Maradonia and the Gold of Ophir
I like Maradonia and the Gold of Ophir’s cover. Instead of getting half a blonde chick who’s very fond of highlights and a half a demented Medusa, we get a pleasant undersea scene with a bunch of poorly drawn hammerhead sharks, half a ribcage, a femur, and five skulls. It’s exactly the kind of appealing image that would draw in those 10-year-old girls we kept seeing in the Maradonia book trailer.
And considering the title is Gold of Ophir and we’re looking at a chest full of gold, I actually have some hope that the cover image is a scene from the book, unlike the first book, where the cover image had jack all to do with the book.
Inside, we still have the enormous font size from the first book, and a new error: the text isn’t centered between the top and the bottom of the page, it’s too high on every page, which makes it look rather ridiculous.
However, from scanning through the text, there are several improvements. Team Tesch has finally figured out that punctuation goes inside the quotation marks, so instead of “What are you talking about”? said Joey, it’s “What are you talking about?” said Joey. Although random italics are everywhere, I don’t see nearly as many ‘unnecessary’ ‘quotation’ marks around random ‘words’. Even the back cover has a nice quote:
The Maradonia Saga is storytelling at its best. A stunning tour de force with a full complement of fast action, gritty realism, powerful characters, brimming treachery, bravery, knowledge, mystery, and magic.
So yeah, there are still some problems.
Here we go!
The Drinking Game:
Take a drink every time…
- Something is unnecessarily italicized or bold, or there are unnecessary ‘quotation marks’
- Tesch says And So It Was…
- Joey acts like a sociopath
- A character launches into a speech for no reason
- Tesch uses German words
- A character explains something to another character that both of them know
- Characters in Maradonia are aware of things that only people from Earth would know
- Maya and Joey are lauded as being geniuses for no reason
- The Powers of Evil refer to Maya and Joey as creepers
- Characters do something that would in real life get them killed but it works perfectly
- The laws the physics are ignored
- A character spews an Ice Cream Koan
- Tesch plagiarizes from another book, with an extra drink if it’s from the Bible
- A sip for typos and grammatical errors
If you can survive to the end of the book without acute liver failure [you won’t].
Here we go!
Recap of Book One:
- Maya beats up a goth and Joey tries to drown his sister. Some doves rescue her.
- On the advice of a creepy old neighbor they go to a forbidden beach and find a cave into Maradonia where they join forces with a wisdom-dispensing grasshopper
- They encounter an evil spider and a poison glitter tree and a fortunetelling toad. King Roach (God) sends an eagle named Sagitta who carries them to Poseidon Rock, where Joey almost drowns due to his own stupidity
- They get lost in the jungle and Joey murders a snake and Maya almost drowns but Joey rescues her
- They meet some crying unicorns and confront an evil creature named Gertrude and almost die but Sagitta and Cato (who we shall call Thor) save them and free the unicorns
- They ride the unicorns over to a valley where everyone greets them as their saviors
- Commander Justin consults a medium and tries to poison Maya and Joey, but Libertine warns them and Justin dies.
- Joey tests the army by starving them. Maya swims with some mermaids
- The Powers of Evil show up and Maya and Joey agree to be barbecued but Sagitta and another chap show up to rescue them
- Some fishermen try to kill them but through a lucky coincidence Joey figures out what’s going on. They befriend the murderous fishermen and Maya gets a free dog
- They arrive at Selinka and party.
- Apollyon has a Club of Evil
- They meet AstroJesus who explains that if they bathe in a pool of blood they’ll become invincible. They do. The Powers of Evil attack and kill a few people because Genarius is a bad general but everyone else is invincible
- Joey gets a Deus ex Machina hat
- They decide to rescue the unicorns and mermaids
- Apollyon sings the Mother Earth Song
- They travel to Apollyon’s fortress and walk inside without a problem. Joey nicks the Key to the Underworld, decides not to help people in Hell, and they help the mermaids and unicorns escape
- Joey starts a forest fire
- Some random guy tries to betray everyone and gets killed. But Abbadon is able to sneak inside the city, fights AstroJesus, and they both die
- Genarius is crowned king. He and Maya and Joey use their magical powers to blow up some bombs in the enemy camp
- Apollyon raises Abbadon from the dead
- Genarius marries Ruchi
- Maya uses her Deus ex Machina hat to discover a treasonous plot to murder Genarius and blame Maya and Joey. Maya foils the plot and her dog drinks the poison and dies.
- They head home, meet up with Hoppy the grasshopper, and watch the mermaids kill some people
- Joey makes out with a mermaid and sets another forest on fire
- They talk to the fortunetelling toad and then go home
Helpful piece of advice: Your book doesn’t need both a preface and a prologue. In fact, a lot of the time they don’t really need either.
Tesch explains that Maya and Joey realize they aren’t safe anymore when thirteen airships arrive in Oceanside, looking for the Key to the Underworld. Then a messenger arrives asking them to come to the city in Mundan.
Keep in mind that all of this is going to happen in the next few chapters. Tesch is essentially spoiling her book. For reasons I’m not aware of. This is roughly akin to Tolkien beginning The Hobbit:
Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, is surprised when Gandalf the wizard and a group of dwarves show up at his house and hire him to accompany them as a burglar to help reclaim their stolen gold from a dragon.
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit…
It just doesn’t make sense to spoil what’s going happen. Tesch, however, does not seem capable of grasping this rather obvious fact.
Tesch goes on and talks about how last time, they heard about some shiploads of gold disappearing and so on and so forth. Which, fair enough. If she really wanted to include a preface, all it needed to do was state that information. Overall, though, it’s just a waste of a page.
Plouton, Apollyon’s younger son, secretly meets up with the two remaining Titans, Orphilios and Marcarios. They’re planning to assassinate Abbadon. Tesch follows this with several paragraphs of description that are actually pretty well-written. So well-written, in fact, that it does not sound like Tesch. For a moment I was worried that Tesch had drastically stepped up her game and wouldn’t be ridiculously easy to mock any further, and then she gets back to her old style a moment later once the dialogue begins. I’m guessing that her editor rewrote that passage. Extensively.
Plouton replied, “I know that this meeting is important for us but why did we meet at this disgusting and stinky place at the end of the world?” (page 3)
Here’s a fun game. Whenever Tesch writes some dialogue, imagine it’s being said by an actor in her movie. For added hilarity, imagine it’s being said by the guy who played Abbadon in her book trailer, ridiculous over-acting and all.
The Titans explain that Plouton just needs to bring Abbadon to this cave, and they’ll forge him into the iron. I’m not certain you can forge a person into iron, as flesh tends to smush when you hit it with a hammer, but okay.
“We will chain him to these fetters and command our vultures to feed only on his liver because his liver will grow back again.” (page 4)
Let’s assume that these vultures are really well-trained and that Abbadon’s liver will actually grow back. Even with those out of the way, I don’t think Tesch has a good grasp of human anatomy. You see, to get at his liver, they’d have to claw or chew their way into Abbadon’s abdomen. Which would kill him. Maybe not immediately, but when you have a gaping hole in your torso, sooner or later it’s going to kill you.
Anyway. Plouton agrees, and that’s the end of that. If this is anything like the last book, this entire scene will show up later in the book, rendering this entire preface pointless.
Chapter One – We Need Results!
Apollyon is raging and very angry because they’ve learned that Maya and Joey (called “ugly creepers” here) have escaped back into their own world. In fact, they’ve even learned that Maya and Joey live in a place called Oceanside, which is pretty impressive.
Abbadon, meanwhile, is quailing under his father’s anger. So apparently Abbadon has suddenly become terrified of his father since the last book.
Apollyon is not particularly happy that they’re still working on finding Maya and Joey’s exact location.
“This is a shame and not a game!” (page 7)
Indeed it is.
The ruler of the Empire of Evil looked downcast and depressed although his powerful voice floated with pressure into the minds of his sons, Abbadon and Plouton (page 7).
Wait. So he’s screaming angry but he also looks downcast and depressed? Which is it, Tesch?
Plouton, however, realizes Apollyon is pissed with Abbadon, and sees an opportunity. He asks Apollyon to put him in charge.
“To you? Why should I give the command of this important rescue mission to you?” (page 9)
Maybe they’re planning on rescuing the key?
Plouton explains that he wants to bring in Sutornia and Cassandra, a couple of powerful beings, who can also operate inside Maya and Joey’s world. How Plouton knows this, I have no idea. Apollyon looks at Plouton and suddenly wonders if he’s made a mistake in choosing Abbadon as his heir.
“What a terrifying mistake that would be…” he thought, “Maybe I should have developed over time a better relationship with my young son.” (page 9)
If Tesch is going to have our main villain devote this book to working on his relationship with his son…that would actually be fucking hilarious. You know, Apollyon is actually a much richer, more developed and interesting character than Maya or Joey. We know that he cares about nature, loves unicorns and mermaids, has a fine singing voice, and cares about his sons. Aside from wanting to enslave the world, he doesn’t seem like a bad chap. And his desire to kill Maya and Joey only makes me like him more.
Plouton finishes up his plan:
“We have to involve under all circumstances the principalities Sutornia, Cassandra, and their co-workers and move on as a united power team and not as a one man operation if we want to recover the Key to the Underworld.” (page 10)
Which is all well and good, except the Powers of Evil have never been operating as a one-man operation. Actually, they haven’t been operating as any kind of operation at all. They’re remarkably uncoordinated and mostly tend to march around and randomly attack the good guys.
King Apollyon tossed his copper colored hair off his shoulder with a flick of his head (page 10).
So basically he does this.
That is terrifying.
I am so intimidated by how evil he is.
Anyway. Apollyon thinks this is a great idea. And Abbadon, surprisingly, isn’t bothered at all by his brother butting in and taking charge. Abbadon is totally cool with it. Very mature of him. But, as we know (and as Tesch tells us…again…because we didn’t get it from the last scene of Plouton plotting to kill him) Plouton actually hates Abbadon and wants him to die.
Chapter Two – Flying Objects
Maya and Joey are relaxing and eating dinner with their family while they watch the six o’clock news. Suddenly a breaking news report comes in with a reporter who explains there are thirteen UFO’s hovering over the beach in Oceanside. People at the beach are jumping around screaming about how the aliens are visiting them.
Then one of the UFO’s comes down to a hundred feet up, a trapdoor opens, and two figures get out and hover in midair. They float away towards Oceanside. Everyone is shocked because the creatures don’t have any heads.
Personally, this wouldn’t bother me much, because they’re aliens. Why should we expect them to even have heads where we have heads? And even if they don’t have heads, who cares? They’re aliens! That just makes them even cooler.
Then, a bit later, they see the creatures are carrying their heads in their hands. Awesome! But for some reason this freaks everyone out even further.
Maya and Joey quickly confer. Joey says the airships have to be looking for them to try and recover the Key to the Underworld. Yeah. The key that Genarius told you to get rid of? That one.
Their parents reassure them that it’s just a hoax or atmospheric light reactions. Maya and Joey pretend to believe them, but then a news anchor comes on and assures everyone that it’s not a hoax, that the Air Force has been summoned, but whenever they get close the UFO’s vanish.
Maya and Joey head up to the attic to have a talk. Joey exposits:
“We have to sleep with our Tarnkappes on because the rulers of the Evil Empire might feel our presence, but they cannot detect us.” (page 17).
So…correct me if I’m wrong…but isn’t feeling someone’s presence kind’ve the same as detecting them? Also, if you’re sleeping with your Tarnkappe on, isn’t there a chance one of your parents might come in to wake you up in the morning and see an invisible shape lying under the covers?
Maya explains that their parents think she might be ill because apparently Maya hasn’t adjusted to living on Earth.
“Like last week, Mom asked me if I wanted to drive to the grocery store with her and I answered, ‘Did our servants prepare the unicorns for the trip?’” (page 18)
I wasn’t actually sure just how long they’d been in Maradonia on their first trip, so I went back through Maradonia and started counting it up. It was pretty difficult, because it’s evident that Tesch did not pay attention to how long this would actually take. Accordingly, there isn’t any clear passage of time. In fact, I think that the first 26 chapters all take place on the same day, which is pretty difficult, considering how much happens, but Tesch never describes the day passing or Maya and Joey sleeping anywhere. It’s just daytime, from chapter to chapter.
Tesch also doesn’t give accurate time frames, opting for lines like “They rode for a long time”, but from my best estimate, they spent 59 days in Maradonia.
And they were made Prince and Princess 44 days into their trip, so they only spent TWO WEEKS as royalty…and at least half of that time they were by themselves. And yet Maya is so used to living with servants and riding on unicorns that she isn’t able to adjust to being back home? Somehow I have a hard time believing that. It might be plausible if Maya had spent six months being waited on hand and foot, and even then it wouldn’t feel realistic. Humans are actually pretty adaptable, it doesn’t take very long to settle into a new routine. Yeah, the first couple days back home would be kinda weird, but after that Maya would adjust back to her normal life…which she has spent fifteen years living, rather than two weeks in Maradonia.
Anyway. As Maya and Joey are talking, their mother comes up and she overhears Joey whispering about all the shit they brought back with them and how Maya is really the Princess of Maradonia. This confuses her, so she decides to figure out what’s going on.