Ride This Night note is a 1941 novel, by Swedish author Vilhelm Moberg.
Sweden, some years after the end of the Thirty Years' War. The farmers in the village of Brändebol is visited by a Sheriff.note He tells them that he is a representative for Chamberlain Bertold Klewens, a German lord who has bought the rights to taxation of the farmers work, from the queen. He demands their service as day labourers at his mansion. The farmers are not used to being subservient to a government official, having lived and worked as free men, for as long as they can remember. Furthermore, they are having a bad year, with bad crops and cannot harvest enough to meet the quota. A farmer named Ragnar Svedje, holds a fiery speech, reminding the farmers of their ancient right, inciting them to rebel. They passionately agree at first, but one by one they start backing down and giving in to Lord Klewens demands. Everyone that is, except Svedje. Svedjes home is violated by a party of Sheriffs, and Svedje gets into a firefight with them, where he accidentally kills a loyalist farmer, who happened to be there. Faced with outlawry, Svedje runs away to the woods, while his mother makes her way to the Bishop to ask for help.
The farmers for their part, start showing their true colours in rapid succession. They back down when faced with the guns and the swords of the Sheriffs, and slink away to do the dirty work on Lord Klewens mansion. One night however, Jon Stånge who is the elderman of the village, is visited by a rider who gives him a mysterious item: a stick with a picture of a Morning Star at one end, and the other one wrapped in rope. This is the budkavel, an ancient artifact, effectively meaning that the peasants have declared war on the noblemen. It also means that anyone not passing it along (or worse: deliberately hiding it) will be deemed a traitor and have his life forfeit. Now Stånge is being tortured by the choice before him: will he take up weapons against the Nobility and perhaps die, or will he throw it away and thus grant the village "peace?"
The Sheriff is beating down his door... and Svedje is still out there in the forest...
Ride This Night, should chiefly be read as a massive Take That! from Moberg against the concessions made by the Swedish goverment (and many others) for the benefit of Nazi Germany. And as a general warning against cowardice and the risk of it making you Neutral Evil.
It's been adapted into a film in 1942 (which was banned in Nazi occupied Norway and Denmark) and a five part Mini Series in 1985.
Provides examples of:
- Arc Words: "I'm demanding my right!"
- Aristocrats Are Evil: But not as evil as those who would bend to them, out of cowardice.
- Badass Creed: Svedje has several:
- "Right is right, and can never be made undone!"
- "In the words of my father: no one may rule over you!"
- The peasant army has a very long one, but some highlights include: "We will make pikes out of our scythes! We will wield spiked maces! But we shan't go in pairs of ten or twenty or even a hundred! We will go in pairs of thousand and yet thousand! The budkavel shall find its way!"
- Doomed Moral Victor: Svedje is captured by the Sheriffs, who cut of his arms and legs and bury him alive. However, his death spur the peasants into making their final choice: they will rebel.
- Torches and Pitchforks: Played straight, which is Truth in Television. During the real Middle Ages, Renaissance and Cavalier years, the peasantry was a low class but powerful social movement, who you'd best keep happy, unless you wanted to get that pitchfork shoved down your troath. Just ask the Germans.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: Queen Christina gets this. It's outright said that the Queen likes sleeping around with foreign noblemen and grant them privilegies based on their performance in the sack. Lord Klewens is one of these foreigners.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: When Svedjes mother tells him that the church will not help him with his legal troubles he grabs an axe, rides over to Klewens mansion, beats down the door, and challenges him to a duel. Unfortunately Klewens isn't home.
- The Western: Corrupt lawmen, outlaws, riding and shooting, and determined homesteaders. It's pretty much a Western, set in 17th century Sweden.