Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Narcissus in Chains chapter 27

We're still obsessing over Anita climbing down the ladder. Yay. You're being big and strong and facing your fears. SO DO IT ALREADY. YOU ALREADY HAD YOUR ANGSTY CHAPTER.

It's Micah's turn to comfort her. Oh, goodie. Let's get comfort from our rapist. See, I don't read this as "Micah is good and misunderstood". I read this as "Anita is so sexy she even pulls romantic feelings out of natural rapists" and that is why Micah going lovey dovey makes me want to puke in LKH's lap.

Climbing down the ladder. Anita talking about how scary-scary it is. More climbing down the ladder. It's scary. Even more climbing. And then Richard grabs Anita around the waist, and the touch of his hands give her the streingth to make it the rest of the way down.

Female empowerment, boys and girls. A heroine who has to be rescued by a male, emotionally.

Then they find Gregory. And I want you to fully appreciate this bullshit, because I am about to go full on nuclear over it.

Lycanthropes have a natural allergy to silver in this universe. It burns them like acid. They heal fast, so it kind of balances out. A lot of lycanthropes have silver piercings because having piercings that burn the shit out of your body is badass. I always ask people how much their piercings hurt. Anyway, silver. Allergy. The werewolves wrapped Gregory up in silver chains.

A species that KNOWS it can be severely damaged by a certain kind of metal has deliberately wrapped one of its enemy in that material because they are just that fucking sadistic.

This is the conversation Anita and Richard have over Gregory's prone, bound and blindfolded body:

“The chains have rubbed him raw,” Richard said, voice soft. 

“He struggled,” I said. 
No, he’s not powerful enough to take this much silver against his skin. The chains ate their way into his skin.”

Also, note the REALLY subtle implication: That Gregory didn't struggle against being bound. Another condemnation of weakness. And it's not "How could you DO this to another member of your kind?" No. It's "He's not powerful enough to take it."

Fuck you. Fuck you, Anita, fuck you Richard, and FUCK FUCKITY FUCK FUCK YOU Laurell K. Hamilton. People like you three are the reason why women carry mace and male rape victims just pretend it never happened.

He is not lying there because he's not powerful enough to resist it. He's lying there because a bunch of sociopathic assholes decided wrapping him up in shit he's allergic to is a fun way to spend an evening. He's also there because Richard didn't have the balls to back a cement truck up to this hell-pit and erect a monument to the countless other human beings who have died down there. Anita and Richard are walking around on top of a pile of human bones right now. Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen: keeping instruments of murder and torture around because maybe someday they could use them.

Gregory is so traumatized he can't properly interact with Anita and Richard. Thus allowing him to be an object of pity for the rest of the chapter, rather than an actual character.

Also, the psychopaths Richard refuses to deal with shoved silver earplugs into Gregory's ears until his eardrums burst.

Richard cuts Gregory's blindfold off. Gregory sees him and starts screaming bloody murder. Anita feels sorry for Richard, because seeing someone be that scared of him must be hard for Richard to deal with. Right. And Richard had so much nothing to do with this, the sight of his face sends the traumatized man into screaming fits. Right. 

Hey, I just read a paragraph that distills every possible disturbing thing about this book down into two sentences:

I leaned over, placing my hand carefully on the pile of bones and watched Gregory’s eyes finally see me. He stopped screaming, but he didn’t look relieved enough. I pulled the gag out of his mouth, and it peeled away, taking bits of lip skin with it. He worked his mouth slowly, and for some odd reason I was reminded of the scene from The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy puts oil on the Tin Man’s jaw after he’d been rusted. The image should have made me smile, but it didn’t.
I want you to name one sane, adjusted person who would look at a severely brutalized human being who has just been deafened by eardrum bursting earplugs, who has been gagged so long bits of skin come off with the gag, watch him struggle to get his body parts working again, and think "Gee, I should be amused by this. Isn't it bad that I'm not?" NAME. ONE.

And then Anita forfits any remaining goodwill I might have had for her:

Whoever brought out those damn earplugs. I want them down here.”
No. The good guys do not use the weapons of the bad guys. The good guys do not look at a pile of human bones left from the other countless victims and think "I want to put my enemies down here". The good guys look at the pile of bones and think "Not even my enemies. Not ever again." and then they bring down heaven and earth to make sure that promise comes true.

But nope, they're gonna put Jacob and his buddies down here, and Anita is calling bullshit because Richard won't go all the way and torture them too. This is all a challenge to Richard's authority, and not a terrible thing done by terrible people. And that, the challenge, is why he and Anita are going to push this. Not because the people who did it are shit-eating psychopathic human trash, but because it's a threat to their personal safety.

Our fucking heroes.

Meanwhile, while they're talking pack politics, the burtalized wereleopard is still sitting in his own excrement in the hole he's been imprisoned in for the last four days. He even recovers enough to ask to be removed from the pit, and Anita says "sure, sure" and then she and Richard go back to politicking while the raw sewage soaks into Gregory's wounds some more.

“If your system worked better than the old one, then I’d support it, but it’s not working. I’m sorry that it’s not working, Richard, but it’s not. If you continue this.  .  . experiment in democracy and gentler, kinder laws, people are going to die. Not just you, but Sylvie, and Jamil, and Shang-Da, and every wolf that supports you.
This is the second statement of purpose I've seen in this book so far. And I'm beginning to think that I've underestimated LKH. Because this reminds me WAY too much of Terry Goodkind and his descent into Objectivism, and how that ruined the entire series. Sacrificing character and story on the altar of idealism is a PERFECT way to utterly destroy a book. But maybe that's why this book sucks so hard. LKH has decided that kindness and goodness and human sanity are horrible things that must be campaigned against, and she's using her book as a vehicle for this. She's not a good enough writer to pull off a good alegory, but maybe she's good enough to--

Look at the throne you’re sitting on as Ulfric. It’s ancient, you can feel it.
Nevermind. The throne CANNOT be older than St. Louis, and St. Louis isn't any older than the declaration of independence. Laurell, you TOTALLY FAIL at this.


Nope. Now it's time to talk about relationship issues, and how Richard didn't stand up for Anita when the pack demoted her. YOU HAD NOT SPOKEN TO THIS MAN FOR SIX MONTHS, YOU ONLY CALLED HIM BECAUSE ONE OF YOUR FRIENDS WAS IN TROUBLE AND YOU NEEDED HELP. HE HAD EVERY RIGHT TO TELL YOU TO FUCK OFF.


“Make them fear you, Richard. Make them fear you. Machiavelli said it nearly six hundred years ago, but it’s still true. Every ruler should strive for his people to love him. But if they cannot love you, then make them fear you. Love is better, but fear will do the job.”
I am pretty sure that you are using that quote wrong. I am pretty sure, in fact, that you've missed the point entirely. So I am not going to do the research to prove it, and assume that you're absolutely right in that statement, that you're not using that quote out of a greater context, and that this is a viable arguement and not just LKH half-assing her way through "The Prince" because she's got more in common with Wheatley than she does any IRL human being.


This sucks, ladies and gentlemen. Plain and simple. Fear and love are both effective leadership tools. But you know what the best tool is? Doing a good job the first time. If you're doing a good job you shouldn't be so worried about a rebellion. Richard is not doing a good job. He is not doing right by his people. He should not be Ulfric. But his leadership problem is not that he's being to nice and goody-goody. He's not leading at all. 

And what Anita is doing now is insisting that Richard institute a full on Robspierre level Rein of Terror on his pack to make up for his inability to be an effective leader.

This is the heroine of this series. She is advising her lover and ally to turn his political enemies into Marie Antoinette.

And then finally, finally, FINALLY, they get Gregory out of the hole.

The heroine of this novel series put politicking with her lover over the sanity of a charge that she views as a weak child in need of protection.

And then we get this paragraph. It made me literally laugh out loud.

Jacob was there, already bound in silver chains, carried like a piece of struggling luggage between three werewolves. They let him keep his cutoff shorts. No nudity for the good guys. I guess there has to be some differences, or how do you tell which side you’re on?
Laurell, did you even bother to re-read this book before you mailed it to your new publisher? How can you BE so unaware of what you're writing? Seriously. YOU ARE TREATING THE BAD GUY THE WAY THE BAD GUY TREATED YOUR CHARGE. You are not any different. YOU ARE THE SAME AS THE BAD GUYS.

Richard and Micah then convince Anita to take her brutalized wereleopards home so they can heal up. And thank you GOD, this awful chapter ends.


  1. Anita needing to be saved by a guy actually happens so much in the later books it's fucking ridiculous.

    Anita also being a sociopathic murderer isn't new either, sadly, and will continue into the later books too, on the rare occasion she actually does anything anymore. Like, seriously, either she does nothing, or she does something terrible.

    The actual Machievelli line was that it is BEST to be both loved and feared, but if you can't have both, then just feared is better than just loved. She also misuses this line in a later book too, leading me to believe she's never actually read The Prince and just knows this quote because it's the same one EVERYONE knows...and also kind of misses that it may have been a satire and/or a gift of deliberate bad advice to get the ruler he gave it to taken down if he actually followed it. (that said, not all of it is bad advice or even evil, just uber-practical uber-pragmatic, with no giving a shit about the moral aspect)

    1. My personal philosophy is that politics must first be discussed outside of a moral context. Not because morals have no place in politics (they do) but because you first need to identify ALL the mechanisms in a system before you decide which ones are worth keeping. You cannot remove dysfunctional elements from a system if you do not first identify what those non-functional elements are.

      Once you've done the practical side, THEN you bring in morality and decide which mechanisms you will keep and which ones you will discard.

      A good leader should be loved by their law-abiding citizens without fear (because they know they're safe while they obey the laws) should be both loved AND feared by citizens in a gray area (IE Theives guild style law breakers, political enemies who aren't actively murdering people) and should be absolutely feared by the bad guys (Murderers, political enemies who do actively harm people) because the leader will make the bad guys go away. A GREAT leader would be able to do all of the above and make it fair and just.

      This is not something most people can acheive, and that's why we have democratcy. From a leader's POV it's better to be loved and feared, but from a subject's POV it's better to have three moderately corrupt leaders that keep each other in check than to have one massively bad leader who has no checks or balances at all.

      I still say that in our hearts, most of humanity (Western humanity, anyway) still wants a perfect "Once and Future King", which is why Aragon, Arthur and Jesus Christ are all still popular figures.

      And I seriously do need to do "The Prince" eventually. It's just...I really hate "issue" books.

  2. Everyone also misses the fact that The Prince was written as advice to a conquering warlord, not for a local ruler with a legitimate claim to power. In other works Machiavelli was clear in his praise of democracy as it worked at the time.

    So, Anita.

    Anyone here read the Dracula Tapes by Fred Saberhagen? The classic Dracula story as told from the point of view of the monster. In life Vlad Tepes tortured thousands of people to death in horrific and creative ways, earning himself the title 'The Impaler'. In the Dracula Tapes the monster freely admits to all such acts, and explains exactly why he'd do them again under the same circumstances, and why after all of that he still considers himself a good Christian - And he comes off as far more plausible and sympathetic than Anita, because he admits that his acts were horrible and were driven by a combination of militaristic pragmatism and personal emotional revenge against the Turks. He is brutal and vicious, he lives by a crude medieval code of honour and glory, and he freely admits to using Lucy for his own pleasure without regard for her wellbeing -

    And he's still a better, less cruel person than Anita.

    1. When I finished reading "Twilight" I imagined a cage match between Fred Saberhagen's Vlad and Edward.

      It did not end well for Edward.

  3. 'Edit' - He's also more adaptable than Anita. He learns. He looks at his behaviour, sees that it's out of step with the morality of the times, and decides that he's the one who needs to adjust. After all, if he hadn't been sick of his life as it was he wouldn't have bothered to leave his castle.