Monday, December 24, 2012

Narcissus in Chains--chapter 21

This is another traveling chapter. This is another terrible traveling chapter.

I've read books with objectionable and offensive content before. John Ringo has, um...let's call it a history. I read that book. More than once. He also wrote the Council Wars series (WHY IS THERE NOT ANOTHER BOOK?) and every time I read about violence and/or leadership in this book, I think about a major sub plot in the Council Wars. It involves a character (Megan Travenite) who is abducted by another major character, and basically all the terrible parts of Gor and this book combined happen to Megan. Megan even falls in love with her rapist, and there are many long monologues about how this is a natural psychological response to extended violence and trauma, and the brain's way of protecting itself from a broken situation.

And then Megan kills her rapist by pouring acid down his throat and beating him to death with the bottle. Because no matter how her psyche reacted, what was happening to her was wrong and fuck if she was going to endure it any longer than she had to. She regrets it, but it's less "I killed my one true wub" and more "Damn that bastard for what he did to me, I'm glad I killed him."

I think the difference between Anita and every other heroine in books like this ever is...well, you don't fuck with Mercy Thompson. You don't fuck with Megan. You DO NOT EVER fuck with Honor Harrington, holy shit, I think the last guy who tried had to have plastic surgery and I'm not even kidding. But everybody gets to fuck with Anita. Mercy, Megan and Honor (NEXT BOOK NOW, DAVE. NEXT BOOK NOW.) all earned respect by being sweet, honorable and efficient when life is good, and turning into efficient buzzsaws of death when things went sideways. Anita is a buzzsaw when life is good, and she seems to collapse every time things go sideways.

Also, Megs, Mercy and Honor are all genuinely good people. Anita is not. Which means I don't give a fuck about what happens to her, bad or good.

I've put this chapter off long enough, haven't I?

Rafael the rat-king has a limo. My reaction would be "SWEET!" Anita's is "...he doesn't look like a limo kind of guy."

Lemme guess. You were expecting a low-ridered camaro with flashy LED lights on the runners. And spinners. Weren't you?

Anita tells us all about how tough Merle is. How she gets a tough "vibe" from him. You know, in good books they actually show you this shit. Also, is it just me, or is the cast right now fucking huge? Yes. I know. LKH never kills off characters. I understand this, but I don't *get* it. It's a writer thing. Books work off of emotional investment and emotional energy. And I don't mean metaphysical psychic stuff. I just don't have a better word for it. Intense emotion triggered at the right time (Ie Obi Wan dying in Star Wars) can drive the rest of a story to the ending (Seriously. That movie would not have been as good without that emotional hit at that exact time)

If you're so worried about your fucking cast being happy that nothing really bad ever happens, your book has no energy and your readers will be bored as fuck. And whatever you do with them, Laurell, for the love of God:


Oh, and now dating Richard isn't healthy for Anita. This is a retcon so big I didn't think the universe could even hold it. Dating your rapist is now healthier than dating a high school teacher who loves you. Even the Richard in this book would be healthier than Jean Claude and Micah.

And then we meet the Swan King, Donovan Reece, who is greatful to Anita for rescuing the swanmanes.

I want to know more about these characters. Seriously. were-swans sound almost as awesome as the were-chickens and were-gila monsters in Sunshine. And as anybody who's ever had to deal with a pissed off waterfowl can tell you, they are not sweet and fluffy babies.

Instead he was going with us into a gathering of werewolves where he would be the only nonpredator there. That didn’t sound like a good idea to me.
You do realize that prey animals with natural predators can be fucking intense, right? You ever noticed how those wild-life show people like Steve Irwin are always jumping on the crockadiles and handling the venomous snakes but when they find a moose they stay about fifteen feet away? That is not because they don't want to scare Mr. Moose off. Mr. Moose is probably habituated to humans and very courious about what Mr. Cameraman has in his bag. They stay fifteen feet away because they don't want Mr. Moose to open a can of Mr. Woop-ass all over Mr. Camera. Yes. Predators kill the prey animals. The prey animals kill them back. 

“You saved my swanmanes, Ms. Blake. You nearly got yourself killed doing it. I couldn’t risk the girls coming, they are not  .  .  .” He looked down at his folded hands, then raised those changeable eyes to me. “They are like your Nathaniel— victims.”

"Having to endure shit" does not equal "victim". "Wanting to endure shit" certainly does not equal victim. And victim is not a word that defines a person. It defines a temporary, transitory role of horribleness. Being a crime victim or an abuse victim does not make you a whimpering sack of uselessness. It just means you were on the receiving end. NO ONE is a victim outside of an event. NO ONE is defined by their victimization at the hands of someone else. And unless the bad things are happening to you right now, the word "victim" is always past tense. You were a victim. You might still have emotional pain from what happened, but that event neither defines nor confines you.

And I'd like to see Anita go through some kind of twelve step recovery program. I think she'd melt.

But you know, I think that this predator/prey thing is a male/female thing. And that might just be kind of intentional on LKH's part. Only predators get to survive. Prey must be protected, guarded and nurtured, lest it become meat for a bad predator. Switch out the words and it's HELLO MISOGYNY.

As proven by Donovan insisting he has strong control over his inner swan and Anita dismissing this as a severe case of arrogance. It's confidence, sunshine, and it might look unfamiliar to you because for once it's not being backed by a gun.

Anita is skeptical when Donovan insists he won't be a burden. I am reminded of the terrible western I tried to read once. Only the role of Donovon was played by a pretty blond thing that wound up banging the hero halfway through the book.

And then Anita freaks out because Donovan smells like food.   And everyone freaks out because her self control is so bad she almost chows into Donovan. Who refuses to be freaked out because Anita is one of the good guys, and his confidence in her abilities is played off as stupidity on his part.

Let me say that again. Donovan's confidence in Anita's self-control and innate goodness is played off as stupidity on his part. 

Then it is explained that swanmanes are either cursed or born. Look, see? One sentence. It takes about five paragraphs for us to get through that part. It includes Anita losing her control again and Donovon showing off his feathery belly.

Then more nonsense about how Anita and Micah are perfectly mated. One true wub.

And then Anita says that maybe she and Richard could have worked out, if he could only have dumped his moral code and been okay with anything goes.

NO. Nope. Sorry. Given that in another dozen books or so you're going to be literally fucking a teenager, I think you need to go back to your room and start thinking about your life choices. Morality might be a...pain in the ass, but it keeps you from violating other people. Morality is not a bad thing.

And then it says that healthy packs form a group mind, know, it's a little late to be springing this part of pack life TEN BOOKS INTO THE SERIES.

And then Anita asks questions about Gina, who is apparently one of Micah's leopards, and who is radiating "I am abused".


Anita then asks why Micah hasn't done something for Gina's unspecified victimization. And not as in therapy. As in killing whoever it is hurting her. Let me remind you guys, THIS WOMAN IS A SHAPE-SHIFTING LEOPARD. SHE COULD DO HER OWN KILLING IF SHE WANTED TO. SHE DOES NOT NEED A GUY TO DO WHAT SHE COULD DO ON HER OWN. Get her healthy, and she'll take care of it on her own.

And then Micah drops that something is after him and his pard.

...that's gonna be the other half of this book, isn't it? Anita rescues her rapist from the trouble he isn't man enough to handle. Please tell me I'm wrong. Please.

And then we get "Anita is a bad-ass" speech number 2,947. Given that she has done NOTHING I would call bad-ass, I call bullshit.

And then we find out that precious Anita is a victim of racial prejudice. She's half hispanic, and her nordic boyfriend's family, reffered to as "good little Aryans" here, didn't want to have mexican babies in the house.

I cannot touch this one with a ten foot pole, so I'm just gonna leave it there.

And then the chapter ends on a note. I don't know what to call it.

But guys? Kindle will mark frequently underlined parts of books. IDK, give us e-book readers a sense of community I guess? And all I can say is this:

Maybe they know what I know, that the true way to a man’s heart is six inches of metal between his ribs. Sometimes four inches will do the job, but to be really sure, I like to have six. Funny how phallic objects are always more useful the bigger they are. Anyone who tells you size doesn’t matter has been seeing too many small knives.

99 of you cannot read, and are melodramatic as fuck.


  1. "And then we get "Anita is a bad-ass" speech number 2,947. Given that she has done NOTHING I would call bad-ass, I call bullshit."

    Hey now, she shot an unarmed woman. That's tough. It's takes a real hero to do stuff like that.

    "Funny how phallic objects are always more useful the bigger they are."

    Tell that to short women who like tall guys, but have to stick to certain positions during sex to avoid being punched in the uterus.

    1. "Donovan's confidence in Anita's self-control and innate goodness is played off as stupidity on his part."

      Well he has just met her, the rest of the characters, as well as the readers are much better informed. We KNOW depending on Anita's goodness is a recipe for disaster and her self-control in non existent. He and all his people will all be subjected to metaphysical rape to save one of Anita's favorites while she panics in a later book so he'll come to rue this day.

      Do you know why it is a bad idea to write your nearest and dearest into your works of fiction? Exhibit A. The character of Richard in the Anita Blake world.

    2. Ian: Too late. Micah bumped Anita's cervix during the shower-rape scene. Sexy.

      Julaine: Yep. But Anita is supposed to be a hero. She's supposed to overcome her negatives and push things along towards a positive outcome. She even fits the steriotypical "hero" behavior (In that she is reactive and not active. Most heroes do not initiate actions, they react to someone else's actions. Sometimes they can take things one step further, but they never make the first move).

      And Anita used to be a hero. A nasty one, but she did good things, she protected the good guys and made the bad ones go away. It'd be reasonable at this point to expect Anita to overcome her own problems and continue to be a protector.

      Hell, I think that's why a lot of people held onto the series as long as they did. In the hands of a good (read as ANY OTHER) writer that'd be a kickass story arc.

  2. "Ian: Too late. Micah bumped Anita's cervix during the shower-rape scene. Sexy."

    Oh yeah. I forgot about that. I was distracted from the bad sex-writing by the horrible rape.

    Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

  3. Anita is the protagonist of the story and I can make a case for calling her an unreliable narrator but she stopped being a hero a looooooong time ago. It is hard to find another example of a main character who acts in a less heroic manner. The introduction of the characters of Nathaniel and Micah and the retconning of the character of the Richard in this book were beyond nasty. I didn't need to know that someone or something in LKH's personal life had displeased her, it was written between the lines of each page of NiC. What healthy adult thinks its ok to sleep in bed night after night with someone you consider a child and justify it by saying that they hadn't crossed the line to having intercourse? That insta true love overcome rape by either party? The inside of Ms Hamilton's head is indeed a dark and ugly place and its not because she is the edgy sexy queen of middle American mall goth. No, by this point in the story arc, Anita Blake flushes the title of hero down the sewers the original were rats in Quilty Pleasures used to inhabit.

  4. Yeah, regarding the bit about Rafael and what kind of car she expects him to have...check out my bit on rats here:

    "But you know, I think that this predator/prey thing is a male/female thing. And that might just be kind of intentional on LKH's part. Only predators get to survive. Prey must be protected, guarded and nurtured, lest it become meat for a bad predator. Switch out the words and it's HELLO MISOGYNY."

    Ugggh, I think you have a point.

    Swans are badass. I play in Anita Blake RPs, and I'm with a little group, all of which of us play wereswans. Our swans were pretty much the most badass critters around at the board we met up with, and part of it was because of a reaction to being treated like prey by stupid predators and vampires who thought 'ooh, pretty birdy!' like LKH seems to.

    1. I am now in mourning for poor Raphael. Anita is a black hole no man can escape from.

      I live in South Texas. We do have a rather large Hispanic population...and they work as doctors and lawyers and go to non-catholic churches with their families, if they go to church at all, and drive cars with functional suspension. Because they are people, and people are not die cut to fit a racial profile. Yes. The stereotype exists too, but they're just as likely to be white as they are any shade of brown. (I once saw a white dude in MTV gangster clothes behind the wheel of a blinged out, lowridered SUV. He was completely serious. It was kind of adorable)

      Of course, I was also annoyed that the hispanic cop in END OF WATCH was the one that heroically bit the bullet, rather than Jake Gyllenhall. I'm too white to appropriate racism as an issue, but it REALLY irritates me.

      And if I were going to a were-whatever convention I'd be driving a toyota Hilux. You could kill a limo. Short of shooting through the engine block, you cannot kill a Hilux. Top Gear already tried.

      One of my favorite books is "THE BLACK SWAN" by Mercedes Lackley. It's repeated more than once that a swan could break a man's leg with a wingstroke. That's why I kind of went "WTF" when I read that "victim" paragraph.

      I am SO tempted to ask you for a link to that board. I just know I would not have the time to participate much. :D

  5. You have to admit the bit where Donovan was undoing his belt and saying "showing you the mark of my kingship" or whatever was hysterical. Just probably not in the way LKH was intending.