Friday, April 5, 2013

Hep Cats and Man-Rats

Hiero's Journey, Chapter Five:

(For the previous entry in this series, feast your eyes on this.)

After introducing the newest member of his motley group to Gorm the Bear, who startled Luchare when he unexpectedly rejoined his companions at the end of chapter four, Hiero condescends to hear the comely young princess's story. Luchare is at best a two-dimensional character, so rather than tell us anything about her, Lanier uses her introductory story to tell the reader about her homeland, D'alwah (presumably a post-apocalypse version of That Most Evil of States). Luchare confirms that, like her, everyone in D'alwah is black, as was the man, the “Elevener,” who rescued her from her initial captivity. The small kingdom is one of quasi-medieval walled cities, though its population is slightly more heterogeneous than that of Hiero's Metz Republic, including small resident communities of Muslims and “Davids” - presumably Jews, presumably also black. This is probably the only aspect of Lanier's 75th-century apocalyptic wasteland that Sammy Davis, Jr., would have found familiar.

The “Eleveners,” Hiero recalls, were followers of the so-called “Eleventh Commandment:” Thou Shalt Not Destroy the Earth or the Life Thereon. Lanier presents them as idealized secular Franciscans: they are itinerant, mendicant, deeply pacifistic, and work as veterinarians and teachers. The 11er who rescued Luchare took her on a long journey through various forests and small villages, heading northwest-ward from D'alwah, until the duo's luck ran out and they fell afoul of another Evil Mutant group, the “Man-Rats” (as Hiero prosaically calls them). The rat-men agree to let Luchare go on the condition that the Elevener surrenders peacefully to them; presumably they wish to eat him, or perhaps obtain from him instruction on how to solve common mazes. There is apparently honor among evil mutant man-rats, for they let Luchare go.  She is soon recaptured by another band of slavers.

These new captors took Luchare and other slaves to a busy “harbor town” on the Inland Sea, Neeyana, whose name apparently derives from the ancient province of Indiana. Like modern Hoosier cities, it is a place of “battered looking churches” and “sullen” people, suffused with a thin aura of evil (107). There the slavers took ship, intending to sell Luchare at another port as a concubine, but they were shipwrecked on the north shore of the Inland Sea. The blonde barbarians we met in Chapter Four rescued the slavers in exchange for Luchare, whom they intended to sacrifice to giant birds, like you do.

After telling her story and putting together a new traveling outfit, Luchare joins Mssr. Desteen and his increasingly motley group as they traveled along the north shore of the Inland Sea, a place of scrub and sandbars. Hiero is somewhat distracted by faint mental voices, and rather than ignoring them or trying to shield himself from them, our Hero instead exercises a bit of selective idiocy and tries to amplify the voices with the late S'nerg's psychic antenna. Immediately the Evil Mutant Operator on the other end tries to enslave Hiero, then, failing in the attempt, tries to stroke his ego by telling him how deadly he is and offering him membership in the Evil Unclean Mutant Conspiracy. Hiero, who considers this club a “sick, twisted” one (112), declines the Evil Mutant's kind offer, and instead breaks off contact and starts teaching Luchare how to build her own mental shield against the EUMC.

Lanier then has Hiero haul out that useful foreshadowing device, the seer stones. Per Desteen draws the Spear, the Fish, Clasped Hands, Lightning, and Boots, which indicate he will soon travel to Spearfish, South Dakota, to buy footwear and batteries and meet with his Allstate agent. Just kidding. He interprets the casting as “journey, battle, friendship, and storm,” which is only partially correct. At the very end of the chapter, Hiero and his companions are indeed attacked by an enemy force, specifically, a gang of 200-pound giant mutant monkeys, their minds full of “intelligence and malice” (127). The “Hairy Howlers,” as Hiero descriptively but reductively calls them, would normally be no match for Hiero and Klootz, but this time they have backup: a motorized boat operated by Evil Unclean Mutants, who knock down Per Desteen with some sort of deck-mounted lightning gun. Pow!

Coming next: Hiero finds “the spiritual emptiness we seek.” Plus, giant lampreys! Eek!

1 comment:

  1. Aw, its kinda like The Princess Bride (Heiro is our Wesley except a bit more arrogant and Luchara is Princess Buttercup though less devote but for good reasons) its own warped way =) Inconceivable! ("I do not think that means what you think it means," says Andre the Giant)