I bring to you another exclusively German work which contains not one, but two freakin' Sues! This one almost won the Wolfgang Hohlbein Award, which is handled like a special honour for fantasy manuscript but is actually rather a Golden Raspberry for novels. I was mocked for taking the flaws of the book so seriously, because it is for children, and giving children stupid books is apparently okay. If this really were okay, so were feeding kids with dog food and snot, 'cuz after all, they're just kids, right?
Beware. Looooooooooong. Some of this dramedy is too Trainwreck Syndrome inducing to be shortened down.
Title of Work: Der Fünfte Krieger des Bösen (The Fifth Warrior of Evil; and in German, this sounds exactly as stupid and cliché as it does in English)
Author: Tanja Vetesnik
Full Name, including titles: Tuadh, Prince of the dTiarnai. Back in earlier times, when I did not know much about the Gaelic language(s), I tended to pronounce his name like “toad”. It's actually Gaelic for “axe” 'cuz he's just that darn awesum.
Full Species: Whiny secretly royal brat who can do no wrong, puer angstius perfectius
Hair Colour: Dark, which is oh-so-speshul amongst the dTiarnai (Elves by another name or something) and even becomes a plot point.
Eye Colour: Dark blue, like midnight
Unusual Markings/Colourations: A strange birthmark on his neck which he hides because he is harrased for it because reasons, which is actually a scar. Later on, Cailin also notices that even though he is so meager, and his hair is a mess, and white from the flour, he is very handsome! (Because bones are just that erotic, I guess.)
Special Possessions/Pets: At first, Garrit's puppy Fraw who loves him much better than Garrit. Generally every single animal they ever encounter. Only “nice” animals, of course. Later on, a mysterious sword he found in a tomb. Cailin states that, oh, the dead must have given it to him, because they can. Also, a magic crystal which guides his way, but nobody believes it is magic because they are dumb.
Annoying Sidekicks: Half-human, half-dTiarnai seer bitch Cailin who is a Mary Sue herself. See below. Is one to her, in the beginning. Also, some dude who rescues the idiots, er, heroes, just in the nick of time, because Tuadh is so speshiöl.
Annoying Origin: It's SPESHUL! See below. This needs detail.
Annoying Way of Ruining the Story: Everyone haaaaated the poooooor thing just because he is a foundling and has a birthmark 'nd stuff!!! The eeeevil miller whom he belongs to always chains him at night ever since he tried to flee, can you imagine that?! And he also has only a horse blanket at night, and despite the fact that it's warm, and the world is medieval, and the setting is a farm village, this is just awful, for the blanket stinks, oh the poor sod Tuadh is!!! He also has scars on his legs from being chained every night, and because medieval farmers were known for their crystal clear skin, that's just horrible and stigmatizes him! And the miller always cuts his hair in order to prevent lice, and that's just horrible, too, for how can one be bishônen when he's bald? And a thousand other really, really important things every slave that works day and night and lives in a medieval sort of village in more or less a dog's circumstances naturally worries about! There is a third party member, Garrit, and Garrit was the one who bullied Tuadh all the time. Now it's always like “Boo, stupid little foundling, which I call you because I'm sooooo EBUL! You can nothing and nobody loves you and you are but a burden to us! Hear my stereotypical bully talk!” “Shut, up, Garrit, Tuadh is a sentient being just like you and me, and oh, do not fear, Tuadh, and oh my gawd, he needs rest, I demand rest for Tuadh, now, Garrit, because Tuadh is such a poor guy, and he is so poor, you should pity him, and have I mentioned just how poor he is?” He always saves the day with his zomfg!awesome senses (female intuition, maybe?), even while in delirium and even though he really is a freakin burden. Did I mention he stutters? Of course, he overcomes it over time in his perfect perfection, but it is incredibly annoying to read his lines. “Th-th-th-th-th-th-the m-m-m-m-il-l-l-l-l-ler s-s-s-s-s-said I-I-I-I-I-I-I m-m-m-m-m-m-mus-s-s-st n-n-n-n-n-not...”
Annoying Special Abilities: EVERYTHING. He aaalways finds the right way and the solution to everything and he finds vegetables in the wild despite having spent his entire life in a village, he can talk to animals, and he also has all the never really defined abilities of the dTiarnai, and finds a mysterious stone that lends him the mysterious ability to mysteriously sense the right way (which he subconsciously could do before), and knowing he secretly is the dTiarnai prince before he even knows it (yeah...) his father, the dTiarnai king, stops being a drunkard as soon as he arrives, the death goddess just has so much mercy for this poor little soul that she resurrects him, he can wield a sword and he is the cleverest guy ever and his spontaneous ideas always prove to be right, he also...
Miscellaneous Reasons The Sue Should Not Exist: This does not really demand explanation, now does it?
Redeeming Qualities: Uhm. He has no twin brother, nor a clone. There also is no sequel. Does that count?
Full Name, including titles: Cailin. Mrs Vetesnik apparently feels clever using random Gaelic words. This one, though, is not too impressive. The name “Colleen” derives from it, they're pronounced alike, and it simply means “girl”.
Full Species: Omfg!speshul human-dTiarnai-hybrid, lesser Sue than Tuadh, puella bitchia mixta impossibilis
Hair Colour: Light brown with copper streaks in it
Eye Colour: One hazel, one green, to mark her mixed heritage or something
Unusual Markings/Colourations: See above. Humans and dTiarnai never meet, live in different worlds, and despise each other, and yet, this brat exists. This is quite an unusual marking, no? Also, Tuadh notes she is the most beautiful girl he has ever encountered.
Garrit A seer stone, which is a stone worn around her neck that allows her to have visions, or something like that. (She sure treats Garrit like some sort of spoiled animal, though.)
Annoying Sidekicks: First, Tuadh. Later on, as he becomes the perfect good looking super kewl hero dude, she becomes his sidekick.
Annoying Origin: See above; also, she is a seer and her master, the best magician ever, dies, and she is made responsible for the murder and flees.
Annoying Way of Ruining the Story: Even though she is stated to be brave and wise for her age, she is little more than a damsel in distress who always has to be saved by the guys, especially big ol' hero Tuadh, of course, the wimpy angsty pitiful weak pain in the ass. Her switches between “Oh, I'm your brave leader through a world you don't know, and I posses mighty magic!” and “Eeep, help me, the poor girly girl, who isn't capable of even going to the toilet alone, waah, waah, I need a strong man!” give me whiplashes. She also is an incredible dumbass for the sake of stretching the plot.
Annoying Special Abilities: She is a seer who is naturally gifted with the sight and is on the quest for the son of the king of the dTiarnai, and she possesses a pack of dei ex machinae. She also is a healer, even though most of the time, everything she does is useless.
Miscellaneous Reasons The Sue Should Not Exist: Adds nothing to the story besides being a plot coupon and making mistakes so the book can be longer. Doesn't even have a real back story of her own. Also has twentieth century views of gender relations and slavery, even though the rest of her world doesn't. The first of which always gets provoked by Garrit's stupidly shoehorned in sexist jokes. Her dramatic “Poor Tuadh is a living being too!” speeches are nothing short of sickening, as is her general “Everything Tuadh is good, everything Garrit is bad” view, because other than his rather snotty behaviour and his bullying of Tuadh in the past, he is actually a decent guy and a flawed, likable character. She forms a semi-romantic relationship with Tuadh, and after discovering that he is the dTiarnai prince, not Garrit, as everyone thought, including the two boys themselves, she comes to the angsty conclusion she will not be able to sacrifice him on the altar to seal the Fifth Warrior of Evil away again. Apparently, sacrificing Garrit would not have been any sort of a problem. Bitch.
Redeeming Qualities: The author sorta forgets about her in the end.
Some explanations on the plot? So you can see the whole shittiness? Sure. First, it should be noted that Mrs Vetesnik usually only writes Das Schwarze Auge (“The Black Eye”) novels, which is the German equivalent of Wizards of the Coast. DSA, as we usually call it, is a P&P role play game much in the tradition of Dungeons and Dragons. You now can imagine the quality of her writing, the depth of her characters (There just is no Raistlin Majere in this story), and the value of the award mentioned above.
So, you see, there was this dTiarnai king dude, MacSomething-I-Forgot. After Diana Wynne Jones, I'm just gonna call him Dave Mate, for simplicity's sake. The dTiarnai are some sort of Celtic inspired hillside kin race, something Elven/sidhe, or something like that, the humans fear and respect them, and yet we never learn anything about them except these two things and that most of them are blond of hair while most humans are dark-haired. Keep that in mind, it will be important later on (Everyone smelling the obvious here is right, of course). They live in a parallel dimension, btw, and humans believe they can talk to animals and control the weather and stuff. If this is true or just rumors, we'll never learn. Some of them seem to possess magic abilities, but we never learn if the humans do so, too. So, they are just some other people with a fancy if unpronouncable name.
But I digress. There was this Dave Mate, and Dave Mate had a beautiful dark haired wife
, called Mad Eileen. She, too, was dTiarnai, but she was dark of hair, because, duh. She died giving birth, and Dave Mate was so outraged that he intended to sacrifice his child on some sort of scary altar to demand his wife back in exchange of his child's life, but the Death Goddess was not amused, so she stole the child, and with his blood, the Fifth Warrior of Evil was set free. He was beneath the altar because cookie and he is the fifth because dunno. And he, uh, is evil and stuff.
At the same time, a human miller's wife was due to give birth, but the child was very weak, so she ran off to the woods where the dTiarnai realm can be entered, and she prayed for her child's life, and miraculously, the child wound up healthy afterwards, and another infant was found in the village. He was named Tuadh and raised by, uh, and then became the miller's slave. His son, by the way, was called Garrit, and was blond of hair, because. Tuadh, by the by, had a birthmark on his neck everybody thought to be unlucky, because birthmarks are just so damn rare, and everyone was cruel and brutal to him because nobody values a slave that's able to work, apparently. Only Garrit's mother ever wonders if the boys could have been switched, because she suffered a fever after her son's healing and stuff happened and she told nobody out of plot convenience.
Approximately sixteen years later, a young seer called Cailin is accused of murder on her master, Munaris, who knew something about King Dave Mate's Adviser of Evil, who is totally not
Grimar Wormtongue the Fifth Warrior of Evil. It is, of course, him, who makes Cailin responsible. Before his death, Munaris told her about Pseudo Grimar's true nature, and she decides to run off and search for the dTiarnai prince to sacrifice him in order to seal the Warrior again. Then, she has a vision, in which she sees a brave and tall and strong blond youth who leads a group of bullies into harassing a slave boy their own age, and she just knows the prince was one of them, and she immediately decides that blondie is the only one in question since only dTiarnai are blond, except herself and the late Queen.
Some dude on a horse and some evil dudes follow her into the human realm, where the villagers declare her a bitch, er, I mean, witch, and want to burn her, but first, they tie her on a pillar in the stables where Tuadh sleeps, the slave boy who always wanted freedom, and then they leave her alone over night. Stupid, much? Garrit (who is evil because he hit his poor little puppy dog that likes Tuadh better than him anyways) comes to see her out of curiosity, however, and she convinces him he is the dTiarnai prince, and he frees her and also poor, poor Tuadh for she demands he should come with them because he is the only slave in this world speshiül enough for her attention and sense of justice. She also is shocked to hear from his pitiful voice that he is an orphan, which hurts him a lot even though he is around 16 years old and never knew his parents, and despite the fact that Cailin is an orphan, too, and has just recently lost her only confidant, Munaris, because Tuadh's destiny is at least a hundred times more tragic than her own.
Then they go and see the portal to the borderland between the human and the dTiarnai realm, and when Tuadh touches it, strange signs glow on it, but only Cailin notices this and dismisses it as an error of herself, because only dTiarnai are able to use the gates. This is not the first time of Cailin Being Clever, beware. They go into the borderland, where everything is slicky and slimy and swampy and molds, and Cailin takes care of Tuadh because he is oh, so weak and needs nursing and can hardly walk and also is wounded from a whip, and has a fever even though he feels cold as ice, which usually only dTiarnai do, which wonders Cailin a bit, but she doesn't have any further thoughts about it, and then, Garrit, who keeps saying the sensible thing to leave Tuadh behind, finds strange, warm stones. These are actually dragon eggs and dragon mom wants them for dinner, but Tuadh talks (!!) her into not eating them and they move along. They always find the best and the right way by following Tuadh stumbling through the mud, because he is in delirium and cannot see, but somehow he mysteriously seems to know the way. That sounds totally plausible and like a reasonable character trait.
The villagers are at this point attacked and asked for the witch by the mysteeerious hooded riders that followed Cailin who was too stupid to notice or even take into account, in a very Nazghulish fashion.
Tuadh takes a nap sometime later, while the other two are almost eaten by a carnivore whipping willow tree, similar to the one in Harry Potter, yay! It has shoved them into its mouth when Tuadh awakes, miraculously fully restored, and attacks the willow with a sharp edged stone by incidentally hitting its only weak point. There drops some slimy juice out of it and onto Tuadh's body, and when Cailin wants to care for Tuadh's wounds, she discovers that the willow jizz has healed them all. How very comfortable! They are also followed all the time by some strange creature with crippled wings which keeps giving less than subtle hints about Tuadh and Garrit's real species. Every now and then, a paragraph or two are from this thing's POV which is clearly intended to rise the suspense, but later on, this animal or whatever it is, is killed in a very boring, short, and anticlimatic manner.
In the meantime, Cailin keeps on knowing everything, being able to do everything, and being a general Jekyll/Hyde mixture of a clumsy distressed damsel who needs to be rescued and the bestest magician's apprentice, wise beyond her years and brave. It is utterly unfeminist. Hooowever, the three of them wind up in a hillside tomb, where there is an earthquake and then Tuadh finds a Sweper Speshul Sword with a necklace with a crystal pendant dangling from it. The tomb is the one of the first dTiarnai high king, and Cailin just assumes these guys would give poor little orphan Tuadh their sword (without thinking of the implications, AGAIN), because he is just that darn special. He asks her whether the necklace on the sword, which is made from a material neither of them is able to recognize, and is very fine and smooth, and the crystal of which pulses with light and lets him be able to always see the right way, might be magical. She replies, no, it's just a piece of jewelry. Tuadh says: “If you say so, it has to be true, wise Cailin!!!1”
Of course and rather understandably, Garrit, usually shoved in the background by the author in favour of Cailin pitying Tuadh and his cruel, cruel destiny, is a little mad. He demands the sword, because still everybody thinks he is the dTiarnai prince. And suddenly, Tuadh, who winced just when hearing Garrit's voice, and got harassed and hit and tortured by him and the whole village and every human being he ever knew his whole life, stands his Gary Stu ground and makes it clear that Garrit is a liar and a poser, and that he is cruel and he, the Shining and Mighty Tuadh, will not longer tolerate this behaviour!!!!!
From there on, Tuadhs hero-ness increases drastically, because he just got that damn strong in a matter of some days. Every therapist ever will confirm that running through the wilderness for a few days, away from home and everything you ever knew, fleeing, starving, getting wounded, being hunted and all that stuff is very good for a shy, whiny, cowardly half-starved slave boy to get stronger of character! Yeah. So, later on, Garrit finds a flute in the hand of a skeleton and decides to keep it. He plays on it awfully, because, y'know, he is a snotty brat and there just is not the possibility that he has any talents besides being mean. With his bad flute play, he awakens a witch that wants to eat him, but Tuadh rescues him, because the moment he touched his meggik sword, he became an instant master of the fine art of hacking people to death (a subjects that’s neither named nor even touched on – my willing suspension of disbelief struggles to contain that). He resurrects the witch that is actually a cursed banshee type fairy gal thing whose lover was the poor lad the flute belonged to. That's just how good Tuadh is. He also rescues Garrit when they have to cross a narrow bridge. You see, Garrit is afraid of heights. He also forgives everything Garrit has ever done to him, because he is now a cool loner hero guy, brave, generous and all, has overcome his stuttering, only the white horse is still missing and I keep retching.
Sometime later, they fight some giant spider monster. During the fight, Tuadh gets wounded. They discover that they are back in the human realm, because Cailin told Tuadh with his Always Right Syndrome that they need to find the gate to Garrit's world, and Cailin finally realizes that Tuadh is the dTiarnai prince and the reversed hair colours are a mere coincidence. Didn't see that coming, huh? She realizes it because Tuadh is cold from his fever while Garrit is hot. Man, she's bright. She also realizes his birthmark is really a scar he got as an infant when Dave Mate tragically failed in cutting is throat. They are picked up by some generic desert nomad people who first care for them and then betray them and want to sell them to a slave trader. There, we learn that Garrit has has a small cock and also that he only bullied Tuadh because he wanted to impress the other boys for because of his blond hair he was insecure, and never had any bad intentions. Aww.
The rest is a mess. They are rescued by the mysteeerious dude on a horse from the beginning had already forgotten about at this point, and go to the dTiarnai realm, where they are captured and thrown into the prison by the Diabhail, as Wannabe!Grimar is called and which means “devil” in Gaelic, because subtlety. Tuadh escapes and searches for the king to tell him that they found his son, for Cailin, clever as she is, has not told them yet about her mistake. Dave Mate immediately recognizes his late wife in Tuadh's face, and they are freed, and there is some sort of battle, and Tuadhs blood lands on the altar, and the Fifth Warrior of Evil is sealed again and Tuadh is dead. The Death Goddess, though, has so much mercy for him, the poor special whiny Gary Stu brat, that she resurrects him, and Tuadh lives with his daddy and Garrit is happily brought back to his father, the miller, and Cailin is completely forgotten.
P.S.: It would be quite helpful if anyone could point at the single line of this book that does not scream “SUE!” or “STU!” or “CLICHÉ!” Pretty please?