Chapter Fourty-Eight – The Furnace of Abbadon
Genarius is leading everyone back. For some reason, he first wants to take them to a resting place next to the ‘Thordis River’. Tesch doesn’t explain why, not even a throwaway line about how everyone was tired from their journey into the mountains. The reason quickly becomes clear, however. It’s because Tesch wanted to stage the next scene there.
There are five ravens up in the sky that spot them. They notify Abbadon of their location and tell him that the thirteen riders (the ones who refused to bathe in the pool) are on the way to meet the rest of the army. Abbadon is delighted:
“We will celebrate a wonderful ‘slaughter fest’ and eliminate all of them. We need this victory to discourage the people in the ‘Land of Maradonia’.” (page 346).
Tesch is really, really bad at exposition.
Abbadon quickly marches his army over the ‘Kiyoshi Pass’ and down into the valley to cut them off. No. Troop movements take time. It takes awhile to move an entire army, you can’t just cross mountain passes and descend into a valley in a few hours. It’s not physically possible, and especially not when your army is on foot.
General Felipe freaks out because they’re all going to die and all that. Genarius has the perfect response:
“Do you doubt my abilities, General Felipe and my charisma to lead all the armies of King Astrodoulos in the ‘Land of Maradonia’?” (page 348).
Yes. Charisma. I swear I am not making this up. Genarius continues and tells Felipe to command the army to sit down, relax, and smile. Felipe is agog:
“All of them should sit down, relax and smile? That must be a joke General Genarius but we have no time for jokes and horsing around anymore.”
“I see that you love horses.”
“Yes… I love horses but do you really know who is chasing us with his army and with his ugly fairies? It is nobody else then Abbadon personally, the son of Apollyon, king of the air and the underworld. I really do not want to criticize you, General Genarius but I hope that you are right and I will trust your charismatic leadership.” (page 348-249)
Christmas. So much.
Why does Felipe have so little faith in Genarius? Or why does he begin with so little faith? What does Genarius’ random statement about horses have to do with anything? Doesn’t Felipe know that Genarius knows who is chasing them? And if he doesn’t want to criticize him, and trusts his charismatic leadership, why is he questioning him at every turn? You can’t have it both ways, Tesch.
The thirteen warriors show up next and say they’re there to protect them. Genarius tells them to throw down their weapons, turn around, and get the fuck out of Dodge before Abbadon shows up.
The riders looked at each other with long faces and then they started to laugh so hard that two of them fell from their horses. They could not even stop laughing when they were laying on their bellies on the sandy ground and were beating the sand with their fists (page 350).
I have never seen someone laugh so hard that they were beating the ground with their fists. But more importantly, these riders are falling down laughing at a direct command from a superior officer. Do they have some kind of death wish? (Answer: yes)
The riders say that they’re going to stay and protect the assembly. Which is a little moronic, as the assembly is comprised entirely of soldiers. You don’t need to protect soldiers, you need to join the soldiers and fight as a unit. These riders are moronic.
Three of the riders take off but ten remain to protect…the armed soldiers. The ten remaining talk about how they trust in their own strength. Maya and Joey ask them to think back to the power of Abbadon. The soldiers say that they will fight and hope Dionysus will come and help them. Wait…so they’re not trusting in their own strength? Make up your fucking mind, Tesch! Either they trust in their strength or they don’t. And why would the soldiers trust in a mystical being to appear and save them and NOT trust in the powers of a magical pool? How dense can they get?
Genarius gets a nice quote:
“Nobody will take care of you because you missed the chance to take care of yourselves when you had it.” said General Genarius. “But it was your own decision. I cannot and I will not force you to leave.” (page 352).
Okay. He’s a terrible leader. Let me explain. One of the traits of a good leader is making unpopular decisions. It’s your job, as a leader. Even if your underlings disagree with you, you have to face the hard truths and make the difficult decisions. This is a perfect example, except it’s not a hard decision at all. All ten men, if they stay, are going to die horribly. Genarius is their commanding officer, he has the authority to command them to do pretty much whatever he wants. More importantly, he has the responsibility to make sure that these men are (as much as they can be) safe. As their general, he has to make decisions that are in the best interest of the realm, and it’s in the realm’s best interests to NOT sacrifice ten men for no reason. Therefore, it’s Genarius’s responsibility to order the men to run, whether they want to or not. He doesn’t. He’s an asshole. And a moron.
Not to mention that Genarius’ point seems to be that they were given a chance to help themselves but they didn’t take it, so TPTB won’t help them. Except TPTB have been helping out Maya and Joey from situations that their own idiocy has gotten themselves into for this entire book. Why would they save the soldiers here?
Finally Abbadon shows up and commands fire to fall from the sky. He doesn’t want to actually hurt anyone, just wants to terrify them. So he’s a typical monologuing villain.
Flaming snowflakes start falling. Although if they were flaming, they wouldn’t really be snowflakes, would they? But all of the assembly (i.e. the good guys) sit around and smile. Personally, I wouldn’t be able to smile with cinders raining down on me, but that’s just me.
Next, Gertrude summons darkness. Abbadon sends Lorris out, and thoughtfully exposits to the reader that she will touch people with her index finger and they will die and ‘be like a stone’. Which corpses aren’t like. At all. Stones are hard and made of rock. Corpses are squishy and made of flesh and congealed blood. Anyway, Lorris goes out and starts touching people and nothing happens! She is furious and spends a paragraph wondering why her powers don’t work.
Abbadon called Ceara with the words “Ceara, my lovely Dragon! You are the most beautiful black person in our empire! I have enough from this nonsense. Burn them down…All of them!” (page 355).
Ceara breathes waves of flame down. She fries the ten stupid warriors into a crunchy crisp, cementing Genarius as a fucking moron.
I could complain about the fact that Lorris wasn’t able to kill the 10 unprotected warriors with her index-finger-to-stone technique, but there are a lot of soldiers there, so it’s plausible that she touched a few random people and gave up before she tested the ten unprotected soldiers specifically. On the other hand, these ten warriors are standing out in front of everyone to ‘protect’ them, so it’s really not that plausible.
Abbadon steps forward to monologue. He’s actually not a stereotypical villain here, as there’s no cackling or anything, but Tesch fails to deliver anything interesting.
“…if we do not get rid of you soon, the whole nation of Maradonia will be encouraged and that would not be in our best interest.” (page 356).
Naturally, Abbadon doesn’t say why it wouldn’t be in their best interest. I would guess that this may have something to do with the fact that the nation of Maradonia is kind’ve in opposition to Abbadon, but Tesch doesn’t really explain or make any of this clear. Which highlights one of the problems this book has: it’s not really clear how the different conflicting countries really work.
As an example, I’ll use Eragon. In Umläütgäësiä, there’s the Evil Empire, which controls pretty much most of the world, the
terrorists Varden, the dwarves who hide in their mountain, the pretentious elves who hide in their forest, and a couple free nation states. Overall, it’s pretty clearly laid out who is involved with who and who is at war with each other.
In Maradonia we have no such luck. We have the land of Maradonia…and then the Evil Bad Guy. At first it sounded like the Evil Bad Guy ruled Maradonia with an iron fist or something, but later it was apparent that King AstroJesus rules. And there might be a few autonomous collectives beneath him. And Abbadon is lurking…outside Maradonia? Inside Maradonia? Is Maradonia the name of the continent or of the nation itself?
Okay. I just flipped to the beginning of the book and looked at the poorly drawn map that I never really looked at before. It’s pretty obvious that Tesch did not take distances into account when writing the novel (or the map is nowhere close to scale). But it does look like Maradonia is one country among several on the map. Which creates more issues. For instance, they had to travel into a completely different country to get to this special pool. There was no mention of it in the book. Do they just have free rein to march an army of 300 soldiers right into the neighboring country without permission or checking in at the border? Somehow I have difficulty believing that.
Anyway. Abbadon and Joey exchange a few empty threats and Joey tells everyone to draw their swords and charge. Abbadon orders Ceara forward and she blows flames and everyone is fine. The bad guys are stunned. Abbadon summons flaming snowflakes. No effect. Abbadon flips his shit.
He pulled his hair. He screamed. He panicked and he commanded his army and all his powers immediately to leave the place and to move back to his father’s castle (page 359).
This is the Dark Lord. Frightening, isn’t he?
Naturally, Abbadon freaking out terrifies his army as well. Clearly he’s an excellent commander. So everyone freaks out for another page and finally there’s this thoroughly ridiculous paragraph:
And so it was… Abbadon gave the final command to retreat and he was turning back with Gertrude, Lorris and Ceara and the seven unseen spirits and all the other powers and commander of the ground troops (page 360).
Tesch has used this ‘And so it was’ several times so far. Each time it’s been completely pointless. I think she’s trying to be dramatic, or thinks it’s a clever way to shift from Abbadon’s point of view to her omniscient narrator, but it’s not, and it’s getting very annoying. Also, what point was there to list everyone who is returning? All the sentence needs to say is ‘Abbadon gave his entire army the order to retreat’. There it is. Nine words. You could even remove ‘his entire army’ and make it six. Instead of thirty-six. Tesch has never heard of eschewing surplusage.
I have no idea why they’re retreating. Yeah, their magic powers don’t work, but Abbadon still outnumbers them ten to one. Why doesn’t he send 500 men or so to attack and find out if swords and spears still work on them, even if magic doesn’t? What’s the worse that could happen? Plus, Abbadon knows that Maya and Joey and company don’t have any magical powers themselves (otherwise they would have used them). What is he so afraid of?
I’m guessing that this is just Tesch’s way of avoiding confrontation because she doesn’t want an actual battle here (mostly because Abbadon would slaughter them. Seriously. Abbadon has 3,000 trained soldiers. Genarius has 300 inept farmers and teenagers with no real training. It’d look like an abattoir when they were done), so she just has Abbadon pussy out and leave. It’s just plain shitty writing, though.
The last paragraph tells us that everyone is so terrified about the possible of having lost their powers that nobody speaks a single world. I doubt this. I’m sure a few people would be terrified into silence, but most people want to talk about it. Discuss strategies, try to figure out what happened. And so on and so forth.
Chapter Fourty-Nine – A Place Called Antonia Hill
So there’s no smell of fire and smoke on anyone, but I already knew that, because of the Bible story about the fiery furnace.
Maya and Joey can’t understand why the burning snowflakes don’t melt right away. Uh….magic? You just had sheets of fire come down all over you that didn’t so much as singe you and you’re wondering why magical burning snowflakes don’t obey the laws of physics?
…come to think of it, I don’t know why the flames didn’t burn everyone’s clothes off and melt their armor. Since their clothes and armor aren’t protected by the magical blood. Plot hole!
Maya and Joey lead a cheer for King Astrodoulos and then they lead everyone and bow down to honor General Genarius. Tesch throws in another ‘And so it was…’ and then Asabi, a woman who is with the army (I think she’s the wife of one of the men who tried to murder everyone in the swamps and then joined the army) comes forward and falls to her knees and spends about two pages talking about how wonderful Genarius is. There’s a few typos, but aside from that it’s thoroughly uninteresting.
Genarius thanks her and then says that the ten soldiers he let die through his incompetence as a commander deserve a proper burial. They’ll gather their ashes, make a ten-sided coffin (one side for each man) and bury it.
Genarius sends General Felipe and six fast riders back to Selinka to bring news of the victory.
When the ashes are buried Genarius makes a little speech about how he’s sorry the ten soldiers are dead but they made the choice to trust their own strength….ARGH THIS PISSES ME OFF!!! This really, really makes me mad. I’ve already ranted about this at length, but I’m going to do it a little more. So if you want, feel free to skip to the next paragraph.
Let’s say I’m a general. My army is squaring off against another army. One of my soldiers is kind of an idiot so he walks up to me and says that he’s going to charge across the plain by himself and attack the army. “Don’t worry,” he tells me, “I’m going to trust my own strength to save me.” I, of course, know that he’s going to be shot by the archers before he gets within fifty feet of the army. His death will be completely pointless. So, being the commanding officer, I recognize that he’s a moron and order him back into ranks, because I have the power to do so, along with the moral responsibility. Not doing this would make me a terrible commander, as well as a terrible person. In short, fuck General Genarius. And Gloria Tesch, for that matter.
Right. Rant over. They raise a mound over the grave and call it Antonia Hill for some reason. End chapter.