Ah, the baddie chapter.
Evil Uncle Thomas is sad because his assassination attempt failed. We learn that he’s fat (again), not too bright, and drinks and eats a lot. He also has a bunch of mistresses. Some palace staff come in and start taking his things away, and it turns out the mistresses have mostly left on their own. One has stayed behind to tell him off.
Anne’s eyebrows lifted higher, her face darkening, and now her voice nearly thundered. “Never had to work? Pine wakes me up at three in the morning and tells me you’re ready for me. I go to your chamber and get to lick Petra’s cunt for your pleasure.”
Hey, what’s with the “cunt” here? I love cursing, don’t get me wrong, but when Johansen uses it, it’s just gross, probably because Queen of the Tearling is basically YA. It’s like hearing a twelve-year-old use their first cuss words, wanting to sound hard and cool by talking about adult things in a rude way.
I get the sense that Erika Johansen feels that it’s perfectly possible to believe a story about magic jewels but impossible to believe a story about magic jewels that doesn’t involve people slanging at each other and constant references to Bad Sex. “Well, this story about a magic crown with laser powers didn’t have a lady being raped up the butt, I couldn’t suspend my disbelief.” Gah, grimdark. What hath you wrought?
Anyway, evil Thomas. It seems like no one is arresting him because he’s just that lame. You know, he did just attempt to kill Kelsea, maybe Kelsea should get on that because it’s her job as absolute ruler to enforce the law?
Father Tyler isn’t quite as bad as Thomas. He’s the priest who blessed Kelsea at her coronation. He’s a retiring type who just wants to be left alone with his rare book collection. Unsurprisingly, the Holy Father of the Tearling church subverts him to spy on Kelsea. The Holy Father is, of course, venal and old and dying, and his successor is evil and hates gay people.
It’s all very stereotypical Evil Fantasy Church, except it makes even less sense than usual because this is all supposed to have evolved from two heavily Protestant-slash-secular real-world cultures. I’m especially curious to know how a bunch of socialist Brits managed to set up this religious structure, because there’s a bunch of people with a real love for heavy-duty Catholicism.
It was this guy, wasn’t it? Admit it!
Javel is the gate guard who witnessed Kelsea setting the slaves free. He’s on a secret mission to meet Arlen Thorne, the super-evil slavemaster. Arlen Thorne is just the most evil person who ever lived, as we’ll find out. Thorne also has brought his female companion, who is—I shit you not—a mysterious blind albino.
Thorne goes into a long monologue about how evil he is and all the nasty things he’s done and how he’s basically the biggest badass to ever walk God’s green earth.
“You had a notion that you could grab your knife and put me away. As if I wasn’t ready for you yesterday. The day before that. As if I wasn’t ready for since the day I was born.”
Oh, just stab him while he’s talking! Javel doesn’t have that bright idea, and it turns out that Thorne has possibly poisoned Javel’s drink, and of course only Thorne has the antidote.
And of course Thorne also knows where Javel’s wife is in Mortmesne. Or at least he says he does. Does Javel really think that a man who monologues like that would tell the truth about his wife’s whereabouts? But whatever. We’re set up for some sort of tension now, I guess.
All that monologuing excites the albino woman, who actually starts feeling herself up in public.
Her eyes were closed as though in ecstasy. She reached up and began to tweak her own nipple, lightly and tenderly, through the thin fabric of her pink shirt.
What was the point of that, dude. Seriously. This makes me miss George R.R. Martin and his nuanced explorations of human sexuality.
Anyway, Javel’s been maneuvered by Super Dark Lord Thorne into trying to kill Kelsea. He feels bad about being a traitor. I wish I could tell him that he’s fated to fail because we’re not even three-quarters done with the first book. It’s a trilogy, you have time to get right, Javel!
The final character we see is the Evil Queen. She’s up to her usual no good—lounging around and thinking about all the evil sex she’s going to have in the near future. She seems to be near immortal, which is nice but obviously won’t work out for her in 1,600 pages or so when the third book is wrapping up.
One thing is worrying Ms. Evil Queen—the delay in her slave shipment.
A digression on economic matters: Mortmesne seems to have an advanced economy that depends heavily on slave labor. I wonder how the people who would usually have jobs compete with the slaves, but maybe everyone in Mortmesne who isn’t a slave is insanely rich? It doesn’t seem like a very good way to run an economy, though. I also wonder why people from other countries aren’t coming to Mortmesne on their own, as Mortmesne has advanced technology, like medicine and bricks. Better to be a slave in Mortmesne than in the Tearling, right?
Then again, when the Evil Queen is fantasizing about her slaves, she decides to pick a Tear man for sex because:
Only in the Tearling did men grow so tall.
I thought that most of the people of the Tearling had hardly anything to eat and were overworked, abused serfs? Yet they’re all tall as trees. I’m starting to get it: logic runs sideways here, because magic. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.