This. This, this,this. I mean, what the frack, Cimorene? That always bugged me, but it wasn't worth making a new Just Bugs Me page until finding such an apt summary of my grievance.
Yes. Because being forced to be wife and brood-mare of a person you don't like, don't respect, and don't want to ever see again is EXACTLY the same as taking a position as a room-and-board housekeeper who is free to pursue her own interests, be her own person, have her own personal space and freedom of thought, act, and speech. What exactly did you expect her to do: run away from home and become an Action Girl mercenary? The whole *point* was that she had been deliberately crippled by her parents to be good for nothing BUT marriage. At least with Kazul, she was allowed to learn magic and practice her fencing.
I certainly didn't expect her to take a practically suicidal route to potentially learning magic, since dragons are known for killing people on sight. And it's been a few years, but I thought the fencing practice was on her own time, and explicitly without permission, and the magic-learning was under the condition of not going out to do interesting things other than the reading said books of magic (except for getting food) and risking the secrets of the magic being let out? Or have I been confusing this for a completely different book the whole time, something by, perhaps, Vivian Vande Velde? If so, I completely retract the original point.
According to Kazul, dragons never ate princesses and in fact having one was a sort of a mark of higher status and ensured the princess a good marriage to boot. The fencing and magic were both learned behind her parents back, with everything else like cooking or political studies. As soon as her parents found out she was doing all of those things, they quickly forbade her from doing it. Hence why she enjoyed working for Kazul - the dragon was more than happy to let her learn magic and carry around a sword and cook. In fact, she encouraged all of those things and was pleased that Cimorene took an effort to be more careful and sensible than most princesses.
Except Cimorene didn't exactly know that.
Oh, now that you mention the "mark of status to have a princess" thing amongst the dragons, and the frog mentioned below, and that one of the classes she was forbidden was cooking... Anyway, I'm remembering those and other differences between this book and the other (more of a novella, really), so it is a different book. Okay, then, I retract my original JBM.
Her parents forbade her from fencing but Kazul didn't (although it only came up once), and the only people they were keeping secrets from were the wizards, so yeah I don't know where that came from. Also: "harmful social stereotypes" sounds to me a bit more political than the books try to be, Cimorene rebels against Contractual Genre Blindness more than contemporary gender roles. One of the lessons her parents make her stop is cooking.
First of all, Cimorene never went out on purpose to take a job with the dragons. She told a frog about how she'd rather die than marry the prince she was engaged to and the frog basically told her "if you go to this place, some people there can help you out". She has no idea who she's going to see until she actually gets there. Part of the reason she suggests working for a dragon in the first place was because one was loudly considering eating her and she wanted to state her business quickly. Kazul took her thoughts and feelings into account far more than her family did and it was later mentioned that Cimorene wielded quite a bit of political power since she was the only one who took the time to organize the dragons' political system after Kazul became king. Plus, it wasn't that Cimorene didn't like cooking and cleaning, she didn't like learning useless things like embroidery and dancing. It was pretty clear that she found sorting treasure and cooking cherries jubilee and translating Latin to be far more interesting and enjoyed it a lot more.
Overall, Cimorene prefers skills and activities that are practical and useful. She didn't like her protocol (table serving and where everyone sits) lessons either, but when she found it useful in getting the banquet set up for Kazul, she was immediately giving a mental apology to her teacher. Cooking, fencing, and magic, among other activities have their clear uses. Embroidery and dancing? Very situational... not so useful. Therefore, she hated those.
Towards the end of Talking to Dragons, Shiara is unable to do anything to a group of wizards because she hadn't been polite to anyone since she apologized to Telemain. However, only a few chapters before, she thanked a dwarf for setting her broken arm. Does that not count?
It's been a while since I actually read the book, but I thought that she used up that politeness destroying the quozel (sp?). Of course, I could be dreadfully mistaken, and if so, I apologize. ^^;
She thanks the dwarf when he's setting her arm after the Quozzle was destroyed or scared off. There's no reason the politeness shouldn't work, unless it's only good when she's polite to humans, which leads to some Unfortunate Implications of Fantastic Racism.
She has to be polite and mean it for her magic to work. If she says something polite but doesn't mean it, there's no effect. Presumably, she didn't mean it that time. (Which is kind of bad since he did help her out, but she was pretty annoyed in that scene- her arm hurt and he gave her some advice that she already knew- and possibly saying thank you even if you feel annoyed equals not meaning it as far as the spell is concerned.)
The real question is why her politeness to Daystar shortly before the dwarf fixed her arm (she thanked him for saving her life, and it sounds fairly genuine in context) didn't let her use her magic. Perhaps the spell didn't think she was being polite enough.
Perhaps all of those acts of politeness, plus the apology she gives when they're in the castle all add up to one really powerful spell for her. The ribbon of fire she uses did seem very effective and strong.
Was anyone else annoyed by Mendanbar needing to "translate" Telemain's speech for Cimorene in Searching? It might not have been so bad if it had been straight-up Magibabble (the King of the Enchanted Forest would be expected to know a lot about magic), but in that book it was more Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness and it came off like her vocabulary needed expansion.
It didn't bother me, but I figured that was because these books are intended for grade school children. Having one character being able to translate and another not understand him is a literary device to make Telemain sound like an abstracted scholar without slowing the story down. Big Words does sound like Magibabble to 10 and 12 year olds.
Actually, I was in grade school when I first read the books, and while I had to puzzle out what he was saying, it was comprehensible. I get the purpose of it (and it was amusing), but after the previous book had spent so much time establishing Cimorene's book smarts, it seemed odd he'd outclass her. Not that it would inherently bother me for him to be smarter than her, but I otherwise had the impression we were supposed to consider them equals. So it was kind of inconsistent.
Ah, so your complaint is not the translation itself, but rather who does the translating and who needs it. I think that's a valid criticism. Especially since it's established that magic comes intuitively to Mendanbar and he can't explain how he does it, while Cimorene studied magic under the royal tutor and the king of the dragons and can read multiple languages. It does seem as if the explanations should flow the other way around. Hmmm...just going off the top of my head, perhaps Mendanbar as a practicing diplomat has more experience with people trying to obfuscate their meanings and sound smarter, while Cimorene is more used to the straight-forward speech of the dragons?
I never had any problem with it. I always thought it was meant to be funny, made all the better by Kazul's reaction to Telemain's MagiBabble.
I'm sure Cimorene would understand the words just fine if they were on a page in front of her. It's said rapid-fire the way Telemain does it that it's confusing.
Plus, while Cimorene did have a magic tutor, by her own admittance she didn't learn very much before the lessons stopped and most of what she knew she apparently taught herself. It's not unlikely that she had enough time between her duties to learn how to actually perform spells but not the actual science behind them, so she wouldn't be as familiar with Telemain firing off like that. Mendabar, meanwhile, did have an upbringing that would have encouraged him to learn magic, which would familiarize him with the science and possibly get him used to the fast-talking (we all know those teachers who go a mile a minute).
So, it would be like the difference between being able to read a language, and hearing someone in say, a movie, speak it out loud incredibly fast? Cool.
Contending with Willin's Long Lists probably also contributes, though it could also have to do with him having more patients for that sort of thing than Cimorene does. After all, she ran away from it, he didn't (or couldn't) and therefore had to learn to put up with and decipher it.
It actually was established that Cimorene had trouble with very dry/technical language regarding magic. In Dealing With Dragons, she finds it nearly impossible to go through the book that describes how the Caves of Fire and Night work. She only figures out the most basic big of one part, which only is because she could read it until she figured it out. Even then, she wasn't able to figure out the practical application of the text until Morwen already did it. Cimorene's intelligence seemed to be more centered around practicality and planning.
It never bothered me. Very few people understand Telemain immediately when he gets technical; in fact, the only ones who seem like they can are Mendanbar and Morwen. It's more of a commentary on Telemain than Cimorene.
How in the world did the wizards manage to detain Mendanbar in Calling on Dragons? (warning: spoilerific info ahead) He knew the spell argelfraster which appears to take little or no effort to cast, and he was previously shown making lemony soap water appear out of midair to melt dozens of wizards. He also had been shown working significant magic, including a teleport spell, without having his sword on hand. He was in the middle of his castle, the ultimate home ground. They couldn't "corner him" without getting melted by the droves or having him just teleport away. The only way I could think of would be if he was knocked out, and Talking to Dragons makes it clear that that did not happen.
I suspect the teleportation spell is more connected to the forest than anything else (he can't do it outside of the forest, at least not without the sword), so it sort of doesn't count. As for "argelfraster", it, like all other spells, requires a certain amount of energy to cast. (in the same book, when they all meet up with Arona and Antorell toward the end, Telemain doesn't melt him even though he's close enough because he needs to save enough energy to teleport them all home, showing that even "argelfraster" uses energy) As for the soapy water, well, that's a good question, but I think both times he did it previously, he had the sword. Perhaps it's not possible without it. Also, I wonder if the wizards could deflect "argelfraster" if they were prepared for it, disrupting the spell before it got going? There were some fairly senior wizards there, after all. Not to detract from Telemain's work, but it's possible they may have figured out the basics of Telemain's spell and found a way around it. Obviously not a foolproof way (Mendenbar still melted a few of them, after all), but perhaps some kind of a block. And besides, if they got the jump on him, they could just freeze him in place so he couldn't move and use the spell, like Antorell did to Cimorene earlier in the book. There's a lot of explanations, which probably just boil down to "lots of powerful wizards and Mendenbar doesn't have his sword."
There were also a big honking number of wizards mobbing the castle, who all had a number of spells pre-selected and stored for use anytime. All it would have taken is one knocking out Mendabar from behind or putting him in a sleep spell until they locked him up.
The wizards absorbed huge amounts of magic from the castle grounds. Doing so probably isolated the castle's magic from the rest of the Forest, weakening Mendanbar severely. The rest comes down to numbers.
So the wizards put up a field around the castle in the Enchanted Forest to keep everyone except themselves out. The dragons put up a shield around that to keep the wizards out. It's explicitly said that the only ones who could take down the wizards' shield are the wizards themselves (or the sword). So why didn't anyone think of rounding up a few wizards and forcing them to take down the shield?! I know it would be a long shot and very difficult and likely to backfire, but still, you'd think Cimorene would have tried it. She tried about everything else, after all.
Presumably either they couldn't find any wizards (most of them were melted or eaten and all the rest had gone into hiding) or if they did catch one, he flat-out refused to help. The wizards all seemed rather dedicated to their cause, after all. Not to mention that it's possible that not all wizards did know how to remove the barrier, so even if they did catch one, there's no guarantee it would do much good.
Given that Wizards' staffs also caused massive allergies around Dragons when there's enough numbers (Kazul mentioned sneezing so much when they actually took on the Wizards that they could hardly see straight in Calling), it's likely more difficult than it seems in theory to take a Wizard alive; That, and the wizards would also probably have enough sense (or at least fanaticism) to carry Dragonsbane on their immediate person in case something like this *did* happen, which can easily result in the Dragons losing 5-6 of their members for only a few Wizards.