The first bit is fun, A&A hunt 'Guyle' who is a LOT like Cugel the Clever.
Then they are both taken to the Court of Good Queen Mercilla (another Elizabeth), who, if you've read even one Court Scene in the Faerie Queene, is pretty much exactly like every other one.
Slow approach through qualitative bodyguards, in this case Awe and Order, witnessing of a doomed baddy, in this case Malfont a *poet bad& who spread scurrilous stories and who has his tongue nailed to a plank.
Then Fairest of the fair, surrounded by virgins, rusty sword because kingdom in peace blah blah blah, the only interesting thing is that they are in the middle of a trial.
It's our own friend Duessa, who you may remember right from the beginning of the book and from the friendship Canto in which she was a massive dick.
The list of witnesses is very slightly interesting; Zeale is the prosecutor, Kingdoms Care, Authority, the Law of Nations, Religion and Justice all speak against. Ok, dull so far.
Those speaking in defence are Pittie, Regard of womanhead, Daunger (threatning hidden dread, And high alliance unto forren powre), Nobilitie and Griefe.
|Here she is by Walter Crane|
SHOCK TWIST, Duessa gets off. I suppose because its Mercy's Court?*
There are probably complex philosophical reasons for this, none of which I care about.
Instead I'll go back and highlight some of the first twenty verses in which A&A hunt Guyle becasue they are great fun.
".... not fare thence lay;
To weet a wicked villaine, bold and stout,
Which wonned in a rocke not farre away,
That robbed all the countrie there about,
And brought the pillage home, whence none could get it out.
Thereto both his owne wylie wit, (she sayd)
And eke the fastnesse of his dwelling place,
Both unassaylable, gave him great ayde:
For he so crafty was to forge and face,
So light of hand, and nymble of his pace,
So smooth of tongue, and subtile in his tale,
That could deceive one looking in his face;
Therefore by name Malengin they him call,
Well knowen by his feates, and famous over all."
Cugel? It is Cugel isn't it? Somehow he got in here.
Not only that buy he lives in a D&D dungeon;
"And eke the rocke, in which he wonts to dwell,
Is wonderous strong, and hewen farre under ground
An dreadfull depth, how deepe no man can tell;
But some doe say, it goeth downe to hell.
And all within, it full of wyndings is,
And hidden wayes, that scarse an hound by smell
Can follow out those false footsteps of his,
Ne none can backe returne, that once are gone amis."
Not only do these two dickheads refuse to go to the Queen before they have caught the uncatchable man, they essentially force this poor Damizell to act as bait to lure out the baddy.
So she hangs out by this rocke and 'Gan weepe and wayle, as if great griefe had her affected.'
Out comes out fellow and he's magnificent.
"Full dreadfull wight he was, as ever went
Upon the earth, with hollow eyes deepe pent,
And long curld locks, that downe his shoulders shagged,
And on his backe an uncouth vestiment
Made of straunge stuffe, but all to worne and ragged,
And underneath his breech was all to torne and jagged.
|Come on guys|
And in his hand an huge long staffe he held,
Whose top was arm'd with many an yron hooke,
Fit to catch hold of all that he could weld,
Or in the compasse of his clouches tooke;
And ever round about he cast his looke.
Als at his backe a great wyde net he bore,
With which he seldome fished at the brooke,
But usd to fish for fooles on the dry shore,
Of which he in faire weather wont to take great store."
When she sees him of course this girl is affraid, but;
"He gan with guilefull words her to perswade,
To banish feare, and with Sardonian smyle
Laughing on her, his false intent to shade,
For he in slights and jugling feates did flow,
And of legierdemayne the mysteries did know."
He juggles too!
He grabs the girl in the net and runs to his Rocke, but is blocked by A&A. He drops her and bounds away 'Like a wyld Gote, leaping from hill to hill'. His DEX is so high that Artegall just sends Talus after him and they have a wonderful chase because this dude can also change shapes.
It's the Terminator vs Plastic Man!
"Into a Foxe himselfe he first did tourne;
But he him hunted like a Foxe full fast:
Then to a bush himselfe he did transforme,
But he the bush did beat, till that at last
Into a bird it chaung'd, and from him past,
Flying from tree to tree, from wand to wand:
But he then stones at it so long did cast,
That like a stone it fell upon the land,
But he then tooke it up, and held fast in hand.
So he it brought with him unto the knights,
And to his Lord Sir Artegall it lent,
Warning him hold it fast, for feare of slights.
Who whilest in hadn it gryping hard he hent,
Into a Hedgehogge all unwares it went,
And prickt him so, that he away it threw.
Then gan it runne away incontinent,
Being returned to his former hew:
But Talus soone him overtooke, andbackward drew."
And then the guy turns into a snake and Talus beats him to death becasue he beats everything to death.
I quite like Talus as a character because he is fucking horrible, but in being so he exposes something in the poem, and something in Spenser, that is just as horrible, but oh my god is he shit for storytelling.
The position of all of these 'helper' characters has been a bit complex when it comes to generating drama. Una knew how to do everything but was sepereated by being a super-pure lady so she couldn't lay hands on anything. The 'Blacke Palmer' also knew everything but would just be a dick about it and inform Guyon after the event. Britomarts Glauce was probably the best, she ended up trapped in drag with a guy who wouldn't listen to her. Fuck knows what was going on with the Friendship Canto.
And now Talus who is just awful awful awful. Drains any drama or danger from a scene. Makes his hero both impotent and also more disgusting. Has no fucking emotions to express. Is probably an avatar of Spenser watching those Spanish and Irish prisoners be executed by his boss. Just an epically BAD idea on Spensers part on every level, yet somehow a very apt one. The nastiness at the heart of Chivalry made manifest.
*The notes are telling me this is the trial of Mary Queen of Scots?