Now on audiobook: This Brilliant Darkness, written by yours truly and narrated by Jack Wallen.
If you liked the book you will love this version. Jack is amazing as Greachin (and wonderful as everyone else, actually).
If you’re new to Audible, you can actually get it free with your first 30 day membership. I like their app. It has “back up” buttons that will jump back a few seconds if you missed something. Great while driving.
Anywho…back to work for me. Just wanted to say…GREACHIN is on the loose.
Got my Code Monkey Save World trade cover today!
Looking forward to perusing all the JoCo goodness.
If you’re here because of the Sex, Drugs, and Rockin’ Trolls ad in the back, you need to see this.
All because they do not wish to see anyone else suffer the way they do.
How is that guy wise? He’s king of Mirkwood, the shittiest piece of real estate outside of Mordor. Seriously, it’s got evil spiders, mind fuck gas, and frakking SAURON!
Alright, let me explain you a thing.
Thranduil was born in the ancient kingdom of Doriath some time in the First Age. He fought in at least one of the worst battles Middle-earth had ever seen or will ever see. We’re talking Dragons, Balrogs, possibly Morgoth himself - literally all hell broke loose during the War of Wrath. He served under Elu Thingol, who is revered as one of the greatest Elf kings of all time. Sometime either prior to or after Thingol’s murder, Oropher, Thranduil’s father, led the Silvans East to escape the Noldor influence and wound up in what was called Greenwood the Great, more commonly known as Mirkwood. Thranduil lived in Lindon for a time with Gil-galad and Elrond, but at some point resided in the Greenwood.
Now, let’s talk about the Greenwood - it was a vast forest, completely pure, nothing but a beautiful woodland realm. Oropher was not given a Ring of Power, and still it managed to stay almost completely perfect. Then Sauron came back and forged the One Ring. Then shit went downhill. Greenwood was in rather close proximity to Mordor (which likely didn’t exist when the Greenwood was settled, as Sauron was biding his time and then took up residence in Numenor, which was across the Sea), and Sauron’s forces started heading northwest to attack. Oropher fought them off (not for nothing, the other Elven realms were also under attack - actually, all of the kingdoms of the Free Peoples in the East, now that I think about it). Dagorlad rolls around, better known as the Last Alliance. Oropher gets killed, more than sixty percent of his army slaughtered by Sauron’s forces. But who lived through that? Thranduil. He was now king and led what remained of their soldiers back to Greenwood, where he ruled without much trouble for some time. In this time, Thranduil’s still scarred from Dagorlad, he can’t even look in the direction of Mordor, and knows in his heart that Sauron isn’t finished.
Fast forward to about 2000 years prior to the Quest for Erebor. Something takes up residence in an abandoned fortress - Thranduil’s old home, no less. Nobody has any idea what it is. Now this is close to the southeast borders, so really, it could be anything. It’s watched, but it’s probably not given much thought. Then slowly everything turns dark. The forest is becoming sick, and there are monsters everywhere. This once pure and almost perfect realm is now being poisoned. And Thranduil fights it off, holding it back.
Let’s jump ahead once again to around 170 years prior to the Quest. Thror is now ruling as King Under The Mountain. Thranduil goes to pay homage to him and sees this vast amount of wealth he’s amassed. He warns Thror that to hoard all of that is a bad idea, it’s not going to end well, you’re setting up bait for a dragon. Thror doesn’t listen. He mocks Thranduil openly, basically gives him the middle finger, and Thranduil leaves. Thror becomes inflicted with gold-sickness, and then one day, BAM! Dragon.
The cities of Dale, Erebor, and possibly Esgaroth are all in flames if they haven’t burned down already. What does Thranduil do? He gathers the armies and goes straight to Erebor. But upon seeing what’s really going on, he turns away. Why would he do that? Is he just some heartless bastard that is going to allow this ancient vendetta between the Sindar and the Naugrim to sway his decision on what’s right? No. He turns away because it’s a fucking dragon. He knows there’s no way of winning against Smaug. He knows it will only end in death. The Dwarves are unarmed, and there’s only so much even the Elves can do against a massive fire-drake. Not only that, let’s go back to Oropher. You know why he died? Because he, and I quote, “led a reckless charge” against Sauron. He probably didn’t think it through very well, and Thranduil got to witness his father being slain. And again, Thranduil himself has faced Dragons before, this isn’t something new to him. He turns away because he knows better. He’s not an idiot. He knows the dragon is going to win that fight either way, he decides too much blood has been spilled already, let’s not make it worse (plus the Elves are immortal, they don’t just lay down their lives for anyone).
Several decades later, the forest is getting worse. There’s spiders now, direct descendants of Ungoliant, one of the most horrific monsters in the history of Arda. The borders have been receded and the south isn’t even part of Greenwood now. It’s just wild country. And Thranduil still manages to keep a good part of the forces of Dol Guldur at bay.
Now Thorin and Co. are wandering through the forest, which is poisoned beyond control and beyond the healing powers the Sindar and Silvans possess (remember, no fancy ring). The Dwarves wake up the spiders and endanger the Elves, who Thranduil is sworn to protect. That’s what kings do. Thorin is brought before Thranduil and is stomping his feet like a two year old and not answering simple questions. But Thranduil knows, he’s not an idiot. Why would Thorin Oakenshield show up here after settling for so long in Ered Luin, the other side of the world? To reclaim Erebor. It’s a nice idea, very sentimental, but like Communism, it’s better in theory than in practice. Thirteen Dwarves against a dragon as formidable as Smaug? It’s not going to happen. There isn’t a snowball’s chance in Orodruin that they’re going to make it out alive, and if they do get there, they’ll wind up waking up and pissing off a dragon who’s already proved his wrath. He offers to help Thorin, not asking much, but of course, Thorin just throws a hissy fit. So Thranduil has them imprisoned, until they get their act together. And you know what? He’s doing them a favor. The longer they stay with him, the longer they survive. The longer they ward off starvation (they’re given clean water and good food, Thranduil’s not a dick), the longer they keep themselves and others from being burned alive, the longer they’re kept from possibly starting a war. (Also, I’m going to point out that Dwarves are constantly being dragged screaming into Dol Guldur. Thranduil knows this. Again, by keeping them under lock and key, he’s doing them a favor, though they don’t realize it).
Thorin and Co. spring out of jail and finally get to Erebor. Meanwhile, Thranduil realizes that Sauron has moved in and is the reason his home is being destroyed and his people killed, and closes the borders. Nothing gets in, nothing gets out. “Other lands are not [his] concern” because his main interest is in his own people (if the Queen of England were a true ruling monarch, do you think it would be a good idea for her to forsake her own people in favor of, say, Zimbabwe? Not really.) He won’t allow his people to go South because he knows the danger that’s breeding there - anyone who goes near it is asking for death.
This just in, Laketown just burnt to a crisp. Thranduil has an allegiance with the Lake-men, and sends his troops to go help repair the damage, as winter is coming and these people need somewhere to live. But now Thorin’s at it again (He survived????) and Bard is in need of Thranduil’s help. He rallies his forces (while leaving some behind to help with the whole Dol Guldur problem) and marches on the mountain. Bard’s talking about taking the gold, Thranduil flat-out tells him he’s not interested in gold or fighting. He’ll only go to war if he has to, and it sure as shit won’t be for money. That’s not worth killing over. The war doesn’t actually begin until Thorin launches the attack, and now with the army from the Iron Hills at his back, Thranduil (and Bard) has no choice but to fight. And the three wind up joining forces.
Now, tell me that after all that, there’s no possible way that Thranduil could be wise. The forest was an incredible place to live when he arrived with his father, and even when he was made king. He didn’t just find a poisoned realm and say “Let’s stay here!” It wasn’t always like that.
And as for your crack about Mirkwood/Greenwood being “the shittiest piece of real estate”, allow me to give you a list of but a few places that are shittier than Mirkwood:
Need I go on?
this deserves a medal
Every monster in the world was human, once. It is easy to forget that when one sees teeth, sees claws, sees inhuman hungers lurking behind another’s eyes. We are hunters, and they are what hunts us, darkness of our own making. The seed in which every monster grows is a human one and if you know that, if you understand it, if you dive into their psyche and out the other side with a posse, and hounds, and guns – then the monsters have cause to fear us. We have killed so much else on this world, what is one more thing even if it is part of us? We say the monsters are what we become when we stop pretending to be human, but I think it’s far worse than than that. The monsters are what happens when we are convinced that there is no redemption for us at all.
That totally nails Greachin, doesn’t it?
This Brilliant Darkness available on audiobook, soon.
It’s Friday! And that means payday!
Spend a couple of bucks on this huge $.99 Kindle book sale!
I’ve included Troll Or Derby for the last sale until…? Probably until Troll Or Park is out. Snag it!