When we last left Lila, she was just sitting down to dinner. When we rejoin her, she’s just finishing up her meal. Thanks for maintaining continuity, Robson. If we’d started off this chapter and Lila had been waterskiing my face would have started melting off because of the insanity. Once they finish nibbling on the half a cracker they all get, as I figure all elves have eating disorders, they bring Zal in.
Lila then reexamines Zal’s face now that she’s more familiar with the faces of elves. Apparently all it takes to get familiar with them is to spend a day or two among them and you can instantly tell who was boning who during their conception. It makes me wonder what kind of genetic bottleneck these elves have subjected themselves to that you can definitively identify their family line by their face.
The short version of Lila’s new appraisal, Zal is still special. In fact probably more so but then him and Barry start sniping at each other. ‘Well hello Barry, I see you’re still trying to nail the queen and the crown.’ ‘And I see you’re still trying to be Legolas if he’d been the front man of the Rolling Stones.’ This repeats when he sees Dar and there’s another round of “well hello”s that irked the hell out of me. Just once I’d like Robson to stop belaboring the goddamned point and tell the story. Then Lila notices that Zal’s “andalune” is different and the other elves are recoiling from him or something.
Lila knew she must get to the bottom of this pattern of magic and relationship between the aetheric formats, butnow was notthe moment. While she started considering breakoutpossibilities from the room they were in, Zal and Dar faced off.
Sure, why not, Lila? You know there’s nothing that makes for excitement quite like having the protagonist sit down and try to figure out the power dynamics of everyone around her. Maybe after this, Lila can sit and ponder the very nature of existence. Once she’s achieved nirvana, then she can put her plan in motion and rescue Zal.
Dar and Zal begin to argue while Barry assures Lila that, whatever it looks like, they are friends. Thanks, Robson. And here I thought you wanted me to feel some tension which might pique my interest. That’s the kind of thing every book needs. Think of how much better things would have been if in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ someone had stopped and reassured the audience that Atticus wasn’t going to come to any harm. Or if in the beginning of ‘Schindler’s List’ a narrator had interrupted Oscar’s dealings with the Germans and said ‘Psst, it’s okay. Even though he’s dealing with the Nazi’s right now, he’ll turn good later so it’s okay to like him.’
During their banter, Dar refers to Zal as his “sweet companion of my heart”. Lila then scrambles to figure out what it means. Gee, could Dar be trying to send a signal to Zal or might he just be bantering? Let’s fret over this meaningless phrase to add weight to this stupid book!
Then Lila’s “AI-self” starts calculating the gulf between Zal and the other elves. Which is just hilarious and stupid. That’s literally impossible, Robson. There’s no number for Lila’s computer to quantify, there are no standards which have been established. Hell, up until last chapter, Lila had a hard time telling elves apart by their faces. Lila would have to know what normal meant for elves to establish a baseline before she could guess at how far removed from the elves she is.
You know why Robson inserted that part? Well, yes because she likes inserting random things to add confusion. But also because she once heard that computers work with numbers and how else do you tell the reader that a computer is involved? I can’t wait for the part where Lila starts throwing probabilities and percentages around. And when she does they’ll be perfectly rounded numbers like five percent or one in a billion chance.
Then Lila starts wondering about what Dar said, again. Luckily this gets ignored for a second while Dar and Zal start arguing about what’s making elfland go to hell. An elf wearing a sweat stained tank top holds up his shotgun and says it’s all them damn foreigners coming over and taking their jobs. Or Dar says that Zal is a symptom of their aether pollution and Zal says it’s the fault of elvish royalty for segregating everyone.
The basic thrust of the argument is that the elves believed demon magic incompatible. Zal says that he’s proof that it’s not as he’s not dying from using it. Then he takes off his shirt and the demon tattoo of bat wings unfolds and starts dripping lava blobs everywhere. Yes, the transition really is as smooth as a car crash down a mountain.
Robson shoehorns another song reference when Zal says the opening to Fire by Arthur Brown. Yes, yes, we’re all very impressed that you’re familiar with music Robson. There’s more talk of how this proves elves aren’t fragile glass rods and how this will seal his fate. Arie tells him to stop or she’ll drown him herself. Go Arie! You drown that pompous jackass and never mind the lead weights I’m going to start throwing at you.
Zal’s demonic wings go back to being a tattoo and Zal accuses Barry of betraying them and keeping up the lies. Then Lila’s computer comes up and lists the definitions for that phrase. Lila uses these search results to guess that this means Dar and Zal were once more than friends. Wait, it took that long to figure something out a reasonably intelligent parrot could have put together in two seconds? What kind of computer did they put in Lila’s head? A first generation Gameboy?
Arie says that elfland’s powers and strength comes from the portal, Zal says she’s and idiot and everyone gasps. He says that the more they try and manipulate the magic realm, the worse the blowback will be and the more elfland will suffer. He says that there has to be some mixing and look at him and blah blah blah. When do we get to the part where Lila shoots things, Robson? I like to think I prefer a clever novel but you clearly can’t handle that responsibility so let’s just get back to the mind numbing action sequences.
Lila despairs and hopes she’ll get another chance to meet with Zal and escape. Then she thinks of her family, and I must quote this, “for no apparent reason“. Even the author couldn’t think of a good reason to bring Lila’s relatives into this. How about that it’s nearing the time of day that Lila looks at her familiy photos. You remember those, don’t you Robson? The thing that Lila does every day as you so pointedly mentioned earlier.
Anywho, Lila decides she’s bascially already dead and her family won’t mourn her a second time. Then she wonders why they send and experimental cyborg to guards Zal if he’s this important. She asks herself if they knew or if they were just burning money because they just had to spend their budget before the end of the fiscal year.
None of that has any bearing on anything though as Zal is escorted out. Then Arie asks Lila/Barry if they’re sure that the game forfiet was the death of love. Barry says he’s sure and then Arie and him touch andalunes for a bit. Lila asks him what his game with ehr is, he says none of her business and that they may or may not get their meeting with Zal. Lila whines about wanting to touch Zal, even in passing and then the queen relents.
Barry says that Arie is going to join her courtesans in a magic circle and she’ll be at the center. There’s something about how she’s going to do it that’ll allow her to drawn on all magic in elfland so they’d better keep their thoughts quiet and under control. This odd details end just as soon as Lila gets to the entrance of Zal’s holding cell.
Barry removes the illusion then Lila removes Barry’s clothes and prepares herself to “pretend” to seduce Zal. She looks at herself and complains once more about how Zal could never want her. This has felt insincere since the beginning and I finally figured out why. It’s because Robson explained how the game works. If Zal hadn’t wanted to sleep with Lila upon seeing her, the wild magic wouldn’t have acted on it. Simple as that. So although Lila’s feelings of inadequacy fit her character, they don’t appear to the reader.
Oh yes, and they’re being watched by that water dragon. I figure he’s a bit a voyeur but can’t exercise his fetish much without the internet. I can see the water dragon peering against the palace walls. ‘Yes Fred, yes…damn it the dragon is back.’ ‘Don’t mind me, I just like to watch.’
So Lila and Zal have a reunion. Barry says that Lila didn’t tell him they were in love. Funny, Lila failed to mention it to us too. Though she never hesitated to remind us about her “AI-self” or how ugly she feels. She claims Zal’s not in love with her which he’ll disprove in short order, I’m sure. She lets her “AI-self” try and figure the love thing out while telling Zal she’s there to rescue him.
Lila talks funny to send Zal a signal that not everything is as it seems. Then he kisses her and it’s amazing. Robson spends more ink on how Lila feels about that kiss than she’s spent on anything else, except for Zal’s looks. Barry’s andalune touches Zal’s and then Lila talsk to Zal through the speakers in her hands. She tells him not to show that he knows about Barry or anything else and he murmurs “fuck me sideways” while they’re still kissing. Not exactly a romantic, is he?
“fuck me sideways”
…that a request or a “well butter my biscuits!” exclamation?
so all she has to do to end/lose the game is sleep with Zal. but if she loses, doesn’t that mean she’ll never find love agai….ooooooooohh, i see what she did there. twu wuv.
and poor Barry, i just want to give him a few gallons of brain bleach.