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Literature / Journeys of the Catechist

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Journeys of the Catechist is a fantasy trilogy by Alan Dean Foster. It consists of Carnivores of Light and Darkness (1998), Into the Thinking Kingdoms (1999), and A Triumph of Souls (2000).

Etjole Ehomba finds a dying man washed up on the beach, whose Last Request is that he rescue the beautiful Visioness Themaryl, who has been kidnapped by the sorcerer/warlord Hymneth the Possessed, and return her to her home city. Ehomba has never heard of any of these people, and he's only a humble herdsman with a family to look after, but a dying request is a dying request, so off he goes.

This series contains examples of:

  • Boring Return Journey: The journey to find Hymneth the Possessed and the Visioness Themaryl occupies most of the trilogy, with only about a quarter of the third book being spent in the overlord's kingdom. Then Ehomba takes Themaryl back to her kingdom from halfway through the second book, then back to the overlord because she'd fallen for him, then he goes all the way back to his own village. All without a description of the events.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Ehomba carries any number of magical and alchemical gifts in his backpack. Most of these are intended for use in other applications, but prove effective in whatever crazy-ass situation he's currently facing as well. In addition, his "sky-metal sword" usually has a hidden ability perfect for whatever foe he's fighting.
  • Godly Sidestep: Knucker the Knower, who knows everything when he's drunk, tells Ehomba the meaning of life in Into the Thinking Kingdoms. Ehomba is pleased with the answer, but since Knucker whispers the answer, the reader never finds out.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: A story-within-a-story seen in Carnivores of Light and Darkness tells of two warring anthills contacting a man, probably to get him to help destroy the other mound. One group of ants sees this as a divine miracle.
  • I Gave My Word: Ehomba doesn't want to leave his home and family to go and rescue some woman he's never heard of from some man he's never heard of in some place he's never heard of, but he has an obligation and he's not going to shirk it. After working his way through three books worth of crazy adventures to find Visioness Themaryl and defeat Hymneth the Possessed, Ehomba discovers that in the meantime she's fallen in love with her captor. Being a man of his word, he insists on taking her back to her family, but promises that he'll grant her one request. So she asks to go back to the necromancer (which involves more crazy adventures, but all off screen this time). The companions he picked up along the way all express their opinions that he's fallen well into Lawful Stupid territory.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: Ehomba, using a mirror to scare away some creatures that had been bombarding the party with giant pine cones. Afterward, each character looks into the mirror in turn. The normally jovial and exuberant Simna appears much more somber and depressed, the enormous cat Ahlitah appears as the height of feline majesty, and the recovering drunkard Knucker sees himself as he is when drinking. When Ehomba first looks into the mirror, the other three are momentarily blinded by the sun's reflection when they try to look. Looking again, the mirror is showing Ehomba exactly as he is. Only Ahlitah notices that the sun was in front of Ehomba, not behind him, and so couldn't have been the source of the light that the others saw in the mirror.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Te eromakasi (eaters of light) can only be killed by eromakadi, because they are basically mist, and need to be sucked in. The most powerful mage in the world has two of them as bodyguards.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: This turns out to be the case with Hunkapa Aub.
  • Oh, My Gods!: Simna has a very long list of deities upon which to call in any situation; all of their names starting with the letter "G". However, it's not inexhaustible:
    Simna: "By every god-damned god I've ever sworn by! What is going on here?!"
  • Panthera Awesome: Ahlitah, a hybrid of lion and cheetah, who possesses his father's strength (the lion), and his mother's speed. He basically serves as The Snark Knight throughout the series, and The Big Guy for the first book.
  • Unwanted Rescue: Played with. Ehomba promises a dying man that he will rescue the beautiful Visioness Themaryl, who has been kidnapped by the sorcerer/warlord Hymneth the Possessed, and return her to her home city. After many adventures, he and his companions storm Hymneth's fortress to discover that the Visoness has decided to stay, believing that her influence can make him less evil. Etjole proceeds to bring her home by force. Then, having fulfilled his promise, he immediately turns around and takes her right back to Hymneth.
  • Walking Wasteland:
    • Journeys of the Catechist briefly features the living essence of Corruption. One character hits Corruption in the neck with his sword, which promptly rusts and rots away in seconds.
    • A similar being, called the Drounge, is encountered in the third book. Descriptions of its travels before encountering the heroes tell of mysterious plagues, withered crops, and epidemics. Even touching the thing rots away all the flesh on one character's hand.

Alternative Title(s): Carnivores Of Light And Darkness, Into The Thinking Kingdoms, A Triumph Of Souls