumed he’d rented it for the afternoon or evening, and Delin had never disabused them of the notion.

“You’ll sit and take tea while I tend to my previous commitment,” Delin said to Homin as they left the carriage. “Your driver can put your carriage next to mine in the accommodation across the street, and we’ll send a boy for them when we’re ready to leave.”

Homin nodded and turned to gesture his driver after Delin’s, and then the two of them entered the tea room. Soft, pleasant music was being played by a small group to one side of the room, and Delin saw Homin seated with tea ordered before he left him. He wouldn’t have wanted Homin to come searching for him under normal circumstances; today the idea was completely unacceptable.

This is all so FASCINATING (not).

quote:

Once out of sight of the patrons of the tea room, Delin took the stairs to his apartment two at a time. He first had to change out of his fashionable clothes into something less noticeable, and then he would leave again by the private entrance in back. His interview with Elfini would go a good deal more smoothly if Homin was nowhere about.

Oh ho! An interesting development at last!

quote:

The stables across the street from the back of the tea room was as private as the apartments, and Delin kept a horse there to be used when a carriage simply wouldn’t do. He saddled the horse himself as was the custom there, with only the half-blind old caretaker left on the premises. The boys who cleaned the stalls and exercised the horses were long gone, which effectively meant no one was there to see him leave.

Delin had never been to Homin’s father’s house, but he’d made it his business to learn where everyone of the slightest importance lived. When you have great plans for your life you never know when some bit of information will come in handy, so Delin had simply collected every fact available to him.

Alright I am confused, all these nobles are supposed to be the children of very powerful High Lords, so why would their estates not be common knowledge amongst the nobility?

quote:

The ride wasn’t a long one, and Delin made sure to avoid the front drive. Going through the woods separating that house from the estate next door was a much better idea, and also let him leave his horse tethered in those woods.

It was a good five minute walk from the woods to the house itself, but happily there were no gardeners about to see him cross the back lawn to the gardens, go through the gardens and past the bath house, and then reach the house. There was also a few minutes worth of looking through windows to locate Elfini without being seen, but this wasn’t the first time Delin had done something like this. If necessary he would climb a trellis to reach the second floor, but checking the back rooms of the ground floor first only made sense.

And the effort proved to be a worthwhile expenditure of time. Elfini sat in a large room reading a book, and Delin would have wagered that she’d decorated the private sanctum herself. The walls were covered with paintings showing men and women being severely punished, and in each instance the one doing the punishing was female. There were also various wooden frames standing about the room, waiting for a victim to be strapped to them in either upright or bent over positions.

“Obscene, all of it,” Delin muttered as he looked in through a pane of the terrace doors. It was the reason he’d been so certain that Elfini’s room would be at the back of the house: obscene places like that always were. Those involved in the obscenity refused to understand how wrong they were, but that didn’t change the fact that they were. Normal people understood that it was a man’s place to do the punishing, a woman’s place to receive it. He’d put girls on some of those very same frames in the pleasure parlor, and knowing that these were meant for men turned his stomach.

Just take a moment to put this bit together with the normal honorific of "Dom" and "Dama". Yes, that's right, women are addressed as "Dama" in this world instead of "Domme" because it would just be WRONG for a woman to be the dominant in a BDSM relationship.

quote:

So he lost no more time opening the terrace door quietly and stepping inside. Now he could see the full array of whips and switches and straps displayed on the righthand wall of the room, along with chains and rods and half a dozen instruments of pain which might have been of original design. Elfini sat three-quarters turned away from him and so failed to notice his presence at first, but suddenly she looked up and saw him.

“Well, this is a surprise,” she said, putting her book aside and rising to face him. “We’ve never actually met, Lord Delin, but I do recognize you. Are you here to … make my acquaintance in private?”

“It so happens I am, Lady Elfini,” Delin responded, finding it impossible not to grin at her choice of words. “And this meeting will be private, won’t it?”

“Without the least shadow of a doubt,” Elfini agreed with the coldest smile Delin had ever seen on a woman. “I haven’t lived here all that long, but the staff is already completely trained. You may remove your clothing while I prepare to greet you properly.”

By then she’d already opened and slipped out of the wrap she wore, exposing another obscenity. The tight, red silk trousers and shirt she sported were cut in the style of men’s clothing, with nothing of proper skirts to be seen. Delin felt outraged, but managed to keep his tone even.

Oh no, not TROUSERS! Witch!

quote:

“Lady, you mistake me,” he said, causing her to stop after only a step or two in the direction of the wall holding her toys. “I’ve come here to speak on Homin’s behalf, not my own. Homin tells me that you’ve forbidden him to practice his aspect talent, and that you also intend to distract him even further by including him in your … pastime despite his unwillingness. Is this true?”

Wow, Delin actually saying something that is not horrible, in contrast to the rest of his thoughts.

quote:

“Homin has earned himself an even more thorough … inclusion by speaking out of turn,” she said, all trace of the least amusement now gone from her. “And he was supposed to come directly home and present himself to me, which means he has even more to answer for. Unless you mean to offer yourself in his place, Lord Delin, you may now leave. Before I decide you’ve earned punishment of your very own.”

The glitter in her otherwise lifeless eyes said she’d enjoy deciding that, which added quite a lot to Delin’s outrage. The woman had no idea of what her true place in life was meant to be, and Delin looked forward to teaching it to her.

“You are, without doubt, the stupidest woman I’ve ever met,” he said with his most charming smile and an amused chuckle. “Not only have you threatened the well-being of Homin—who is now one of mine—but you’ve also attempted to threaten me. Do you really believe I’d let anyone stand in the way of my destiny, let alone an unnatural slut like you?”

“Now you will be punished,” she said with the glitter in her eyes sharpened, partially by insult and partially by anticipation. “After that you may attempt to brush me out of your way—once you’re able to move without pain again.”

“Why wait?” Delin asked, for the second time keeping her from turning and walking to the display wall. But this time he used his ability to do it, a much more potent force than mere words.

“What do you think you’re doing, you fool?” she spat, glaring at him. “I have Earth magic too, so how long do you think you can keep me paralyzed? Release me at once, or it will certainly go harder for you.”

“Oh, I’m quite hard already, thank you, and I’ll hold you as long as I please,” he responded, beginning to walk toward her. “I have your leg and arm muscles locked tight, but please do feel free to try to escape the hold.”

As he reached her she grunted, the only outward sign of her inner struggle for freedom. The day might come that an ordinary talent would find it possible to match a talent like his, but it wasn’t likely to happen in his lifetime—or hers.

“And so it becomes clear who the master here is,” Delin said, using one hand to smooth back her already perfectly smooth hair. “Now to demonstrate that truth, in a manner just as undeniable as paralysis.”

“No,” she snarled as he lifted her in his arms, a thin and bony woman who would normally be not at all to his taste. “You wouldn’t dare to force yourself on me, you wouldn’t dare!”

“To hear you, one would think you were a person of importance,” Delin commented as he carried her toward one of the wooden frames. “You weren’t of any importance even before your father was forced to resign his place with the Advisors, and now that he’s dead by his own hand you’re worth even less. Allow me to show you I believe what I say.”

He put her down by the wooden frame, made her bend over it, then opened those obscene trousers of hers and let them fall to pool about her ankles. She wore nothing underneath them, of course, which meant there was nothing to hinder his enjoyment of her. The enjoyment was hardly mutual, though, not in the way he used her, but her screams of shock accompanied by babbled threats were really quite entertaining. Delin was thoroughly satisfied when he stepped back and adjusted his clothing, then let her straighten up.

“You filthy animal, I’ll see you destroyed for this,” she managed to get out, pain and shock still holding her as strongly as his talent. “Doing that to a woman is perversion, and your father won’t even try to save you. I’ll—”

I hate this. All of it.

quote:

“You’ll do nothing at all,” he interrupted her ragged indictment, almost able to feel her inner frenzy. If she had been unstable before, now she was doubly so. “But you certainly can’t be trusted to stay in your proper place without assistance, so here it is.”

He released her muscles then, but not before seizing hold of her heart. She gasped and whitened when he bore down slowly on the organ, and actually tried to reach her wall of toys. In order to use one of them on him, no doubt, having no idea that he would never allow such a thing. It wasn’t her place to discipline a man, but it was certainly his to do so with her.

The stupid woman tripped over the trousers caught around her ankles and fell, but the pain of landing on the floor was probably unnoticed amid the rest. Her breath came in gasps as she fought the pain being given to her heart, and she writhed on the floor mewling with fear as she tried to escape. But for her there was no escape, and Delin felt his manhood begin to harden again at the thought that he would kill her. He’d never killed anyone but a peasant before, and was startled to discover how much more exciting this was.

In case you haven't figured out that Delin is Evil and messed up in the head.

quote:

But he didn’t have an infinite amount of time, so he couldn’t allow the pleasure to continue until he reached climax. That would have to wait for another time with another … helper, so he increased the pressure on her heart just a bit. The woman tried to scream as the organ abruptly ceased functioning, not yet realizing that she was already dead. Then all movement from her ceased, finally and permanently for all time.

Delin found it impossible to wipe the smile from his face, so marvelous had his mood become. For another moment he stared down at the woman who had given him such pleasure, then he gathered himself to leave. But first he straightened the woman’s obscene trousers, and fought them back into their proper place on her. Once the authorities saw how she was dressed, their investigation would be quickly terminated.

Uh, no. That's not how investigations work.

quote:

Then Delin left the same way he’d come, and once he reached his horse he let himself whistle a merry tune all the way back to the stables.

Kill me.

Summary:

Day 6 (continued)
Meanwhile, Homin waits for Delin at the local entertainment district, who has excused himself to meet a lady friend but has secretly gone to rape and then kill Homin's step-mother, Elfini.

Counts so far:

NAMED ON-SCREEN CHARACTERS WHO WE'LL NEVER SEE AGAIN: 24
Book 1: Mildon Coll, Phor Riven, Jeris Womal, Eldra Sappin, Fod, Lord Astrath, Torrin Ro, Vish "the Fish", Jamrin, Hark, Reshin, Fellar, Ennis, Vosin, Parli Hafford, Regensi, Weeks, Adept Aminto, Mem Follil, Toblis, Kogrin, Lemmis Admen, Miklas
Book 2: Nialla, Emar Rumil, Leta Vas, Grami Arstin

TOTALLY INDISTINCT ON-SCREEN LOCATIONS: 13 (9 in Book 1)
Book 1: Rincammon, Haven Wraithside, Tamrissa's house in Gan Garee, Port Entril, testing facility in Gan Garee, Regensi's shop, Ginge's tavern, Magross bridge, mastery facility outside Gan Garee, Nialla's house, Vas residence, Weil residence, Arstin residence in Gan Garee

MEALS ON-SCREEN: 16 (15 in Book 1)
Book 1: Day 1 (lunch, dinner), Day 2 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 3 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 4 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 5 (lunch, dinner), Day 6 (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

EUPHEMISMS FOR BODY PARTS: 9
Book 1:
Male: <character name>'s body (x2), discomfort (x1), manhood (x1), desire (x2), renewed need (x1), large and hard, the most perfect of men (x1)
Female: womanhood (x1), entrance of ultimate bliss (x1), desire (x1), incredible tunnel (x1)

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT: 3
Book 1:
Male: love (x1), my fleeting love (x1)
Female: sweet girl (x1)

ANTAGONISTS: 16 (11 introduced in Book 1)
General: Unnamed Chairman/Ollon Kapmar (?) and the five Seated Highs in each aspect, Eltrina Razas, Bron Kallan, Selendi Vas, Homin Weil, Kambil Arstin, Delin Moord
Lorand: Eskin Drowd
Jovvi: Allestine and her henchmen Ark and Bar
Clarion: Hallina Mardimil, Eskin Drowd
Tamrissa: Storn and Avrina Torgar, Beldara Lant, Odrin Hallasser, Soonen
Vallant: Mirra Agran

PLOTHOLES: 43 (39 in Book 1)
COACH RIDES: 27 (21 in Book 1)
MEETINGS IN COACHES: 7 (4 in Book 1)
OTHER MEETINGS: 6 (3 in Book 1)
INTERRUPTED MONOLOGUING: 32 (31 in Book 1)
"CLIFFHANGERS": 19 (18 in Book 1)
POINTLESS TAMRISSA NARRATION: 12 (11 in Book 1)
TEA DRINKING: 27 (22 in Book 1)
BLATANT MORALIZING: 20 (19 in Book 1)
BATH SCENES: 10 (9 in Book 1)
WILFUL MISUNDERSTANDINGS: 6
MIND CONTROL: 5
BADLY WRITTEN SEX SCENES: 4, including 1 rape scene (2 in Book 1)

REPETITIVE POV EVENTS:
  • Oh noes, a fireball (Book 1: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Pass or die (Book 1: Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  • Bathroom encounters (Book 1: Chapters 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
  • Don't rain on my parade! (Book 1: Chapters 19, 20)
  • Uniform fitting (Book 1: Chapters 20, 21)
  • Random encounters: Round 1 (Book 1: Chapters 25, 32, 33, 35, 38)
  • One, two, three, four, five (Book 1: Chapters 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35)
  • A favorite object appears out of thin air (Book 1: Chapters 36, 37 x2, 38)
  • Proof of mastery: Level 1 (Book 1: Chapters 39, 40, 41, 42, 43; Book 2: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Animal cheer squad (Book 2: Chapters 1, 4, 5)

Possible fixes:
Sorry all for the delay in picking this up again - I've been out sick for the last two weeks which has been a great start to the new year. Anyway.

This whole scene is just...awful. I really detest the gratuitous use of sexual violence and this whole scene feels like it falls under that definition. Elfini's extreme BDSM thing was already established in Homin's POV. We've already seen Delin established as a character through all of the various noble POVs, including a hint of what his sexual appetites are like. The important thing that needed to happen here was Delin confronting Elfini on Homin's behalf. It feels very much like the rape and then subsequent murder was used for shock/horror value and to establish Delin as Evil.

Elfini's murder kicks off some other consequences for the nobles and is Green's attempt at illustrating the political dynamics between the noble houses. Surprise, surprise, it isn't great. Green hasn't really thought out the implications of having basically everyone wielding magical powers that could commit murder without much of a trace. She hasn't set up a gritty dark world, like the Final Empire in Mistborn, where the noble houses basically use Mistings and Mistborns to assassinate each other all the time.

We don't learn anything more about the magic system, or how Delin as an Earth magic talent stacks up against Lorand, which I think is a lost opportunity here.

All in all, we've had 6 chapters to establish Delin as a lead antagonist and I've learned he's a sadistic but charming murdering rapist. Okay, that's bad, but I'm entirely unclear on why or how he would even pose a threat to Lorand or the rest of the protagonists, or how their arcs are going to intersect, or how Delin's even going to be an antagonist. I mean, obviously he's the Earth magic counterpart so presumably they're going to meet each other in the competitions, but that means I'm unclear on why I'm getting Delin's whole freaking backstory right now when I don't care about it. I care about Delin only to the extent that he's going to create problems for Lorand and co, and right now, Delin's not creating any problems.

It just feels like we're getting the beginning of somebody else's story, in which case if Green wanted to do it that way, she should have put some noble POVs in the first book, so that those storylines would collide during the competitions. That is probably what I'd be doing if rewriting it–I would focus on establishing the different factions, their stakes in the results of the competition and then have one POV from each faction, but I wouldn't be including those until they became relevant. I thought Will Wight did this pretty well with Underlord/Wintersteel–obviously we went into it rooting for the Akura faction but he did a good job in establishing the stakes for the other factions by including POV from their representatives, who had already been introduced as characters in earlier books. It gave us new insight to the motivations for those characters and expanded the world.

wizzardstaff
Apr 6, 2018




Welcome back! Regretful that this chapter is what you get to return to after a bout of sickness.

Aside from the obligatory "have a character rape someone to show they're evil" we've got an incredibly weird portrayal of BDSM, where the dominatrix is apparently incapable of meeting a man without trying to strap him into a frame. I'm starting to think that Green might not be very nuanced at characterization.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


quote:

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN 

Homin was nearly frantic before Delin reappeared. He knew that Delin had gone to meet with one of his lovers and so he couldn’t follow to see what was keeping the man. But that didn’t stop him from visiting the tea house’s sanitary facilities more often than tea-drinking normally called for. It became more and more clear that if Delin didn’t return rather soon, all the charm in the world would not save Homin from Elfini’s wrath.

Homin, you might wanna see a physician about that poor bladder control...

quote:

And then, finally, Delin was striding toward him across the floor, a big grin on his very handsome face. Homin lurched to his feet at once, more than ready to leave, but Delin chuckled and gestured at him to sit down again.

“Just five minutes more of patience, Homin, as a favor to me,” Delin said as he fell heavily into the second chair at the table. “She’s positively exhausted me, and I really must have at least one cup of tea before I perish.”

Is the tea in this universe magical?

quote:

“But Elfini will be furious,” Homin whispered as he sank back down, watching Delin gesture to a serving girl. “The angrier she gets the worse it will be for me, and that no matter how charming she finds you. Please, Delin, I’m begging…”

“Now, that, Homin, is your entire problem,” Delin said as he relaxed back in his chair. “If something is happening that you don’t like, don’t beg for it to stop, demand it. As you’re supposed to be a man, it’s time you began to act like one.”

Homin slumped in his chair, wishing it were possible to close his eyes and hide in a world of soft, comforting black. If he tried to do as Delin suggested and demand that they leave right now, Delin would undoubtedly become so angry that he would refuse to accompany Homin after all. And as far as refusing to allow Elfini to do as she pleased… How was he supposed to refuse someone so much stronger? If he tried she would hurt him even more, so what option did he have other than to simply accept what she gave…?

Everyone in these books are so immature, it's bizarre. I just finished reading Brent Weeks' Lightbringer series (which starts off promising, has a whole crap ton of weird author sex/sexist issues and then just ends badly with a literal deux ex machina so I can't recommend it in all honesty) and most of the protagonists there are pretty drat immature in their internal monologues, but at least there were the odd one or two who genuinely seemed to be mature (Orea Pullawr). None of Green's characters have any semblance of maturity whatsoever, regardless of their age. And "demanded" or any variant thereof ("demand", "demands", "demanding") always comes across as a toddler throwing a tantrum instead of assertiveness or high standards.

quote:

“Ah, thank you, my dear,” Delin said, and Homin looked up to see that the serving girl had brought Delin’s tea. The girl smiled at Delin and swung her hips as she waited to be paid, something she hadn’t done with Homin. She’d all but demanded the payment as well as a tip, showing the method worked well enough for her.



quote:

But for Homin to use it, that was quite out of the question…

“Four minutes to go, Homin old fellow,” Delin said once he’d paid the girl and had begun to stir sugar into his tea. And he hadn’t even noticed the way the girl had been flaunting herself at him. It must be wonderful to be as handsome and self-assured as Delin, but Homin found it completely impossible to picture himself living such a life. Even if he thought it might be possible, he’d have no idea how to begin.

So he just sat there and watched Delin drink tea while he felt his insides tightening more and more. By the big clock on the far wall behind Delin eleven minutes passed, and then Delin lifted his cup and gestured with it.

“Four minutes exactly, and I’m down to the last swallow,” he announced, then finished the tea with a satisfied “Ah! Now a quick trip to the comfort facilities, and we’re on our way.”

Homin couldn’t bear the idea of waiting again, so he went with Delin and also used the facilities. This time Delin was through first, and when Homin emerged from the privacy room Delin shook a finger at him with a grin.

We literally just spent 600+ words following these characters to the men's room.

quote:

“Time is passing, old fellow, and you’re the one causing the delay,” he said in a mock-serious tone. “But I’ve sent the boy for our carriages, so the time shouldn’t be entirely wasted. Come along now, and we’ll complete this mission of mercy.”

Homin followed Delin outside, and the carriages really were pulling up to be boarded. Delin told him to ride in his own carriage and lead the way, as he had no really clear idea where Homin lived. Homin realized that that was true so he agreed immediately, although he would have felt much better if Delin were right there beside him. It was always possible that for some unknown reason Delin would desert him at the last moment, and he would have to face Elfini alone.

Why can't you guys just sit in the same carriage again?

quote:

But Delin didn’t desert him, even though Homin’s stomach was in knots by the time he reached home. Delin’s carriage followed up the drive directly behind his own, and a moment later they were both climbing out in front of the house.

“I love these older houses,” Delin commented as Homin hurried up to him, his examination of the house slow and leisurely. “Father would never live in something that hadn’t been built to his own specifications, but I prefer smaller places like this. They’re so much cozier… Shall we go in?”

“Of course,” Homin said quickly, biting his tongue before he pointed out that it was Delin who had been simply standing there, not him. Delin’s request had suggested the opposite, but it wasn’t something to argue about now. Elfini was waiting, and every extra minute added to her wait would mean more pain for Homin.

A servant opened the door as they reached it, and once Homin had stepped into the entrance hall he was reminded that Lady Elfini awaited him in her private sanctum. Homin nodded spasmodically even as he swallowed hard, but Delin didn’t look at all disturbed. He ambled along behind Homin without a care in the world, but that was because he’d soon be leaving again. Homin had nowhere else to go, and the knowledge terrified him.

The door to Elfini’s sanctum stood closed as usual, but he knocked as he was supposed to, waited the required half minute,

This is the only nice little detail of characterization that exists in this whole sequence.

quote:

then turned the knob and entered. Delin had caught up to him by then, and entered right behind him.

“You’ll regret having made me wait, Homin,” Elfini said in the coldest tones he’d ever heard, her eyes filled with that malicious glitter that frightened him so much.

Dun dun DUNNNN!

quote:

“And were you given permission to bring home one of your little friends with you?”

“Elfini, I’d like to present Lord Delin Moord,” Homin began with a quaver, but when he turned toward Delin the rest of the words died in his throat. Delin stood staring at Elfini with his mouth open, his skin as pale as milk and his eyes filled with shock. Not only was all the charm Homin had been counting on gone, but Delin looked as though he might faint!

* * *

Delin knew that Homin was saying something to him, but nothing came through the ringing in his ears that echoed and reechoed in his head. She was alive, the woman was alive, but that was impossible! He’d killed her and looked at her dead body, so she couldn’t possibly be alive!

And now we know that Delin's an unreliable narrator. Like everything else in her writing, Green just goes from zero to infinity right away. I like unreliable narrators a lot as a reader because I like having to puzzle things out. I know Shallan grates on a lot of people's nerves but reading her arc in Stormlight Archive is genuinely enjoyable for me because of how unreliable she is as a narrator. And the payoffs in Rhythm of War were so well foreshadowed!

quote:

His right hand groped until it found the doorjamb, and only just in time to keep his knees from buckling and sending him down to the floor. This was a nightmare and it couldn’t be happening, not when it was so important, not again…

Again. That word brought a clutch of illness to Delin’s middle, as he’d been certain he’d outgrown the condition. As a child he’d fantasized all the time, and some of the fantasies had seemed absolutely real. He’d go about his business thinking he’d done something, and then it would turn out that he hadn’t done it after all. On those occasions where his dereliction had come to his father’s attention, Delin had been sternly punished for failing to obey and then lying about it. But he hadn’t failed to obey and hadn’t lied, at least not knowingly…

Reminder that Spirit magic and Earth magic is a thing in this world. Yet somehow neither Delin nor his family has ever thought of seeking medical attention for these weird fits of fantasy that he has had for at least a decade.

quote:

And now it looked as though the condition had returned, at the worst time it possibly could. This matter of the competitions would be his one and only chance to make his mark, and if he failed he would be trapped in obscurity forever. Forever in Father’s house, a concept too horrible to contemplate without shuddering.

Concretely, what is so terrible about this?

quote:

“Delin, are you all right?” Homin asked anxiously, hovering only a step away as though ready to catch him if he fell. “Do you need to sit down? Perhaps a cup of tea would help…”

“Have the servants put him in his carriage and send him home,” the woman said impatiently, cutting into Homin’s expressions of concern. “I’ve had to wait too long already, and refuse to wait any longer. Unless you’ve brought him here to share what I have for you, and then you may drag him inside instead.”

The amusement in the slut’s voice was intolerable, and it actually helped Delin to pull himself together. He straightened away from the doorjamb as his blood began to flow properly through his veins again, and he looked directly at Elfini.

“Homin, have one of the servants pack you some clothing,” he ordered without taking his eyes from the slut. “If you stay here you’ll be useless to the group, so I’m taking you home with me.”

“How dare you try to interfere with my household?” the female demanded coldly, but too late to stop Homin’s scurrying away. “When he returns you’ll tell him you’ve changed your mind, and then you’ll leave. If you don’t, my husband will have a private talk with your father.”

“What good do you expect that to do?” Delin countered with a snort of ridicule, absolutely certain about his position in a circumstance like that. “All I’d have to do is tell Father that your husband spends his leisure getting his bottom spanked by his wife, and Father won’t even let him in the house. Not to mention that he’ll probably decide to ruin your husband’s career. Father loathes this sort of perversion even more than I do.”

“Get out,” the female snarled, her left hand curled into a claw. “Take the sniveling little coward with you if you must, but get out of my house!”

“At your pleasure, Dama,” Delin said with a sarcastic bow, then he turned and walked completely out of the room. The slut stormed after him to slam the door closed, but her frustrated anger wasn’t nearly as pleasing as it should have been. Once again he’d had to use the threat of getting his father involved in order to make things go the way they were supposed to, and his hatred for having to do that grew greater each time he did.

At this point, I'm really not sure why Delin wouldn't just make good on that threat.

quote:

But until he made his mark nothing would change, so he’d have to do anything and everything to protect his group. And in the real world, not in some delusion that his mind dreamed up for him. And yet how odd it was, that the chamber looked exactly as it had in the illusion, all the way down to the specialized devices on the wall with the whips. How that could be he had no idea, unless he’d actually come to the house, looked in through the window, and then fantasized the rest. But that would make him a crippled coward who couldn’t even admit his failures to himself, so it couldn’t possibly be true.

Whenever a character thinks something couldn't possibly true, this is Green's way of telling you that it absolutely did happen/is happening/is going to be exactly like that!

quote:

Delin paced up and down the hall, his thoughts black and ugly and hating, until Homin finally reappeared. The fat fool was being followed by a servant carrying a small trunk, which explained what had taken so long. Without saying anything Delin turned and stalked off toward the front door, letting Homin and the servant catch up as best they might. And he would insist that Homin use his own carriage, to keep the jittering fool away from him as much as possible.

As he sat in his carriage waiting for Homin to get his trunk stowed and his overweight body settled, Delin made two decisions. The first was to tell Father immediately what Homin’s situation with Elfini was, which would certainly set in motion Homin’s father’s ruination. The man was powerful, but not nearly as powerful as Father, and if he were engrossed with imminent ruination he couldn’t obey Elfini and make trouble for the group.

Yay! A character actually does something he threatens!

quote:

That idea made Delin feel a good deal better, and helped to convince him that his second decision was just as necessary as the first. Tonight, after retiring to his apartment, he would sneak out and return to kill Elfini, this time in reality rather than illusion. He had to do it now, there was nothing else possible, not when making his mark was at stake. Nothing could stand in the way of that, nor would it be allowed to. His group meant his future, and he would defend it with everything he had. It was time to really act, it was time…

Or...you know, you could treat it as a merciful do-over of your poorly thought out decision to go straight to murder which would definitely start rumors and require an investigation. But never mind, all of this is here to leave us in no doubt that Delin is really Evil. 

Summary:

Day 6 (continued)
Meanwhile, Homin waits for Delin at the local entertainment district, who has excused himself to meet a lady friend but has secretly gone to rape and then kill Homin's step-mother, Elfini. Except Delin fantasized the whole thing, so when he and Homin show up at the Weil residence, Elfini's pissed and only lets them go after Delin threatens to get his father to ruin her husband.

Counts so far:

NAMED ON-SCREEN CHARACTERS WHO WE'LL NEVER SEE AGAIN: 24
Book 1: Mildon Coll, Phor Riven, Jeris Womal, Eldra Sappin, Fod, Lord Astrath, Torrin Ro, Vish "the Fish", Jamrin, Hark, Reshin, Fellar, Ennis, Vosin, Parli Hafford, Regensi, Weeks, Adept Aminto, Mem Follil, Toblis, Kogrin, Lemmis Admen, Miklas
Book 2: Nialla, Emar Rumil, Leta Vas, Grami Arstin

TOTALLY INDISTINCT ON-SCREEN LOCATIONS: 13 (9 in Book 1)
Book 1: Rincammon, Haven Wraithside, Tamrissa's house in Gan Garee, Port Entril, testing facility in Gan Garee, Regensi's shop, Ginge's tavern, Magross bridge, mastery facility outside Gan Garee, Nialla's house, Vas residence, Weil residence, Arstin residence in Gan Garee

MEALS ON-SCREEN: 16 (15 in Book 1)
Book 1: Day 1 (lunch, dinner), Day 2 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 3 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 4 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 5 (lunch, dinner), Day 6 (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

EUPHEMISMS FOR BODY PARTS: 9
Book 1:
Male: <character name>'s body (x2), discomfort (x1), manhood (x1), desire (x2), renewed need (x1), large and hard, the most perfect of men (x1)
Female: womanhood (x1), entrance of ultimate bliss (x1), desire (x1), incredible tunnel (x1)

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT: 3
Book 1:
Male: love (x1), my fleeting love (x1)
Female: sweet girl (x1)

ANTAGONISTS: 16 (11 introduced in Book 1)
General: Unnamed Chairman/Ollon Kapmar (?) and the five Seated Highs in each aspect, Eltrina Razas, Bron Kallan, Selendi Vas, Homin Weil, Kambil Arstin, Delin Moord
Lorand: Eskin Drowd
Jovvi: Allestine and her henchmen Ark and Bar
Clarion: Hallina Mardimil, Eskin Drowd
Tamrissa: Storn and Avrina Torgar, Beldara Lant, Odrin Hallasser, Soonen
Vallant: Mirra Agran

PLOTHOLES: 43 (39 in Book 1)
COACH RIDES: 29 (21 in Book 1)
MEETINGS IN COACHES: 7 (4 in Book 1)
OTHER MEETINGS: 6 (3 in Book 1)
INTERRUPTED MONOLOGUING: 33 (31 in Book 1)
"CLIFFHANGERS": 19 (18 in Book 1)
POINTLESS TAMRISSA NARRATION: 12 (11 in Book 1)
TEA DRINKING: 28 (22 in Book 1)
BLATANT MORALIZING: 20 (19 in Book 1)
BATH SCENES: 10 (9 in Book 1)
WILFUL MISUNDERSTANDINGS: 6
MIND CONTROL: 5
BADLY WRITTEN SEX SCENES: 4, including 1 rape scene (2 in Book 1)

REPETITIVE POV EVENTS:
  • Oh noes, a fireball (Book 1: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Pass or die (Book 1: Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  • Bathroom encounters (Book 1: Chapters 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
  • Don't rain on my parade! (Book 1: Chapters 19, 20)
  • Uniform fitting (Book 1: Chapters 20, 21)
  • Random encounters: Round 1 (Book 1: Chapters 25, 32, 33, 35, 38)
  • One, two, three, four, five (Book 1: Chapters 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35)
  • A favorite object appears out of thin air (Book 1: Chapters 36, 37 x2, 38)
  • Proof of mastery: Level 1 (Book 1: Chapters 39, 40, 41, 42, 43; Book 2: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Animal cheer squad (Book 2: Chapters 1, 4, 5)

Possible fixes:
All of the noble manoeuvrings/shenanigans needs to be consolidated into like, 1-2 chapters MAX before we get the protagonists crashing the party as well. And preferably if we're going to have some unreliable narrator stuff going on, we don't go from "seeming totally reliable" to "oh, wow, this character regularly lives in fantasy land" within the space of 4000 words/2 chapters. I'm not a fan of Delin's delusions being a known long term condition that's already in its final stages; if it's going to be a plot device, I'd rather it be a mystery that he notices developing (in response to some specific catalyst), tries to cover it up and eventually it gets so bad that he messes up big time. That at least would give what is otherwise a terrible character one direction of growth.

Leng fucked around with this message at 11:18 on Jan 11, 2021

HopperUK
Apr 29, 2007

Clear off, fatso, this is a respectable establishment




I am barely able to skim-read this stuff. My God she's a tedious writer. I like slow character bits but this is just *dull*. Who edited this poo poo, did anyone?!

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


quote:

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN 

“Good morning, Lord Bron,” Deever said as he was shown in, his sharp gaze flickering everywhere.

This is the opening line of the chapter, just so you know that Day 6 is done and we're finally moving onto Day 7. That's right, we're STILL in the first freaking week of these books.

quote:

“All ready to begin the day’s practice?”

“Since these practice sessions last only a few hours, why can’t they be done in the afternoon?” Bron demanded as usual, finding that his body had no interest in rising from the couch he sprawled on. It was much too early for anyone really civilized to be up and about, but his instructor had no more compassion for him than he’d ever had.

“You’re hardly the only group member I instruct in a day,” Deever returned, also as usual, acting like high nobility rather than the only-just-barely-acceptable lower born that he was. “Since someone has to be first, you’ve been chosen to be that someone. Shall we begin?”

Bron muttered under his breath as he made the supreme effort of struggling to his feet, but then he noticed the clock. Deever was always right on time, but this morning he seemed to have missed.

“Well, Deever, it seems there are times when even you oversleep,” Bron gloated as he pointed to the clock. “Less than half an hour, but late is late.”

Somewhere in Green's childhood, a strict teacher must have given her the idea that being late is a manifestation of the cardinal sin of sloth.

quote:

“It wasn’t sleep that kept me, it was the news,” Deever said, raising supercilious brows. “You can’t mean you haven’t heard?”

“Heard what?” Bron demanded, annoyance quickly returning. “If there’s news, you should have said so immediately.”

Oh look, we haven't had a butler-and-maid dialogue exchange for a while!

quote:

“It’s difficult to understand how anyone could have missed hearing,” Deever replied, still looking around the sitting room rather than at Bron. “Lady Elfini Weil was murdered last night, and they suspect one of the household staff—or a common tramp—to have done it.”

Bron knew his jaw had dropped, but that news was too incredible to react any other way. Lord Aston Weil was powerful, and if anyone’s family should have been safe, it was his. Anger came as Bron realized his own household staff must already know all about it, but no one had bothered to tell him.

Probably because you're an rear end.

quote:

“How could anyone who valued his own life have killed her?” Bron asked, determined to get the details now. “And how can they suspect ‘one of the staff or a tramp’ in general? Doesn’t knowing which aspect was used narrow it down a little?”

“That seems to be the major problem, and is one of the things making everyone discuss the situation,” Deever said, finally bringing his gaze to Bron. “She wasn’t murdered by the use of one of the aspects, she was hacked to pieces with some bladed weapon. It was incredibly gory, I hear, and so bad that some people actually threw up at seeing the body.”

Green can't seem to keep her world building straight - is the use of magic in the Empire suppressed and so most people use mundane means to perform stuff that could otherwise be done magically? How much strength is required to actually murder someone? Could someone of Low strength do it? Who knows! But this looks like she's going against established world building and saying that most murders would be done by magical means!

quote:

“Just as I probably would,” Bron muttered after feeling his face pale. “I’ve never even heard of anyone being killed like that… It must have been done by some talentless freak, but … How do you hack someone to pieces and keep it quiet? Surely the woman screamed at least a little before she died, so why didn’t someone—like Lord Aston, for instance—hurry in to help her?”

“That’s another odd aspect of the matter,” Deever said, and now he studied a point beyond Bron’s right shoulder. “There’s no official word on that part of it, but rumor has it that Lord Aston was hanging unconscious in a wooden whipping frame while she was being murdered. It isn’t something to mention everywhere just in case it turns out to be untrue, but there have been … interesting rumors about Lord Aston before. This one matches those others perfectly.”

The level of incompetence in this government is just inspiring, isn't it? Here's some super secret information that nobody should know about in a world where people have Earth and Spirit magic so the investigators could just force everybody to keep silent but ehhh let's just let the gossips say whatever they want while a murder investigation of a very important noble's wife is going on.

quote:

“What a mess!” Bron said with a headshake, then another thought occurred to him. “But what does Homin say? I nearly forgot that that’s his family, and he’s a member of my group. He should know what happened, because he was right there.”

“It seems Lord Homin wasn’t there,” Deever informed him, now looking openly satisfied. “The Advisors were concerned because he is one of your group, but it so happens he left the house yesterday afternoon for an extended stay with Lord Delin Moord. No one yet knows why that was done, but the fact of the matter cannot be denied.”

Convenient how the whole confrontation took place in Elfini's sanctum isn't it? Also convenient that the most uninteresting information is presented as a great mystery. Maybe Green doesn't understand the definition of "mystery"?

quote:

“That’s too bad,” Bron said with a fatalistic shrug. “For a moment I was able to hope that he would turn out to be the murderer, and then he would have to be replaced in the group. He’s the worst among us, and if he doesn’t improve we’ll—all look like fools in the competitions.”

Bron stumbled just a little over the end of his speech, remembering only at the last instant that he wasn’t to say anything about winning. No one was meant to know they intended to try, and happily Deever didn’t seem to have noticed the near slip.

As smart and subtle as an ox, Bron.

quote:

“Your training results could bear some improvement as well, Lord Bron,” Deever said, safe behind the authority given him by the Advisors. “Shall we visit the training cubicle now? I must be off to my next student as close to on time as possible.”

Get ready for some repetition of repetition that has already been done!

quote:

Bron would have enjoyed giving the dolt a piece of his mind, but Deever was backed by too many influential people. And as understanding as his father had been all Bron’s life, the one thing that would turn him to thoughts of severity and unreason was Bron’s trying the patience of the Advisors. His father’s own position would be put at risk then, so the old man refused to even entertain the idea. Or continue to support Bron if he entertained it.

So Bron had no choice but to clamp his jaw closed and lead the way out of the sitting room toward the back garden, where the practice cubicle had been installed. The idiotic old man who was his father would be sorry when Bron’s group was Seated as the reigning Blending, but by then it would be too late. Bron would remember how he’d been treated, and would repay exactly as he’d gotten.

I would really, really, really like some distinct motivations for these characters. I'd even go so far to take bizarre motivations, like maybe Bron wanting to be Seated because he's convinced that's the only way he could enact a law that makes it illegal for anyone to be awake before noon.

quote:

The cubicle, which had been placed to the far left side of the garden and away from the house, was made of clear resin. It was also much too small to accommodate the presence of a decent chair, and a small shed installed beside it contained all sorts of paraphernalia that was meant to be used inside the cubicle. Right now there was only a box fitted out with a foot pedal, a fixture Bron had grown so tired of that he was delightedly relieved it had become time to advance.

“Please remember what’s necessary here, Lord Bron,” Deever began to lecture as they reached the cubicle. “The patterns you’ve been taught to weave since childhood are what’s necessary, so let’s try not to forget again to use them.”

Once again Bron had to grit his teeth, this time because Deever was such a fool. All children of their class were taught to weave with their talent as soon as they became capable of doing it, and it was unreasonable to expect an adult to constantly remember a child’s game. So he’d forgotten to weave his fires once or twice; there was no need to make him seem so feebleminded that he’d always forget.

The bigger question here is, why wasn't Rion taught? Spoilers for Book 3 it's because the testing authority didn't consider him to be a real noble but that doesn't make sense given what we know of Hallina Mardimil.

quote:

But it was now time to get rid of this device for good and all, so Bron stomped down on the pedal. The lid of the box flew open and a cloud of soil was thrown into the air, a cloud that didn’t stay aloft long. But Bron was ready, so he reached out with his woven fires and burned all that soil the way he wanted to burn Deever and his superior Lord Rigos. It felt marvelous, magnificent, and then it was all done.

“Well, how gratifying,” Deever said, his brows high with surprise. “You’ve actually burned nearly every grain of soil. A few small grains escaped you, but they’re nothing to be concerned about. Congratulations, Lord Bron, on achieving your first mastery.”

“And tomorrow I intend to achieve the second,” Bron said loftily, chest swelling with well-earned pride. “I’m tired of being called lazy and incompetent, so I’m going to show all of you.”

“I’m delighted to hear that, Lord Bron, so let’s get to practicing the next exercise as soon as the servants set up the equipment. We haven’t much time, you know, so we dare not waste any.”

This isn't any more exciting the second time through. And way to undercut any hint of any threats towards the protagonists!

quote:

“You talk as if the competitions are to begin after this week’s end,” Bron scoffed, annoyed that he wasn’t yet to be allowed to return to bed. “There’s a lot more time than that, so why must we engage in this ridiculous rush?”

“The competitions may not be that close, but the forming of Blendings is set to begin only a few days past next week’s end. The longer it takes for your group to be ready to be formed into a Blending, the less practice time you’ll have as a Blending. We’d prefer not to have any of our groups look overly foolish when they come forward to compete, but all we can do is warn you. If you fail to heed that warning, you’ll be the ones who must live with the ridicule of your peers afterward.”

Deever was now pretending not to study him, but in truth was watching very closely. That threat of ridicule was meant to reach him and galvanize him into action, so he would have to pretend that it had. What had really reached Bron, however, was the knowledge of how close they were to being formed into a Blending. They would need all the practice they could get if they were to win, so there was nothing else for it.

“You’re quite right, Deever,” Bron said as he squared his shoulders. “Time is running short, so let’s have the servants out here to arrange the next mechanism. I intend to finish today with two masteries.”

“I bow to your wisdom, Lord Bron, and will fetch the servants myself,” Deever said with a nod of his head rather than a bow. “I’ll return in a moment.”

Bron watched the powerless fool walk away back toward the house, knowing the man wore a smirk now that Bron couldn’t see it. Deever thought he was so good despite his family’s lacks, but even his talent couldn’t be all that much if he was training rather than doing. No, Bron was his superior in all ways, and when his Blending won the competition Deever’s smirk would be wiped from his face for good and all.


Summary:

Day 7
Bron's trainer passes on the news of Elfini's murder before Bron squeaks through on the first of the first level masteries, after an entire childhood's worth of pattern training and a lower bar for passing.

Counts so far:

NAMED ON-SCREEN CHARACTERS WHO WE'LL NEVER SEE AGAIN: 25 (24 in Book 1)
Book 1: Mildon Coll, Phor Riven, Jeris Womal, Eldra Sappin, Fod, Lord Astrath, Torrin Ro, Vish "the Fish", Jamrin, Hark, Reshin, Fellar, Ennis, Vosin, Parli Hafford, Regensi, Weeks, Adept Aminto, Mem Follil, Toblis, Kogrin, Lemmis Admen, Miklas
Book 2: Nialla, Emar Rumil, Leta Vas, Grami Arstin, Deever

TOTALLY INDISTINCT ON-SCREEN LOCATIONS: 13 (9 in Book 1)
Book 1: Rincammon, Haven Wraithside, Tamrissa's house in Gan Garee, Port Entril, testing facility in Gan Garee, Regensi's shop, Ginge's tavern, Magross bridge, mastery facility outside Gan Garee, Nialla's house, Vas residence, Weil residence, Arstin residence in Gan Garee

MEALS ON-SCREEN: 16 (15 in Book 1)
Book 1: Day 1 (lunch, dinner), Day 2 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 3 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 4 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 5 (lunch, dinner), Day 6 (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

EUPHEMISMS FOR BODY PARTS: 9
Book 1:
Male: <character name>'s body (x2), discomfort (x1), manhood (x1), desire (x2), renewed need (x1), large and hard, the most perfect of men (x1)
Female: womanhood (x1), entrance of ultimate bliss (x1), desire (x1), incredible tunnel (x1)

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT: 3
Book 1:
Male: love (x1), my fleeting love (x1)
Female: sweet girl (x1)

ANTAGONISTS: 16 (11 introduced in Book 1)
General: Unnamed Chairman/Ollon Kapmar (?) and the five Seated Highs in each aspect, Eltrina Razas, Bron Kallan, Selendi Vas, Homin Weil, Kambil Arstin, Delin Moord
Lorand: Eskin Drowd
Jovvi: Allestine and her henchmen Ark and Bar
Clarion: Hallina Mardimil, Eskin Drowd
Tamrissa: Storn and Avrina Torgar, Beldara Lant, Odrin Hallasser, Soonen
Vallant: Mirra Agran

PLOTHOLES: 43 (39 in Book 1)
COACH RIDES: 29 (21 in Book 1)
MEETINGS IN COACHES: 7 (4 in Book 1)
OTHER MEETINGS: 6 (3 in Book 1)
INTERRUPTED MONOLOGUING: 33 (31 in Book 1)
"CLIFFHANGERS": 19 (18 in Book 1)
POINTLESS TAMRISSA NARRATION: 12 (11 in Book 1)
TEA DRINKING: 28 (22 in Book 1)
BLATANT MORALIZING: 20 (19 in Book 1)
BATH SCENES: 10 (9 in Book 1)
WILFUL MISUNDERSTANDINGS: 6
MIND CONTROL: 5
BADLY WRITTEN SEX SCENES: 4, including 1 rape scene (2 in Book 1)

REPETITIVE POV EVENTS:
  • Oh noes, a fireball (Book 1: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Pass or die (Book 1: Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  • Bathroom encounters (Book 1: Chapters 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
  • Don't rain on my parade! (Book 1: Chapters 19, 20)
  • Uniform fitting (Book 1: Chapters 20, 21)
  • Random encounters: Round 1 (Book 1: Chapters 25, 32, 33, 35, 38)
  • One, two, three, four, five (Book 1: Chapters 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35)
  • A favorite object appears out of thin air (Book 1: Chapters 36, 37 x2, 38)
  • Proof of mastery: Level 1 (Book 1: Chapters 39, 40, 41, 42, 43; Book 2: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 18)
  • Animal cheer squad (Book 2: Chapters 1, 4, 5)

Possible fixes:
There is no purpose to this chapter whatsoever, other than Green being able to say that she's cycling through all five of the antagonist POVs. Delete!

Liquid Communism
Mar 9, 2004


Out here, everything hurts.




I think of I were reworking it, Bron's madness would be a slowly unsettling thing caused by his utter terror of his father fighting back against the Spirit magic manipulation being used on him. Maybe his father already had his mind changed to hide the madness, and now that's unravelling under the pressure of a second set of compulsions?.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Liquid Communism posted:

I think of I were reworking it, Bron's madness would be a slowly unsettling thing caused by his utter terror of his father fighting back against the Spirit magic manipulation being used on him. Maybe his father already had his mind changed to hide the madness, and now that's unravelling under the pressure of a second set of compulsions?.

Bron had overindulgent parents I believe while Delin was sexually abused by his father and his father's cronies though Kambil was the one being secretly manipulated by his grandmother and went unhinged after Delin had her killed.

Your point is a great one though, which is that Delin's delusions are the only thing that's given considerable screen time but is never actually explained, and Kambil's issues ARE explained but we never really see the impact of it upon his actions, so prima facie the two things should just be combined and arguably we don't need multiple POVs per antagonist group, we only care about the jockeying for position/dynamics within a Blending insofar as the protagonist group.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


quote:

CHAPTER NINETEEN 

“Forgive me for being tardy, Lady Selendi, but I’m afraid everyone is tardy this morning,” Pracer said as he strode into the conservatory where Selendi sat taking tea. “You’ve surely heard the news?”

The names are just getting worse and worse. What kind of name is "Pracer"? I keep reading it as "Prancer", which I guess is consistent with this guy's character.

quote:

“About Lady Elfini?” Selendi said, putting her cup aside and leaning forward. “Every servant in the house is chattering about it, and my mother has gone to visit one of her friends, who lives only a short distance away from the Weil estate. If she doesn’t get all the details no one will, but what have you heard?”

...can we NOT rehash all of the details that we already went through last chapter?

quote:

“That poor Lady Elfini was hacked to death by a deranged Guild member,” Pracer said as he took a chair and began to pour his own cup of tea. “People are remembering that no one liked the idea of having a Guild for the talentless, but the Advisors have always insisted on protecting them. No matter how this turns out, the Advisors will have some answering to do.”

A pretty good theory, since according to Green's worldbuilding, Guild members are immune to being directly affected by talent, though they have to be actively concentrating on doing so.

quote:

“We heard that the deranged lunatic tied Lord Aston to a wall and whipped him almost to death,” Selendi said, more interested in discussing the good parts. People who went on about the Guild were so boring… “Lord Aston may or may not be able to identify the murderer, depending on whether or not the monster wore a mask.”

“The deed itself was so arrogant, that the deviant most likely spurned the idea of a mask,” Pracer said after sipping at his tea. “Can you imagine, chopping someone up into little pieces right in front of her husband, and then taking the time to almost kill him as well? Deranged simply doesn’t cover it, not without adding arrogant as well, and that describes most of the Guild’s members.”

“How many Guild members do you know?” Selendi asked, partially distracted. “Only a few of them come from noble families, and I’ve never met even one.”

Does this mean the Guild talent is a recessive trait?

quote:

“Well, I’ve never met any of them either, but everyone knows the truth,” Pracer admitted reluctantly. “The Guild is full of abnormal deviants, and shouldn’t be allowed to continue in existence.”

“Oh, Pracer, that’s just your father talking,” Selendi said with an impatient shake of her head. “Why you have to parrot his ridiculous ideas I don’t know, but it’s terribly tiring. Do you hear me parroting my father’s opinions? My father is much more important than yours, so if I don’t do it you have absolutely no excuse.”

“I don’t need an excuse,” Pracer said, sitting back as he showed a small, vindictive smile. “I’m a man and will be taking over from my father one day, and must therefore carry on the proper tradition. You’re just a girl and no one will ever listen to you in any event, so it doesn’t matter in the least what you say. Shall we get to the practicing now?”

Who literally says this stuff out loud even if they believe it?

quote:

“Certainly,” Selendi agreed coldly, thoroughly insulted. She began to rise from her chair, but then a thought came to her. “Just a minute. If Lady Elfini and Lord Aston were attacked by someone without any talent, why didn’t they use their own talent to protect themselves? Even ordinary ability can overcome someone without any at all, so how did that … talentless deviant get away with it?”

Selendi either doesn't understand how the Guild talent works, or there's a plothole here!

quote:

Pracer suddenly looked stricken rather than handsome and cool, bringing Selendi a good deal of satisfaction. She’d wanted to get even for that comment he’d made about how unimportant she was, and now it looked like she had.

You know what? Atta girl, Selendi. Put that sexist jerk in his place.

quote:

“Why … they were probably … taken unawares, that’s it, they were taken unawares,” Pracer suddenly suggested, his expression clearing. “Yes, the monster crept up on them while they weren’t looking, and then it was too late to stop him.”

“But you said Lady Elfini was hacked to death while Lord Aston watched,” Selendi pointed out at once. “That means he should have been able to do something, and yet he didn’t.”

“Maybe he was beaten first,” Pracer returned, then nodded his approval of the idea. “Yes, he was beaten first after being crept up on, and then, when Lady Elfini heard his screams and came running, she was taken from behind as well. It’s all quite simple once one thinks about it.”

“Simple is the word,” Selendi retorted with a sniff. “If Lord Aston was awake enough to scream, he was certainly awake enough to also use his talent. If he couldn’t use his talent he also couldn’t scream, so Lady Elfini would have had no reason to come running in. That means it probably wasn’t someone without talent after all, but someone with more talent than the two of them. That means you’d better watch out, in case it turns out that I’m the murderer.”

I like this flash of characterization for Selendi, to go counter to everyone's impression of her as a vapid blonde, but unfortunately Green never goes anywhere with this.

quote:

“If you ever murdered someone, it would be someone male and it would be in bed,” Pracer said with a sudden grin, finally abandoning his ridiculous stance and air of superiority. “I apologize profoundly for upsetting you, my sweet, and hope my foolishness won’t keep us from ending your practice time in the usual way.”

“That all depends on how good a weekly report I can look forward to,” Selendi said, keeping him from taking her hand by standing up. “I didn’t like the last one at all, especially when it was read out loud by Lord Rigos in front of everyone. Next week’s report will be much better—won’t it?”

“I promise it will be as good as I can make it without actually lying,” Pracer said, his tone begging for understanding as he also stood. “Lying about your progress is the one thing I can’t do, sweetling, at least not very much. They will eventually find out when you reach the competitions, and then they’ll have my privates as well as my head. Please be reasonable, because I’m also doing it for your good.”

If someone called me sweetling, I think I'd throw up.

quote:

“Raela’s father said that same exact thing all those years ago just before he spanked her so hard she couldn’t sit down for the rest of the day,” Selendi pointed out, again keeping him from taking her hand by moving it back out of reach. “He also forbid her to associate with the rest of the girls in our group, so we were never able to visit that marvelous house again. I don’t like things done for my own good, not unless I decide they need doing.”

“But you did decide,” Pracer said, now sounding like a merchant trying to sell her cotton at the price of silk. “You said you’d die if you made a fool of yourself in front of everyone, but that’s exactly what will happen if I lie about your progress. You won’t be able to match the others in your group when you’re formed into a Blending, and everyone will be able to tell that the fault is yours.”

Selendi still didn’t know how that would be possible, but even the chance of it gave her pause. She would die if she ended up looking foolish in front of everyone, but even more importantly she hated the thought of being outdone by those oafish men in her group. And she suddenly remembered that they were all supposed to start showing some progress, and now she had the excuse to do just that.

“Oh, all right, I’ll work at your silly exercises,” she grudged, taking the opportunity to make him believe she did him the favor. “But you’d better be really good afterward, or I’ll start inviting other men over for post-practice relaxation.”

There goes that attempt at making Selendi a more three dimensional character.

quote:

“I promise to be absolutely marvelous for you,” he answered with a grin, then stood aside with a small bow. “After you, sweetling, who nevertheless remains a lady who cannot be matched.”

Selendi knew he wasn’t referring to her talent with Air magic, so she let a pleased little smile curve her lips as she led the way out to the side garden. A small resin building had been established there, one that was capable of being sealed completely. The three servants assigned to be her subjects were already there, of course, waiting outside and whispering among themselves. Selendi knew what they had to be whispering about, but refused to return to the subject of the grisly murder. She really did want to have Pracer after the practice, and hearing him sound off again would just ruin the mood.

Remember this bit. Even within the same chapter, Selendi's characterization is inconsistent.

quote:

When the servants saw them coming they entered the small building, and a moment later Selendi led Pracer inside after them. The lamps behind their clear resin windows had already been lit, and the servants had lined up in a straight row. Selendi found a place on the comfortable couch she’d had installed while Pracer sealed the building, and by the time he sat down beside her she was ready to start.

“I’m about to pull the rope that will release the smoke,” Pracer warned, reaching to the rope hanging above the couch. “All right, here we go.”

Selendi had no idea how they managed to fill tanks with smoke, but understanding the method wasn’t necessary to countering the presence of the smoke. She’d already wrapped herself and the three nervous servants in bubbles of air, this time making sure the bubbles didn’t leak. The servants had suffered while she was in the midst of pretending to be less able than she really was, but the time for that was over.

“All right, now the subject at the end will move apart from the others,” Pracer said, gesturing to the servant on the right side of the line. “Make sure you keep your sphere intact while you divide it in two.”

Selendi felt annoyed at the way he spoke to her, sounding as though he spoke to a backward child instead. But he always did that during practice, acting the full ten years and more older than her that he was, so she forced herself to ignore it and complete the separation. No more than the faintest trace of smoke popped in before she sealed both sides of the separation, but Pracer didn’t seem to notice.

“That was marvelous, Lady Selendi, just marvelous!” he enthused, turning his head to give her a beautiful smile. “One more successful separation, and you’ll have earned two masteries.”

Selendi hadn’t realized she would get anything directly from doing that exercise, so it came as a very pleasant surprise to hear that she already had one mastery. But one wasn’t enough; she wanted both, and wasn’t above exerting herself a bit in order to get it.

This time it was the servant on the left side of the line who moved, and Selendi concentrated on separating the air bubble a second time. She could see how it would be possible to keep every bit of smoke out of the pockets of air, but it was also a great deal more trouble. So she let that faint trace of smoke in again instead, and again Pracer missed it.

“Lady Selendi, you’ve done it!” Pracer exulted, turning to her to give her a radiant smile through the smoke that filled the room but not their individual bubbles. “Two masteries one after the other! Next week my report will glow, and you have my word on that.”

As if watching a repeat of this wasn't enough, we have to suffer through a repeat with LOWERED stakes (Rion had to handle himself and six people).

quote:

He got up then and went to unseal the door, and Selendi was so delighted that she forgot what she was in the midst of and released the protection around the servants before the door was open. The heavy smoke immediately began to make them cough, and as soon as the door was open they rushed outside. Selendi joined Pracer at the door, both of them waiting for the smoke to clear out completely, and once it had Pracer closed the door again, then turned to her with a grin.

“What a wonderful idea that was to bring a couch into the practice building,” he murmured, slowly pulling her close to his chest. “Now we not only have privacy but comfort, two things we ought to begin using at once.”

His mouth lowered quickly to hers while his hand went behind her, and a moment later he was quickly raising her skirts in back in order to reach her body. She held to him tightly as she moaned out her need for him to hurry, but with his mouth over hers it just came out as a noise. And then he had reached all the way under her skirts to touch her, and the feel of his hands on her flesh drove her wild.

But rather than taking her immediately to the couch, he made her stand there with him while he used his fingers to stroke her desire to absolute frenzy. She didn’t need that encouragement and he knew it, but he seemed to enjoy forcing her to wait. She didn’t enjoy it, but she always forgot what he was like until it was too late. Next time she would remember, though, and next time she would find someone else to be with.

Someone she hadn’t already had. That thought made her even hotter, and she moaned again as she struggled against being kept from the couch. She wanted every man she hadn’t already had, had to have them or she would die. No man who attracted her could be allowed to refuse, or then she wouldn’t have him. They were all hers, every man she’d ever lain with, but they weren’t enough.

Yep, that's Selendi's entire motivation. Spoilers for Book 5 it's because she was sexually abused by her father as a child but now that she's older he won't touch her so she's trying to find a guy who will make her feel the exact same way which is just messed up all round. But honestly, she should not be repeatedly sleeping with Pracer because there's only so much time in the day, she should just have a string of new guys on magical speed dial so she can try as many as possible.

quote:

But she’d come closer to having enough once she and the others were Seated on the Fivefold Throne. Then no one would ever be able to refuse her anything, which was only the way things were meant to be…

I do not follow how becoming one of the five rulers of the Empire is necessary to achieving the goal of sleeping with every guy in the Empire?

Summary:

Day 7
Bron's trainer passes on the news of Elfini's murder before Bron squeaks through on the first of the first level masteries, after an entire childhood's worth of pattern training and a lower bar for passing. Selendi and her trainer also trade gossip about Elfini's murder before she achieves two of her first level masteries at a significantly lower bar for passing.

Counts so far:

NAMED ON-SCREEN CHARACTERS WHO WE'LL NEVER SEE AGAIN: 26 (24 in Book 1)
Book 1: Mildon Coll, Phor Riven, Jeris Womal, Eldra Sappin, Fod, Lord Astrath, Torrin Ro, Vish "the Fish", Jamrin, Hark, Reshin, Fellar, Ennis, Vosin, Parli Hafford, Regensi, Weeks, Adept Aminto, Mem Follil, Toblis, Kogrin, Lemmis Admen, Miklas
Book 2: Nialla, Emar Rumil, Leta Vas, Grami Arstin, Deever, Pracer

TOTALLY INDISTINCT ON-SCREEN LOCATIONS: 13 (9 in Book 1)
Book 1: Rincammon, Haven Wraithside, Tamrissa's house in Gan Garee, Port Entril, testing facility in Gan Garee, Regensi's shop, Ginge's tavern, Magross bridge, mastery facility outside Gan Garee, Nialla's house, Vas residence, Weil residence, Arstin residence in Gan Garee

MEALS ON-SCREEN: 16 (15 in Book 1)
Book 1: Day 1 (lunch, dinner), Day 2 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 3 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 4 (breakfast, lunch, dinner), Day 5 (lunch, dinner), Day 6 (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

EUPHEMISMS FOR BODY PARTS: 10 (9 in Book 1)
Male: <character name>'s body (x2), discomfort (x1), manhood (x1), desire (x2), renewed need (x1), large and hard, the most perfect of men (x1)
Female: womanhood (x1), entrance of ultimate bliss (x1), desire (x2), incredible tunnel (x1)

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT: 5 (3 in Book 1)
Male: love (x1), my fleeting love (x1)
Female: sweet girl (x1), my sweet (x1), sweetling (x1)

ANTAGONISTS: 16 (11 introduced in Book 1)
General: Unnamed Chairman/Ollon Kapmar (?) and the five Seated Highs in each aspect, Eltrina Razas, Bron Kallan, Selendi Vas, Homin Weil, Kambil Arstin, Delin Moord
Lorand: Eskin Drowd
Jovvi: Allestine and her henchmen Ark and Bar
Clarion: Hallina Mardimil, Eskin Drowd
Tamrissa: Storn and Avrina Torgar, Beldara Lant, Odrin Hallasser, Soonen
Vallant: Mirra Agran

PLOTHOLES: 44 (39 in Book 1)
COACH RIDES: 29 (21 in Book 1)
MEETINGS IN COACHES: 7 (4 in Book 1)
OTHER MEETINGS: 6 (3 in Book 1)
INTERRUPTED MONOLOGUING: 33 (31 in Book 1)
"CLIFFHANGERS": 19 (18 in Book 1)
POINTLESS TAMRISSA NARRATION: 12 (11 in Book 1)
TEA DRINKING: 29 (22 in Book 1)
BLATANT MORALIZING: 20 (19 in Book 1)
BATH SCENES: 10 (9 in Book 1)
WILFUL MISUNDERSTANDINGS: 6
MIND CONTROL: 5
BADLY WRITTEN SEX SCENES: 5, including 1 rape scene (2 in Book 1)

REPETITIVE POV EVENTS:
  • Oh noes, a fireball (Book 1: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Pass or die (Book 1: Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  • Bathroom encounters (Book 1: Chapters 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
  • Don't rain on my parade! (Book 1: Chapters 19, 20)
  • Uniform fitting (Book 1: Chapters 20, 21)
  • Random encounters: Round 1 (Book 1: Chapters 25, 32, 33, 35, 38)
  • One, two, three, four, five (Book 1: Chapters 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35)
  • A favorite object appears out of thin air (Book 1: Chapters 36, 37 x2, 38)
  • Proof of mastery: Level 1 (Book 1: Chapters 39, 40, 41, 42, 43; Book 2: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 18, 19)
  • Animal cheer squad (Book 2: Chapters 1, 4, 5)

Possible fixes:
If there needs to be an Elfini death reaction scene, we seriously just need the ONE scene and we do not need to watch the antagonists all go through their easier masteries. Ugh. DELETE!

wizzardstaff
Apr 6, 2018




I'm annoyed at all these filler scenes while we watch the antagonists react to Elfini's death. I want to see Delin forced to entertain Homin at an indefinite sleepover party.

Hobnob
Feb 23, 2006

Ursa Adorandum


Not sure what's worse, the depiction of the sadistic (though imaginary) rape-murder (that later turns into a real murder? Though possibly by someone else?), or the sheer disgust at the idea of a dominant, rather than submissive, woman that the author doesn't seem to actually disagree with.

Also, did Green develop a spanking fetish between writing these books? I don't remember it being mentioned in the previous one, but now it's reaching Robert Jordan levels.

wizzardstaff
Apr 6, 2018




Hobnob posted:

Also, did Green develop a spanking fetish between writing these books? I don't remember it being mentioned in the previous one, but now it's reaching Robert Jordan levels.

Didn't she write some other fantasy series with a spanking fetish protagonist?

Alternatively, I'd believe that she's so unimaginative as to think that spanking is the height of deviancy that BDSM can reach.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


wizzardstaff posted:

I want to see Delin forced to entertain Homin at an indefinite sleepover party.

A+++++, would read and keel over in stitches laughing.

Hobnob posted:

Also, did Green develop a spanking fetish between writing these books? I don't remember it being mentioned in the previous one, but now it's reaching Robert Jordan levels.

wizzardstaff posted:

Didn't she write some other fantasy series with a spanking fetish protagonist?

She wrote multiple fantasy/erotica series that heavily featured spanking, both voluntary and nonconsensual, as key to the plot of those novels. I posted an excerpt earlier in the thread, let me see if I can dig up more.

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Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Alright, we're gonna go to some other stuff in Green's work for a moment. My hot take: Sharon Green is worse than Robert Jordan in every way with respect to spanking. Here's the proof in just ONE of her other books. Take note of the protagonists' eerie similarities to the Tamrissa/Vallant dynamic from the Blendingverse. It's like Elissia and Derand are alternate universe Tamrissa and Vallant, but both of them (and their relationship) is worse in every conceivable way.

Leng posted:

Also, spanking references! I believe it will not be the last one that we see. I normally wouldn't even remark on it except for the fact that it's central to Green's Brat series:
  • There are two books, Princess Brat and Queen Brat, and they are both terrible erotica about how a strong manly man puts the female protagonist in her place by spanking her in painful and humiliating ways.
  • The theme of those books (as far as I can tell) is "if you're having wife problems, it means she's in need of a good spanking, so beat her rear end with anything you like. It's particularly important that you spank her extra hard if she doesn't consent to any spanking in the first place; she just doesn't know what's good for her. She'll thank you for it and be massively turned on, to the point where she'll be absolutely obedient to your will and ask your for a hard spanking if she ever has a flicker of an independent thought".
  • This is reinforced because every single female character who appears in those books is spanked by her male partner with the same lack of consent as the female protagonist
  • Spoilers in case for some bizarre reason anyone wants to read those books: the antagonist is obviously evil because she's a *gasp horror* woman who dares to spank her man! That's so clearly against the laws of nature that it's practically a perversion of all that is right and good in the world.

I posted the horrible cover and an even more horrible sex scene when we were discussing Book 1 Chapter 22.

Trigger warning for loads of nonconsensual stuff, humiliation, and of course, spanking. I'm gonna spoiler these so no one is inadvertently assaulted by Green's terrible rape fantasies. Here's the FIRST spanking scene in Princess Brat, which appears at the end of Chapter 1 ():

quote:

Once again she turned toward the door, obviously meaning to leave the way she wanted to, but Derand had had enough. A man would have paid for the assault and insult with his life, but Elissia was a woman. She might later decide that she would have preferred to pay with her life, but that was too bad about her.

"You and I aren't as done as you seem to think," Derand growled as he caught her arm again and began to pull her over to a chair. "You've been allowed to run the lives of everyone around you for much too long, not to mention acting as you please and getting away with it. You're about to pay for that kick, and if you ever try it again you'll pay twice as hard."

"Let go of me, you big oaf!" she said in a near growl of her own as she was brought helplessly with him. "If you didn't want to be kicked, you should have kept your hands to yourself. You – Oh!"

Her argument ended abruptly when she was pulled face down across Derand's lap, but she also began to struggle harder.

"Don't bother trying to get out of this," Derand said dryly as he got a good grip on her.

"You were told that I'm your husband, so I have a right to do more than put a hand on your arm. I'm about to show you what some of that 'more' entails, a pleasant chore I expect to have to repeat over and over again. If you decide you'd like to avoid that, you can do it by behaving yourself."

The girl snarled wordlessly as she continued to struggle, fighting to regain her feet.

Derand ignored her efforts and began to raise her skirts, then he cursed silently. He'd forgotten she was wearing a riding skirt, and there was no effective way of getting it raised. The girl had gotten lucky, but only for this one time. If the situation ever recurred, he'd strip her naked before putting her over his knee.

But she was in that position right now, so there was no sense in putting off her first lesson. She voiced another "Oh!" of shocked surprise when his hand came down with the first smack, but she couldn't have felt it too strongly through all that cloth. But she did feel it, which her renewed struggles showed.

"You'll be getting away lucky this first time," Derand told her as he added a second and third smack. "The next time I have to do this your bottom will be bare, and you won't sit down for the rest of the day at least. You will learn to be a good little girl, or you'll spend the rest of your life standing up."

"You miserable savage, let me go!" the girl demanded, her voice filled more with desperation than command. "You're hurting me and you have no right!"

"I have every right," Derand countered, still smacking the rounded bottom that now squirmed with every stroke. "I'm your husband, and it's a husband's duty to teach his wife what she needs to know if her father didn't. You will not get away with insulting or disobeying me, so don't ever think you will. And I'm not hurting you, I'm punishing you. You'll soon learn the difference."

She snarled something under her breath and tried again to fight free, but her strength wouldn't have been a match to his even on his worst day. He continued to bring his hand down hard on her backside, determined to leave a lasting impression, and finally succeeded. When she tried to shield her aching seat with a hand, he captured her wrist and held her arm out of the way, then went on with his chore.

The girl finally fell silent except for an occasional "Oh!" muttered under her breath or swallowed, and Derand took that for a good sign. She'd stopped trying to oppose his will with her own, showing that the first lesson had been spanked into her. That she refused to let herself cry out wasn't quite as good, but eventually she'd surrender the stubbornness as well. Derand gave her a final five spanks, each of them hard enough to make her draw in her breath, and then he released her.

"So now you know what to expect from me," he said as he rose to his feet. The girl stood rubbing her bottom with one hand, making no effort to look up at him. "If you behave yourself we'll get along without a problem, but if you don't we'll have more sessions like this one. The choice is completely yours."

This appears in the following scene from Elissia's POV, the titular "Princess Brat":

quote:

Some of the girls tried to draw her into conversation while she bathed and dressed, wanting to lighten her mood the way they often did. One of the girls, noticing her darkened backside, tried to lighten Elissia's mood by relating her own trip over her brother's knee just the previous night, seemingly sharing it with the other girls. Two of the others, who had not noticed Elissia's punished buttom, chimed in with stories of their own. One girl related spying on a particularly unpleasant sister-in-law as she had received a punishment over her husband's knee. The young wife had been spanked severely with a limber, polished rod, but the incident was regarded as more amusing to the women than anything else. As they spoke, Elissia's mood only darkened. She'd been very sheltered, she realized, from the reality of women's lives. Her own women apparently were subject to such punishments on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, her brother Prince Gardal has gone missing so Elissia disguises herself and runs away to rescue him. Derand catches up to her and then this happens:

quote:

He moved forward fast to take her by the arm again, and Elissia found it impossible to avoid him or pull free. His hands were so disgustingly big that one of them wrapped completely around her arm, and it took only a fraction of his strength to move her wherever he wanted her. At the moment that happened to be next to a straight-backed chair, which he immediately sat down on. The next instant she was pulled across his knees, which made her yelp in protest.

"You miserable coward, let me go!" she shouted, struggling uselessly against his accursed strength.

"Only a stinking coward would beat a woman, and if you try to do it again I'll make sure everyone knows what you are!"

"You're not going to be beaten, you're going to be spanked," he corrected calmly while ignoring her struggles as he lifted her tunic and reached to her trousers. He had to turn her sideways to do all that, but he had very little trouble accomplishing it. "And this time there won't be a skirt to protect you, so the lesson ought to be a bit sharper. If even that doesn't impress you, I'll find something even better for next time."

"Next time," she echoed with a snarl as he began to take her trousers down, helpless to keep it from happening. "If you do this, I promise you won't survive for there to be a next time!"

"I'll take my chances," he replied with what sounded like amusement, and then a big hand stroked her bare bottom. "This is much better than the last time. Your drawers were short and without any lace or frills, so they were easily taken down. That's what you'll wear from now on even when you're back in gowns. If I let you wear anything at all. I may want to see this behind of yours even if I'm not about to spank it."

Elissia screamed wordlessly with frustrated rage, at the same time choking on humiliation. He'd nearly stripped her naked and then he'd caressed her, and he had no right! He didn't want her, not for any purpose, so his treating her like that simply wasn't fair!

But then his hand came down on her bottom without any gentleness, and the smack nearly made her yelp again. He added more of the same in quick succession, one, two, three, and not yelping became even harder. The smacks hurt more than they had the first time, and he'd only just started. She quickly put her right hand back in an effort to protect herself, but he refused to allow that. He took her arm in his left hand and held it out of the way, then calmly went on with what he'd started.

By the time he was through, Elissia was twisting and kicking and fighting not to cry as loudly as she wanted to. Her bottom ached to the constant smack! smack! of his hand coming down, and she was close to being desperate. His punishment was painful as well as being horribly humiliating, and if there was one thing she knew in this world it was that she never wanted to face the same thing again.

"Are you ready to apologize yet?" the beast asked as he paused in the torture. "If you are I'm ready to listen, but if I don't like what I hear we'll have to continue until you really are ready."

"I – I don't know what you want me to say," Elissia hedged, hating the idea of apologizing to the beast almost as much as having the beating continue. "Do you expect me to apologize for caring about my brother?"

"I expect you to apologize for disobeying me, and I expect to be told that it will never happen again."

The beast's tone was flat with unshakable decision, not the least hesitation to be heard in it. "And I do recommend that you make the effort to convince me of your sincerity and truthfulness. You won't enjoy what happens if I don't believe you."

"How am I supposed to convince you of anything in this position?" Elissia wailed, almost to the point of true distress. She really did want to cry, and then she realized she was being a fool. Men weren't all that difficult to manipulate, especially when tears were used.

"I don't know what I can possibly say," she continued raggedly, finally letting the tears and sobbing come. "You won't believe that I've never regretted anything as much as having disobeyed you, and you won't believe that I'll never do it again. I don't know what to say, I just don't."

By then the sobs shook her body, and she let her head hang down without making any effort to hold it up. Crying was easy after what the beast had done to her, but she wasn't certain about how effective a ploy she'd used until the savage finally released her arm and turned her around in his lap.

"All right, I do believe you so you don't have to cry," the beast said, holding her to him and stroking her hair. "It's all over now, so you don't have to worry. Calm down and you'll realize that everything will be fine."

Elissia cried even harder at that, but only to cover her exultation. Her plan had worked perfectly, and she hadn't even had to lie. She would cry herself into exhaustion, and then she would fall deeply asleep.

And in the morning, before she tiptoed out to continue on her way alone, she would tie all the savage's clothes into complex and stubborn knots!

Derand held the girl until she fell asleep, the shuddering in her breathing easing but not disappearing entirely even then. Her clothes were still disarranged, but rather than risk waking her he carried her to the bed and put her down gently, then covered her with the quilt. When she woke she could see to her own clothes, and by then it ought to be less painful. He hadn't held back much as he spanked her, using his anger as a spur and thereby easing it.

But now his anger was all gone, washed away in the girl's tears. She'd obviously been trying again not to show them, but at last had lost the battle. There was no doubt she'd deserved that spanking, but now he was beginning to feel like a bully.

Absolutely no idea where Elissia would get such an idea from, Derand! Further debate about what befell her brother ensues. Elissia wants to be included in the rescue party and Derand has conditions:

quote:

"Tell me what you want," Elissia ground out, hating what he had in mind even without hearing the details. If he was taking the trouble to threaten her before mentioning the details, it had to be something really extreme.

"I want a number of things," he finally admitted, a gleam in those dark black eyes. "The first will be your sworn word that you won't disappear again, and you'd better plan to put it in a form that I'll believe. After that you'll be required to start a new habit: at least once a day, you'll come to me and ask me to give you a spanking. You'll have to ask nicely, and after you've had the spanking you'll ask me to lie with you and allow you to do your wifely duty. Do you think you can manage all that? If you can't, I'll look around for a rope to tie you up with right now."

That evening, things take a left turn into humiliation:

quote:

"And now it's getting close to bed time," he added, stretching casually where he sat. "Isn't there something you wanted to ask me?"

Elissia hadn't needed the reminder; she'd been trying to brace herself against the time when she would have to face incredible humiliation, but the bracing hadn't worked. She still felt the heat of intense embarrassment flushing her face, and she was no longer able to look at the beast.

"I – I'm supposed to ask to be – spanked, so I'm asking," she forced herself to say, nearly choking on the words. If she'd eaten any of that rabbit she would certainly have thrown up, so it was a lucky thing the beast hadn't insisted.

"You're supposed to ask nicely, and that isn't my idea of asking nicely," he stated to her mortified disbelief. "Do it again, and this time stand here in front of me before starting. And take off that cap."

Elissia got slowly to her feet, pulled the cap off her head to let her hair fall free, then moved two steps closer to him. She still couldn't bear to look up from the floor, but there was a question she needed to ask.

"I – don't understand what you mean by 'nicely,'" she got out, hating the man more with every passing minute. "If you don't give me some idea of what you're looking for, we could be here all night."

"That's a good point, and I appreciate having you bring it up," he allowed, a distant amusement to be heard in his voice. "What I want is for you to tell me that you've been a bad girl, so you really think I ought to give you a spanking. And don't forget to add the word 'please.'"

If someone had asked Elissia if the situation could possibly get any worse, she probably would have been certain it couldn't. Now, after hearing what the beast had to say It looked like it was a good thing she hadn't expected to live much past the time Gardal was safely back home.

"I've – I've been a – bad girl, and – and – so I'm – asking if you would – please – please spank me,"

Elissia finally choked out after a very long hesitation, her eyes closed against the burning in her cheeks. She couldn't have added another word if her life had depended on it, but additional words turned out to be unnecessary.

"That was fairly good for a first effort," the beast conceded, grudging the judgment only a little. "I'm sure you'll get much better as the days pass and you gain more experience. Go into the bedchamber now and close the shutter, then get out of those clothes. I'll be there in a moment to put you over my knee."

It gets worse:

quote:

"All right, I'm ready to do as you so nicely asked me to," he announced, walking to the rough wooden chair the room held in order to sit. "Come over here and put yourself across my knees."

Elissia closed her eyes for a moment, but there was no getting out of it. She just had to remember that she was going through all that for Gardal's sake, and for that reason had to be strong. Forcing herself the few steps over to where the beast sat was hard, but not as hard as bending over his lap. He helped her with that as he positioned her to his liking, and then his big hand once again stroked her bottom.

"I'm going to take a closer, more intimate look at my wife before we begin," he said, his hand continuing the gentle stroking. "It won't be painful at all, so just let your muscles relax."

It was very difficult for Elissia to obey him, but closing her eyes again helped to a certain extent. His big hands moved over her body, stroking down her back and along her thighs, nothing overly intrusive and certainly not painful. After a pair of moments she was able to relax even more, and in a short while she even found her attention drifting. It had been a rather long and disturbing day, and she'd grown more tired than she'd felt earlier. There were unpleasant things to be faced before she'd be allowed to sleep, but –

"No, don't!" she suddenly screamed, dragged back to reality by more than mere intrusion. The beast had put something into her bottom, something that wasn't very big but still felt horribly uncomfortable. It had slid inside her as though lightly greased, moving deeper in spite of the tightening of her muscles.

Even as she struggled and fought to reach it and pull it out, she could feel something like a long string against her legs that seemed to be attached to the horrible thing.

"No, you won't be taking it out, so stop trying," the beast said, speaking the outrageous words calmly again and again. He'd also captured her right wrist, and held it up behind her back. "This is a device the men in my family use to increase the pleasure their women feel while doing their wifely duty, and you'll soon see how well it works. You won't enjoy having it in you during the spanking, but afterward will be another story. Now stop struggling, or the spanking will take a lot longer than you'll want it to."

"I don't care what the men in your family do!" Elissia shrilled, refusing to be soothed or calmed. "Take that abomination out of me this instant!"

Next, into real territory:

quote:

"Hating an unnatural invasion of my body is not the same as being broken," she finally pointed out, forced to lie still due to what the abomination made her feel when she moved. "This wasn't in any way a part of our agreement, so I insist that you take that thing out of me."

"When people are first introduced to something they never heard of, they often consider it unnatural," the beast had the nerve to lecture. "Later on they discover that it's simply unusual to their experience, and after a time of indulgence it becomes ordinary and commonplace. And it wasn't necessary to make things like this part of our agreement. This is something your husband is requiring of you, and as his wife you're bound to accept it."

Finally, here's what passes for foreplay ahead of the sex scene I posted earlier:

quote:

The beast's big hand came down on her bottom with a sharp smack, but rather than accept the beating in silence as long as possible, she couldn't hold back an "Ohhhh!" of utter mortification. Feelings she'd never experienced before flashed through her body because of the presence of the abomination, and even the rate of her breathing began to increase. She also tried to speak, but now the words insisted on coming out sideways.

"Yes, yes, I know," the beast said as he continued to spank her, obviously understanding her garbled attempts to make him stop. "You can't stand what you're feeling, but only because you've never felt it before. And also because you don't know what to do to ease yourself. You'll get the answer to that soon enough, so just try to be patient."

Patient! Elissia choked on a scream of outrage, one step away from being beside herself. That big hand of his kept smacking her bottom, this time bringing more than just an ache to her seat. Her body had begun to squirm in protest against the spanking and the feelings caused by the abomination, and that very squirming made the whole thing even worse! Each smack caused a jolt of unbearable sensation and an involuntary movement, and the movement increased the unbearable sensation. The entire process seemed to be feeding on itself, leaving Elissia no way to stop it.

Elissia began to wail with desperation, but even that did nothing to stop the spanking. The beast continued on until her bottom throbbed with a flaming ache and she was nearly insane, and then, abruptly, the beast began on the next phase of her torture. Instead of another smack being added to the very long list of previous ones, the beast circled her with his arms and picked her up as he stood.

There's another 7 chapters and a sequel of this horrible stuff. This is without even getting into her unfinished Argent Swords series or her Terrilian series which has five entire books of this crap. She's written way more that I haven't (and will never) sample, because I've already spent way too much of my life reading her terrible writing about terrible sex (and sexual abuse).

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