Tidings, sirs and madams, and welcome back to the blog-about.

It has been more than a month since our last discourse, and this I regret wholeheartedly. Several other matters have required my undivided and extensive attention as of late, and they have had me preoccupied to the point that I have been able to reserve very little time for anything else. I am certain that I have not offended any of you, my friends, for I know that you are all well-bred and sensible people who understand very well the bustle which so frequently complicates the life of a scholarly aristocrat such as myself, and I hope that my absence has not left you concerned or anxious for my health. Let me assure you all that I am quite fine—I have just been very busy.

You will be pleased to know that during my absence, my letter of inquiry was received by my associate in the Americas, and his reply arrived at my estate just the other day. I, however, am not at all pleased by its arrival, for despite my hopes that his words would provide me with some measure of clarification, they have only served to further perplex me; indeed, though I wanted answers, I have gained only more questions. The letter is transcribed below, and reads as follows:

To my dearest friend, Good Sir Darcy:

I am delighted to hear from you again so soon, and I am glad that the volumes made it to you safely and without delay. I admit, I was somewhat nervous about sending them overseas, for if some misfortune had befallen them and they had been lost in transit, I would have surely regretted my foolhardiness for the rest of my days.

I anticipated that you would thoroughly enjoy the tale of Sir Bida and his comrades, and from your most recent letter, I can see that I was correct. Words cannot express the joy I feel at being able to share this wonderful story with such a distinguished scholar as you. I very much look forward to our future discourse on the subject.

I am concerned, however, by the confusion you have expressed to me regarding the factual nature of the history. If you will recall, in the letter I wrote you several weeks ago, I described the tale as being “impossibly true.” I did not intend for this to mean that the events presented in the story are somehow both real and unreal; rather, I meant that they are true to an extent that I had not formerly considered possible. Jonathon is something of an eccentric, yes, but he does not lie, and the words he has written in those volumes are realer than reality and truer than truth.

I had expected that you, being the literary savant that you are, would be able to perceive and appreciate such a rare and enchanting quality in the narrative. Then again, I am benefited by having read the history in its entirety, so perhaps I should be more forgiving; it is likely that you simply need more time with the tale. Do continue reading, my friend, for I have faith that you will reach the same understanding that I have. I leave you now to your amusement, and I shall eagerly await our next correspondence.

Respectfully yours,

Sir Quincy Jones

I must say that this letter is baffling almost to the point of offense, and it is unfortunate that your patience and mine have been rewarded with such disappointment, my friends. The idea that Sir Quincy Jones, without explanation or reason, would continue to insist upon the verity of this fable leaves me feeling rather embarrassed for him, for (disregarding this singular instance) he really is a sagacious and proper gentleman, and I would not have maintained our friendship all this time if he had exhibited these pathological tendencies on any previous occasion. If he is jesting, he has become overly immersed in his own strange humor, and now more than ever I am concerned for his sanity. To you, sirs and madams, I apologize on his behalf, and I ask that you kindly allow him another opportunity to explain himself; I shall write him immediately and demand that he do so.

First, however, I shall offer comment on the third chapter, and I shall be brief, for my concern for Sir Quincy's mental health is great, and I am finding it difficult to focus on anything else until I put the matter to rest. As always, I insist that you enjoy the chapter on your own before giving any attention to my opinions:

Read Chapter Three

Now, to the tale.

The story resumes as Bida, Aziel, Hakak and Mike the Lame travel northwest from the generic village in search of Lord Frelicton's children. They are attacked by a band of goblin marauders on the road, which they defeat handily. One of the goblins narrowly escapes, and they track it downriver all the way to its cave. Bida leads the foray into the depths of the cave, and the heroes vanquish the leader of the goblin tribe and its minions in a glorious battle. They find Lord Frelicton's children distressed and frightened, but otherwise unharmed. There is a strange symbol painted in red on the wall of the cave, and Bida recognizes it as the shape of the cursed necklace that incinerated his village of Estrid one year ago; however, he does not express his concerns to his comrades. The four heroes leave the cave and escort the children back to Lord Frelicton's manor. When they arrive, the children are admitted, but the heroes are treated with cold suspicion by the butler, who declares, oddly, that he was not even aware that the children had been missing. Perplexed, Bida presents the letter he had received from Lord Frelicton, and the butler reluctantly grants them an audience with his master. Lord Frelicton greets them on the porch, but he appears distraught and impersonal; he rewards his children's rescuers with a large amount of gold, exchanges a few forced pleasantries, and retreats into his manor. Completely bewildered by the nobleman's strange behavior, the four begin their journey back to the generic village; however, halfway through the trip, they decide that their reception at the Frelicton estate had been altogether too strange, and they turn back toward the manor, determined to investigate further.

Jonathon begins his third chapter with a short passage in which he praises the kindness of King Orofyld XVIII and humbly thanks him for the understanding tolerance he has shown in permitting this account to be written. Jonathon's usual ambivalence pervades this section of the text—it is difficult to tell whether the praise he offers is genuine or sarcastic, especially when we consider his mention of the unfortunate fate of the supposed historian Lord Elyrian Hammond, who, we are to believe, was a real person who was sentenced to death by a former king of Orofyld for being overly critical of the policies of the throne. Whether the passage was intended to be taken as a heartfelt expression of appreciation or as a clever thumbing of the nose is, like so many things in this tale, unclear.

There is also the matter of Jonathon's portrayal of the goblins, which absolutely must be addressed. Notwithstanding the fact that goblins do not exist, there is simply no way that he could have possibly known the details he includes in his descriptions of the goblins in this chapter. He casually discusses—with no real narrative necessity, mind you—how and why the creatures decide to attack Bida and his company, as well as the difficulties they face and the emotions they experience in the course of orchestrating and executing their ambush. He even goes so far as to provide the name of one of the goblins and develop him into a sympathetic character throughout the chapter (III, p. 2-3).

This is all plainly fabricated, as is, I suspect, the entirety of this fictitious history; however, it is delivered in an unexpected way. There has been one instance in the tale thus far where Jonathon has added something to the story that is blatantly untrue, insisting that the information he has falsified is somehow either equal or superior to the truth; this is the explanation of the arrival of Lord Frelicton's letter at Bida's home (II, p. 7-9). His descriptions of the goblins are similarly absurd, but as I said previously, there is no need for them. If these descriptions were absent from the text, the reader would not wonder why the goblins decided to attack the heroes or how they came to that decision; therefore, the passages did not need to be included in the first place. Yet Jonathon includes them anyway, and, contrary to his discussion of the arrival of Lord Frelicton's letter, he fails to give any explanation as to why he willingly discredits himself by espousing obviously false information in the historical account whose accuracy and reliability he affirms.

What I believe we have here, my friends, is a lie that is being told purely for amusement. As Jonathon indicates in the beginning of this chapter, “every detail presented in this chronicle is of the utmost necessity, and is intended either to clarify the astounding truth of the circumstances...or to accentuate and enhance the pleasure offered by the telling of the tale” (III, p. 1). While the details of the goblins do not add anything of factual substance to the story, it cannot be denied that they are humorous; I argue that humor is all that they are intended to impart. It is clear that Jonathon is willing to compromise the actual facts of his tale through embellishment and deception simply for the sake of amusement.

I do wonder, though—for whom is the amusement intended? Is it written for the larger audience, who would likely derive enjoyment from the slapstick antics of Meekus and Mike the Lame? Is there a layer of charm and guile that is accessible only to certain readers, perhaps those who are privy to unconsidered context? Is there perhaps a personal joke concealed here, known only to Jonathon, or perhaps King Orofyld XVIII himself?

Further, I wonder how clearly defined the relationship is between clarity and amusement in this tale. In the quotation above, Jonathon states that when he deceives, it is either to provide clarification or to amuse. Near the end of this chapter, however, he refers to “an [sic] number of explanations that are merely plausible or that cannot be easily denied, which, without doubt, are often superior to the truth, both in verity and in their propensity to produce amusement...” (III, p. 10, emphasis added). On the one hand, this quotation aptly describes Jonathon's explanation of Lord Frelicton's letter, which provides important narrative details as well as humor; on the other hand, it does not mesh well with the goblin descriptions, which are intended merely to amuse.

I can only conclude, then, that Jonathon's motivation for lying at any given moment in the text may alternate freely between clarity of fact and amusement, and that he can also be motivated by both of these simultaneously. This does little to assuage my confusion, however, for the tale is obviously untrue, and I find it unlikely that such an extensive and subtly convoluted story was written solely for the author's amusement. I theorize that Jonathon had an ulterior motive for writing this story, a motive beyond a duty to record historical fact or a penchant for entertainment; what that motive might be is, unfortunately, more than I can say for now.

I must end the discourse there, sirs and madams, for although I could discuss the third chapter in greater detail, there are other matters that require my attention. This story is tiring me, and every word I read seems to draw me deeper into a foggy cloud of irony and contradictory wit.

At any rate, I shall write to Sir Quincy Jones immediately, and we shall see if I cannot get to the bottom of this whole affair. When next we speak, it shall perhaps be of his response and, of course, the fourth chapter.

Ever yours, and ever classy,

Good Sir Darcy