Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Caress of Twilight--Chapter 37

Ah, the joys of summer/spring break/tourist season. Too many people in town, inexplicable rushes for obscure kinds of food, uninhabitable beaches and an internet signal that crashes predictably at about ten PM every night.

We have signs around town that say "If it says 'tourist season' why can't we shoot them" and they are only half kidding.

Folks, if you have the right to plan your own vacation and you want to go to the beach? September-December or April-May. Trust me. Don't come in the summer. It stops being fun.

So. We are now in that "Pull the plot out of your ass" stage of the book.

This is sad to me.

My favorite part of writing isn't actually the writing part. It's the editing. It's looking at the words and deciding what needs to stay there (I spent twenty minutes debating "capture" vs. "captivated" yesterday because I wasn't sure what connotations I wanted the opening paragraphs to have.) and, most importantly, retuning the plot so that it, you know, exists. I think my top three favorite moments while writing so far have been fixing This Found Thing (for those of you who have read it, that part with the tree? Yeah, that was in the middle. Realizing I'd put the fucking climax in the middle of the book was one of those "how stupid can I be?" moments) fixing the end of The Book, and probably the whole Starbleached thing because I have no idea why you guys like that book so much.

I'm not a great intellectual. I literally don't care how spiffy or politically correct or socially acceptable my reading material is, as long as I have it there to read. I bring up the Gap series a lot because once you've read that, the causal misogyny of series X goes from being MURDER DEATH KILL to "Meh. At least it isn't the Gap series." And I still love it to pieces (With the exception of the unreadable first book). Accusing me of liking problematic things is a little bit like accusing the sun of being a little shiny in Texas. Because the one thing I do want in my books? Effort. I want all the little dots and lines to connect. I want that fucking turd to shine. And the thing that killed my enjoyment of LKH's writing is how obviously no effort whatsoever was put into crafting the books. If I want something that is basically "Fling shit at the wall and see what sticks" I'll get a pet monkey, thanks.

So Maeve's pregancy is basically handwaved away as being A Thing.

Thousands of women with fertility issues and men with sex-destroying health problems have all just facepalmed. Moving on.

Taranis calls.

Merry spends a lot of time getting dressed. I actually support having these "the chick gets dressed before the big social confrontation" because, much as we might not like it, clothing is a kind of armor for both sexes, and a way to say "fuck you" without having to even gesture. What we don't need is the "My dress compliments my bedspread" paragraph. GET THE TELEPHONE MIRROR OUT OF YOUR BEDROOM.

 The Faerie in this book all take their name from their magic. Merry is (sigh) "Princess of Flesh" not because she's having copious amounts of sex but because she can turn you into a screaming immortal inside out basketball. Taranis is "King of Light and Illusion".

So the king she's so worried about is basically a special effects unit without a movie.

HOW TO SOLVE EVERY PROBLEM: Request a private audience with no witnesses. Shake king's hand. Salute new king while carrying new basketball under left arm. PROBLEM SOLVED.

He's wearing so much illusion it makes Merry feel seasick, so she talks him down to sanity. Like this:

Aloud I said, “King Taranis, my part-mortal eyes cannot behold your splendor without feeling quite overwhelmed. I would beg you lessen your glory so that I might look upon you without growing faint.”
It goes on for pages. Then they start discussing his invitation to the feast.

At this point it's REALLY clear all he wants to do is talk about Maeve Reed, who is going to have a kid now. He is FREAKING OUT because his dirty little secret might be exposed and he is going to Do Something About This. Why we need more pages of show for this, IDK. It's boring.

He tries to glamour her into going to the party. She does deep breathing excercises and goes back to trying to flatter him out of more of his personal glamour.

And then LKH forgets about the book for a second and goes on a rant about how if all you ever hear is how good and wonderful you are that's what you believe and you'll fall for any little old thing and make big mistakes like forget to put plot in your books and stuff.

You know, our subconsiouses are wonderful things. What was I talking about again?

(and yeah, that's why I ask you guys to point out when I fuck up with things. I would rather be told I'm an idiot than spend my life surrounded by yes men. If for no other reason than that breeds crappy books)

 And then Taranis starts trying to persuade her to come to the party by making his voice sound like candy.

I'm about ready to swear off food forever because of this book.

 And then...

Okay. Okay. Taking deep breaths.

Merry realizes that it's the touch of bare skin keeping her from agreeing to whatever Taranis wants (which is probably feast with a double helping of Murder) and she calls one of the other guys in. Not to cuddle, though. Oh, no. She wants Kitto.

Because the fake child spends most of his time almost nude, and she wants all that bare skin touching her.

And then this paragraph happens.

The king lashed at me with his power, fashioning it into a whip that hurt even as it felt good. It tore a gasp from my throat, and I would have flung myself at the mirror, even cried yes, if I could have spoken, if I could have moved. In that one desperate moment, three things happened: Doyle laid a gentle kiss on my neck, Kitto licked the back of my knee, and Frost sat down on the bed to raise my hand to his mouth.

There are so many layers of wrong here I don't even want to touch it. Sex fixes everything in this book. EVERYTHING.

Finally Merry tells him that he's being an asshole and she's not going to see him before Yule because anybody who wants it this fucking bad must have ulterior motives, and she finds those scary. Reasonable.

LKH breaks out the random Gaelic and has Taranis call himself "Ard Ri". This means High King. I know this because one of my favorite Gaelic songs provided an English translation (The Rock by Maire Brennan) and the official unofficial theme song for Exiles is King of the Faeries AKA An Ri na Sidhe in Gaelic. So it's not that bad...but Gaelic has appeared only ONE other time in this book. Nobody else is using it, nobody else is speaking it. WHY USE IT NOW?

They trade nasty and pointless barbs for a while, and then Frost blanks the mirror.

You know what I miss? I miss the politics in the Jack the Bodiless series. Also the character development. Also the time-travel mind fuck elements, but I am so glad nobody's given LKH a time machine yet. We don't know what she'd do with it.

FINALLY Frost points out that Yule was when they'd make sacrifices to the old gods and if Taranis were going to be killed for being infertile it'd be during the Yule celebrations. Merry finally realizes what everybody reading this book got several hundred pages ago.

They all agree they won't be going to yule, and the chapter ends.


  1. Hoo boy. Just...hoo boy.
    They could theoretically sacrifice Taranis on Midsummer, too, since that's when the Holly King gains ascendency over the Oak King, and rules until Yule when the Oak King regains his ascendency and rules the other half of the year. Of course, I have no idea which one he's supposed to be, considering he's just generic-brand crazy. And I guess this book is already taking a dump on folklore and mythology and religion as it is, so it doesn't need yet another important mythological king to be rendered crazy and used as a plot device.

    1. The Holly King has been mentioned more than once, but I have NO knowledge of this mythology, so I can't say either.

      The mythology is weeping.

  2. "Taranis is "King of Light and Illusion"."
    To be fair, that "Light" part? It turns out that it means he can shoot laser beams at people. Or close to it.

    "So it's not that bad...but Gaelic has appeared only ONE other time in this book. Nobody else is using it, nobody else is speaking it. WHY USE IT NOW?"
    Possibly because Taranis has extra points in the prestige class Villainous Pompous Ass, which is an upgrade over the Pompous Ass class that everyone in this book has levels in.

    I'm mostly just facepalming that this scene was repeated in A Lick of Frost. Literally. Does Hamilton think that writing consists of Ctrl+X/Ctrl+V?!

    1. Given that many, many. MANY descriptions in these two books show up in Divine Misdemenors (the only other Merry Gentry book I've read. Yes, I skipped quite a few. I didn't miss anything except Merry actually getting preggers, because most of DM was a recap of everything else) yes, I think she does.