I have in this space over the past day or so reprinted selections from a critique of SOMEWHITHER, and commenting on any errors of fact the reviewer made in reading my text. I tried manfully not to contradiction his opinions and judgments of value, because it is ungrateful and wrong for a writer to argue with a reader. On the other hand, he tried manfully not to let his pscypathic hatred of Christianity and all things civilized influence his reading of the book, and I must allow that if I did not do better at my task than he at his, surely I did not do worse.
Of his criticisms there was one I did not answer, because I could not fathom it. He writes:
Equally in the final battle of the book, Foster Hidden who it is revealed is a worshipper of Odin invokes Odin, and is seemingly as a result empowered in combat.
He proffers this as an inconsistency in my magic system on that grounds that I do not explain how it is that men can call on pagan gods and be granted magic powers by these non-Christian entities: and he speculates that this inconsistency is so glaring it can only be explained by the arbitrary mind-set Catholicism produces in writers.
I could say nothing because I did not recall any such scene where Foster calls on Odin and receives some magic power he did not already posses.
I reread the scene. Here is the passage in question. Foster Hidden possesses the art of shooting arrows that emit a mist which anything behind it invisible. Vorvolac is a Cold One, a vampire-creature with hypnotic eyes, and Glede is an evil Cohen with powers to control gravity and levity.
Foster shot an arrow at Vorvolac, and Glede raised his crook and made the arrow stand still in midair between us. Which was a lucky break, because Foster cried, “For Odin!” and the arrow started emitting mist. That, I think, was why we did not all flop over when the unblindfolded Vorvolac turned his hideous gaze upon us. We were invisible to him, and to the ship for just a moment.
I tried to shield Penny and Abby behind me, holding up the crucifix
Now, as a question for the reader, why do you think a boy from a German pagan world who had the power of invisibility granted by the Tarnkappe magic practiced there shout out the name of his god in combat?
I suppose it might seem ambiguous as to who, exactly, is making the mist come out of the arrow, but in context, in all previous scenes, it was established to be a discipline practiced by Foster, which he learned from Dark Elves.
It is a battle-cry. The reviewer read a scene where a young warrior utters his battle-cry and did not know what it was. I am not sure what he thought was happening in this scene: perhaps he thought Foster was unable to elicit the magic from his magic arrows (which he did previously in every scene where he used them) this one time without divine aid from his pagan god. But, even if so, a pagan crying out the name of his god in combat, whether before striking a blow or casting a runic spell cannot strike anyone familiar with the genre, or which history, or with the kind of stuff guys like, as odd or in need of explanation.
It was a battle-cry, for Odin’s sake!
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