Book II, Chapter 30
Prior to the Dragon Era, the Kingdom of the Franks was highly decentralized, with effectively independent great lords ruling over their demesnes. The King of the Franks was essentially only one lord among many, a set of circumstances that had developed since the death of Charles the Fat in 888 AD and the ending of the Carolingian Empire.
The causes of this decentralization from the previously strong centralized empires of Charlemagne and Charles the Fat were numerous, including the effects of Viking raiders (some of whom settled on the north coast of France in what is now Normandy), a general grab for power and land by the noble and ecclesiastical classes, and a corresponding loss of power by the peasantry and royalty. In particular, the feuding between the great nobles and their knights had a chilling effect upon the Frankish kingdom
During the centuries prior to the Dragon Era, trade within the kingdom essentially ceased. Illiteracy was the general rule not only for the peasantry, but for many of the nobility as well. While towns did exist, they were pale remnants of the Gallo-Roman economic network, typically surviving as the seats of ecclesiastical bishops or secular nobility, or as local market centers
The knights, in particular, were problematic in their effects. While certainly of military importance in providing defense against Vikings and other knights, they had become a hereditary caste since the era of the Carolingians. In competition with each other, they had a strong incentive to make war as a way of proving their valor and skill in order to be most attractive as potential vassals to the greater nobles, meaning that they viewed conflict as a first solution to any problem. The conventions of the noble habitus only did so much to stem this tendency towards violence as a means of problem solving, and Frankish knights tended to view anyone that wasn't a noble or knight as an impediment that could be slain out of hand, on the battlefield or off, and often enjoyed petty destruction for its own sake. The situation became such that the Peace and Truce of God was first implemented in the late 900s AD to try to put religious strictures against who and what the knights could simply kill and destroy.
— A History of Old Francia, 1432, Oxford Press
Tropes That Appear In This Chapter:
- Bribing Your Way to Victory: While they could kill Tuathel and take his thralls, instead Hiccup offers him a large bag full of money that he could use to hire servants to fill the roles of his thralls in exchange for said thralls and the promise of not practicing thralldom.
- Clarke's Third Law: Hiccup's leg, Toothless' harness, Hiccup's flaming sword and Astrid's flaming ax are all believed to be the work of magic, not engineering.John the Norman Shipmaster: But the Hero is supposedly a smith without peer, practically a wizard in the forge, with skill over metal unmatched this side of Heaven itself. He crafted for himself a new leg, wrought of silver, steel, yew, oak, thorn and gold, and gave it the facsimile of life and the quickness of flesh, and upon it he can walk and run as well as a normal man.
- Crisis of Faith: Having been enslaved by Christians and freed by Pagans (with an explanation of their beliefs from slavery-enabling priests and Stoick respectively), Fintan has come to the conclusion that the Christian God is a tyrant who wreaks eternal damnation over thought-crimes while the Aesir are flawed, but are otherwise honorable to their worshippers and care more about what you do in life rather than what you think.
- Deadpan Snarker: Fintan mac Ionatan shows shades of this.Tuathel: Hold still so I can kill you, you bastard!Fintan: My parents were married!
- Gossip Evolution: By the time Viggo arrives to Normandy the story goes that Hiccup killed not one, but two giant dragons, and that his prosthetic leg is magical, having been crafted from mystical woods and metals.
- Hey, Let's Put on a Show: With the hospital being a massive success, Ruffnut's next project is to make an amphitheater based on the Greek one as an entertainment and education tool. Magnus approves.
- Honor Before Reason: Even with Hiccup and his entire entourage there and having just relinquished control of his thralls for a small fortune, Tuathel still tries killing Fintan for sleeping with Roisin (one of his pleasure thralls) and siring a baby from it.
- Insult to Rocks: Hiccup inspects the sword Tuathel tries to kill Fintain with and notes how dull the blade was and that the iron was shit. Only to then backtrack and say that Hotburples have literally shit iron better than the sword.
- Last-Second Chance: After he is struck down for trying to kill Fintan, Hiccup still spares his life, making it clear that he won't be so lucky if he tries to do it again.Hiccup: Tuathel! That's twice now we've kept you from attacking Fin! There will not be a third. Am I clear!?
- Malicious Slander: Sir Henry and the villagers lie about Dogsbreath's actions, saying he killed several of their nobles. While he did do that, they conveniently left out the part where the villagers betrayed Dogsbreath and Inga under hospitality and Sir Henry threatened to kill Inga if Dogsbreath didn't kill the other nobles for him.
- Martial Pacifist: This quote.Hákon: The Romans have a saying if you seek peace, prepare for war.
- Mythology Gag: Hákon mentions the tradition to name the runt of a litter "hiccup" which was originally mentioned in "Portrait of Hiccup as a Buff Man".
- Samaritan Syndrome: Hiccup feels like he is slowly being overwhelmed by the increasing number of integral moral and political responsibilities that is only increasing by the day, with every decision he makes meaning he neglects the needs of thousands more. Astrid, Wulfhild, and Gunvor remind him that he can only do the best he can and that he is not responsible for all of the world's problems.
- Scrappy Weapon: Tuathel's sword In-Universe. The blade is too dull to cut, the iron quality is awful and when Hiccup applies pressure to it with his foot, it bends. Hiccup even refers to the wound it gave Fintan to more of a "clubbing wound" than a cut.Hiccup: Calling this a sword is a professional insult.
- Wonder Child: Hákon reveals that Astrid is the only surviving baby out of five, the rest of them stillborn.
- You Can't Go Home Again: When he finds out about the death of the various Francian nobles by Dogsbreath, Hiccup begrudgingly declares Dogsbreath a traitor to the tribe and banished from Berk.