Last time, now there’s two Solars in this book!
And now we switch back to the first one. Or more exactly, the Dragonbloods trying to kill him.
They aren’t doing well.
She saw the boy, then. He rose from the weeds, and he was stern and terrible in the way that only children who kill without remorse can be.
The book spends its time showing off how badass Yuyu is, and how he’s just slaughtering the Dragonblooded, who are described in very positive terms (how great and mighty they are, how beautiful and glorious they seem) to make it clear how extra awesome it is he’s cutting them down. Though factually they’re getting treated as incompetent, since the only successful hit comes from a thrown lance which just gets him in the shoulder, despite the fact he doesn’t even dodge.
Anyway, the real problem here is that it’s erasing the real pathos of the Hunt vs a newly exalted kid, which is that you’re murdering an innocent kid simply because they have power and you’re afraid that they might do something you don’t want with it.
So by the time we get to the survivor throwing her spear:
The impact tore his eyes from hers, and she was thankful for that. There had been something cold and deadly in his gaze, and Taenat wanted no more of it. She heard him cry out in pain, and was startled when the sound reminded her that this monster they fought was a child.
Well, it’s rather underwhelming. That last bit should have been at the forefront this whole time. Instead, it’s really only there to show off how awesome Yuyu must be to do this when he’s just a kid.
The short of it is because characterization isn’t a big deal to this story, or at least not the kind that involves weakness. His characterization is based around what’s appealing for self-insertion.
What was the core problem with how Yushuv reacted to the destroyed village? That he wasn’t emotionally affected. He’s acting as a player – taking insults personally, but shrugging off everything else. He isn’t even consistently characterized in terms of aggression – he’s sadistic toward the wolf thing, then claims he’s never so much as nicked another human being in anger and that the blinding desire to kill the Hunt isn’t him at all, and then here we are with him coldbloodedly putting arrow after arrow into people.
Now, there’s something to be said for the sort of person who’s just a ruthlessly efficient death machine, like Yuyu’s being here. But they’re a very simple character type, and really, really don’t work in situations like this, where the only real point of suspense is if he’ll survive.
More, this eliminates the reason to root against the Hunt. See, they are actually doing something pretty awful here. Their job is to go out and kill exalts, something people have no choice in. The fact the Sidereal’s vision for running Creation requires constant murdering of those who might threaten it is one of the things that suggests that maybe this isn’t the best way of doing things.
The point of a Wyld Hunt is not an encounter of a certain difficulty. It’s the knowledge that these people, to preserve the Realm or their own personal advantages, have killed other, innocent people before. That, if they win now, they will go on to kill more people. They will do anything to get their kill. There’s a little fiction piece in one of the books where they reach an anathema’s home and he’s run off, so they grab his mother and start torturing her to lure him back in, because all that matters is eliminating the demon. And they can really, truly believe that anathema are demons and at the same time be sure that torturing a family member will make this demon come and get itself killed.
But what are they to Yushuv? Just – things, really. He’s at a disadvantage, but he deals with it as if he’s a willing soldier, not an innocent civilian who’s been forced into this by chance. Supposedly, he’s not even a violent person, but he made the first move and meant it to be a lethal blow, so there’s no sense there he’s being forced into it either. He’s not afraid, which would also be a reason for sympathy and would better justify the fact he attacks. He doesn’t even hate them really, even that would help here, if he’d seen the abuses Dragonbloods get up to. They’re just there, and it’s time for combat, so he fights.
This is why it’s hard to view the Dragonblooded as wrong in killing him. Yushuv is not a sympathetic character.
Anyway, we’re down to one Dragonblood now. Everyone else has died or, in the case of Holok, she can’t see any sign of him. But she doesn’t retreat. None of them did. Even as they watched arrows cut the others down, they kept going because it’s their duty to defeat anathema even at the cost of their own lives. She manages to get to the top, where Yuyu has collapsed.
This should be victory, because she’d have thrown her second javelin as soon as she could see him. Instead she waits, because Yuyu has to win. She also feels a flicker of regret about having to kill him.
His eyes snapped open, and Taenat knew then that it was a trap. With blinding speed he snatched a knife from his belt and threw it. The javelin thudded into the earth by his head, and the knife took Taenat in the heart. Her mouth opened in shock, and bright blood flowed out. She sank to her knees, clutching at the wound and whimpering. “How?” she murmured once, and collapsed.
“I was running out of arrows, you see,” Yushuv said, and reached for his knife.
You know bayonets? The knifey thing that’s on the end of a gun, so you can stab the enemy when you run out of bullets?
One of the big problems armies had was that after a “bayonet charge”, the rifles would be wrecked from being used as clubs.
Because people just wouldn’t stab another person. Even another person who was shooting at you.
Yushuv here sure sounds badass, but it’s at the cost of sounding like a person.
It should also be pointed out that, outside the designated hero/villain, the actual chain of events:
Yushuv helps out an anathema.
Yushuv is seen by the one priest who’s still breathing and blamed. Yushuv rages at the man for this, saying none of this is his fault and when he does go on a killing spree it’ll be the priest’s fault for expecting it.
Yushuv leaves without looking for other survivors.
The Wyld Hunt shows up and hears that Yushuv is involved somehow.
The Wyld Hunt tracks down Yushuv.
Yushuv begins killing them.
What the Wyld Hunt is doing certainly looks justified. Yushuv doesn’t seem innocent or even like a child in any way beyond his physical form. He goes for lethal force immediately and without qualm, and he’s completely unaffected by the sight of their deaths.
Because he’s a PC, so all that matters is he looks cool while doing things.