Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Narcissus in Chains chapter 23

We are still heading INTO the lupanar.

I got to see the Hobbit today with my dad. In IMAX, it was FUCKING AMAZING and I will never critize 3D again HOLY SHIT. But it was also one third of the original story. One third. From "In a hole in the ground, there lived a Hobbit" to the dwarves and Bilbo climbing out of the orc caves (or thereabouts. There was a Final Conflict, it was utterly bad-ass). There was not enough book to fill that much movie, so Peter Jackson started making things up (and it totally worked).

So it was one third of a book's worth of plot spread so thin they had to add more things in, and that plot still moved faster and contained more character development than this one does.

It also had a plot.

Lupanar. There is an ancient, multi-hundred year old throne with arms worn by "years of Ulfrics" touching it. It is an ancient, multi-hundred year old throne decked out like Boromir is ready to take a seat in it, plopped down in the middle of a St. Louis clearing. St. Louis was founded in 1764. It is barely older than our actual country, Laurell. Where the fuck did the magic chair come from? 

Please say Narnia. Please oh please oh please. (Actually, please say that Merry Gentry's family brought it with them, because connecting this series with the series that is still actually kind of sort of good might help rescue Anita. Maybe.)

"Countless generations" my ass. I'd buy a magic wolf throne if it came from Eire, or Unst, but not this shit. Basically, gang, the wolves decided they wanted to appropreate more than just norsy-sounding names for their leaders, so they took their idea of viking culture and used it to build a fake barbarian throne. Maybe not last week, but probably within the last two hundred to two hundred and fifty years, because I doubt there was a thriving wolf pack back in 1764. And that's a generation gap you can fucking count.

Also, no mention of how many wolves are in this clearing, which is about 100 to 150 yards. I have to assume it's all of them. All six hundred wolves, all two hundred rats, twenty to fifty leopards and a swan. In a 100 yard clearing. It MIGHT work. But sanitation is an issue.

Someone had hung cloth in the trees to one side of the throne. Black cloth, like a curtain, and it took a movement of the wind to draw my attention to it.

Okay. Seriously. Are you guys TWELVE? Are you all going to go home and listen to Linkin Park and Evanescense? YOU ARE HANGING BLACK CURTAINS IN THE TREES TO BE MELODRAMATIC. JESUS.

And once more I think about the Mercyverse, and how Bran the uber-werewolf would show up looking like a pizza delivery dude barely old enough to drink. Bran did not pretend to be bad-ass because he knew damn well he could take the room apart if he wanted to. If you have to put on a show, boys and girls, you're not what you're pretending to be.

Richard shows up.
He looked the part of the barbarian king, but there was still something in him, something  .  .  . soft. And if I could taste it, then so could Jacob.
Because having compassion and trying to give people choices and let everyone's voice be heard at the expense of your own is bad. Seriously, Richard is about to take a pounding because he stands up for his morals. And this makes him weak, because he can't accept that he's a big scary monster like Anita is now, and if he'd just once accept that wonton violence and wholesale violations of human rights are good things, his whole life would have new purpose!

I read a story the other day about Bayard Rustin. Bayard Rustin was a pacifist who refused to bend on the issue of violence ever. To the point that when someone was beating him, he gave the guy a new stick and suggested he be beaten with the new stick too. Bayard Rustin was also a quaker, black and openly gay in the ninteen sixties. He's the dude that convinced Martin Luther King that nonviolence was the way to go. If there is a poster boy for taking a damaging, inflexible moral stand, it would be this dude.

And that guy I mentioned? The one doing the beating? When Bayard Rustin offered him that other stick, the presumably white, racist, angry dude threw both sticks down and walked away. That's right. An act of turning the other cheek, what most people call "being a martyr", usually with a snide little smirk on their face, shut the violence down. In fact, non violence usually shuts violence down. Maybe not immediately, but it's not fun when the person you're beating on stops fighting back.

That right there? That's bad ass. Hell, being openly gay in the ninteen sixties was fucking bad-ass. Anita Blake? Is not bad-ass when she whines about how morals hold you back. She sounds like a ten year old kid told "Sorry, you can't have a pony."

And if I’d still been lupa, hell, we had enough ruthless people to get the job done, if Richard would just get out of our way. We were so close, and at the same time we weren’t even in the ballpark. It was more than frustrating. It was like watching a train race towards Richard, and we were all yelling, “Get off the tracks, get off the tracks!” Hell, we were trying to drag him off the tracks, and he was fighting us.
Other people who used non-violence effectively:

Tank man. He shut down China's tanks.

Ghandi. He shut down England.

Susan B. Anthony. She shut down men.

None of them shot the people they were trying to change through the heart to prove a point. What they did do, though, was produce they change they were trying to cause. (assuming all Tank Man wanted to do was stop China's tanks)

If Jacob was the train, then I could kill him and Richard would be safe. But Rafael was right. If it wasn’t Jacob, it’d be someone else. Jacob wasn’t the train hurtling to destroy Richard. Richard was.
Hmmm...okay, how about somebody whose moral stand cost them everything. Oskar. Fucking. Schindler. The only time in his life the man ever held a position of success was when the Nazis put him in charge of a factory. He decided what the Nazis were doing to the Jews was wrong, and he gave up everything to save just over a thousand people. Used up all his power, all his connections. He died penniless.

And a generation later, the descendants of the people he saved are still leaving rocks on his grave out of respect for what he did.

You want power that lasts, Anita? You want to be remembered as somebody great? You want your name to be something people conjure with? You take a moral stand and you do. not. back. down. EVER.

Richard's problem is not that his morals get in the way. It's that he's too inconsistant, he's way too fucking self-centered to pull off the stand he's trying to make, and his wolf pack is too fucking big for him to rule effectively. The pack needs to be split up. 

Yeah. Sigh. Whatever.

So Richard announces that they're there to bid goodbye to their lupa and to choose another. And so I don't have to mention it later, there are a whole bunch of girls dressed sexily sitting over in a corner. One of them is named "Paris" and she's implied to be some kind of wonton gold-digger. So they're not wasting any time at all.

I think this problem is less "Anita is a wereleopard now (She's not)" and more "Anita hasn't been functioning as our lupa for six fucking months, now we've got a chance to get rid of her." If she'd BEEN THERE, they could have worked around it. She has not. They want her gone.

The book does not seem to be aware that you cannot treat people like they don't exist for half a year and then try to pretend you're all buddy buddy with them.

Richard says they also need to punish Gregory. Anita says a prayer for guidance. God says "You'd have been better off before you shot an unarmed woman in the heart."

Richard asks what the wererats are there for. They explain that they're here to honor Anita's debit, and also if Richard is dead they won't help the wolves anymore, so fuck you contender-for-the-throne Jacob.

Donovan also states he's there to support Anita because she almost died saving his swans. Jacob calls bullshit on Anita saving people. Richard uses this to point out that Anita has saved half the pack personally, made their lives a fuckload of a lot better by getting rid of the former Ulfric and lupa, saved all the rats and did a couple other things too, and turns it into a chance to see who in the pack still supports him. Looks to me like Richard does this politics thing fine. Anita makes a pretty good plea for a second chance, too, but Jacob shoots it down.

Anita asks to go get Gregory. Paris says Anita needs to stop being Lupa first so that Paris can go jump Richard. Anita asks what that means, and there is a ceramony that must be done, though Anita could also refuse to step down. Anita says she thought she was already voted off the island and Silvie, another wolf, says that Anita can either refuse by going into mortal combat against all challengers or by "annointing the throne"

“You fuck the Ulfric on the throne in front of all of us.”
 I was already shaking my head. “Somehow I don’t think either Richard or I are up to public sex.”

I sure hope they wash that thing. Also...this is probably going to happen at the ...sigh...climax of this book. I hope it isn't, but my hopes, dear friends, are not high.

And then some metaphysical nonsense happens between Anita and Richard, and Anita mourns that now she is Richard's perfect mate, now! When she may never touch him again!

I used the pooh-bear graphic too early, didn't I?

Next chapter: It gets dumber. But you already knew that.


  1. “You fuck the Ulfric on the throne in front of all of us.”

    Unhygienic and uncomfortable. Always a perfect recipe for sexytime.

    What group of people get together and create a political system where people rise to power through public displays of either violence or sex? Seriously, how do they deal with real problems that come up when their only leadership skills are fighting or fucking?

    "Say boss, someone from the IRS wants to talk to you. Something about the pack's charitable status."

    "Rip their throat out and mount their skin on a flagpole."

    *three hours later*

    "Um, boss, the entire BATF is here. With guns. And um, yeah, more guns. Something about killing us all. With guns."

    "Time for an orgy!"

    1. *nods*

      Though if that were to happen Anita would have sex in the middle of the orgy and magically make all the soldiers abandon their guns and join in for the sexy sexy, thus making everything alright again.

    2. Oh, and now that you brought it up, I'm kind of amazed that an author isn't acknowledging situations re: taxes, given that royalties and book advances make tax time kind of crazy. I'm already worrying about how to report what I've made, and it's a grand total of thirty eight bucks. (I know. It's not a lot. I still worry that way) You'd think that tax-time would be a fun wrinkle to throw into the mix.

  2. You kind of have to remember that this book has to be viewed through a prism of what was going on in LKH's personal life at the time. She is making a very public declaration through this book about what she thinks about conventional morality and having to conform to societal norms. Her personal life was the subject of very public fodder and she just kept pouring more crazysauce onto the barbaque at every turn. She really did seem to feel that Richard's morality was wrong or at least limiting. I guess when you decide that you are on the side of the Angels it doesn't occur to ask who the angels are actually backing.

    Ian's right that is a completely insane way to govern anyone. I don't think it would work even for the Hell's Angels. It certainly wouldn't work for a bunch of shape shifters that could rip each others throats out in an instant.

    Wait till you find out what Anita thinks is the appropriate level of post coital sanitation. You won't be making fun of that possible sex scene on the stone chair. You'll just wish for gallons and gallons of brain bleach. You know that shower Anita took a few chapters ago? That infamous one? Where she got raped? Well PTSD must out somewhere and she appears to avoid showering and bathing at all cost from here on out so let's hope she doesn't decide to anoint that chair anytime soon.

    1. I read Kiss the Dead. Once.

      I'm trying REALLY hard to avoid dragging her private life into this, and it's getting harder and harder as the review goes on. The whole thing with Richard's morality is screaming "YOU WOULDN'T GIVE ME A PONY! NOW LOOK AT ME KILL YOU IN MY WRITING!" It's *almost* as bad as Hubbard's jabs at the CIA in Mission Earth.

      To pull out the bible for a sec, there's that bit that goes "What does it profit a man to save the whole world if he loses his own soul?" This shit is what they're talking about. It doesn't do anyone any good to save people if in the process you become the thing you were saving them from.

      None of this nonsense would work. You have to be trained how to deal with people who are pre-disposed to violence. It's not a natural thing, and most of it is either nipping situations in the bud or smiling, nodding and refusing to respond when they say "fuck you". Some of it is using a controlled form of violence--ie restraining a kid who is a danger to themselves and others--as a very, very last resort. But under normal circumstances you can't respond to violence with violence, unless you want for there to be more violence.

      I REALLY hope there is no scene involving the chair. What makes me think something like that will happen is, LKH isn't going to let Anita get demoted any time soon. That would require character development.

  3. Nope, LKH isn't going to allow Richard to escape Anita's clutches. He must be suitably punished for not agreeing with the party line. He will be tortured and tormented through several books. He will come groveling back to her several times but will be unable to live with the fact that he is not her one and only. Finally he will go on to have a complete character lobotomy through off scene "therapy", proclaim that Anita was right all along, undergo a change in his sexuality to bisexual so he can join in on Anita's orgies and ardeur feedings and basically surrender his free will to her control.

    Basically it's like every revenge fantasy an ex-spouse has ever had written across ten novels. LKH just can't let go. Every issue she appears to have ever had with her upbringing and her first marriage she keeps dragging out and vilifying. I, like you, try to separate an author and their personal life from their work. It is just impossible in the case of this author and this character. She just can't stop taking pot shots at the character and it was so transparent that even people like myself who knew nothing about the author when they originally read the series hit this book and immediately knew something was up and wondered why her publishers, editors and agents didn't make a greater attempt to prevent the train wreck.

    BTW I don't remember a scene with any sex on that chair but I could be blocking it out. It's been a long time and this book had so much plain nastiness that I may have just blanked out on that part. What I do know is that in the future that Richard is going to do extensive try outs for the position of Lupa and Anita is going to bitterly resent it. Resent it even while sleeping with more than a half a dozen other men on a regular basis. Richard's refusal to be monogamous to her while she is polygamous with many, many others (all for the welfare of community, of course) is a source of burning bitterness between the two characters. LKH, logic fail, yet again.