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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Zendikar: In the Teeth of Akoum - Chapter 17

Statue? What moving statue? It's no big deal.

Zendikar: In the Teeth of Akoum - Chapter 17

The group is past the non-danger that is the statue with Eldrazi script on it, and for several days they march on. One night as they're traveling through a boulder field, Mudheel points out something behind them. Movement. Lots and lots of movement.

They run for the abandoned guard tower ahead of them, and Nissa is up the ladder in three bounds.

(Who bounds up a ladder?)

What comes charging at them in the moonlight is an endless stream of nulls . Our heroes have no choice but to defend as best they can against the overwhelming force.

Nissa settled the soles of her feet on the rock. She reawakened the roots of her body, and felt the energy of the forest slither across the wastes and mountains. Then the charge shot through the roots that extended from her brow and connected her with the green growing places she knew well: the Turntimber Forest of the Tajuru and the fetid jungles of Bala Ged.

(Roots of her body? Ummm... okay.)

Nissa summons a couple trolls to their defense, and while Sorin's rot spell can't work on these undead creatures so he does as best as he can with his sword. Since small groups of nulls are susceptible to taking orders from any vampire, Anowon is able to compel three of the nulls to fight on their side, but more and more nulls just keep on appearing. Soon the trolls are taken down despite their regenerative abilities, and as well as the baloth she's able to summon. Nissa catches the sight of Sorin falling over the edge of the tower before she's hit from behind and is knocked out.

Nissa wakes face to face with a female vampire and doesn't take kindly to her threats. The vampire similarly doesn't take kindly to her insolence and with a flourish, she demonstrates her ability with a bampha stick, and halts the attack just barely half an inch away from Nissa's eye. And in return, Nissa catches the vampire off guard and trips her.

Nissa then summons an Onduan python to finish her off, but a second vampire appears and takes care of it. He tells Biss to go scout ahead, and the female vampire leaves.

He introduces himself as Shir , and tells her that she'll have to excuse Biss. They've been tracking their party for days now, and she isn't especially fond of the Mortifier. Nissa responds by attempting to insult him by calling him a blood slave, but it doesn't phase him.

“I would expect names such as that from one who travels with the Mortifier.”

“What is this Mortifier you speak of, blood slave?” Nissa said. “Or are you as dim as the rest of your kind?”

The vampire studied her face for a moment. “Could it be that this elf is not aware of whom she travels with?” he said. “Perhaps she does not know what the Mortifier is?”

* * *


Sometimes details are great in really showing off action, but sometimes simplicity works best. When I wrote that Nissa tripped Biss, this is how Wintermute wrote it:

Nissa could no more have dodged the attack as she could have flown on golden wings. But when the female vampire looked down, Nissa had slipped the top of her foot around behind the heel of the vampire’s foot. Nissa lifted her other foot and pushed on the knee. With the vampire’s heel caught on the top of Nissa’s foot, the force of Nissa’s push transferred to the upper body, and the vampire pitched backwards. She fell on her back, dropping the bampha.

There's no need to go into such detail in something like this. We've all seen someone being tripping in a similar fashion on TV, in movies, or seen it in mixed martial arts matches, or maybe even experienced it studying some martial art or taking a self-defense class. Wintermute isn't writing about anything special, and the complexity takes so long to read through that it kills the immediacy of the moment.

It's like if you were reading about someone signing a receipt and it said:

He picked up the pen and rested the rear end of it in the groove between his thumb and pointer finger, and lightly gripped the front end with the distal segments of the pointer and middle fingers. Then he applied pressure with his thumb as an opposing force to keep the pen in place, so when he pressed the tip of the pen to the paper he holds down against the counter with his other hand, it would allow for constant contact with the paper as he moved the pen in the practiced motion that allowed the ink to flow from pen to paper and leave behind a permanent marking that could be recognized as his signature.

Something like this should most likely never been written within any story, especially the signing isn't emphasizing an important moment or isn't being used as a metaphor/representation of the man's state of mind or life. If the man is just paying for groceries to bake a birthday cake for a friend, just get back to the actual story!


Let's take a look at that ending.

"What is this Mortifier you speak of, blood slave?" Nissa said. "Or are you as dim as the rest of your kind?"

She's the one asking the question. How does her not knowing what he's talking about in any way mean that he's the dim one?

And then...

The vampire studied her face for a moment. “Could it be that this elf is not aware of whom she travels with?” he said. “Perhaps she does not know what the Mortifier is?”

I'm not fond of Wintermute's style of turning people arrogant jerks as a way to attempt to make them come across as in control and threatening. It's not threatening, it doesn't make me feel like Nissa is in any real danger, and it doesn't make me feel like this is a villain that I want to hate. It's just annoying.

Imagine if someone talked to you in the third person after you asked them a question.

Can it be that this person doesn't know the answer the question that he/she just asked of me? Silly thing.

It's just really sleazy way of talking and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If it was just one character that did it, particularly a villain, that would be one thing, but it's something he applies to every character when he attempts to make them seem confident and in command.


  1. Your synopsis is phenomenal. Can you please send this to Wintermute when you're done, so he gets some feedback at least, of this atrociously written book?

  2. Haha, thanks for the feedback. About sending this to Wintermute... *wince* I don't know about that.

    I'm sure he's had plenty of feedback already. (Hopefully including Wizards themselves.) If he wants to hear more, my reviews aren't too hard to find. But I just know if I was the author of this, I'd probably be in hiding.