In my opinion, it really blurs the message when you have a theme of “prejudice is bad” and you also have what are essentially orcs. Lura reacts to Beast Thing spoor and presence the way animals do in monster movies, Fors senses something deeply wrong and unnatural about them. They cannot really be reasoned with and we do not really get a sense of them as people. Even when the narrative mentions that the Beast Things are probably descended from foreign soldiers that did not have the sense to get the heck out of Dodge when the cities were bombed, or city dwellers who had been trapped in the cities, we have no sympathy for them. The Beast Things are basically Gollum. (Compare and contrast with Fors encounter with the little lizard people. There is never a moment of doubt that the little guys are sentient people, even when they seem determined to kill Fors.)
What ends up happening is that the Beast Things become the lead in for my Least Favorite Concept. You have probably seen this set up before. Two or more people are fighting until they are united by a third more dangerous other. Another variation of the setup is the world unites because of the threat of an alien invasion, only the alien invasion is a hoax because someone wanted to unite the world. (Sometimes the alien invasion is real, in which case it still doesn’t make sense.) This narrative does not ever happen this way in real life. People tend to take advantage of a situation where there is an apparent mutual enemy by attempting to screw over both sides.
Chapter Seventeen: The Last War
Fors and Lura get caught by the Beast Things, but Fors is able to free Lura, telling her to go get help. Lura is probably tired of her human needing to get rescued, but she high tails it. Fors gets dragged off to the Beast Thing camp where he sees another prisoner, a Plainsman.
Fors is extremely creeped out by the Beast Things’ rats! The rodents appear to be unusually intelligent; possibly Ben or Willard levels of intelligent, if not NIMH levels, and are kind of disturbing to Our Hero. We learn that Fors has pretty good reason to be disturbed because it appears that rats are used both as trackers and as interrogation tools! Fors also meets the Beast Things’ leader, a creature that he suspects is a little brighter than his fellows. (Beast things are not considered to be very long on brains because they have narrow skulls.)
Fors attempts to direct the Beast Things toward the Plains camp, but the leader does not seem to believe him. Fors gets tied up and carried off to a place that the Beast Things have fortified. In fact, the poor kid has become part of the fortifications. He becomes aware that he is in the middle of a battle, tied to part of the fortifications. He has a brief freak out moment involving the rats but manages to pull himself together and work on freeing himself
He makes an effort to free the other prisoner, but the Plainsman prisoner is already dead. Fors is delirious and hallucinating! He wanders off toward what he thinks is the Eyrie at the insistence of what may or may not be Lura. Somewhere in there the Beast Thing leader gets killed (though not of course by Our Hallucinating Hero). The poor kid is so out of it that he doesn’t even realize that he’s in the middle of a battle field.
Chapter Eighteen: A New Star Shines
Fors finds himself at the Plains camp. Excuse me, in the semi-united Plains and Dark People camp. There appears to be a parley going on. This means that Fors was successfully able to draw the Beast Things toward the Plainsmen while Jarl apparently drew the Dark People and the Plains People together into an alliance. (Sooo much fast talking must have taken place. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for that meeting.)
This is a very unsteady parley however, and Jarl points this out to Fors. He also tells Fors that the Plains People high chief has bitten the dust. This may or may not be a good thing. He urges Fors to take action of some kind, for some reason. Fors makes a speech indicating that the Beast Things are everyone’s enemy and that because of this, the Plains People and the Dark People should be allies against a common foe. (I am slightly disappointed by this tactic. The common enemy thing does not actually work that well in real life. On the other hand, this is science fiction.)
Everyone decides that this is a very good idea because the Beast Things are creepy has heck!
Everyone also apparently decides that Fors is the best thing since sliced bread! This is a very surprising thing for Fors. Our Hero doesn’t really have that high of an opinion of himself when you get down to it so he is startled that both the Plains People and the Dark People thing he is the most awesome amateur diplomat ever and should stay with them! Fors however feels that he should return to the Eyrie and face the music. No one really likes this idea, except Fors and Jarl. (Arskane seems particularly Concerned.)
Jarl and Fors talk about the tentative alliance between the Plains and Dark People. Both feel that this is the start of a beautiful relationship that will evolve into a new nation. When Fors gets back to the Eyrie there is a trial, but the verdict is somewhat surprising for Our Hero. It seems that the Star Men have decides that they should have a branch of their order be in charge of the unification of, learning about and exchanging information with other people, and Fors is their first member.
Part Seven | Reading Page