OK, everybody, this is the part where things start to get rough. I’m splitting Chapter 3 into two parts, because it’s a long trek through the Tearling swamps of misogyny, racism, and sadness. We may lose Artax in here. I’m just warning you.
Kelsea wakes up in the tent of the Mysterious Masked Man. Only now he’s without his mask. His face is “handsome” and his cheekbones are described, so he must be the love interest.
“Where’s your handsome face today?”
“I’m home now,” he replied easily. “No point in dressing up.”
Oooh, snappy repartee! Maybe this is going to be good!
Kelsea realizes that Now-Unmasked Romantic Interest Man has patched up the wound on her neck. She also realizes that while she was unconscious, someone has bathed her and changed her clothes.
She looked up at him, her cheeks reddening.
“Yes, me as well.” His smile widened. “But you needn’t worry, girl. You’re far too plain for my taste.”
And now I realize that this is going to be pure shit. Yeah, this is our romantic interest, folks. The guy who tells our heroine that she’s too ugly to rape.
Kelsea, of course, is upset because he called her ugly. Not because he stripped her while she was knocked out. Not because he implied that he’d dick her while she was unconscious if only she was hotter. But because she’ll never be pretty enough for this total stranger douchebro.
Remember, this book is feminist! With a strong female character!
Douchebro notes that Kelsea has the King’s jewel, whatever the hell that is (I think it’s one of her sapphire necklaces), and tells Kelsea his name.
“You may call me the Fetch.”
I’m going to call you the Douche, but whatever.
It turns out the Douche is wanted by the Regent for stealing a bunch of stuff. He’s a really good thief. Well, he would be if he wasn’t the Douche, but because he’s the Douche, that’s not good enough for him.
“The world is full of thieves. If anything, I am the father of thieves.”
And a pretentious twit. Dread Pirate Roberts, he ain’t.
At least I’m not reading Queen of the Tearling
The Douche tells Kelsea that the Regent has set a price on her head, and draws his knife. Kelsea counters by promising to pardon him if she reaches the throne, then asks why the Douche has a low opinion of her mother. The Douche calls her “girl” as an insult several times, then refuses to tell Kelsea anything because we aren’t allowed to have any backstory. He then starts applying some salve to her wound. Kelsea gets all hot over this, then is ashamed of herself. She has a crush on him! But he cannot know!
In her irritation, she snaps at the Douche to just kill her already and stop going on about it. I’m cool with this, as long as it turns into a murder-suicide, but the Douche is impressed by her spirit. He expresses his approval by shit-talking Kelsea’s mom and asking her who her dad was. Kelsea doesn’t know and doesn’t care, while everybody else doesn’t know and does care.
I have to say that’s it’s pretty cool that Queen Elyssa didn’t have to marry to produce an heir, or even have to name the father. Then again, Elyssa is portrayed as a vapid hobag and Kelsea gets constant shit just for being female, so I don’t know what the hell is going on here. I think the lesson is that it’s OK to be constantly judged by men because you have a vagina, but it’s not OK to let a man put his penis inside your vagina for pleasure. That would make you a bad person!
Anyway, the Douche approves of Kelsea because she didn’t beg for her life. Kelsea wonders what keeps the Douche and his band of nozzles together.
“That’s a perceptive question, so of course you’ll get no answer.”
Since he can’t menace Kelsea any further, the Douche sweeps out of the tent.
Kelsea ponders her attraction to the Douche.
She wasn’t fool enough to miss the danger here: a man who was handsome, intelligent, and more than slightly bad. Not all of Carlin’s books had been nonfiction.
Oh, Kelsea, honey. The bad boy isn’t supposed to be bad to you. What kind of books did Carlin have on her shelves, anyway? Was she a fan of 1970s romance novels? 50 Shades of Grey?
Kelsea decides that there’s no danger in the situation, because she’s so ugly, and she knows because the Douche said so. She puts on some baggy men’s clothes, but that doesn’t even matter because she’s soooo ugly, and goes into the outlaws’ camp.
At first glance, Kelsea would have taken the camp for that of a circus troupe; several tents dyed gaudy shades of red, yellow, and blue, situated around a stone fire pit.
Wait a second, I thought they didn’t even have bricks in this country. Where the hell did these guys get all that expensive dye? And why did they waste it on tents? You know, the tents in their secret outlaw camp. Which apparently is in one place all the damn time, because they’ve bothered to spruce the place up with a stone fire pit.
Godmotherfuckingdammit why are all these motherfuckers so goddamn stupid? Why? Why?
Kelsea meets some more of the merry douchenozzle band.
The third man was black, which gave Kelsea pause for a moment. She’d never seen a black person before, and she was fascinated by the man’s skin, which gleamed in the sunlight.
Oy vey. We’ll go into this later. Part 2, you guys. Part 2.
Kelsea realizes that the outlaws probably don’t actually want to kill her, because they hate her Wicked Uncle very much and killing her would just prolong his reign. She visits the Mace, who is now a bound captive. She complains to the Mace that nobody will tell her anything and that it’s hampering her ability to make decisions. The Mace doesn’t give a shit.
“What if I order you to tell me?”
“Order away, Lady, and see how far you get.”
Kelsea backs down, because once you’ve been marked as female there’s no use ever trying to exercise any sort of power. It turns out that the Mace knows how to escape his bonds, and is planning his escape. Kelsea asks him to be the captain of her Guard, because she really wants a captain of the guard that personally denigrates her and won’t obey her orders, I guess.
Then she sees him again… the Douche.
Not just a thief, but a murderer as well. Beneath the handsome man, Kelsea sensed another man, a terrible one, with a life as black as the water in an ice-covered lake. A murderer many, many times.
The idea should have brought horror. Kelsea waited for a long moment, but what came instead was an even worse realization; it didn’t matter at all.