Speaking of which, Redemption of Althalus is now on my personal recomendation list for the next book I flog. I love that book to itty bitty pieces (...I've read it about ten times. That is not boasting. That is a sad commentary on my mental state) and yet part of me has been dying to fully explore just how much Eddings recycled when he wrote things.
And it must be said, Eddings is a lot of things. Anita Blake/Merry Gentry level boring isn't one of them. I know I can make reviewing that book funny.
You guys can make other recs. I just need names and titles and fanatical insistance that this be THAT Book.
...Oh god, I have to review this chapter now, don't I?
FATHER JIM LOCKED UP St. Francis at Gubbio Church in San Francisco’s Tenderloin as soon as it was dark. By day, the homeless slept in the pews, and took their meals at the dining room down the street. But at nightfall, for safety’s sake, the church was locked.Father Jim is Ruben's brother. Ruben is about to take my ultimate, all time favorite trope and smash it against the wall. And then shit on the pieces.
See, one trope I like in werewolf/vampire/urban fantasy fiction is the new person induction. Especially if the new person is not the main character, but is close to the main character. I do not know why I love this. I just do. Think that scene in Superman two where Clark is just so bent on convincing Lois he isn't Superman that he overacts his fake trip on the love hotel's bearskin rug (LOOK JUST WATCH THE MOVIE OKAY?) and sticks his hand in the burning fireplace while she's sitting right there. It's really hard to ruin these scenes because it's the natural reaction that gives me the warm fuzzies.
Anne Rice ruined it, and I'm not sure how.
Ruben shows up at his brother's church dressed up like a werewolf, gets his brother out of bed and makes him go to confession.
Because his brother couldn't be trusted without that seal, and he can with. Okay. Whatever.
There's also an adjective shift. This is the first time we've visited the down and out. This is the first time we've dropped in on anyone who isn't, you know, Ruben level perfect. Ruben's brother doesn't live in an apartment. He lives in a flophouse. The book then immediately states that Jim is fixing the place up, because god forbid a genetic relation to Ruben live in less than elegant surroundings. It's hard for me to pinpoint why, exactly, I get a "Jim is wasting his life helping people" vibe from these words, but I do. It's like...Charity!? We don't give no stinking charity.
So Ruben drags a preist who has dedicated his life to community service out of bed in the middle of the night because he wants to vent to somebody about being a werewolf. And no. I don't know how long it's been since he fucked Laura, or ate the kidnappers without bothering with fava beans and that Chianti everybody recommended. We basically teleported to Jim's place.
And then he calls his brother on his cell phone, confident that his altered voice will disguise his identity.
Let me repeat that. HE CALLED HIS BROTHER USING HIS OWN PERSONAL CELL PHONE, AND IS CONFIDENT THAT HIS ALTERED VOICE WILL DISGUISE HIS IDENTITY.
Show of hands, folks: how many of us have phones with some kind of caller ID? HOW MANY OF US PROGRAM SAID CALLER ID TO IDENTIFY OUR FAMILIES? Fuck, my family members all get their own Very Special Ringtone.
Jim shows up. We jump into his head for a few sentences, and then go back to Ruben's POV. Jim lets Ruben into the church.
Ruben's first thought is that he could knock his brother out and steal all the church's valuables.
Ruben needs to get shot.
So they go into the confessional, Jim gets all dolled up the way catholic preists do (I was never Catholic so I do not know any of this) and then Ruben takes all his clothes off while werewolf, and his brother promptly loses his shit.
I can't blame him. That's what I'd do.
Jim then promptly gathers all his shit back up, stuffs it under his chair, and calmly continues with the confession, which impresses Ruben. So now we get the game of cat and mouse where Ruben tells Jim things and jim comforts him and then there's an accidental rip or something that will tell Jim that RUben is the werewolf at a later chap--
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,” Reuben said. “And all I tell you now is under the absolute Seal of the Confessional.” “Yes,” said Jim. “Are your intentions sincere?” “Completely. I’m your brother, Reuben.” Jim didn’t utter a word....Anne Rice just doesn't like emotional tension in her books, does she?
So Ruben describes his eating of people in GREAT FUCKING DETAIL, and then tells him about the werewolf attack, and how the change is coming earlier and earlier and how much he likes it, and Jim goes from green around the gills straight through deep black WTF territory and comes back out in that kind of calm you get only when the universe has collapsed inward and there's nowhere to go but up.
Jim asks for some kind of proof.
Ruben is all like "BUT I GAVE YOU MY NAME AND HERE IS MOM AND DAD AND CELESTE AND OTHER THINGS I COULD LEARN FROM THE INTERNETS WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED?" and Jim accepts it because there is a werewolf on the other side of the confessional, accepting that it is your brother is a little like accepting that a Time Lord is your next door neighbor.
Anne Rice then shows us how good she is at interpersonal dialogue:
“Animal,” said Reuben. “I’m a werewolf, Jim. But I’d rather call myself a man wolf. I do actually retain my full consciousness in this state, as ought to be plain enough to you. But it’s not that simple. There are hormones flooding me in this state and they work on my emotions. I am Reuben, yes, but I’m Reuben under a new series of influences. And no one really knows to what extent hormones and emotions influence free will and conscience and inhibition and moral habit.”Right.
Oh, no. She doesn't need an editor. Oh, no siree.
Jim then starts telling his brother he needs to go get help, and that their mother found a russian specialist who claims they Know Things, and Ruben is all like "IT IS NOT A CURSE IT IS A GIFT" and I am suddenly remembering every addict my parents ever tried to help, and have a sudden, violent urge to put my fist through this book repeatedly.
Ruben also decides that their mother would stick him in some little dark government hole in the interests of curing him. One, he underestimates his mother, and two, he underestimates how thoroughly fucked up he is right now.
They talk about silver bullets for a minute. They don't come to any conclusion about them, mind. They just bring the topic up and bat it around like a badminton birdie.
Ruben tells Jim about Laura.
Jim reacts pretty much the way I did:
Then he actually says something intelligant:
“Oh, this is great. Look, you can’t handle this on your own. You can’t handle the power, and from what you’re telling me you can’t handle the loneliness.”Not that this has any effect on the conversation.
They then discuss DNA, which has cropped up a couple times before and been confusing. Ruben has human DNA, only now it's werewolf DNA, only it could be human DNA, only it's breaking down and changing, only it isn't, except that it might be, and the police don't have Ruben's DNA on file, except they do from the Marchant case, except they don't really because Reasons, and the princess is in another castle. Yeah.
How would a wonderkind crime reporter not understand how DNA works?
Ruben then assures Jim that it isn't magic. We need to get that out of the way right now.
Yeah. One thing I've learned is that when somebody goes way out of their way to avoid using the M word in what would otherwise be paranoramal--that is, magic related--fiction, Christianity is lurking in the wings and it's the kind that pickets abortion clinics and funerals. And I don't have a lot of patience with that. If you want to write magic stories, write magic stories. If you don't, please get the fuck out of my toybox, mkay? Turning magic into misunderstood science and werewolves into a new kind of virus is a little bit like trying to stuff electronics into fried chicken. It serves no purpose and it makes everybody wonder what you smoked last night.
Ruben also keeps calling his brother "Father Jim". Because you'd totally do that with your family.
It might come as a total surprise to you, my dear loyal blog readers, but I really do not like this chapter.
And just in case it isn't clear that this is Ruben getting divine blessing for what he's doing, the chapter closes with this:
“May God protect you.”
“And why would He do that?” Reuben asked.
Jim’s voice came back with childlike sincerity: “Because He made you. Whatever you are, He made you. And He knows why and for what purpose.”
Oh, and Jim? I've got a whole book full of serial killer cases that would like to have a word with you about that high flavor of Calvinism.