Chapter 15, Part the second:

When we last left Romilly, she was being a prick to the world in general and had gotten away with insulting pretty much every single important figure in the REEL KEENG’s army, with the exception of the REEL KEENG himself. So she’s met this powerful sorceress from the Tower’s named Lady Maura, and they’re currently riding out with a detachment of men from the army to the battlefield so they can use their so-called sentry-birds to spy on the EVIL KEENG’s armies.

Whoo, yay.

So they’re on their way there, and Romilly strikes up a conversation is the Lady Maura. Essentially, filler aside she learns that Lady Maura has the same kind of hawk that she has, only it’s not with her at the moment, and there’s some whining about how she hasn’t seen Preciosa in a year now and that the stupid bird must be free and happy and all that other shit. Oh, no worries, the stupid bird will turn up. But the conversation turns to whether Romilly’s had any proper training as to her magic, and it’s here that her arrogance really shines through:

“Why did you never go to a Tower for training, Romilly? Surely you have laran enough—”

“If you know Ruyven, and how he had to come there,” said Romilly, “then you will know already why I did not.”

“Yet you left your home, and quarreled with your kin,” said Maura, quietly insistent, “after that, I should think you would have come at once—”

And so I had intended, Romilly thought. But I made my way on my own, and now have no need of the training the leronis told me I must have. I know more of my own laran than any stranger. She fell into a stubborn silence, and Lady Maura forbore to question her further. (Pg. 688)

““The beginning of wisdom is the statement ‘I do not know.’ The person who cannot make that statement is one who will never learn anything.”—Thrall.

That’s right, folks. A sixteen-year-old a little more than a year out in the world believes a whole community of magicians who have practised, studied and researched magic for generations have nothing to teach her, that she surpasses them all. Good lord, is her sense of self-importance, really that great? Then again, judging from the previous half of this chapter, why am I not surprised?

So they ride for a few more days, and reach the edges of the battlefield where the big clash between the REEL KEENG and the EVIL KEENG is going to happen. Maura is about to unleash the sentry birds to do their spying, but Romilly states that she doesn’t know how to use them for war. What we get is this reaction:

Maura looked startled, but quickly covered it, and Romilly was amazed; she is being polite to me? (Pg 689)

I think I’ll let this speak for itself, because thinking of the implications just sends my brain into terrible, terrible pain. So Maura explains how to see through the eyes of the birds while they’re in flight, and that raises the question: doesn’t the EVIL KEENG have his own magicians, EVVVIL CHANCELLOR aside? We haven’t seen the EVIL KEENG or his army or the real threat that he poses that isn’t in retaliation for the movements made by the REEL KEENG and his agents, so how is he threatening again? The EVIL KEENG doesn’t have power or magic, he doesn’t show his face, and he’s utterly failed to do anything at all, let alone harm any of the characters. How is he even an antagonist?

Don’t ask. Anyways, Romilly gets it perfectly on the first try—what, did you expect anything else? So she links with the birds, and the REEL KEENG links with her, and they go out with the bird, not that anyone actually spots it or tries to shoot it down:

…There the shores of Mirin Lake, and beyond that, Neskaya to the north, at the edge of the Kilghard Hills. And there…ah, Gods, another circle of blackness, not from the scar of forest-fire, but where Rakhal’s men have rained clingfire from the sky from their infernal flying machines! My people and they burn and die beneath Rakhal’s fires when it was given to me and I swore with my hand in the fires of Hali that I would protect them against all pillage and rapine while they were loyal to me, and for that loyalty they burn…

…Rakhal, as Aldones lives, I shall burn that hand from you with which you have sown disaster and death on my people…and Lyondri I shall hang like a common criminal for he has forfeited the right to a noble death; the life he now lives as Rakhal’s sower of death and suffering is more ignoble than death at the hands of the common hangman…(Pg. 690)

Consider me educated on the horrors of clingfire, which is so totally not napalm and the random flying machines which we’ve never seen or heard of before up until now. Gee, I wonder why they’ve never been seen before, or why the EVIL KEENG doesn’t use them to get around. MY point still stands. EVIL KEENG and EVIL CHANCELLOR still haven’t done anything that can’t be explained beyond reasonable doubt as attempting to suppress dangerous renegades. The GREAT and MIGHTY MZB is attempting to strong-arm me without proof into disliking EVIL KEENG and EVIL CHANCELLOR, and utterly failing because THEY HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING CONCLUSIVELY EVIL AND EVERYONE WHO CLAIMS THEY ARE HAVE A STAKE IN SAYING THEY ARE.

So they’ve spied out the EVIL KEENG’s armies, and Romilly is so exhausted she blacks out. We get a typical “I need no man” scene, starring Maura’s cousin:

Ranald Ridenow came and said, “lean on me, if you wish, Sowrdswoman,” but she straightened herself proudly.

“Thank you, I can walk,” she said. (Pg. 691)

So…you’ve just fainted, are about to do so again, and won’t accept his help because you want to appear strong and non-reliant on anyone with a penis. All right, go ahead and do that if you want; I don’t care anymore. At what point is pride cut off and knowing when to accept needed help crucial? I don’t know about your line, but I know where I’m drawing mine.


Anyways, she goes to bed, and a completely trippy dream where she’s a bird and flies around, and there’s some random angsting. You know, your standard fantasy nightmare. And of course, Lady Maura, whom she’s sharing a tent with, wakes her up and says she’s been having something called threshold sickness, but Romilly pushes her away and says she’s fine, although she’s clearly not.

Incoming Limyaael quote:

“Sometimes it seems as if most fantasy characters who’ve undergone a trauma suffer nightmares, mainly as an excuse for more drama (waking pale and shaking, not sleeping well, giving the other characters an excuse to worry, etc.) However, there are several problems with always doing this.

a) There are other consequences to trauma than nightmares, to which much less attention is ever paid. Probably because they wouldn’t be dramatic and might actually inconvenience the character.

b) It becomes more pointless dream drama when the characters refuse to talk about their nightmares, even when they’re obviously having them.

c) Too many fantasy authors lack the ability to write something truly frightening, so the nightmares sound silly and incapable of inspiring such terror when described.

d) It’s too easy a way to show character suffering. Rather than have an outside observer note subtle signs of inner struggle, or even narrate it through the sufferer’s thoughts, the author goes the cheap and obvious route. And then, too often, she fails to follow through even on that. Sleep loss never incapacitates the character. The shadow of the nightmares, or the shadow of whatever caused them, goes unmentioned whenever the author wants the character to do something else. The character never has to spend any time reassuring himself that such dreams aren’t real or shiver in terror, the way that ordinary people do when they wake from ordinary nightmares.

Just as ordinary dreams shouldn’t be used as a substitute for getting information to your character, nightmares shouldn’t be used as an excuse to avoid actually making a character suffer.”

Yep. And of course, Lady Maura, being Good, lets Romilly do what she wants although she knows better:

After a moment Maura sighed and put out the lantern, and Romilly picked up a fragment of her thought [sic], stubborn, but I should not intrude, she is no child, perhaps her brother… (Pg. 693)

She IS a child. She’s been fucking behaving like one for the whole of the book, bitching, screaming, whining and generally trying to feed her overinflated sense of self-entitlement without thought as to the needs and wants of other people. If that isn’t childishness, I don’t know what it is.

Oh wait, she’s grown physically and has TEH BULGING MUSCLES now, so she’s obviously so mature. And I laugh. And laugh. And laugh. So they wake up the next day and prepare to ride out again, and before the cahpter ends we get this piece of filth:

I should not let them pamper me. I do not want Ruyven, nor Orain, nor Carolin himself, to think that because I am a woman I must be favoured. Orain will respect me if I am as competent as man…(Pg. 694)

Oh really? Oh REALLY? What about all the times she sought praise from them, and threw tantrums that they weren’t respecting her capabilities when they didn’t lavishly praise her? What about not accepting help that she clearly needs, and making others worry about her like that? Not favoured? Not favoured? Give me a fucking break.

And as for Orain? Why, Romilly lied to him about her identity. Even when she knew that he was becoming interested in her and that he didn’t quite swing her way, she kept up the deception to the very end. Does she care about how Orain must have felt back then? Does she even spare a thought for others? No, it’s all about her. How does she expect Orain to harbour no bad feelings for her when she’s done all of this to him?

No, she’s not at fault; by the very fucking laws of this twisted universe Romilly can NEVER be at fault. It’s because Orain is a bloody misogynist, that’s why he hates her.

Fuck you, MZB. Fuck you very much. And to think I actually attempted to submit something to Sword and Sorceress. If this is the sort of stuff that they’re accepting there because of her legacy, then fuck it, I don’t want to have anything to do with such trash.

Tagged as:


  1. lookingforme on 2 April 2010, 08:20 said:

    Hehe, thank you for making my day! I can’t imagine the pain you are going through—but trust me, it’s for the good of humankind. Really.

  2. Danielle on 2 April 2010, 11:28 said:

    If one knows not, and knows not that he knows not, he is a fool; shun him.

    You heard the quote, everyone!

    Shun the non-believer! Shun! SsssshhhhhhuuuuuunnnnnnAH!

  3. lccorp2 on 2 April 2010, 11:51 said:

    It’s just bloody annoying. “Not favoured”? My ass. My suspicions are that if she’d been treated as a man she’d have been given a beating from pretty much everyone for insubordination and neglect of responsibility.

  4. dragonarya on 2 April 2010, 11:54 said:

    At what point is pride cut off and knowing when to accept needed help crucial?
    I’d say it depends on the character and how proud they are, and if their sense of self-preservation is strong enough, along with knowing when being stubborn is stupid. Obviously, with this spoiled brat, her pride is too large to measure and her self-preservation is the opposite.
    All too often. Galby’s like that.

  5. LucyWannabe on 2 April 2010, 15:05 said:

    Ohhh, the badness, it hurts. Likely to get worse, too, if the way things are going are any indication.

    You know, I think it’s telling of a bad story when the main Mary Sue/Gary Stu characters are extremely unlikeable and the random NPCs that surround them seem far more interesting than the main characters.

    I say the story switch to following Lady Maura. I bet she’d be a far better protagonist. :D

    (This is like how I find the ensemble characters in Twilight far more interesting than the dreaded duo. The ensemble doesn’t redeem the books, but I don’t think there’s much that CAN.)

  6. falconempress on 3 April 2010, 01:49 said:

    You did not just quote Thrall up there. Man, that is so awesome, you win teh internetz. All of them. FOREVER.

    Hm, isnt it funny how in these types of books, the antagonist is often portrayed as technologically more advanced than the protagonists, and yet they still lose? Why are technology and progress being associated with Evil ™? Shouldnt the more developed armies prevail over the poorly – mechanized, magic – clinging primitive societies? Heck, even the old man Tolkien did that! Nature vs. technology – for some reason, nature always wins. WTF. If you want to see this done well, go and find yourself a copy of “The Last Lord of the Ring” by Kiril Yeskov, which is basically retelling of the LOTR story from the other side. I know how this may sound, but trust me, It is sharp, original and all sorts of fantastic.

    /shameless promotion


    If the Evil ™ king has all this technology, why hasnt he pwned their collective ass yet? What is he waiting for? The right moment like the Germans with their jet – powered Messershmidts in WWII? (the bloody things took out 10 Allied planes each in a single dogfight, but since they put entering them into combat off for so damn long, it didnt do them a whole lot of good) If you have the technology that will give you an upper hand, use it. And rid the world of these idiots.

    Im ranting, sorry.

    Shutting up.

  7. LucyWannabe on 3 April 2010, 14:24 said:

    Naww, it’s not a rant. That’s a legitimate criticism—and one I’ve heard levied at Star Wars. Because when you think about it, The Empire (Empires are always evil ;) ) had superior technology in comparison to the Rebellion.

    I don’t mind that, in Star Wars, because I enjoy those movies, but for once I’d like to see an even match—the bad guys and the good guys fighting on even grounds, technologically speaking.

  8. Anonymous on 10 April 2010, 22:12 said:

    Princess Mononoke, perhaps? Granted, the people of Irontown use guns—still in its early stages as a new technology for that world—but most humans don’t use guns, and the animals are enormous, sentient, and typically belong to large clans, so both sides can typically hold their own against each other.
    (Nature still wins, though it’s hard to say who’s the real bad guy…)

  9. Tolly on 12 April 2010, 08:03 said:

    @falconempress – Thanks for the book suggestion, I’ll give it a go.

    Oh man, reading these is making me want to spork that blasted Fireweaver book I picked up, yet another example of why I hate ‘special women’s magic’ with all my heart. It’s slightly better written than this drek, but I swear that makes me hate it even MORE.

    Hmmmm… plots