Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Harlequin--chapter 24-25

Oh my god you were all correct. All of you. Oh my god my brain. Oh my god.

There is no saving this series. Even if from here on out it turned into perfectly written prose with truely erotic and edgy sex scenes it would not be worth salvaging. Oh my fucking god.

Nothing much happens in chapter twenty four.  Anita wakes up. Cherry the wereleopard is there (I still cannot trust any character in this series named Cherry) and is crying over Anita. Anita's throat is sore from where they intubated Richard. Because Anita has some kind of stigmata thing going on, apparently. Jean Claude is almost dead, too. Lillian shows up. Anita and she discuss the slapping. No judgement is passed. It's just discussed. Did you do this? Yeah, I did. Moving on. Apparently Lillian opted out of the mass rape. I guess even LKH clued in that raping your doctor isn't the smartest idea in the universe. Nate is eating non stop burgers and Damian is draining blood by the galleon just to keep Anita, JC and Richard alive.

Bully for them. I still don't buy that the tri-whatever made of two people who are so cannon-weak they're the crisis of the chapter over and over and over again can suddenly support the three biggest powers in the series. That's like spending all your time shoring up a dike and then expecting it to take the storm surge from a cat five. It's been hammered into our skulls that Nate and Damian are the weak children in need of being protected. Now we need to believe that they're rising to the challenge when over and over again we've been told that they have no hidden preternatural strengths. LKH, you cannot suddenly let your designated victims take a load that would burn them out completely in any other novel.

Edward shows up. End of chapter.

Next chapter: Anita realizes that Jean Claude is unconsious and her best backup is here. She gets out of bed, grabs her gun, walks into Jean Claude's room and shoots him in the head. Fade to black. Epilogue: It is so awesome getting myself back again.

*Sigh* Don't I fucking wish.

Nope. In Real life Anita admits she's glad to see Edward because that means she's finally safe.

Edward is a sociopathic killer who does not give one solitary fuck about Things. You should not feel safe.

He comments that Anita couldn't even stay alive for a full day. They had to restart her heart, so it fits. Lillian makes a funny joke (“Fine, but let’s ease her into it; she’s been mostly dead all day.”) and LKH ruins it by smashing it into our faces like a TV pie. Apparently Edward was talking to the ambulatory members of Anita's gang, and he has a plan.

“You feed the ardeur on the head of another animal group, and take their energy the way you did the wererats’.”

This is actually in character for Edward. He's a sociopathic killer who is established as Not Giving Fucks throughtout the series. Anita gets power by raping people, so to him, it makes sense to just go rape more people. And how this is supposed to work is Antia says "FUCK that shit" and begins carrying a heavier caliber whenever Edward is in town.

Instead, she praises Edward's problem solving skills.

 He didn’t flinch or hesitate, even though he’d only known about the ardeur for a few hours. He’d landed in the middle of a crisis of metaphysical proportions and it hadn’t fazed him, or if it had, it didn’t show. In that moment I loved him, in a guy-buddy sort of way. He’d never fail me, or fuck with me, and I loved him for it.

Edward is suggesting that Anita, who has just raped several hundred people, now go out and rape several hundred more people. Because she can and she needs more power. Anita's reaction isn't "What's wrong with you" or "What about the people I'm about to rape", nope, it's "Edward is so awesome, he takes such good care of me."

Note: None of Anita's victims are in the room. Lillian was exempt from the rapening. Anita is making this decision without having seen the reprocussions of her actions. At least last time one of her victims started freaking out in front of her. This time everyone is like "Hey, let's do it again!"

It's not even like their first thought is sex. Nope. Something that is cannon acknowledged as rape is the very first thing they're reaching for. They want rape. And more rape. And more rape.

And the best part? Anita's last thin excuse for raping people is that Jean Claude controls her. He's always been the one shoving her into the major sex acts. The sex with Auggie. The sex with Rafael. There's always that little note about Jean Claude's hunger or Jean Claude's lust. Well, this time Jean Claude is fucking unconscious and it is all Anita this time. This is her chance to say "Fuck no".   What does she say instead?

“Which animal group?” I asked.
Who should my victim be.

This is actually a really good setup for an entirely different protagonist. Someone is psychically raping hundreds of were-animals at once, weeding their way through the leadership like a roto-tiller on crack, and only Our Hero Of Unestablished Gender can stop this evil force from assaulting every preternatural group in St. Louis. Anita will be the half-crazed Renfeild guarding the door. The HUG shoots Jean Claude in the head and offers Antia a good rehab contact for once she gets into the prison system.

Anita's gonna go rape the swans.

Yeah, it's the first time she's choosing her rape victims on her own and she's going right for the prey animals.

Anita can't hit a more powerful group because she knocked out most of the were-rats and devistated Jean Claude's guards in the process. That means the wolves and the heyenas are off limits. The lions would work, but Jason, the leader, was like "FUCK no" when they called him.

Anita swears that the lions will get theirs for betraying her.

Yes. Refusal to let his entire pride be psychically raped=personal betrayal of Anita worthy of active vengence.

“The lions would let the vampires die.” I said it out loud, because I needed to hear it. I couldn’t quite believe it. “That’s how I’d take it,” he said. We looked at each other, and I felt my eyes go as cold as his. I think we were thinking the same thing. The lions would suffer for this. Ungrateful bastards.

Probably the most disturbing thing about this is that it's raising a good question: Whose life has priority over the lives of others? If the only way for a group to survive is by feeding off of and/or draining another group, do they have a right to do so? Saying yes means that you're subordinating the rights of one group to the other--the subordinate group is not deserving of free life. Saying no means the same thing to the other group--that the predatory group are not deserving of free life. But if the lives and individuality of both groups are equally valid and equally valuable, how can you say that neither group is deserving of life? It's wrong for the predators to consume the prey, but it's equally wrong for the predators to die. It's a shades-of-gray question that I don't believe has a good, clean answer. For both groups to exist in something approaching happiness, a very ugly compromise has to be made. (If you read 'em, that's the question behind Starbleached.) In my opinion (and you can scream at me if I'm wrong) it's a question with three answers: slavery, genocide, or the production of a third, never-before seen option that allows both parties to exist to each other's betterment, rather than at their expense.

LKH is answering that question in an extraordinarily ugly way. In effect, she's saying that the predatory group ALWAYS has right-of-life over the prey. The weaker group should always bow to the stronger. The dominant paradigm deserves everything belonging to the subordinate, including their possessions, joy, bodies, thoughts and lives. By stating that Jason and his pride deserve to suffer for placing their pride's physical and mental integrity over Jean Claude's need to survive--that this is a line they are not willing to cross, not even for him--Anita is stating that if she, the dominant figure, demands something the subordinate is not willing to surrender, the subordinate should surrender it anyway.

By having Anita make this statement, LKH is effectively condoning the slavery option.

There's a scene in That Hideous Strength where Mark, the male lead, chooses to do something illegal for the N.I.C.E for the very first time. To me, it pretty much sums up how disgusted I am with this scene:

But the moment of (Mark's) consent almost escaped his notice...There may have been a time in the world's history when such moments fully revealed their gravity, with witches prophesying on a blasted heath or visible Rubicons to be crossed. But, for him, it all slipped past in a chatter of laughter, of that intimate laughter between fellow professionals, which of all earthly powers is strongest to make men do very bad things before they are yet, individually, very bad men.--C.S. Lewis
 THS is a very flawed book, but I love it because of observations like that. Anita Blake is consenting, for the very first time, to initiate a horrible crime of her own free will. And it goes by without any remark at all. Anita's only concern is that it won't be enough. There aren't that many swanmanes in the city.

Edward says that's fine. Donovan is Swan King of the entire country.

Anita is now contemplating nation wide rape. And she's completely okay with it. She's not asking Donovan to send a text to all his swans giving them a heads up. Nope. She's just like "Okay, can you hall his feathered butt over here so we can do this?" Not only that, but like the were-rats, Anita knows these people. She protects them. THEY STAY AT HER HOUSE SOMETIMES.

“He says that he leaves his swan maidens in the care of your leopards when he’s gone for a while.” I nodded. “There’s only three of them in town.” “They’ve stayed over at your house,” Edward said.
Anita does exactly one thing right, and by "right" I mean "Something that should go without saying for a decent human being". She makes Edward promise that he won't use any of the info she's giving him to hunt a were-whatever. He gets a shifter contract, he cannot use this information to act on it. I have no idea how that would work, but he promises so there is that.

The lions, though, are fair game. Anita just has to throw them out of the club first.

I used to worry about becoming like Edward. Lately, I counted on it.

And that is why most of the fanbase hates LKH's books. End of chapter.


  1. you know the weird thing, though? in all of those negative reviews no one even mentions this stuff.

    1. I think when you're reading casually it all just globs together into a great big ball of suck and you have to pick the bigger pieces out and point at those. When you're doing it chapter by chapter you can focus in on individual incidents and zero in on exactly what is wrong. If I had to review this entire book (Or the last three books) all at once I'd have a lot of trouble knowing where to start. And when what takes this shit from "awful" into GOD KILL ME NOW territory is a single, easy to miss sentence in a pile of sucky glop, a lot of people will probably miss the shitty mentions and grab onto the bigger stuff. Like how we left the plot behind several chapters ago. (Rape is a bigger deal than plot, but having the plot be completely absent makes it a little more difficult to recognize the presence of rape. Your brain is too busy going GET ON WITH IT to care about consent issues.)

      ...it's also entirely possible that folks who would pick this stuff out of the bad books gave up a long time ago. I kept reading because you guys appreciate it but I'd rather be reading ANYTHING ELSE IN THE UNIVERSE.

    2. True.

      I think it just sticks out to me so much because it's honestly kind of triggering. I keep imagining being one of those rats getting suddenly mind raped and all I can think about is how it would destroy me. Then I get outraged all over again because it seems like no one ever talks about how absolutely horrible this is.

  2. Sooo... She's going to organize and carry out a nationwide mass-rape of a group of civilians in a plot to undermine their leaders?

    Anita Blake is no longer just a criminal. She's one of the worst terrorists in human history.