Sydney’s question isn’t entirely out of the blue. She’s referring to this conversation, in case you forgot. Even still, it is a pretty acute non-sequitur. She was just uncomfortable with how aggressive Max was being with Valen. She’s used to women being mostly pretty passive about it. Usually it’s the subtle torso twist away or at most a “ahem” or few snaps and an “eyes forward buddy” sort of thing. Sydney’s caught a few stares herself (she doesn’t always wear baggy t-shirts). Her move is to ignore it and feel slightly uncomfortable, unless of course it’s a guy she likes, then she very slowly starts unconsciously arching her back.

Some might accuse Maxima of snapping into “gold plated bitch” mode here (one of several nicknames she’s acquired over her career of looking like a trophy model, but in Max’s opinion, saying nothing about it until later when you’re getting drinks with the girls will never change anything.

Speaking of Gandalf, why didn’t he try unmaking the ring? I know it was basically booby trapped so that powerful beings that tried to hold it or use it would be twisted by it, but you don’t have to hold the thing to drop a flame strike on it. Yes, I know the real answer; the book would have been really short if the solution was that simple, which is the same reasons the big eagles didn’t fly them over Mt. Doom in the first place. Still, realizing that Sauron, Sauruman, and Gandalf were all on the same tier fills me with questions.

Also, apropros of nothing, why on (middle) Earth did Tolkien name two of the major bad guys Sauron and Saruman? Just call the second guy Baruman or something. Change one letter. That shit’s confusing even if you’re not dyslexic. Arwen and Eowyn sound similar which isn’t great, but at least they’re spelled differently enough that people won’t get confused when one of them shows up after 300 pages. I was reading Shogun back in high school, which as you might imagine is loaded with Japanese surnames, and when one guy reappears on page 700 who we last saw on page 70, I was like, “Shit, I have no idea who this is.” That’s why I have a Who’s Who. Books should have footnotes with stuff like “This guy is the boyfriend of the catburgler.” or whatever. Kindle books could do that easy.

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