Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Dragonstone Chapter 11

So we FINALLY get back to the flashback narrative, where HOPEFULLY something new will happen.

Anyway, this new Elf warden is named Tarol. He implies that the Rivermen, dastardly poor people that they are, are stealing wood. I assume he means Eld tree wood... or else the Elves are just hardasses about anyone DARING to get firewood.

Silverleaf raised an eyebrow. He canted his head toward the men. "Is there some cause for distrust?"
"Rumors," answered Tarol. "We shall speak of them once the boat is away."

"We hear that they're carrying big bales of heroin under their little rafts!"

So the Rivermen are towing their ferry back to Olorin.... and yes, we hear about every... single... fucking... step. A whole huge paragraph of what the Rivermen did, and how the Elves stalked them.

And you know what's really annoying? There's a divide after this part of the chapter... meaning that if it had just ended after that last line of Tarol's, we would have just assumed that they had done all this boring stuff WITHOUT HAVING TO FUCKING READ ABOUT IT.

Anyway, they camp out among the Eld trees and have some noms.

Some spoke briefly with Silverleaf and the Dylvana Elves, looking for news from Darda Erynian, trading news of Darda Galion.

"Wow, they finally repainted the guest rooms? Thank God, the old ones were the color of snot."
"Yeah. Now you owe me some news of Darda Galion!"
"Okay, um.... we finally have TiVo."

Of their mission, the seven held tongue,

They held tongue? Give it back right now! Whoever it belongs to!

So even though Elves are IMMORTAL and you would expect them to know everything about their own societies and their Designated Elf Lands work... the Dylvana don't. They apparently know NOTHING about Darda Galion or its wardens. What the HELL are they doing with their immortality?

Melor gestured at the camp and turned to Tarol and asked, "Why is it ye need a border patrol?"

"Well, we hath many BASE-jumpers invading our borders..."

"Two reasons, my friend: first, we protect the Eld Trees. They are precious and we would not have any come unbidden to steal the wood away—such as at times the Rivermen try to do.

BOO HISS BOO! Because poor people who catch salvage are capable of ANYTHING! Even though we were already TOLD that nobody tries to steal the wood!

And by the way: these border patrols are completely useless. Yeah, someone attacks the Eld Trees and destroys a bunch of them, despite their massive size, and the border patrols turn up WAY too late. And it's by the generic forces of pseudo-Tolkienian evil...

"Okay, I'm off the clock!"

... which means they're not exactly known for stealth.

"Second, unlike Darda Erynian, this mighty forest harbors no Hidden Ones—not that they would be unwelcome; nay, they would be greeted with open arms."

.... uh, some of them don't have arms. Or faces.

So it turns out that apparently the Hidden Ones don't live there because the Elves planted the forest AFTER they had already settled elsewhere. And... I guess none of the Hidden ones ever feel like MOVING or expanding into new areas. Especially since they're seemingly immortal unless killed, so the growing population should need new places to go!

We also find out that Silverleaf used to be king of Darda Galion. And... for some reason, nobody else KNOWS THAT. I'm starting to see why Gold-Crapping Elves usually get edged out by humans - they don't bother recording their fucking history, and they know nothing about their own politics and culture. Superior my ass.

"Aye, once, long apast, when the forest was but yea high." Vanidar held his hand a foot or so above the ground. "But then my interest was drawn elsewhere and Elmaron took on the task."

I'm sorry, but isn't part of being a king that you stick with the job unless something major like a revolution comes up? I mean, if you can just quit when you feel like collecting stamps instead, you're not really a king, are you?!

Melor reached out and clapped Tarol on the shoulder. "Wert thou to come among the Fey, thou wouldst discover they are boon."

"They have free beer and lots of chips."

We're also told that the Rvermen, poverty-stricken untrustworthy assholes that they are, have possibly been wrecking boats for the salvage, so the Baeron are keeping an eye on them. Of course, if the Baeron are watching the Rivermen, I don't know why the Elves were stalking them earlier in the chapter.

And what does this have to do with the rest of the book? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. It's just more filler! You could make a documentary about the filler in this book.

"Huah, Baeron on watch upriver?" exclaimed Ruar, cocking a skeptical eyebrow. "We saw them not."
Vanidar smiled. "That is because they did not wish to be seen, my friend."

... anyone noticed how everybody in this fantasy world is a ninja except us pathetic humans? Even the dwarves seem to be good at sneaking around.

And the next morning: A sweet caroling heralded dawn as the Vani lêrihha sang high in the boughs overhead, the Silverlarks having flown in-between with the coming of the sun. Yeah, this is something I never got. Basically, these larks actually... fly between dimensions.

Again, I don't get it. Okay, if there were some kind of rift between the planes that ANYTHING could get through, I could understand it. You know, like the glowing vagina-rift in The Langoliers. But passing from one plane to another is presented as something you have to do a ritual dance to accomplish. Also, it only works in specific places, not just anywhere.

So... do the birds dance? Or do they just go bouncing on through, not having to do what the PEOPLE have to? How do they KNOW where it happens? WHY do they do it on a daily basis?

It's like if hamsters on the USS Enterprise regularly dematerialize and rematerialize, going on random tours of alien planets whenever they feel like it... without bothering to actually use the transporter controls, and without the knowledge needed.. It just DOESN'T MAKE SENSE.

So Arin waxes poetic about how the bird has come from Adonar, and it will be leaving later in the day, and now it's off doing stuff of its own. It's very boring and.... yes, yes it is. It's FILLER.

So now it's time to... do even more traveling, and talk even more about the damn trees. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?!

Through the soft shadows of the great trees wended their trail, the hoofbeats of the horses muffled by moss underfoot, and what little sound they made was lost in the dimlit galleries below the umbrous interlace high overhead.

Okay, I normally don't mind much if people use words like "wend" or "boles" or other old-timey words. But here's the problem: descriptive words are in a book to describe things. They're there to tell us what things look/sound/smell/taste/feel like, so our brains can interpret them appropriately.

But when you use words like "umbrous interlace," NOBODY can picture what you're thinking of, because we immediately need to stop reading, set the book aside, and try to figure out what the hell it means. Except maybe the four people in the world who write dictionaries.

So we have some more tree porn, because apparently these immortal elves have NOTHING better to do than look at and talk about trees.

for these were Eld Trees from the High Plane, from Adonar,

YES. WE KNOW. We got the lecture in the LAST chapter.

and Elves lived among them, and so the leaves turned dusky green and gathered the gloaming.

Why, you may ask? No reason! It just sounds cool!

So the Elves talk about how tall the trees are and how it will be tens of thousands of years before they're fully grown. And then they have ANOTHER talk about how nobody knows why or how the trees gather twilight when Elves are around, but they have some kind of mystical connection... which never really has a major part in any of the plots.

.... HELLO, does anyone remember that the apocalypse might be nigh? End of the world? Armageddon? Ragnarok? Shouldn't they be a little more concerned about THAT, and not how tall the trees are? They haven't even mentioned it for DAYS.

So there's some more filler about the rivers they'll have to cross, and then Arin starts crying because the Silverlarks are singing. Then the Silverlarks vanish back to Adonar... and no, none of this had anything to do with anything? DAMMIT, WHY IS THERE SO MUCH FILLER? I'm so bored I could die right now!

But wait.... wait... can it be? Is that... a hint of PLOT I detect? Yes! Quick! Grab it before it escapes!

That night Arin, gasping, bolted upright, wrenched from her sleep. She was covered with a sheen of perspiration.

She had had the dream about Charlie Sheen, gallons of mustard and a flirtatious polar bear. This time, they got all the way to Level 6!

No, it turns out that Arin heard screams, and it's implied that Rissa is dreaming about the same thing. But for some reason Perin DIDN'T detect anything wrong... so how come Rissa DID? I can buy Arin having a dream because... well, she's psychic and has visions. But Rissa doesn't.

Then again, McKiernan made that weird claim that two seers who happen to be female means that women are more likely to have visions, and this is some sort of weird sign that women are more patient or whatever than men.

Except Elves are immortal, and an immortal species shouldn't have ANY ISSUES with patience. And it's still stupid to pretend that women are somehow more inherently "sensitive" than men, or that there's any deeper meaning to two elves EVER being psychic.

So Arin goes to sleep and... aw shit, she wakes up and starts thinking about the Silverlarks. And they travel some more, which is explained in WAY too much detail.

"Now we go south," said Vanidar as he watched his steed take water, "to ford the Quadrill."
"As planned," said Arin.

"As you know, Bob..."

"How far is Wood's-heart?" asked Ruar.
"Eight leagues or nine," responded Silverleaf, tugging on his reins. "We will be there early next morn, if not this very eve."

"And if we're not there in time for me to tape The Real Housewives of Elfland, I am going to be PISSED. OFF!"

So they travel here and there and the leaves are dusky and the sun is moving and CAN THEY PLEASE GET THERE ALFUCKINGREADY? Oh thank God, that night they FINALLY get to Wood's-heart... which seems weirdly named, since the Elves have an Elvish name for EVERYTHING except this village.

They had come at last to the Elvenholt of Wood's-heart to find a peaceful thorp.

I'll save you having to google it: thorp is an old word for "village." And again, this actually detracts from the scene because unfamiliar words tend to snap people out of the story.

South they fared, past thatch-roofed cottages here and there, glowing with lanternlight, yellow gleaming out through unshuttered windows.

Maybe this is petty of me, but when I think of mighty and beautiful elves, I sort of expect something a little more... ethereal than thatched cottages with shutters.

"Hey Gandalf, how come this railing is so low? It should be down to an Elf's knees!"

Yeah something like that. You know, something that we mere mortals can't really match in real life... or at least, don't usually.

So eventually they reach a... uhh... um.... longhouse.

... or maybe a shotgun house...

Seriously, I don't know what this building is supposed to look like. All we're told is that it's low and large, and that it's the "coron-hall." Try saying that without it coming out as "coronal."

"Vio Vanidar," replied Silverleaf. "Vio ivon Darda Erynian, as do my comrades. We would speak with the Coron."

"Especially since he hasn't returned my Harry Potter books yet!"

So it turns out they arrived at a bad time, since the Coron and his Consort are off partying with the other Elves, since Dara Rael (cheap knockoff of Galadriel) and Alor Talarin (cheap knockoff of Celeborn) have just gotten married so they can annoy people jointly for all eternity. What a coincidence, that the ONE OTHER Elven seer would just happen to be getting married just as Arin finally visits!

And even though none of these people KNOW the bride or groom, they're invited to come join the party. I guess they've gotten to the "drunken dancing on tables" part of the reception.

Bright Elves turned as Silverleaf and the Dylvana entered.

And the stupider ones kept right on doing what they were doing.

Talk fell to whispers and laughter stilled, for with but a few exceptions the Dylvana were reclusive and seldom visited Darda Galion, and for six Dylvana to simultaneously appear at the Coron-hall, well, something must be afoot.

Thanks, guys. Not only are you crashing a wedding reception, but you just killed the party mood. Are you gonna pee in the punch too?

So they go over to where Aldor, his wife/girlfriend and the newlyweds who are seated... in the weirdest possible way.

as was the custom at Lian betrothal banquets, they were flanked left and right by the pledged pair and their two attendants-of-honor.

Yes, it's customary to have two people sitting between the newlyweds so they can't even see each other. Weird.

So there are greetings and introductions, and none of it was very interesting. Also, Aldor is a ginger. This is important.

Before Aldor could respond, a golden-haired Dara leaned forward, her eyes a deep blue. Dressed in green she was, with green ribbons twining through her long tresses.

Guess who she resembles in another well-known fantasy series.

In case you care, Rael apparently doesn't change outfits for THOUSANDS of years. She doesn't even do her hair differently. If you were an elf wouldn't you occasionally wear a different style, or a different color, or do SOMETHING differently?

"Dara Arin? The flame seer?" At Arin's nod, the Lian said, "Long have I wanted to meet thee. I am Rael."
"And I thee, crystal seer," responded Arin.

"And yet even though we apparently have wanted to see each other, it never occurred to us immortal elves to just ride over and see each other."
"Well, we ARE gold-crapping elves. We're supposed to be drifting away from the mundanity of this world."

Aldor also introduces the elves at his table, including the characters who are mentioned once and then vanish completely.

"Hast thou come on a mission?"
Vanidar nodded.
"Urgent?" asked Aldor.

"Not really. Nothing we do will actually matter until the end of the series."

Before Vanidar could respond, Arin said, "I have come to seek Dara Rael's counsel, yet I deem it can wait till the morrow."

THE FUCK? Um, hello, WORLD-ENDING CRISIS here? I can understand not wanting to wreck Rael's wedding, but you could at least brief the KING about what the hell is going on! The world could literally end because you didn't want to make trouble at the party!

Aldor looked from Silverleaf to Arin. "So be it," he declared, then called out, "Make room for our Dylvana guests."

"But don't sit too close to them. They've been riding those horses for a week now."

So Arin and the others go sit down, and Arin has an emogasm about how maybe this is the last happiness the Elves will see or some crap like that. It's kind of undermined because HELLO, you just said that news of the apocalypse could wait until tomorrow!

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