Monday, January 7, 2013

Narcissus In Chains--chapter 34

So, having made Richard bleed to show how well adjusted she is, Anita now calls Jean Claude to find out what, exactly, he told Richard.

At this point we can assume "Everything" and move on from there.

Also, apparently Richard has no issue sharing Anita with other Alpha-males, because competition is fine, but he doesn't like sharing with submissives.

Anita accuses Jean Claude of playing Machiavellian mind-games with Richard.

 And this would make sense if Jean Claude wanted Richard to ditch Anita and move on with his life. Jean Claude does not. Remember, Anita taking off for six months severely damaged his power base. He should be trying to get Richard back on Anita's side. Saying shit that antagonizes things is not majorly helping.

Anyway, apparently it is somehow worse for Anita to sleep with a submissive than it is for her to sleep with another dominant.

I am completely baffled by this and I can't even begin to understand it. So I'm just going to move on.

Now, I have heard a few people argue that these books are not horribly mysogynist. Rapy, yes. But that Anita's role is an empowering example of feminine freedom and that the whole thing with Richard is about her bucking male chauvinism. Or something.

“I am, after all, a man, ma petite. I believe I understand the male psyche a tiny bit better than you do.” 
I couldn’t argue with that. “Well, give me a heads-up next time you plan to do any maneuvering. You could have gotten one of us killed.”

OH yes you can, sunshine.

They continue talking about how much Richard might know about her and Nathanial. And CONTINUE TALKING ABOUT IT. Because it's not like we have a man lying on the verge of death outside on Anita's back porch. Yes, folks. NOBODY HAS HELPED GREGORY YET. We're hung up on Anita's fucked up relationships while Gregory is out back dying. 

At one point in the conversation Anita says that sleeping with the entire pard is not sexual. It's like a "great big pile of puppies." And that is the yuckiest thing in the entire chapter.

I was shaking my head, realized he couldn’t see it, and said, “I don’t do casual sex, Jean-Claude, you know that.” 
“Whatever you are doing with Nathaniel, ma petite, it is not casual.”
“I can’t use him as my pomme de sang. I can’t.”
 “Your morals have reared their ugly heads, ma petite, do not let them make you foolish.
And that is the most rage-inducing part of it.

WHY is standing up for your morals such a bad thing? We're not talking about abortion rights here, folks. Anita is compromising a very important relationship that she still cares about under circumstances that make her feel very guilty. Every time any character tries to take a stand they get punched down for being wrong. Anita's entire character up until now has been about balancing a moral life with an amoral universe. Admittedly she's been losing ground the entire way, but she kept fighting.

If we were to translate this over into epic fantasy, it's like a knight being told "stop fighting" by his lady love, and he actually does it. Hangs up his lance and lets the big ugly dragon take things over because hey, why not? Fighting gets people hurt.

If Anita were to resist this until she found a partner she could have guilt-free sex with, this would be a much better story.  If she were to do anything that would involve "keep fighting" it would be a good story. Instead, we've got her throwing down her guns. And how's that for male domination, folks? She stops fighting because Jean Claude tells her to. Not because she wants to.

I just...UGH.

And then we move straight from "It's okay to screw whoever you want to" into "Anita is the most powerful, uber special princess alive." Jean Claude tells her that she's aquiring powers faster than an Alpha or a Master Vampire would, and Anita is basically like "Yeah, so?"

And then we go from That into some bullshit about how the only reason Jean Claude isn't a tyrant like Nickolaus is because the wolves were too powerful and Anita kept him in line anyway. probably true up to a point, but I doubt that a truely bad vampire would have tolerated Anita hanging around his neck the way she does.

And then...honestly I can't figure out what the fuck this conversation is about anymore. They're touching on plot point--Richard won't be fed on--to plot point--Gregory's still dying--to plot point--uh...they have to find witches?--without a lot of purpose behind it. I've written conversations and pages like this, but it's usually when I have no idea where I'm going next and I'm planning things out. Second or third time around, I take that shit out. Seriously. Can we have a point sometime soon?

No. No. Now we're back to how to manipulate Richard into sleeping with Anita. And how the ardeur will override her self control and make her fuck anything with a penis if she doesn't screw somebody first thing in the morning.

And then we bring up the shower-rape YET AGAIN as an example of what happens when Anita seduces somebody.

Dude. SHE FUCKING TOLD HIM NO. That is not seduction. That is why women carry mace. 

Richard comes in, Anita hangs up the phone, and that's the end of THAT chapter.

And it wasn't awful. Don't get me wrong. That was badly written and boring as fuck, but it didn't make me feel like I was watching somebody torture baby kittens. It won't last, I know, but it's nice to have the "vacation".


  1. Hey, there! I wandered over from Lashouts and have been catching up on your book flogs. Your take on City of Bones was awesomely entertaining, btw....I love that you make these reviews so hilarious while still raising valid, intelligent points about the material.

    This book is a disgrace. I remember being so excited for it to come out, because Obsidian Butterfly was SO good, and then throwing this piece of garbage across the room. It didn't quite break my brain, Incubus Dreams did that, but it was close.

    The themes of morality in this series make a complete 180 in this book, and it's disgusting. The ones leading up to this had an interesting idea of just how far could you go and still be a good guy...remember the book where Richard's mother and brother were taken hostage? (I think it was in Blue Moon) The bad guys sent Anita pieces of them to show that they meant business, and later she struggles with the decision to torture someone to find out where the hostages are being kept. That was a GREAT scene, full of tension and doubt, Anita agonized over taking that step and it was totally believable.

    And now....we get relationship drama. And we leave horribly brutalized, dying people out ON THE BACK PORCH to suffer because they arent as important as our little Mary Sue's wangsting. I just....ugh. I have no words. -_-

    This makes me weep all over again for what this series has become.

    (Sorry for such a long-winded comment!)

    1. I LIKE long-winded comments. Somewhere in here is a rather epic post in which I try to explain how, exactly, God can make a rock he can't move. I have yet to beat that for long-winded-ness. So far, anyway.

      I think that was and is the dynamic I like in stories like this. It's why I can excuse dommaneering behavior on the part of most Urban Fantasy males. The spice of these stories to me is not the relationship and sex. It's watching the people involved in the relationship struggle to find healthy when nothing about the situation is, at all. Trying to be a good guy when good guy tactics are not immediately effective. Richard having to balance his innate morality with being a man-eating monster. Sometimes he did shitty things to Anita because of the man eating monster part, and that was not and never will be okay, but he KNEW he was being a shit-head and he was trying to change. To jump universes for a sec, it's why the Mercyverse and alpha males like Adam Hauptman and Bran make me squee. It's not that they're big dominating male monsters, it's that they're big dominating male monsters who understand why being that way is wrong and who are at least trying not to be assholes. And it's why strong females like Mercy Thompson and Obsidian Butterfly-era Anita rocked my socks. They had to find balance too, and had to fight not just for their own lives in the awful situations they had to deal with, but to preserve a sense of self when their significant others are...well, the big scary monsters.

      This story is all about Anita losing her sense of self, losing the things that she once held as valuable, and actually becoming what she was most afraid of--a monster in thrall to the other monsters. And possibly a couple other things I haven't figured out yet.

      And it has no appeal to me anymore, whatsoever.

      That'll last about nine weeks. I'm kind of a junkie that way.