TSoA: Chapter 36, Part 2: Good on Mountains

The whole crew heads out the next day for some exploring.  Yanno…just general exploring…around.

Things go to shit almost immediately—Larry the Photo Guy steps off a cornice and the rest of the team has to yank him back up again.  Then the Nerd (he’s good on mountains!) gets altitude sickness, and Señor SEAL stays behind to get The Nerd hydrated and back in fighting form (so to speak).

Almost four full pages are spent with the Nerd and the Señor attempting to get back to the others, a plan foiled by the Nerd being…a nerd.  You know how nerds are, right?  All with the klutziness and the falling and the “screaming frantically,” so that big, strong Manly Men have to yell perfect instructions and rescue the nerds.

And then, even when they’re rescued, nerds’ willpower will be gone, which will necessitate Manly Men leaving them for a few minutes and climbing up mountains so they can lower ropes to nerds and pull the nerds up…

Man, I’m getting tired just writing about it.  Who invited this nerd along, anyway?

You’d think they’d want someone who could handle himself on a mountain.


As we all learned from slasher films and English murder mysteries, NEVER GO OFF ON YOUR OWN.  The hockey-mask Jason or the seemingly-respectable-but-actually-malevolent barrister will find a way to kill you.

And as Señor SEAL lowers himself yet again back down the mountain to collect the Nerd…

The knife was gently taken from its hiding place.  The hand slowly reached out and the blade lightly touched the rope.  The orange rope exploded and disappeared.  One frayed end blew frantically in the strengthening wind.


The Nerd actually sees Señor SEAL slide past him like greased lightning, and sail off the cliff.

So his death is pretty final.  Then again, in an English murder mystery, you can never be one hundred percent sure unless you see the dead body.

And sometimes, not even then.

Anyway, Señor SEAL is nothing if not stoic—the Nerd hears not a peep as he flies past.


But the Nerd need not fear.  His nerdliness may have indirectly caused the death of his compatriot, but Fearless Gum-Popping Leader has turned back to find them, and saves the Nerd himself.

Oh, and to complete his nerdidity, the Nerd passes out just as Fearless gets to him.

Good on mountains, he is.



I think Loquat may have been the first to predict Señor SEAL as the first to go.  If anyone else called the Señor, congrats!

And now…who will be next?

Posted on February 22, 2013, in Books, The Secret on Ararat. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Farewell, Señor SEAL. You died as you lived: in strict accordance with the laws of physics.

  2. Hey, way to to go, Loquat! (I believe Loquat also called the cause of the first casualty — rescuing some poor incompetent.) The only surprise for me was that the poor incompetent was not Isis. . . . Yay?

    The knife was gently taken from its hiding place. The hand slowly reached out and the blade lightly touched the rope. The orange rope exploded and disappeared. One frayed end blew frantically in the strengthening wind.

    This is an example of why editors are a necessary evil. Four short sentences in a row with no variation whatsoever in structure — they’re all “the noun” (maybe adjective) “adverb” “verb”. Hell, three of those sentences being with “The”! Short, direct sentences can create an atmosphere of tension when used correctly. When not used correctly, they create an atmosphere of boredom. . . . and while I’m on the subject, how exactly would a knife cause a rope to explode amd disappear? Is the knife really a magic wand in disguise? I get that LaHaye (ok, let’s be honest, BOB PHILLIPS) was trying to convey how quickly the rope snapped and went over the edge but this just fails so badly on a literary level I’m almost in literal, physical pain.

    • Woohoo, called the first death! I don’t get the second point for cause, though – at the time of my original prediction, I was only expecting Isis or Murphy to need rescuing, having not yet realized that The Nerd, as an engineer with experience climbing mountains, was obviously going to become a weak and useless egghead. (Seeing how that’s developed, I’m going to double down on my prediction that he’ll also be the Token Unbeliever, despite the implausibility of an unbeliever coming along on an Ark-finding expedition in the first place.)

      For the second death…

      – My top pick is Larry the Photo Guy, since he’s apparently being set up as careless and/or klutzy. Cause of death: some sort of overly-elaborate booby trap that Talon set up even though it shouldn’t have made any sense for him to do so.

      – For second, tie between Token Turk and the Dick. Turk has a slight edge since he’s a foreigner, but he at least can use a gun, whereas the Dick has no particular use to the party that I can see. Also, if there is a mole, it’ll be one of these guys, or possibly Larry.

      – A clever killer would knock off Fearless Gum-Popping Leader next, to have both combat veterans out of the way, but I suspect that as a red-blooded all-American military type, FGPL will survive a few more rounds. He’ll probably bite it saving/protecting Isis, Murphy, and/or The Nerd, though.

      – The Nerd, having been revealed to be weak and useless, can be assumed to die at some point, but I expect he’ll hang on long enough to see some Evidence That The Bible Is True and refuse to believe it, so that Murphy can demonstrate how the reader should respond to unbelieving science types in real life. And then probably recant right before/as he dies, so that his last words are some variation on “Murphy is right”.

  3. Wait, they elaborately describe how the knife was used to cut a rope, but the nerd is fine? I guess Senor SEAL was hanging from a rope himself, but if he was pulling up the Nerd, shouldn’t the Nerd be falling as well? How exactly were they each tied? And why didn’t the mysterious knife wielder take 10 seconds to cut down the Nerd?

    Actually, I get that last one. It’s why land mines aren’t meant to kill: A wounded/nerdy soldier is more of a burden than a dead one.

    By the way, what was the Nerd even there for? A guy with an engineering PhD is going to contribute what? “Yep, according to my extensive training, that’s a boat alright.” Bringing a dedicated photographer was a bit of a waste already, surely your other team members can take a few lousy picture. But okay, maybe you want an expert who can set up such convincing shots that they can’t be taken for fakes. But if you want to investigate the structure of the ark, surely that can wait untill you’ve found it.

    • The Nerd and Señor SEAL weren’t tied to each other–the Nerd was sitting at the bottom of…something…and Señor SEAL had gone up to secure the rope, and was now coming back down to collect him.

      I don’t know why probably-Talon didn’t kill the Nerd, too. I can see not wanting to fire a gun and attract attention, but couldn’t he use a bird, or take a page from Murphy’s (previous) book and use an arrow?

      And no, I don’t understand why the Nerd is there in the first place.

      • Back when they were first introduced, I assumed the authors meant him to be an archaeologist and screwed up his profession, so he was doing double duty as carbon-dater and mountain-climbing expert. LOL NOPE to the second half of that, apparently.

  4. Poor Salvador, not even managing to live up to his name by saving Wendell from his ledge…

  5. I’ve had severe altitude sickness, so the idea of the Nerd obviously being the one with altitude sickness is pretty insulting. It’s not an illness that strikes based on strength, outdoors experience, or anything but pure body chemistry. And if it’s severe enough, you need a lot more than just a bit of water to fix it. When I got it, I couldn’t descend, so I had to take pills. But then, I would expect the authors to do exactly the same amount of research on altitude sickness as anything else they do (zilcho).

  6. Obviously, altitude sickness is like any other illness: a sign that you aren’t right with God. It is therefore treated with prayer and donations.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, February 22nd, 2013 | The Slacktiverse

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