Thursday, January 24, 2013

Narcissus in Chains chapter 54+55

There is one thing that has gotten the worst of it in this novel. It's not Anita's men, though they've been treated rather savegely. It's not other women. It's not Richard. It's not Jean Claude or his many lovers.

Nope. It's the humble and gentle comma.

Unlike John Norman, who eventually understood that wholesale slaughter would drive the comma into extenction and moved on to the simi-colon, Laurel K Hamilton has continued a wholesale passenger-pidgeon level genocide through every page of this book. And it's never been more obvious than at the start of this chapter:

Jason would be the appetizer, oh, sorry, Gretchen’s first feeding.
"Jason would be Gretchen's first feeding." Or "Jason would be Gretchen's appetizer." Look at how nice and simple and not comma-killing those two examples are.

And yes. They're getting Gretchen out of her box first, because the best thing Anita can do is waste all our time.

Oh, and folks? I read ahead. I finished the book. You will be RAGING when we get to the ending. I know I am. But I have kind of sort of almost figured out the bullshit about morals and why LKH is pounding "COMPROMISE ON YOUR ETHICS" into the ground the way she is.

anyhoo, Jean Claude, who is very experianced in this stuff, tells them all where to stand. Also, he fed on Gretchen's life energy, and Anita is offended by this. Badly. Anita watched Obsidian Butterfly and her ilk do the same thing in the previous book--drain via long distance, and return what they took--and was horrified then. She's horrified now that Jean Claude would suck another vampire down into skin and bones, because somehow this is worse than being locked in a box to starve for years and years.

Isn't that a nice summery? It took me three read throughs of Anita's long, convoluted metaphysical remembering to understand what the FUCK I was reading. I am proud of being able to boil it down to a couple sentences. 

Jean Claude decides it's time to vent his rage, and in the process shed his thin veneer of good guy. Because he had no choice but to abuse his powers and position. Anita and Richard have "hemmed him in with rules" so that he can't feed his hungers properly or consolidate his power base. They are forcing him to be a monster:

And now because you and he had your moral high ground to keep you pure, you have forced me to be more practical than I have ever wanted to be.”
Oh BULL FUCKING SHIT, Laurel. I'm not pissed at Jean Claude for saying this because now I've got your end-game with this book, and it sucks like shit, and I know that he's a non-existant character you've lobotomized because you've got a precious cute little point you want to make.

First of all, nobody forces you to do anything. Your choices are yours. Jean Claude could have held out and found another work-around. He could have done the sane thing, understood that Anita didn't want him, and found another Servant. He could have done the halfway sane thing and contacted Anita when he started having problems. The problem is not that Richard and Anita put too many rules on him. It's that he wanted to do this, and he didn't care enough to find a better solution. And no. I don't buy that there wasn't one. This is fiction, and it's written by an author with a long history of breaking her rules to suit herself. Jean Claude does what he wants to do. Now he's been caught, and like any cheating husband or abusive piece of shit caught with their hands dirty, he's blaming everybody but himself. His wife won't have sex with him, so he has to go elsewhere. Spare the Rod, Spoil the Housewife. "You've put too many rules on me!"

Gag me.

But the bigger problem here is, this moral compromise thing. It's now totally obvious to me that, as much as I wanted to deny it, this book is about Hamilton's private issues. It's about her private issues because it sure as bloody fuck isn't about anything else. And this moral nonsense is woven through every thread. "You need to compromise on your morals to get things done!"

No. You don't. You don't compromise on your morals because when you do, you're a hypocrite. You don't compromise on your principles because then you might as well not have any. And when you and a partner set up bounderies, you don't break the bounderies. And if this includes cheating outside the relationship, don't fucking cheat. If you break the rules and your loving friends and family tell you you're being a hypocritical shit, it's not because they don't understand. It's not because they are insensitive to your needs and refuse to compromise on the moral ground. It's because you took a moral stand, and you abandoned that stand the second it got difficult.

Okay. Moving on.

So Jean Claude feeds Gretchen, it takes pages, and nothing bad happens. Damn. Now it's Damian's turn. Jean Claude leaves Anita so that he can go baby the vampire that tried to kill his favorite person ever. This is called passive-agressively punishing Anita for not blithely going along with his locking people in boxes. Now Anita has to handle Damian on her own. She faces the coffin and...yep, the chapter ends.

I hate this book.


  1. The books always were a touch too close to Hamilton's own biases (hatred of other women, for instance, especially blonde ones) but at NiC, yes, things do very much start being about her personal issues. This one, I think, is directed at her ex-husband, who didn't like the moral direction the books were taking.

  2. I have no problem with authors working through their issues in print (The number of May-December romances in Lois McMaster Bujold's latest novels make me wonder who her daughter married). I have problems with authors who allow their issues to run away with the story (*glances sideways at John Barnes and SM Stirling*).

  3. I think that putting your own struggles and issues into your work can make for a very interesting and genuine read, BUT you have to be conscious of your bias or you're doing nothing but shouting at the audience to get the to agree with you.