Chapter 13:

When we last left our…the proper words to articulate what she makes me think of just escape me, so I won’t say anything. This chapter is about twenty-five pages long, so I’m splitting this into two parts. Primarily for my comvenience, so that I won’t have to put up with too much of this shit in one go, but…bah, I’m just dragging this out, aren’t I?

So Romilly has escaped from the EVVVVIL CHANCELLOR and has made her way back to base camp with the goodies, and of course, she’s done things magnificently. Why, you expected anything different?

“Thank you, chiya. I sent you on a difficult and dangerous mission, where I had no right at all to send you, and you carried it off as well as any diplomatic courier could have done. Perhaps I should find work better suited to you than working with the dumb beasts.” (Pg. 638)

No. Just…NO. On a side note, observe how the great MZB insists on telling us how great and wonderful Romilly is through the mouths of her other characters, against all evidence to the contrary in her actions. This is made even worse when at least half of her “accomplishments” are obviously contrived, or she had no need to work for them at all.

In any case, Romilly’s just settled down when she’s informed by one of the other women that she’s to leave that night with Jandria. Why?

Jandria said, “what Lyondri said to you, Romy, was a message; he knows that I am here; no doubt he had you followed to see where the Sisterhood’s hostel was located outside the walls of Hali. (B-b-but wasn’t it just bloody mentioned in the last chapter that Hali didn’t have any walls? The fuck?) Simply by being here, I endanger the Sisterhood, who have taken no part in this war; (weren’t they marching with the REEL KEENG’S armies?) but I am kin to Orain through me, might think I know more of Orain’s plans—or Carolin’s—then I really do. I must heave here at once, so that if Rakhals men under Lyondri come here to seek me, they can say truthfully, and maintain, even if they should be questioned by a leronis who can read their thoughts, that they have no knowledge of where I have gone, or where Carolin’s man, or Orain, may be gathered. And I am taking you with me, for fear Lyondri might try to lay hands on you, too.” (Pg. 639-640)

Uh, the fuck? If she knew that she were putting not just herself, but countless other people in danger just by going close to Hali, then why the FUCK would she go in the first place? A promise made? Come on, she could have dispatched someone trusted to bring Caryl back—even Romilly herself—and that would have been the end of the matter. But of course, we can’t let LOGIC and SENSIBILITY get in the way of a poorly-contrived method of bringing Romilly to another place to begin another plot arc, and so they ride off into the night.

They ride until the next morning, have some breakfast, and while they’re washing up Romilly asks Jandria about the EVVVIL KEENG:

“I cannot speak of him fairly; my hate blinds me. But where Carolin loves honor above all things, and then he loves learning, and he loves his people, Rakhal loves only the taste of power. He is like a mountain-cat that has had a taste of blood.” (Pg 643)

Aaaand yet again I’m reminded of Galbatorix. We’re TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY pages into this book, and we’ve still to see Rakhal…well, do anything that might convince me as a reader that he’s actually an antagonist. Galbatorix had his baby-on-a-pike, and antis have picked over his supposed atroicities as the result of miscommunication, overzealous underlings and a hundred other reasons that don’t involve Galby being personally evil, as is what happens when one person has a huge centralised empire. Back there, the whole radioactive village was supposed to have the same effect as Galby’s baby-on-a-pike, and it did—it proved absolutely nothing at all about Rakhal. All we have are the Good Guys’ ™ word for it that he is EVVVVIL, much like Brom and the Varden keep on telling Eragon that Galby is EVVVVIL.

It’s actually a surprisingly fitting analogy. Who’s to say like the Varden and the elves, Carolin’s army and the Sisterhood who sides with him aren’t terrorists? Who’s to say like Galby, Rakhal isn’t trying to keep the peace? We’re told time and time again about how evvvvvil he is, but like Galby’s case, it’s highly unconvincing.

Pah. The prose only gets worse from here, as Romilly thinks about her relationship with her stupid bird:

She and I are one; she has joined her life to mind. Romilly was dimly aware that this must be something like marriage, indissoluble, a tie which went deep into the other’s body and spirit. She had no such tie for instance with her present horse, though he had carried her faithfully and she wished him well and thought often of his welfare.

The horse is my friend. Preciosa is something else, something like a lover. (Pg. 644)

I won’t repeat all the reasons as to why I think this is completely and utterly stupid, so this will have to suffice:



Afterwards, the GREAT and MIGHTY MZB shows her utter ignorance of how hawks hunt:

But there was no lack of hunting. Sometimes, before sunset, drowsing in her saddle, Romilly would feel something of her fly free with the hawk, stoop down and feel, sharing with PReciosa, the startle of the victim, the quick killing stroke and the burst of fresh blood in her own veins…yet every time it came freshly to her as a new experience, uniquely satisfying. (Pg. 645)

All I have to say is:


Lenka has explained to me at length how hawks (and not falcons) hunt, complete with visual aids, which I unfortunately cannot reproduce here:

All spelling mistakes preserved.

“Goshawk attacking a hare, reaching from the back. Similarly to the Harris, lower, the gos grabs the hare from behind and reaches forward with the other foot…

…Like this…

…And then grabs the hare’s head, paralysing it.

More experienced goshawks, like this female, choose a different approach—dropping in from up and behind, which is harder because in order to get into this particular position, the bird has to move much faster or maintain its speed for much longer, which means more work.

Grabbing the hare is, believe it or not, actually the easy part. The hunt gets hard afterwards. The hawk has to be able to maintain a strong hold on the tossing and struggling prey until it dies, or the potential food will throw them off and run away. That is why their feet are so strong.”

Hawks do NOT use their beaks to kill, there is no “quick killing stroke” and essentially MZB has fucked up everything and proves that she knows nothing about falconry. But hey, this is the woman who thinks radiation REALLY GLOWS GREEN.

So what do we do now? Why, we randomly kill off Romilly’s horse in order to give her plenty of fresh-angst fodder:

Once, she thought it was the sixth day of their journey, she was flying in mind with the hawk when her horse stepped into a mudrabbit-burrow and stumbled, fell; lay thrashing and screaming, and Romilly, thrown clear of the stirrups, lay gasping, bruised and jarred to the bone…Romilly, shocked by the horse’s screams, went to kneel by is [sic] side. His eyes were red, his mouth flecked with the foam of agony, and, quickly sliding into rapport with him, she felt the tearing pain in her own leg, and saw the bare, white shattered bone protruding through the skin. There was nothing to be done; weeping with horror and grief, she fumbled at her belt for her knife and swiftly found where the great artery was under the flesh; she thrust with one fast, deep stroke. (Pg. 645-646)

So Romilly angsts. Why, does she blame her own carelessness? No, she blames her laran for “making her do it.”

Jandria did not have laran enough to understand, and there was no reason to burden her with all Romilly’s own feelings of guilt, the rage at her own Gift which had tempted her to forget the horse beneath her in straining for the hawk above. (Pg. 646)

What is she, twelve? “The devil made me do it!” “My Gift made me do it!” Way to shift responsibility onto something else, asshole. And what does Jandria do? Why, whitewash away her guilt, of course:

Jandria sighed. “I was not reproaching you, chiya; it is ill fortune, that is all. For here we are shy of a horse in the deepest part of the hills, and I had hoped we could reach Serrais by tomorrow’s nightfall.” (Pg. 646)

I mean, what’s the point of this? Does it even hinder their progression? Apparently not:

“You can ride one of the pack chervines; they cannot travel at the speed of your horse, but we can put both the packs on the back of the other.” (Pg. 646-647)

Oh wait, I remember. It’s an excuse for Romilly to whine and snivel and angst:

So Jandria does not trust me. Well enough; it seems I am not trustworthy…certainly my poor horse did not find me so…(Pg. 646)

Romilly was staring at the dead horse. Insects were already beginning to move in the clotted blood around the smashed leg. “Can’t we bury him?”

Jandria shook her head. “No time, no tools. Leave him to feed the wild things.” At Romilly’s look of shock she said gently, “dear child, I know what your horse meant to you—”

No you don’t, Romilly thought fiercely, you never could. (Pg. 647)

In her mind, aching, accusing, was the memory of the sentry-birds for whom she had spied out carrion. Now her horse would fall prey to the kyorebni, and perhaps that was as it should be, but she felt she could not bear to see it, knowing her own carelessness had cost the faithful creature his life.

As if for comfort she looked into the sky, but Preciosa was nowhere in sight.

Perhaps she too has left me…(Pg. 647)

No, she hasn’t left you. She’s only disappeared because it was inconvenient for her to be around, so she vanished like a good telcom. Tht aside, why does this whole scene piss me off so?

Firstly, the GREAT and MIGHTY MZB is trying to use a stock situation. The horse isn’t that particular horse, hell, it wan’t even mentioned before this chapter. There’s no relationship, no reader identification, and it’s used in much the same way that prefab furniture is used: you get the kit, you assemble the pieces, and it (supposedly) does what it’s supposed to do. The problem with a stock setup is that you get a stock result: Romilly isn’t crying for her horse, she’s crying for stock horse #45490 and readers are expected to bring in their feelings of, say, losing a pet and substitute those for what Romilly is feeling. I don’t care about a young woman who gets her horse killed unless you tell me what makes her different, and special, and just how much the horse meant to her, and how its loss will affect her life. To win, you have to make me as the reader start wincing and feeling for that particular unique person, not just any young woman with a dead horse.

Next, it’s horribly clear that Romilly’s concern for the horse only extends as far as MZB can wring sympathy out of it. Look at how quickly the focus of the prose changes from the horse to Romilly and then fixates on her. As was mentioned above, there was hardly any setup, and the biggest damning factor is that like Preciosa, the horse is forgotten once its usefulness is outlived. You can’t tell me that Romilly cares so much for her horse that she promptly forgets it next scene, and never ever thinks of it again. Oh, and she gets a BETTER horse later on, so it’s all fine.


Moving on, they reach Serrain at nightfall. The next two pages are mostly filler, involving more of Romilly whining about how heavy the burden of her laran is…

Wait, let me just pause this damn thing for a moment. Heavy burden? I mean, what? What harm has this magic of hers caused? (Science fiction calls it PSI, mental energy or some variant thereof, Fantasy calls it magic. By the Duck Rule, both are the same.) Well, I can’t remember any fucking terrible thing that her magic has caused; everything that’s happened directly as a result of it has been positive, and I’m not counting the last scene—THAT was her own fucking carelessness, and she blames her magic for it, absolving herself of personal responsibility.

She gets to read minds, affect people’s emotions, telepathy, animal empathy. People think she’s bloody royalty. She’s never lost control of her magic.


It’s amazing how annoying unwarranted whining can get, especially when it’s repeated every. Single. Fucking. Chance. Romilly. Gets. Lenka loses control of the phoenix in her and commits mass murder, burns down a natural treasure and eradicates the livelihood of a town and surrounding countryside—because the phoenix couldn’t accept the idea that a few flowers could be prettier than her. THAT’S a problem. That’s worth a little crying, self-doubt and soul-searching. I’m not saying that everything needs to be overblown and deadly to be worth a little sobbing, but Romilly has faced absolutely NO consequences for anything she’s ever done. Be it running away from an arranged marriage, randomly entering people’s homes and joining up with random travellers, she’s never made a wrong decision, trusted the wrong person, had her magic spin out of control, suffered true pain or humiliation.

Give me one fucking shred of proof of her “burden”. Just one true burden, instead of unwarranted whining and angsting.

Gah. Where were we?

Oh yes. The next two pages are pretty much filler. Romilly whining, description of Serrais and the Sisterhood hostel, of which the only vaguely interesting bit is that the Sisterhood is being gathered here for some reason. Anyways, they get their animals stabled and go eat. Romilly wanders off and strikes up a conversation with a woman named Betta. Fair enough, we get more filler. Apparently the Sisterhood is on the REEL KEENG’s side, which makes me privately wonder what is going to be the deal with the Sisters in the EVVVIL CHANCELLOR’s employ. But fine enough. What’s important about this conversation is this last bit:

“Oh I am sure that for the Lady Jandria they can find a bed somewhere,” Betta said. Are [sic] you her lover?”

Romilly was too tired and confused even to know for certain what Betta meant. “No, no, certainly not.” Although, she supposed, the question was reasonable. Why would a woman seek the life of a Swordswoman, when could just as well marry? There had been a time or two, since she had come among the Sisterhood, when she had begun to wonder if her constant rejection of the idea of marriage meant that at heart she was a lover of women. She felt no particular revulsion at the thought, but no particular attraction to it either. Fond as she had grown of Jandria during these days, it would never have occured to her to seek her out as she had sought Orain. But now her attention had been forcibly drawn to the subject, she wondered again. Is this why I have never really wanted a man, and even with Orain, it was a matter of liking and kindness, not any real desire? (Pg.651)

Make of that what you will. Romilly’s a little puzzled over the fact that the Sisters at the hostel seemed to know they were coming, and surprise surprise, Jandria has MAJEEK too! Long-distance telepathy, in this case:

It seemed to Romilly that every day she learned something new about Jandria. So she had laran too? Laran of that curious kind which could link to send messages over the trackless miles? (Pg. 652)

So Romilly settles into life at this new hostel, which is unsurprisingly much like life in the previous hostel; she trains horses and is trained in combat. So her idea of training horses is to get two dozen horses and an equal amount of women on a lunge-line in a paddock, and to have the women lead the horses in circles over and over again.

If Ms. Nilles or Ms. Bendiksby would be nice enough to comment on this “training”, I would be delighted. Anyways, we get this little gem of hypocrisy:

She decided to give each horse into the charge of the woman who had exercised it today; it was easier if they formed a close tie with the horse.

“For then the animal will trust you,” she told them, “and will do things to please you. But it cannot be a one-way connection,” she warned, “even as the horse loves and trusts you, you must love him—or, if it is a mare, love her—and be completely trustworthy, so that the horse can read in your mind that you love; you cannot pretend, for he will read a lie in moments. You must be open to the horse’s feelings, too. Another thing—” she gestured to the short training-whips which were in their hands, “you can snap the whips if you like, to get their attention. But if you hit any horse enough to mark it, you are no trainer; if I see a whip in serious use, you can go and practice your swordplay instead!” (Pg. 654)

Ahem. Again:

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh, really? What happened to the little bitch who starved her stupid bird and fed it rotting meat to break it? What happened to the whole diatribe about training animals for their own good? Oh god, stop it, it’s killing me! I can hardly see for all the tears in my eyes!

So the stupid, straight and emotionally stunted women complain about not being able to beat their animals into submission, but grudgingly go along with what Romilly says. It is here that Romilly notices a lone horse, and promptly forgets her angst at the death of her previous horse so that she can get a new one in the most disgusting way possible:

As she moved through the box, one horse backed up against the wooden rails and began kicking; Romilly noticed the wide rolling eyes, the lips drawn back over the teeth.

“Come out and away from that one, Romilly, he’s a killed—we are thinking of returning him to the Army, who can turn him out to pasture for stud; no one will be able to ride that one—he’s too old for breaking to saddle!” Tina called it anxiously, but Romilly, lost and intent, shook her head.

He is frightened almost to death, no more. But he won’t hurt me.

“Bring me a lead-rope and a bridle, Tina. No, you needn’t come into the box if you are afraid, just hand it to my across the rails,” she said. Tina handed it through, her face pale with apprehension, but Romilly, rope in hand, had her eyes only on the black horse.

Well, you beauty, you, do you think we can make friends, then?

The horse backed away nervously, but he had stopped kicking. What fool put him into this crowded box, anyhow? Softly, softly, Blackie, I won’t hurt you; do you want to go out in the sunshine? She formed a clear image of what she meant to do, and the horse, snorting uneasily, let him pull her [sic] head down and slip bridle and lead-rope ver it. She heard Tina catch her breath, amazed, but she was so deeply entwined now with the horse that she had no thought to spare for the woman.

“Open the gate,” she said abstractedly [sic], keeping close contact with the mind of the stallion. “That’s wide enough. Come along now, you beautiful black thing…see, if you handle them right, no horse is vicious; they are only afraid, and don’t know what’s expected of them.” (Pg. 655)

Excuse me.

That’s all I can take for now. Good day.

Tagged as:


  1. Danielle on 17 March 2010, 20:07 said:

    At this point, I’m beginning to think that Romilly’s brother would’ve been more interesting to read about. I mean, he’s a GUY….who doesn’t like manly things…living in a world where gender roles are very defined. A girl angsting about her horse dying because of her own carelessness and wondering if she’s a lesbian isn’t half as interesting as a guy who (bear with my assumptions here) hates falconry, hates hunting and would rather stay home, cook, clean and crochet than rally his troops for battle.

    But, as I’m beginning to realize, MZB was something of a feminazi, and of course we can’t have a MALE hero because that supports the evil Patriarchy!

  2. Snow White Queen on 17 March 2010, 20:57 said:

    Haha, Danielle’s idea is pretty cool.

  3. ZeeZee on 17 March 2010, 22:13 said:

    I agree with Danielle. Of course, MZB would probably just mess it up with it being some sort of gesture about the “enslavement of noble women” or something.

  4. Nate Winchester on 18 March 2010, 08:44 said:

    Look out folks, this is going to be long…

    “The horse is my friend. Preciosa is something else, something like a lover. (Pg. 644)”
    I won’t repeat all the reasons as to why I think this is completely and utterly stupid, so this will have to suffice:

    Actually from what we’ve seen, I think that is a fair description of how MZB views love.

    Jandria did not have laran enough to understand, and there was no reason to burden her with all Romilly’s own feelings of guilt, the rage at her own Gift which had tempted her to forget the horse beneath her in straining for the hawk above. (Pg. 646)

    Where… to… start…

    Horses are NOT like cars or other machines. They’re living things, which means they have a bit of autonomy in their movement. When I first started riding I had a problem with always trying to keep the horse in a perfectly straight line… which the horse wouldn’t do so we’d end up fighting each other. When I learned to relax a little and just worry that he/she was going in the generally right direction, we got along better. While yes, horses can get injured from holes in the ground, usually they have enough sense to avoid them (otherwise natural selection would have weeded them out long ago), it usually takes the intervention of a rider to get the horse to make a mistake it normally wouldn’t. In short, if Romilly really wasn’t paying attention, then the horse should have never been injured in the first place.

    I’m not counting the last scene—THAT was her own fucking carelessness, and she blames her magic for it, absolving herself of personal responsibility.

    Except even that doesn’t make a lick of sense! Unless you somehow believe that horses are so dumb they can’t even exist without human involvement.

    Lenka loses control of the phoenix in her and commits mass murder, burns down a natural treasure and eradicates the livelihood of a town and surrounding countryside—because the phoenix couldn’t accept the idea that a few flowers could be prettier than her.

    Ok, I’m putting my foot down. We need to make up identifiers for the different Lenka’s. So, unless you have another name for this one, can we refer to the real Lenka as falconempress? (The first time I read this I thought, “I think something like that would be on the news – wait, fiction.”)

    Jandria has MAJEEK too! Long-distance telepathy

    You know what would be great? Romilly isn’t gay. Jandria is subtly influencing her to become a lover. Like Romilly did with the damn bird.

    But if you hit any horse enough to mark it, you are no trainer; if I see a whip in serious use, you can go and practice your swordplay instead!

    It’s like MZB has never had to work with a particularly stubborn animal. True, you should never leave a mark, but sometimes you do have to escalate punishment to get a point across.

    He is frightened almost to death, no more. But he won’t hurt me.

    Um…. that’s exactly when horses are MOST likely to hurt you. I remind you that these are half a ton animals who, when frightened, lash out in any direction. When they’re angry, that’s easy because you can reasonably predict their actions and act accordingly. When a horse is scared, that’s when you’re in trouble. Romilly should be 6 different kinds of dead now.

    Well, you beauty, you, do you think we can make friends, then?

    ComeON! A black beauty? A black stallion? How much more cliche can you get? If I was more merciful to this book, I’d laugh at this as a playful homage/shout-out. As it is…

  5. Nate Winchester on 18 March 2010, 16:31 said:

    Also, lccorp2, Don’t forget TV Tropes’ entries.

  6. Danielle on 18 March 2010, 18:44 said:

    A curse upon you, Nate! I just spent 45 minutes (give or take) on that site because of your links! :P

  7. Nate Winchester on 18 March 2010, 18:57 said:

    Only 45 minutes? you got off lucky.

    Oh and…
    [evil laugh]

    Give in to tv tropes…

  8. Danielle on 18 March 2010, 19:13 said:

    The only thing that rescued me was knowing I had to pick up my sister from school.

    I will not surrender to the black hole that is TV Tropes!

    (unless I have time to kill…or I’m bored)

  9. Anonymous45 on 18 March 2010, 23:09 said:

    @ Nate
    At least the horse was not white…. Shadowfax-2..Snowmane-2…or a unicorn…

  10. Nate Winchester on 19 March 2010, 08:29 said:

    Thanks for reminding me A45 that there are only two horse colors in all of fiction. =(

    (hmmm… is that a trope yet?)

  11. dragonarya on 19 March 2010, 09:42 said:

    @ Nate and Danielle:
    TV Tropes is so addictive, isn’t it? Last time I wasted spent well over an hour there.
    And gods, this has to be one of the worst books I’ve ever seen. At least on the same level as Touched by Venom.

  12. Danielle on 19 March 2010, 11:17 said:

    @ Anonymous:

    MZB should’ve made it a unicorn. Then, when Romilly tried to make friends, it could’ve gone something like this:

    Romilly: What shall we do now, oh friend of mine?
    Unicorn: Leapfrog!
    Romilly:….I don’t want to play leapfrog.
    Unicorn: Then I guess you’re not my friend anymore!
    Romilly: Ok, ok, I’ll play leapfrog with you! Sheesh!

    And that could be how Romilly dies her slow, painful and humiliating death. The end.

  13. Thea on 22 March 2010, 23:17 said:

    I also like Danielle’s idea.

    Frankly, I have to skim most of the actual quotes, because anytime I try to read the ‘dialogue’ I want to die. I’m pretty sure I actually am writhing in agony as soon as I see the quotation marks.

    TV Tropes…I keep sending my friends there, just so I’m not alone…dangerous, dangerous place.

  14. fffan on 25 March 2010, 04:56 said:

    Ha! I love the “HOW ABOUT A CUP OF RAGE!” picture.