Let’s Read Queen of the Tearling: Chapter 13

Kelsea wakes up from days’ worth of magic exhaustion-induced sleep. After she passed out, her soldiers were able to wrap up the battle and free the slaves. They’re suitably impressed by her stormcalling abilities.

Kelsea’s black army uniform was streaked and stained with mud, and her hair was undoubtedly a mess, but they didn’t seem to care about that.

Oh my goodness, are we not freaking out about clothes and hair for once? Thank you, book Jesus!

They stood waiting, and after a moment Kelsea realized they weren’t waiting for orders from Mace. They were waiting for her.

Yes, finally Kelsea has some authority! Granted, it’s only through the power of magic but at least it’s there.

There’s some post-battle business to take care of. The Mace has sent most of the freed slaves back to their villages. A few were sent back to the capital in care of a guard to spread the good word about Kelsea.

I sent [the guard] back to New London, Lady, with several women who looked like they could use a shopping trip in the big city.”

Yeah, I’m sure that the first thing that these traumatized women want to do is go shopping. Also, why doesn’t Arlen Thorne attack these women so they can’t spread propaganda against him? They only have one guard with them, after all. Go for it, you evil bastard!

Kelsea has to deal with Javel, who didn’t try to run from Kelsea’s guards. He’s super ready to die, but Kelsea lets him live as she remembers him hacking at the bars of the slave cages. But wait! There’s another traitor in their midst!

It turns out that Mhurn—the guard who sassed Lady Andrews—was also the guard who was letting all those assassins get at Kelsea. He was addicted to opium, and someone was supplying him with the stuff. Well, not quite opium.

Not just opium, Lady,” Coryn remarked from the campfire. “High-grade morphiate. Someone took a lot of care to cook this stuff. We found needles as well.”

Wait a minute, they don’t even have enough iron for swords in this kingdom, and hardly anyone can read or write, but somehow the resources and knowledge exist to create hypodermic needles? What the fuck? I mean, two pages ago we were talking about a man who fell sick with a mysterious “lung complaint” and now we’re suddenly discussing 20th-century medical paraphernalia. Goddamn it, book, get your medical history straight!

Coryn, do you know how to inject him with that stuff?”

I’ve injected men with antibiotics before, Lady, but I know little of morphia.”

Oh, now there are antibiotics, too?


Kelsea proves that she’s a badass, executing Mhurn by slashing his throat. He’s cool with it, what with only becoming a traitor so that he could ride the dragon. That sounds suitably fantasy-ish, doesn’t it? OK, that’s just dorky.

On the way back to the capital, Kelsea and crew catch up with one of the supposedly ninja-like yet actually remarkably incompetent Caden assassins. The Caden don’t marry, but some of them have children with village women, and it looks like Thorn managed to snatch one of those children up in his raid. The Caden is grateful to Kelsea for saving his child and pledges to do her a favor in future. That’s nice. It won’t be in this book, because we’re almost done. Hooray!

But not quite yet. The Mace and Kelsea have a conversation in which the Mace offers to resign for having so royally fucked up his oversight of the Queen’s Guard. Kelsea refuses the resignation, upon which the Mace tells Kelsea that Barty and Carlin—remember them?—are dead. They took poison right after Kelsea left her cottage all those many chapters ago. As the Mace explains, Kelsea could be blackmailed by anyone who bothered to threaten her former guardians. All right, so far this scene is sad, but it’s surprisingly rational for Queen of the Tearling.

Then the Mace tells the story of how he first brought infant Kelsea to the cottage. Barty and Carlin both loved Kelsea at first sight, but…

Barty said, ‘Let me hold her.’ So the Lady Glynn handed you to him and then—I’ll never forget, Lady—she said, ‘From now on, it will be you…the love must come from you.’

Barty looked as baffled as I was, until she explained. ‘This is our great work, Barty. Children need love, but they also need stiffening, and you’ll be no help with that. Give her whatever she wants, and she’ll turn into her mother. She has to hate one of us, at least a little, so that she can walk out the door and not look back.’ ”

Uh… love doesn’t necessarily mean giving someone everything they want. And if Kelsea hated Carlin, wouldn’t there be a good chance that Kelsea would reject Carlin’s teachings? After all, Carlin will have to give Kelsea up to the great wide world when Kelsea is at the very age when she’ll want to rebel against authority—and the only authority she’ll have known til then is Carlin. Giving Kelsea the wire-monkey momma treatment isn’t going to solve anything. As far as I can tell, Carlin is just being a bitch, but in the narrative this decision is treated like some sort of great, wise sacrifice.

Oh, man. Am I missing some psychological detail here that would make this flashback make sense? At least the chapter is over.

Fantastic Suffering, or Why Are Protagonists Pummeled to a Pulp?

Busy reading Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy. I’m enjoying it, but I do wonder at the sheer amount of punishment that the she doles out to her hero, Fitz. Over the course of the three books, he’s been stabbed and beaten multiple times. And that’s just the brute force attacks—I shouldn’t forget the poisonings and the telepathic abuse!

Hobb hasn’t reached George R.R. Martin levels of dragging the plot out, but by the last book, the scenes of abuse have become tedious. It keeps happening, and I skip ahead to see who’s going to beat the crap out of Fitz next. “He just escaped from that set of psychopathic guards… Oh, he’s going to get captured and beat up by that nasty group of telepaths, isn’t he? For fuck’s sake, get to the dragons already!” (That should be my reading motto.)

I wonder if it’s a genre requirement for protagonists to experience pain and torture, over and over again.* I don’t know what to call it—the drama of the body? We anticipate the pain along with the protagonist, experience it in graphic detail, and “recover” alongside him or her. It certainly does get the reader to empathize with the protagonist. I also imagine that for many readers, extreme physical duress is an exotic experience, like handling a sword or singing as a bard. Maybe that’s why protagonists suffer such liberal amounts of agony.

Note that the aftermath is always handily fixed with herb paste or magic, and the poor sufferer is never injured in a way that makes him or her unattractive (unless they have done something truly nasty and need to expiate their sins through ugliness). No need for antibiotics or surgery, plastic or otherwise.

* The all-time champion must be the heroine of Sarah Micklem’s Firethorn books, who undergoes a whipping, a stabbing, a lightning strike, a drug withdrawal, and an honest-to-god snakebite poisoning, all in the course of a year or so.

Let’s Read Queen of the Tearling: Chapter 12, Part Two

The Evil Red Queen is standing in her turret of wickedness, gazing upon the lands below and fretting that she hasn’t found Kelsea yet. She can see all the borders of her land, from the Tear border to the west to the borders with other generic fantasy lands to the north and south. Wait a second, how high is this turret? Iron is a hot commodity in this world, so I’m assuming that there aren’t giant steel-and-glass skyscrapers dotting the landscape and this is your standard-issue medieval tower. Is Mortmesne really tiny? Does the Red Queen have magic sight? So many questions!

Apparently the Mort economy is so dependent on human shipments that the lapse of one shipment has caused internal unrest. Some young radicals are protesting, as are the Queen’s commanders. Oh, here come more questions. Why does the Mort economy need so many slaves, anyway? Do they run plantations? Are there just not a lot of Mort? Do they not have a permanent slave class, with children born into slavery? I’m surprised that Mortmesne has to kidnap all these people, frankly—you’d think that folks would voluntarily leave the shitty, starving Tearling to work in more technologically advanced, prosperous Mortmesne.

Anyway, the Evil Queen decides that she needs the aid of “the dark thing” to find Kelsea. She instructs her guard to drug a child and bring the child to her rooms. Oh, they probably need all these slaves for child sacrifice, right. Because slavery isn’t terrible in and of itself.

There’s a hint of backstory for the Evil Queen, something about her emerging from a prison stronger than before and some vague plan, so I suppose she is using evil spirits to prolong her life and overcome her past, yadda yadda. I wonder if Kelsea will be offered the same choice through her sapphires? Hmmmmm.

For some reason, the queen notes that one of her male guards is eying a female guard’s shapely posterior. I’m not sure why this matters, except that OH NO IT’S TIME FOR SEXUALLY DUBIOUS MAGIC.

She didn’t particularly like children; they made too much noise and demanded too much energy. She’d never wanted a child herself, not even when she was young.

Oh, my god, a woman who doesn’t want children! It’s a slippery slope from this perversion to associating with pedophiles and committing child sacrifice!

No, really.

There were several pedophiles in high positions in her military. The Queen felt a strange, sickly contempt for these men, unable to understand what was wrong with them […] But she needed them, needed them badly. When they weren’t being what they were, they were incredibly useful.

Why on earth are pedophiles so useful to our Evil Queen? The ready response is that she can blackmail them in case of emergency, but actually, it seems as if they’ve forgotten all about that and have started planning to overthrow her. The other reason that comes to mind is that 99.9 percent of the people who read this book define pedophilia as the most disgusting sexual perversion possible, so it’s being thrown in as a sort of local color. You know, in case you didn’t think some evil shit was going on already, let’s include pedophilia as well! The weird extension of this line of thinking is that what Mortmesne is doing is evil because of the private lives of its citizens; if the generals who previously invaded the Tearling and raped and slaughtered its population had respected the age of consent at home, I guess everything would have been cool.

Whatever. It’s time to stop asking questions and… get naked? Yes! The Evil Queen slashes her child sacrifice and sops some of the blood up with a towel. She then takes off her clothes to start her incantation.

The stone of the floor was hard and sharp, digging into her knees, but the dark thing liked that, just as it liked to have her naked […] If she kept her panties on, or put down a pillow to soften the floor, it would notice.

In my last post, I conceded the point that, while Johansen was including a lot of gratuitous evil violence against women in this chapter, at least it wasn’t gratuitous evil sexualized violence. Aw, damn, can we at least get through one chapter without some ludicrous fuckspell?

She leaned forward, as far as she dared, and threw the bloody towel into the fire. Despite the heat, her nipples, had hardened to tiny points, as though she were cold, or excited. Crackling sounds filled the room as the flames consumed the towel.

Innocent blood,” the dark thing remarked. “It is good to taste.”

Oh, well, I guess not. Also, this dark thing is cheesy as hell.

Dark thing and Evil Queen bicker a bit, and he hits her with a bolt of fire, so that her hip “squalled in agony.” What the fuck does that even mean? Anyway, this evil spirit not only makes words lose their meaning, he’s a looker, too.

When she looked up, the black mass in the air was gone. Instead, a man towered above her, handsome beyond words. His pure black hair swept back from a perfect patrician face, gaunt cheekbones offset by a thick, full-lipped mouth. A beautiful man, but the Queen wasn’t fooled by that beauty anymore. Red eyes glittered coldly down at her.*

Oh, he’s sexy evil, do you get it, everything to have to do with sex is vile and abusive and evil, we’re going to make sure this isn’t mistaken as YA by replacing the soppy romance with absolute sex negativity. Is this really what writing a “grown-up” book is about? This land needs some sexual healing, like the arrival of a magical fuck wizard. Like Annie Sprinkle, only wearing one of those princess cone hats.

The Evil Queen asks dark thing to help her, but the dark thing is like, eh, no, you can’t harm Kelsea. Why not? Who knows, but that does mean that the entire child murder ritual scene was for nothing. Well, it did kill the plot, because now we don’t even have a proper adversary for Kelsea. We know that the Evil Queen will fail if she attempts to kill Kelsea, and we don’t know dark thing’s plans well enough to see it as a proper threat.

We do get a loving description of what the spirit does to the child sacrifice, though. I’ll spare you the details—basically some vampire shit goes down and dark thing sasses Evil Queen a bit about how she’s not to touch a hair on Kelsea’s head. Again, why?

Who needs to know why, when you can enjoy this sort of deathless prose:

Harm the Tear heir, and you will feel my wrath, darker than your darkest dream. Do you wish that?”

The Queen shook her head frantically. Her nipples were rock-hard now, almost aching, and she moaned as the thing slithered off her, licking the last of the blood off its lips.

Well, at least we know exactly how hard this lady’s nipples got. And really, who needs a functioning plot when we have rock-hard nipples?

Dark thing goes back to its dark place.

Evil Queen looks at the remains of the child. It’s gross.

The Queen turned and ran for the bathroom, one hand clamped across her throat, her eyes wide and hunted.

She nearly made it.

Aaaaaaand end of chapter. Finally!

Isn’t that the most bathetic last line ever, though? I admit, the first time I read Queen of the Tearling, I was skimming by the end, and I thought that this last line meant that the Evil Queen had been caught by the spirit and destroyed—he was lurking somewhere and caught her when she was off guard. Big plot point, right? But on a re-reading, I think that it just means that the Evil Queen puked on the floor. I’m personally disgusted by vomit, but even I think this is an anticlimax. I mean, Johansen just thoroughly described sexual humiliation (including blood play!), Satanic worship, and the horrific murder of a child—but the real horror is that somebody was sick and missed the toilet. Won’t somebody think of the precious carpet fibers?

(A similar, slightly less ridiculous example of this sort of writing occurs in Chapter 10, which also involves Evil Sex—did Evil Uncle Thomas have sex with his sister and breed Kelsea? Is this a plot point, or confusion over the object of a verb? Ooof.)

* Digression: wouldn’t red eyes be incredibly unattractive? He’d look like a man-rabbit.

Let’s Read Queen of the Tearling: Chapter 12, Part One

Another chapter split on my part… I swear we’re almost done here. It’s just that again, there’s so much in this one chapter alone.

Kelsea has set off with her guards to chase the slave shipment. Her jewel is guiding her—if she goes in the wrong direction, she feels sick. Her guards, of course, aren’t at all curious about this GPS jewel. I mean, it’s a fucking magic jewel that glows and can knock people over, which you would think would be enough to inspire a little bit of interest, but they’re entirely dismissive. Instead, the guards think that Kelsea is mad. However, they’re too lazy to restrain her and prefer to just belittle her instead.

It had been more than a month, and many of them had come to know her, but nothing had really changed. She was still the girl they’d brought like a piece of baggage from Barty and Carlin’s cottage, the girl who couldn’t ride, who could barely be trusted to put up her own tent. It was Mace they listened to, whose word counted, and in the final judgement even Mace had treated her like a wayward child.

Yup. I also wonder why these guards expect the queen to put up her own tent. She’s a hereditary monarch, not a Girl Scout leader.

Anyway, Kelsea and her guards track down the secret slave shipment and attack yonder evildoers. Kelsea hangs back from the fighting as she’s not experienced enough with weapons yet, and lo and behold, guess who shows up? It’s the Fetch! He’s been tracking the slaves as well, and takes the opportunity to give Kelsea back her necklace that he took from her chapters and chapters ago.

I’ve waited a long time for you, Tear Queen. Longer than you can imagine.”

He also insults her haircut, but whatever.

With the second necklace, Kelsea suddenly gets super magic powers and can see glimpses of other worlds. Back in the real world, she notices that a slave cage has been set and fire and darts towards it with super speed.

The narrative changes to the point of view of Javel, the gate guard, who was in on that whole conspiracy that involved evil and slutty albino ladies, chapters and chapters back. He feels rather bad about this whole thing and kills one of his fellow guards, who has been being a total rapist lately because what’s a fantasy novel without lots and lots of rape? Oh, and dead women and children.

The second woman was nothing but a blazing torch, a dark, writhing shape with arms that waved madly from inside the fire. While Javel watched, in a span of time that seemed endless, her arms sank to her sides and her body simply collapsed. She had no face anymore, ony a blackened thing that burned madly, spreading flame along the cage floor… Jeffrey and William’s mother was burning now, her hair and face on fire. Her dress had gone up first and Javel knew, in the part of the mind that remained cold and suspended in such situations, that the baby inside her was already dead.

How on earth does he know? Does he have a special grimdark sixth sense? Anyway, if miscarriage doesn’t quite sate your need for the horrific deaths of children, there are more dead kids later on in the chapter. No, really. Anyway, Javel has a last-second change of heart and attempts to open the cages.

I don’t think that Johansen means these particular scenes of violence to be titillating—they’re presented as genuinely horrific, not as pornography for people who can’t admit their tastes to themselves. Nobody’s getting whipped to death by a convenient sect of nude, pert-breasted ninja assassins. However, every live woman in this book, excepting Kelsea and her elderly mother figure, Carlin, is either a heinous, murderous, oversexualized bitch or the victim of severe physical and/or sexual abuse. The closest we get to a woman who escapes those categories is Andalie, and she’s a literal witch.

What’s even more annoying is that these women’s suffering is used as character development for the men—the Regent abuses Marguerite to confirm that he’s an awful person, the suffering women in the cages spur Javel’s moral redemption, one of Kelsea’s guards has absolutely no characteristics at all except a beef with Evil Arlen Thorne over a woman, and so on. None of this abuse is central to the story—we know that the Regent is corrupt, and that slavery is bad, and that Evil Arlen Thorne is, well, Evil with a capital E, what with the whole slavemongering thing.

Anyway, Kelsea is able to use the power of her jewels to bring water down from the sky in a great storm, extinguishing the fire, then passes out from the effort. This is pretty cool, and it opens up a lot of new directions for the narrative—how can Kelsea use these powers? Where do they come from? etc. I have to give Johansen points for not including a wise old mentor who, despite supposedly being wise, solely dispenses information after the fact.

Let’s Read Queen of the Tearling: Chapter 11, Part Three

End of the chapter, I swear.

So the audience winds up, although not without another reference to how gross old people are.

Lady Andrews snatched the dress back and stomped away with her neck hunched into her shoulders, her gait showing her age.

Kelsea asks the Mace about where on earth her adoptive parents have gone—the Mace and co. are supposed to have found them by now. The Mace seems to be sidestepping Kelsea’s questions, but she gives up on it because it’s not time to reveal that they’re dead yet, oops, I mean, she’s hungry (yes, this is the reason given in the text).

Kelsea and one of her guards, Pen, stumble upon Andalie speaking with her one of her daughters. Andalie tells her daughter that they’re sticking around because Kelsea is a true queen, and one day they might be part of a legend. This somehow confirms to Kelsea and Pen that Andalie is psychic, because it’s not like Andalie might just have opinions or something.

They discuss the mysterious Andalie. It turns out that not only was Andalie’s husband a wife-beater, he also was a child molester, preying on his own daughters and other young girls in the neighborhood. Andalie’s neighbors tried to “take care of him,” but Andalie stopped them somehow. Holy shit, Andalie is a piece of work.

That night, Kelsea has an elaborate dream vision of a woman being kidnapped and dragged into a cage. She wakes and realizes that she’s had a vision—a slave shipment is being put together behind her back. It’s time for a rescue mission!

Except that nobody believes Kelsea except Andalie. Andalie and the Mace bicker for a little while, and when Kelsea tries to leave to get shit done, the Mace and Pen grab her to keep her from going. Fortunately, Kelsea has her sapphire, and uses it to slam them up against a wall. This moment of anger would have been so much cooler if I hadn’t realized that the sapphire is basically the decorative equivalent of Richard Rahl’s sword of truth. Thanks a lot for ruining my moment, sword of truth.

The Mace, gem of a human that he is, decides to take this moment to prepare Kelsea for her mission… by telling her to cut her hair so she’ll look like a man. Don’t they have to figure out how to get to the shipment and who they’re going to take? You know, get some weapons together? I don’t need to read this all in detail, but maybe a nod to logistics? Is anyone in this kingdom competent at anything other than being an asshole?

Anyway, Andalie cuts Kelsea’s hair, which gives them time for some girl talk.

Why’d you marry him, Andalie?”

We don’t always make these choices ourselves.”

Did someone force you?”

Andalie shook her head, chuckling mirthlessly, then leaned down and murmured in Kelsea’s ear. “Who’s the man, Majesty? I’ve seen his face in your mind many times. The dark-haired man with the snake-charmer’s smile.”

Kelsea blushed. “No one.”

Not no one […] He means very much to you, this man, and I see shame covering all of those feelings.”


Did you choose to to feel this way for this man?”

No,” Kelsea admitted.

One of the worst choices you could have made, no?”

Kelsea nodded, defeated.

We don’t always choose, Majesty. We simply make the best choices we can once the deed is done.”

Uh, all right. So Andalie’s been reading Kelsea’s thoughts, and she’s using Kelsea’s teen crush on the Fetch to justify her marriage to a man who beat her and raped her daughters. You know, Kelsea may not have chosen the way she feels, but she can choose how to act on her feelings. But whatever, women are just slaves to their passions, even queens! Females!

Well, I guess Andalie’s not using her unfettered access to Kelsea’s mind to be the perfect spy. Which is totally what I’d do if I were Andalie! Just saying!

Anyway, Kelsea is sad, not because she’s fallen in love with a shady man and distrusts her own emotions or because she feels violated by Andalie’s psychic prying, but because the Fetch won’t ever like her without her hair. Isn’t this the same kind of vanity that every other woman in the book gets slammed over? This book.

Let’s Read Queen of the Tearling: Chapter 11, Part Two

Having pondered her issues over Marguerite, Kelsea is finally holding her royal audience. First up is Andalie’s husband, who has come to claim her as it’s his Biblical right as a husband; Kelsea tells him off for having beaten his wife, and he slinks away.

Then a noblewoman, Lady Andrews, comes up to speak with Kelsea. It turns out that Kelsea stole this noblewoman’s tiara for her crowning. Unsurprisingly, this Lady Andrews is not in a very good mood. Also, Lady Andrews is old. Really old.

She was much older than she’d seemed in the dim light of the throne room, perhaps as old as forty, and her face appeared to have been pulled unnaturally taut. Cosmetic surgery? There were no plastic surgeons in the Tearling, but it was rumored that Mortmesne had revived the practice.

But… but they don’t have plastic. Or antibiotics. How do they have plastic surgery?

Anyway, Lady Andrews has a smoker’s voice, or a drinker’s voice, in case we can’t figure out that she’s an awful human being simply by her age alone. She uses her nasty voice to ask Kelsea what she intends to do about Mortmesne; it turns out that Lady Andrews lives near the border and therefore is very worried about an invasion.

Kelsea isn’t humoring her. Kelsea’s jewel informs her, through a vision, that Lady Andrews locked herself up inside her tower while the Mort came through her territory; she and her guards survived, but everyone else wasn’t as lucky.

Do you have children, Lady Andrews?”

No, Majesty.”

Of course not, Kelsea thought. Children coneived by this woman would only be cannibalized by her womb. She raised her voice. “Then you don’t risk much in the lottery, do you? You have no children, you don’t look strong enough for labor, and you’re really too old to appeal to anyone for sex.”


Lady Andrews is understandably a wee bit upset when Kelsea tells her never to come back to court.

Lady Andrews’s hands had clutched into claws. The nails were long hooks, manicured a bright purple. Deep pockets of red had emerged in the fleshless crescents beneath her eyes […] What does she see when she looks in the mirror? Kelsea wondered.

Ok, this is when I thought that Kelsea would come down hard on Lady Andrews for being a greedy, selfish biddy who spends her money on magical plastic surgery while letting her peasants die in a ditch.

How could a woman who looked so old still place so much importance on being attractive?

Well, that was a surprise. I guess the worst part about Lady Andrews isn’t that she let a bunch of her own people suffer horribly when (presumably) she could have helped them into safety. It’s that she thinks she’s still hot when she’s over the hill.

And for all the anguish that Kelsea’s own refletion had caused her lately, she saw now that there was something far worse than being ugly; being ugly and thinking you were beautiful.

I would have thought that the whole being-responsible-for-masses of people dying-thing would be worse than being ugly, but never mind that. The characters are female, so they don’t need to be judged on their actions, just on their appearances. So feminist.

Lady Andrews may be an old bitch, but she does have a good line in comebacks. I suppose with age, she’s had more time to think about these things.

And what have you to lose, Majesty? You spent your childhood in hiding. Has your name ever gone into the lot? […] In fact, Majesty, you risk less than any of us, don’t you? If she invades again, you merely barricade yourself in your own tower, just as I did. Only your tower is even taller.”

Kelsea has absolutely no answer for this, which is sad, as it’s a legitimate question. Not everyone is going to have access to the safety of a tower or a keep, and those who do are going to have to decide how to share that access without imperiling everyone involved. Johansen attempts to get round the problem it by making the nobles uniformly corrupt, awful people who positively relish murdering peasants, but that’s a con; Kelsea has created a situation that poses a dilemma for even the ideal noble. A lord or lady is sworn to obey their ruler, and the lottery system is inhumane and humiliating. But a lord or lady is also supposed to protect his or her people and property. If obeying the ruler means the total sacrifice of the people and land—and, based on the description of the last Mort invasion and the quality of the Tearling defense, it’s going to be an absolute slaughter—then how should a noble act? Is it right to disobey Kelsea’s orders? If not, how do they decide which people to protect and which people to leave to their fates?

But for Johansen, none of these matters are of any significance, and she signals that by putting the questions in the mouth of an old, ugly woman. Because the value of a woman’s speech is directly linked to her youth and appearance, of course.

Unfortunately for Kelsea, not all of the other nobles attending the audience seem to get that basic fact, and she appears to be losing their support. Why can’t they just forget all their problems and concentrate on how much of a dog this Andrews woman is! Fortunately for Kelsea, one of her guards, Mhurn, was one of Lady Andrews’s villagers, and he calls her out on some of the actual shitty things that she did, like locking out the poor people who attempted to find sanctuary in her household.

I’ve known the Queen barely a month, but I promise you, when the Mort come, she will try to cram the entire Tearling into this Keep, and she won’t care how recently they’ve bathed or how poor they are. She’ll make room for all.”

I hope that Kelsea has enough food for all, because otherwise that’s going to go south pretty quickly. Anyway, Lady Andrews demands the guard be whipped for his insolence, and Kelsea tells her to get the hell out once again. This time, she complies.

In the space of seconds, a thousand tiny lines sprung up in the taut skin of her face.

Yo, I hope you didn’t forget that this lady is old! And therefore bad!

I’m still not done with this chapter, which is really something of a gold mine. There’s some freaky stuff coming up involving child abuse and psychic friends that deserves its own post. Mercedes Lackey would blush, that’s all I can say.