Chapter 2:

The chapter opens with a small infodump about Shadrael. Apparently, he was one a servant of the shadow gods (whatever the implications of that are), and used to get majeek from them. Sadly, the shadow gods are gone, dead or something, whatever the case is, they’re not around for him to get any more majeek from. So what Shadrael has is carefully hoarded and when it runs out he’ll be a “walking husk of a man”. Now, this ties in with the current emperor whose sister he has to kidnap, because the emperor apparently had something to do with making the shadow gods go away. Fine, revenge, although slightly overused as a motivation, still works here. Shadrael secretly wants to one-up the emperor by snatching away his sister, so fine.

So now it’s time to call in the troops. Shadrael uses majeek to create flares in the sky to signal his rather scattered troops, troops which have grievances against the emperor, and apparently this is quite draining for him. I’m not sure exactly how much majeek he has left, so I can’t really comment on how smart such an act would be, but I have the lingering suspicion he’ll have enough until he needs to fail for dramatic purposes.

Oh well.

Anyways, Shadrael goes back to the inn for a wash-up, and we invariably get the “man in the mirror” scene, which we all know is an excuse to infodump at us. Dear god, if you have to do this, can we at least do it without using a mirror of some sort? Anyways, blah blah, darkly handsome, blah blah, well muscled and lean (of course, we can’t have the male lead in a romance novel be soft and pudgy, can we?), a completely different man after washing grime, blah blah, infodump on armour, blah blah, black and lots of spikes of villiany on it, blah blah infodump on sword, blah blah, has blood amber in it, supposedly good luck, blah blah blah trinket hidden weapons medals etc etc etc.

This, by the way, takes up most of two pages. Whee. Anyways, when he’s done dressing, he makes a quick prayer to the shadow gods for his success, and it’s quite telling what kind of gods they’re supposed to be:

“Let war come. Let my sword bite deep in thy service. Strengthen me, O Beloth, that I may forget the ties that bind men to men, honor to honor. Help me serve only thee in my quest to shatter the reign of Light Bringer. May they shadows return forever. Saeta.” (Pg. 25-26)

Uh-huh. Let’s disregard the resemblance to Christian prayer, and look at what the bugger’s praying for. Not very altruistic, eh? Oh well, even the book blurb says he needs to be saved from the Evil Darkness, etc, etc, so I’m not quite surprised. When this is done with, Shadrael goes into the inn’s common room where his minion—I mean, troops are tormenting a dog. Because they can. And they’re ugly and smelly and dirty and indisciplined from lack of military life—

—All right, someone’s laying it on juuuust a bit thick, eh? All right, they’re nasty characters. Whatever. Anyways, plenty of infodump on how in the past he’d have all of them flogged, etc for such crap like what they’re doing right now, blah blah, surliness, insubordination, the names of a few of the troops who were really good troops in the past but who’ve all gone soft. And he makes it out to be their fault, although if he was a really good leader he should have kept his men in shape even if they weren’t on active duty. Besides, they’re supposed to be mercanaries and bandits, and how did they get anything done or stolen without discipline and planning, especially with a legion garrisoned in the nearby city?

Don’t ask me, I’m just a reader. I mean, what do I know? Of course, some of the troops still call each other by their old military titles, but we can’t have understandable ones like “centurion”, can we? No, we get “centruin” instead. Again, I’d like to direct your attention to the little graph we had last chapter—while the story hasn’t progressed into Bad yet, we’re already deep into Mind-Numbingly Boring—and I’m not sure if it’s better.

The main problem here is that I don’t care. And it’s not because I don’t want to care—I would love to be proven wrong and discover that this book is actually amazing and a truly epic romance that manages to draw people generally averse to the genre to it. I haven’t been given a reason to care for or against the princess. Vordachai is clearly made out to be unlikeable, we haven’t seen the princess yet so I can’t form an opinion of her, and I still haven’t been given a reason to cheer for Shadrael. He’s doing this for revenge and money—not exactly the most altruistic of amibitions, he’s not an underdog, and as we’ll see later, he’s not the best of souls around. Just because he’s the male lead doesn’t cut it to keep my interest, and all the other bits and pieces just don’t add up.

In any case, Shadrael tries to impress upon them the importance of military discipline, since they’re going to be moving out again. Of course, the men aren’t too keen on that, so in the traditional evil overlord fashion, he kills one of them with MAJEEK to whip the rest in line. Oh, yes, wasting your preciously hoarded power for something that could have been achieved with something less superflous:

“Shadrael waited until Wilbis recovered himself enough to look up. whatever the man saw in Shadrael’s gaze made his eyes bulge with fear.

He lifted his hand in a plea. ‘No, m’lord Commander. No! Please—’

Shadrael severed and saw the man’s threads of life reaching out from his head and body toward infinity. Shadrael cut them. In the blink of an eye it was done, and Wilbis lay dead on the floor. As Shadrael turned to the others, the shadows murmured and whispered in his blood, filling his mind with the sweet lust for more killing.” (Pg. 30)

Uh, right, whatever. Of course, all the minions—I mean, men—are terrified, and scuttle away to get ready to march out. They’re just about to move out when a raven with a white band about its throat flaps its way to Shadrael and a voice speaks into his mind. Apparently a mysterious agency wishes to contact him and of course, they want to talk. No prize for guessing what’s the topic of conversation. A portal opens in the air, apparently leading to some EBIL shadow world known as The Hidden Ways, and of course, Shadrael steps in. Because he’s just that awesome. Not.

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  1. ProserpinaFC on 27 August 2009, 12:46 said:


    You suffer so much for our good. Between the scenery infordumping and the character infodumping, I’m feeling like a landfill. Are you?

  2. Danielle on 27 August 2009, 16:28 said:

    Let me get this straight: Shadrael used to worship the shadow gods, but they’re currently MIA. So he hoarded up all this magic that’s running low right about now, but he still uses it to rally his troops and kill uncooperative minions, when a few messengers and a knife would’ve worked just as well. He also prays to the shadow gods, even though they’re MIA and can’t exactly answer his prayers.

    I’m guessing Ms. Chester is neither religious nor accustomed to making do with a little. She would never have survived in the 1930s.

  3. Aquanaut on 28 August 2009, 12:11 said:

    “… She would never have survived in the 1930s.”

    What do you mean ?

  4. swenson on 28 August 2009, 14:27 said:

    The Great Depression, I’m presuming, in which you either scrimped and saved everything or you starved to death… my grandma still doesn’t understand the concept of disposable things. (or maybe she just knows something the rest of us don’t…)

  5. Danielle on 28 August 2009, 23:03 said:

    @ Aquanaut:

    What swenson said. In the 1930s just about everything was scarce (since they were in a depression and all) so you didn’t throw something away unless you had no other choice. Given the way Shadrael behaves, it’s obvious that his author doesn’t know the concept of “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” (And yes, I know that’s actually from the 1940s, but it fit in with the 30s too.)

  6. SMARTALIENQT on 30 August 2009, 10:51 said:

    When this is done with, Shadrael goes into the inn’s common room where his minion—I mean, troops are tormenting a dog.

    Jeez, Kick the Dog, much?

    And to paraphrase something I read about writing: “You get to use the word ‘mirror’ once in your writing career. Don’t blow it on your first book!

  7. Snow White Queen on 30 August 2009, 13:08 said:

    Don’t blow it on your first book!


  8. Northmark on 3 September 2009, 18:39 said:

    Shadrael severed and saw the man’s threads of life reaching out from his head and body toward infinity. Shadrael cut them.

    Is this a typo? It doesn’t make much sense the way it is; he severed them, saw them, then cut them?