Friday, November 16, 2012

City of Bones chapter 7+ Buy Day information (read both)

Alright kids, business first. TOMORROW is "Buy Day". What is that? CW day? Self important stuff? Basically IF and only IF you intend to ever buy This Found Thing,  buy it tomorrow. If you don't, and you're here for the blog reviews and cake ( a lie...) then sit back and get comfortable. If you DO intend to buy it? Get it from Amazon tomorrow. It's 2.99. It's twice as long as everything else I've published to date, hence 2.99.

Support your CW! Buy her books tomorrow!

Okay. Selfish stuff over, book review now.

The title of chapter seven is "the five dimensional door". The setting, however, is the crazy psychic's apartment.

Okay, so so far in this book we have been to: A club, Clary's normal apartment, a poetry slam, Clary's Demon infested apartment, NOT!Hogwarts, Clary's still demon infested apartment, and now Madam Dorothea's apartment. There is a pattern here, is all I'm saying. And I don't want to go back to Clary's apartment. Also, there has been a lot of wandering around, trying to figure out what's going on, but not a lot of doing of things, especially on the part of the main character. She's good at standing and screaming is all I'm saying.

Right. Now for the crazy psychic who knows all about the Shadowhunters. What's her apartment like?

The entryway, reeking of incense...
Okay. What kind? Frankincense resin? Kyphi? Some special house blend (My personal fav is cinnamon, rosemary and mace, although chamomile, roses and myrrh can be pretty good if I'm in the mood) Nag Champa? If it's Nag Champa the author loses the universe. The "reeking" part makes me think this is Wal-Mart two-for-one special, buy a pack of "Dragon's Blood" and get "Spring Rain" and a migrane, free! (True Fact: When I started blending my own incense, I stopped being able to use the store bought stuff. It smells like chemicals and gives me a truely obnoxious headache.)

*Sigh* moving on.

was hung with bead curtains and astrological posters. One showed the constellations of the zodiac, another a guide to Chinese magical symbols, and another showed a hand with fingers spread, each line on the palm carefully labeled. Above the hand Latinate script spelled out the words “In Manibus Fortuna.” Narrow shelves holding stacked books ran along the wall beside the door. this is basically Whoopi Goldberg's character from Ghost. Right. It's Wal-mart incense, kids.

After implying that she can read fortunes in hands and tea, she asks the kids if they want any. Which means we will probably have a tea-reading scene in three...two...

Actually, launch is delayed because Jace hates bergamont and Clary is fascinated by this.

Clary raised an eyebrow at Jace. “You hate bergamot?”

 Jace had wandered over to the narrow bookshelf and was examining its contents. “You have a problem with that?” 
“You may be the only guy my age I’ve ever met who knows what bergamot is, much less that it’s in Earl Grey tea.”
...we needed this why?

And here we are, folks, the moment when everything we've established about the Shadowhunters goes out the freaking window.

He scowled furiously, silencing her. “I do not do magic,” he said. “Get it through your head: Human beings are not magic users. It’s part of what makes them human. Witches and warlocks can only use magic because they have demon blood.”

 Clary took a moment to process this. “But I’ve seen you use magic. You use enchanted weapons—” 

“I use tools that are magical. And just to be able to do that, I have to undergo rigorous training. The rune tattoos on my skin protect me too. If you tried to use one of the seraph blades, for instance, it’d probably burn your skin, maybe kill you.
THEN YOU ARE USING MAGIC, NIMROD. And MAKING magical tools for your own use. You're taught how to use magic. You're trained how to create spells via runes. YOU ARE A MAGICIAN.

Oh, we haven't been reminded how different Shadowhunters are from humanity for a while yet.

“Well, there goes my plan for selling them all on eBay,” Clary muttered.

 “Selling them on what?”

 Clary smiled blandly at him. “A mythical place of great magical power.”
 Jace looked confused, then shrugged. “Most myths are true, at least in part.”
These are both horrible human beings and they deserve each other. Moving on.

After more pointless non-characterization (Jace also hates cucumbers) Dorothea says that she's not a witch, but her mother was. Jace insists this is impossible. Witches and Warlocks are crossbreeds between humans and demons, and so they can't breed.

...I'm not going on another religious rant here, but that's what the Nephilum are. Not this shadowhunter shit. Just saying, it's kind of stupid to redefine a term and then include the stuff it used to define in the story. 

And then we get an info dump conversation that has nothing to do with anything and it is very full of theological wrongness. See, Demons are Demons in this universe, and Fairies are fallen angels, because they are beautiful, and vampires and werewolves are the demon version of herpes. So again: Redefining terms, and then including the thing the old term defined under a different redefined term. Is there a reason we couldn't keep the old terms? If the Shadowhunters purpose were to hunt Demons (aka fallen angels) and the Nephilum (the products of angel/human breeding) I...would totally read the shit out of that story. And that plot would hold water, given that the last time Nephilum were allowed to be all breedy with normal humans God nearly wiped humanity out. (Theologically speaking, of course. You can chose to believe or disbelieve the bible all you want, but once you start pulling things from the source material you need to at least study the damn thing) Whereas here, I am not sure, AT ALL, why the Shadowhunters exist.

Anyway, at the end of it, Dorothea is revealed to be the adopted daughter of a witch, and all is well. She is just a guardian now. A guardian of what, you ask? LET'S READ TEA LEAVES. Seriously. that's how it reads. She guards something, but we don't find out what because the psychic must be mysterious and read their cups for the future.

Clary's future can't be read. There must be a block on her mind! Jace latches on to this idea as if he hadn't thought of it at all, and Dorothea decides to try something else. She brings out her tarot deck.

My biggest guilty spiritual pleasure is tarot. Guilty not because I don't think God likes it (he and I worked that out quite a few years ago) but rather because I mention tarot and people FLIP THE FUCK OUT, because it's evil and evil and eeeeevily evil. In reality, it's like a rosarch test. You know, the blobby pictures that form flowers or boobs, depending on how dirty minded you are? The cards are a VERY loosely agreed upon set of symbols...depending on which book you use to define those symbols (IE most books define The Star as "Hope", whereas Rider-Waite, who was behind the KJV of tarot decks, defined it as more or less "you're fucked") that you use most effectively as...well, I call it a "thought focus". It gives you a framework to start brainstorming on. It sucks for doing future readings because the cards are too general, but it's pretty good for working out why your depression isn't getting any better, or how you really feel about that relationship.

I say this, because the moment they set foot in the damn psychic shop I knew they were going to drag on out the Tarot deck and that I'd get pissed off by research fail of the drastic type. And I do. On one hand, it could have been worse--most books cannot stay away from the Major Arcana and dive for the scary cards (Death or the Devil if they've got no creativity. The Tower or the Moon if they did minimal research. The Hanged Man by Jeffery Deaver kind of put this on its head by having a major plot point be research fail on the part of a serial killer)--but Cassandra Clare goes for the Minors, which are a little more WTF territory unless you 1. have been doing readings for years and 2. have a mind like a freaking computer. But the whole thing is just...ugh, let's just go through this.

Dorothea fans the cards out and basically says "Pick a card, any card."  Clary does. I have no idea what this would accomplish. Pulling out one card from the deck is like pulling out one scrabble tile. It's really general. Like "How's my day going to go today?" sort of general. And they don't want general in this scene. A problem--the block on Clary's mind--has been discovered and Dorothea wants to use the cards to define it further. To me, that would imply a full layout of some kind. But nope. Pick a card. Okay.

Clary picks the ace of cups. And Dorothea goes "The Love card."

 No. No no no no no no NO NO NO THAT IS NOT WHAT THAT CARD MEANS. It's close to right, I'll give you that, but it's "close" in the way that an asteroid passing where the Earth would be in December when it's actually March is "Close".

I'm gonna try to make this short and sweet, but the suits each relate to an aspect of life. I'm going to leave off my personal definitions of coins and wands, as they're not exactly kosher, but swords=intellectual activity and conflict and cups=emotions and relationships. Every book will tell you the same thing. Aces are the start cards for the suit. An ace indicates the start of something new. Ace of cups indicates the start of a new relationship, or pregancy, or a new emotional phase in your life, I said, these things are vague. But it's still more specific than "the love card".

And what makes it all stupid is the new relationship the card would indicate is sitting right next to Clary. Literally two minutes of research, (ten, if it's a bad connection) would provide this book with competent foreshadowing. Instead we get vague pronouncements of love, and we move on to the fact that Clary's mom painted this picture. Painted the whole deck, in fact.

Also, I need to point out that this card does become important later in the book, but Clary didn't pick it because it felt special. She picked it at random.

Then Dorothea reveals that she's part of the Downworlder (aka demon spawn) underground railroad, and that yep, Clary's mom was an ex-Shadowhunter, that she REALLY wanted to watch out for Valentine, and that there's a Five Dimensional Door hidden behind a curtain. Clary realizes that her mom was running for her life when she said "We're going on a vacation for the rest of the summer" and that her mom stayed behind because Clary wanted to rebell, and thus may have been killed. Because of Clary. When she could have escaped through the magic doorway whenever she wanted.

And now, because the plot says she has to, Clary goes running through the magic door. Without first finding out what's on the other side.

Our heroine, ladies and gents. End of chapter.

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