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:
SHOW, DON'T TELL.
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.”
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.
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, and...you 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".
PEOPLE DO NOT WORK THAT WAY.
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.