Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Paksenarrion--chapter 5-6

Sorry for the delay guys. Work stress plus health stress plus WHY DO WE HAVE TO TAKE A HUNDRED TWENTY SMALL CHILDREN TO A PARK FOR SIX HOURS AGAIN WE ALREADY DID THIS DAMN IT equals a CW that just wants to hibernate.

Oh. And tomorrow is my birthday. that Paks is cleared and safely hospitalized, they're going to intervew Stephi, the guy who might have been drugged into hurting her. He testifies that he was brought ale while he was arranging for the return of a captian--something he actually wanted, because the Duke in charge of the company is apparently also in charge of a first rate brewery. He was brought more ale than he liked, so he saved some of it and drank the rest. About an hour later, he felt very irritable and then blacked out until he woke up back in the infirmary.

They test the ale he saved, and the tanker he drank out of, and don't find anything. He then adds that he also stored a love potion in his saddle bags.

Stephi thought a moment. "Well—" he looked embarrassed. "I do have a— sort of a— a love potion. I got it from an old granny down the other side of Vérella. But— there's not much to it, sir, really, and besides, I didn't take it..."
He continues that it's a really basic potion that folk can get anywhere, but they all go trudging off to check his saddlebags anyway. They find the flask of saved ale mostly empty, and the potion bottle completely empty and stinking to high heaven of something Stephi doesn't remember buying. The ale flask is also full of the stuff. But he doesn't remember drinking from the flask, which means everything is still very fucking confused. He gets carted off to the jail cells on his and his captians own insistance because, drugs or not, he did something really, really terrible and can't escape it.

The POV switches back to Paks just long enough for the council to make sure she wasn't raped. She wasn't penetrated. Switch back to the council.

"I hope so. She's a good one, Kolya— almost as good as who she looks like— Tamarrion— if nothing goes wrong."

Kolya looked thoughtful. "Does she? I couldn't tell, with all those bruises. You know you can't protect the good ones, Stammel; it ruins them in the long run." "I know. But this kind of thing—"

"If she's that good it won't stop her. Nothing stopped Tamarrion. Wait and see— I'd best go."

And this is your first clue (if the shit-tastic events preceeding this chapter weren't, anyway) that Something Is Up with the Company. But this has a LOOOOOOOOOOOoooooOOOOOONG ass payoff so just chalk this up for future reference and move on.

Chapter six opens with the punishment of Korryn, his buddy Jens, and Stephi.

A heavy timbered framework on a low platform was centered before them; on the right stood the witnesses, and on the left was a quartet of guards near a smoking brazier one holding a straight razor, and one a whip. Paks recognized the dark guard who had held her. She looked at the razor and whip, and shivered.

This does not bode well for Korryn the shithead. The charges are read out, Jens is to be whipped and shaved, Korryn is to be shaved everywhere, whipped forty times, and then branded and kicked out of the Duke's territory. And no, we haven't met the Duke yet. Jens is punished first:

"One," said Captain Valichi. The whip smacked against his back; Paks saw his face twist in pain . "Two." Another smack. He gave a strangled cry . "Three. Four." The captain paused. "Sergeant Stammel— do you want the parting blow?" 
"No, sir. Not for this one."

hoooo boy.

Then it's Korryn's turn. He's beaten bloody well past the point where Paks can watch--because remember, she was told that she would be punished this way for picking the fight with Stephi--and then this happens:

Paks watched, fascinated and horrified, as he braced himself and gave Korryn five powerful blows. Korryn's body jerked, and he gave a last scream and fainted. Stammel ran his hand down Korryn's back and returned to his unit, holding his bloody hand out . He faced Paks, and touched it to her forehead as her eyes widened in shock. "By this blood your injury is avenged," he said, and took up his position again.
Yeah. It ain't safe here, kids.

Then the Captian sits Paks down for a little chat. She's done nothing wrong, though he does recommend she learn what her curses mean before she calls somebody names. He asks her if she wants to stay in the company; she does. And then he lets Stephi come in to apologize to Paks in person.

I don't like this part. Paks doesn't like this part. But she agrees to let him apologize because she feels it is the right thing to do. It's short. He apologizes. She accepts no blame. Then he's shipped off to their main offices for trial by the Duke and both he and Korryn are pretty much out of the story either permanently or for a good long while.

Paks rejoins the company. She's still too hurt for weapons drills, but she marches and does the chores, and almost everybody avoids her.


One of the female soldiers, Barryani, begins badgering Paks about how she would have handled the rape attempt--mostly by talking about the number of ways she would have injured Stephi, or Korryn, or both.

"You should have poked an eye out," she began one afternoon, as they walked back to the main stronghold with a load of firewood. 
Paks shook her head. "I was trying to get away." 
"That's stupid . Anyone can get mauled trying to get away . Attack on your own. If you'd gotten an eye—"
 "I'd have been in worse trouble, Barra." Paks checked the mule she was leading, and shoved one length of wood back into place.
This conversation continues, with Paks saying less and less, until one of the other characters tells Barra to put a sock in it, and the conversation shifts back over to a discussion of Gods and Saints and faith.

"No. I thought Falk was a sort of saint, like Gird." 
"Saints!" snorted Barra from Vik's other side.
 "He is," said Vik seriously. "And Barra— I wouldn't scoff at them. Maybe they're far above us—but they have power."
"The gods have power," said Barra. "I'm not like Effa— I don't believe that men become gods when they die. And I'd rather be alive anyway."

Anyhoo, Paks's group is then taken to the Duke's East, a section of the territory where one of the minister/judges from Paks's trial lives with her apple orchards. Her name is Kolya, and while Paks is at the orchard helping with the harvest, she overhears Kolya talking about that Tammarion person:

"— wouldn't have happened like that at all," she heard Stammel say. "She would have made sure first, before she called for a ban."
Kolya snorted . "In her day, you'd never have brought back someone like Korryn at all, would you?"
 "No— you're right about that. But things are different." Paks saw his head shake, far below, then he peered up to see that she was working. She wondered if the mysterious Tamarrion had been a sergeant— even a captain— but something in their tone kept her from asking.
Eventually Paks earns her way up to guard duty, and her commanders begin educating them in terms of tactics and whatnot. The training on mounted tactics is amusing. They're taught on mules who rather like to kick. Eventually she notices that anyone who wants to leave is allowed to; no muss, no fuss, no questions. You want out? Here's your pay, there's the gate. Bye. Stammal explains that it's because they want people who want to be there, who are smart enough to avoid serious injury, who have the guts to stay after something like Korryn's punishment. They want dependable people who want to fight, because those dependable people are probably all that's going to keep each other alive. Paks looks around at her friends and realizes that some of them are probably going to die the first time they go into battle, and that their deaths might be her fault...

And the chapter ends with a hint that the next chapter is probably going to be that first campaign.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Deed of Paksenarrion chapter 2-3

It's so nice to be reading a book where shit actually happens. If this were a certain book series about sexy vampires we'd probably still be discussing who gets to ride shotgun on the way to the first crime scene or something. Instead...
It seemed to Paksenarrion that events had moved with blinding speed. Only that afternoon she had been a file leader, and Siger had praised her. Now she was shivering on the stone sleeping bench of an underground cell, out of sight and sound of everyone, cold, hungry, frightened, and in more trouble that she'd dreamed possible.
Yep. Something happened to Paks. We don't get to know what it is right off, but she's hurt pretty bad and her superior officers are about to throw her out of the company, naked and shaved. Now, I've read this before, but I'm gonna play along like I haven't, because it's...well, you'll see.

She insists she did not start the fight, so apparently she got into it with one of the other recruits. Stammal insists that she had to have, because she is a new recruit and this other guy has been with them five years, and is a personal friend of half the company. So Paks tells her story and...

"And tried to get me to bed him. And I said no, and he wouldn't let go, but went on—" She glanced at Stammel again . His expression did not change; her eyes dropped. "He said he was sure I wasn't a virgin, not with my looks, and that I must've bedded— someone— to be a file leader—"
Yeah. It's the aftermath of a rape scene. And apparently it's her word against his and--you probably guessed it--Korryn the asshole. And Stammal starts nodding and listening to her. Maybe not believing her, but listening. Then he asks her if she's had a lot of trouble with Korryn. She says yes, but that she kept her mouth shut because she thought she had to. Stammal responds thusly:

"You aren't supposed to act like a new wench in an alehouse , no. But no fighter should have to put up with that sort of thing from a companion. When you refuse, they're supposed to drop it; there's plenty enough that are willing. I wish I'd known; we'd have put a stop to that." He paused briefly. "Are you a sisli?"
"I— I don't know what that is. He— the corporal—asked me that too."
 "Like Barranyi and Natzlin in Kefer's unit. A woman who beds women. Are you?"
"No, sir. Not that I know of. Does it matter?"
 "Not really." Stammel shifted his weight again and sighed.
I kind of want to marry all of that.

Then Stammel notices that Paks can't stop puking--she's dry-heaved through this entire conversation--and asks her if it's because she's scared. No, it's because she got punched in the stomach multiple times, and everywhere else. He asks her to stand, she has a lot of trouble standing, and he realizes that the people full of bullshit probably aren't Paks. Stammel promises to get to the bottom of things, and apologizes for having to keep her in the cell overnight. He leaves, and the POV switches over to his. He is pissed off, and decides that everybody involved--witnesses, participants, he doesn't really care--needs to be isolated and under guard until he figures out what the fuck is going on.

So he interviews the guys who showed up when either Korryn and the other guy were done beating Paks, or Paks was done beating the other guy, and they compare stories and also realize something stinks:

"Come to think of it," Devlin interrupted, "most of that story came from Korryn, remember? Stephi hardly said a word— nodded when Korryn said 'isn't that right'— muttered a little, but that's all."
Then they pull the kid who went to get them out of the barracks and have a nice talk. The kid is one of Paks's friends, and he insists she wouldn't have done it. He wasn't there for the beating, but he did hear what the ranking officer said to Paks, and his story backs up hers. He's convinced, but he's got to talk the presiding captain into turning this investigation over to somebody else, or to at least let Paks out of the cell so she can get decent medical attention.

I think the thing that I like about this scene is that it's not being treated as a sexual thing. It's being treated as something that is fucking wrong, and everybody is giving Paks's word weight. It's not perfect--she's sitting down in a cell--but people are listening and trying to do the right thing. If there's one thing that kind of bugs me it is that violence against Paks is being used to develop the characters of the men around her, but it doesn't bug me enough to outweigh the "positive" aspects of how this is being handled. Because shit like this DOES happen, boys and girls, and far too frequently we shrug and look the other way. One thing about writing that I do believe is that it should be positive whenever possible. And I don't mean positive as in sunshine and roses. It should be positive as in this is how shit ought to be. I mean, compare this to the "Buyers Remorse" scene in Harlequin. In that shit-fest Anita and Edward are dismissing some unseen girl's accusations because they like Peter more than they do the girl. EVEN THOUGH HE RAPED MORE THAN ONE GIRL. Meanwhile we have Paks, who is getting a fair shake by a superior officer who likes one of her accusors more than he does her. BECAUSE IT'S THE RIGHT FUCKING THING TO DO. Somebody gave me the statistics on rape accusations, and you know what my dear male blog-readers? You are statistically EIGHTY THOUSAND TIMES more likely to be raped than you are to be falsely accused of rape. This shit is important and it's being treated as something important. And it's happening early enough in the book that it doesn't have to happen again. Moon is acknowledging that rape in the military happens, that the sexual pressure on female soldiers is enormous, and that this is how it needs to be handled--not ignored, not excused, fucking squashed-- when it would probably have been easier and less controversial for her to just ignore it and move on to the next part of the story. Instead? We're doing a rape scene that doesn't actually involve rape, just the reaction to it. And when it's done? We will NOT be revisiting this subject.

So Stammel is insisting on a full trial of Paks AND his friend, to a superior officer who has already made up his mind against Paks's story. And he keeps on insisting until the guy finally caves. Yep, he stuck his neck out there, not because he cares about Paks--she's a good soldier, but he was willing to hang her out to dry a few pages ago--but because it's the right fucking thing to do. The arrogant captian caves, and agrees to take evidence--ie, look at the injuries--the next day. The asshole won't let her go to the medical facilities, but he does allow a healer to go down and check on Paks, as long as nobody goes down there alone.

Stammel agrees to this, passes on the orders, and the chapter ends.

Chapter three opens with Paks getting dragged out of the cell. Dragged is literal--she's too stiff to walk very far, and has to be carried out to the evidence tribunal by her guards. The corporal and Korryn are just fine and dandy, thank you. They strip all three people and take a look at the damage. The boys have, basically, bruised hands and maybe a couple broken knuckles. Paks is pretty hurt, though, and doesn't react well to having her injuries listed:

Paks, listening to the list of her injuries, felt the descriptions as an echo of the blows that caused them. She was determined not to faint in front of everyone, but her knees loosened and her head drooped. The dark guard shook her arm. "Don't listen to that," he muttered. "Look up; count the mess hall windows. You can make it." Paks stared at the windows, trying to shut out the mayor's voice.

This also brings up another point: Rape isn't about actual penetration, and the emotional fallout can exist with or without it. We, like the court-appointed people, were not wittnesses to the attempted rape. The only people who know exactly what happened are Paks and the people who hurt her. Moon gave her that much privacy, something most authors just don't do. Instead, we get the story the way we usually get the story--through the repeated words of the victim. By removing the things we could be titilated by, Moon removes everything we could focus on, other than the crime itself. There's nothing sexy or sexual about this sequence. It's just fucking wrong. And then you've got this guy comforting Paks. I don't think he ever gets a name. Not only has he accepted her version of events without question, he's trying to help her as best he can. I can't say "This is something that few rape victims get", but it wasn't something that I got. Adding just that, that little detail, Moon is showing us that this is how it ought to be handled. Nobody is asking Paks what she did. Nobody is trying to imply that somehow this is justified. Instead, their first reaction is to help her. Help her get justice, which is important, but also help her get where she needs to go. Tell her "Don't listen" and give her a coping skill for when it gets overwhelmed.

And what the official witnesses say is just fucking beautiful:

"Captain Sejek , when one finds a woman beaten up like this, and two men only lightly marked, the usual interpretation is that the men assaulted the woman." The dark woman's voice was brusque, with an edge of sarcasm. "But she is in chains, so I suppose she's charged with assaulting them. On the evidence, without testimony, that's absurd.
Because the first thing we do to a rape victim is ask them what they did wrong.

(Answer: Nothing. They did nothing wrong.)

So yeah. I kind of want to marry all of this.

So then the soldiers give their testimony, and this happens:

"Did the woman say anything yesterday? Did you question her then?"
 "No. The other recruit did all the talking. She didn't argue. It seemed obvious."

Beaten to within an inch of your life, and you're still expected to talk in your own defense. Yep.

Stammel adds the stuff about talking to Paks in the cell later. Then they get Korryn's version of events--she attacked the corporal out of the blue after he asked her to bed him--and then they haul one of Korryn's friends up, and the guy panicks, tries to lie, and somehow manages to confess that he was posted as lookout while he tries to sew together a coherant story.

And then they go to question the corporal who started this whole thing...and he can't remember any of it. At all. And not in that "I don't remember so you can't touch me" kind of way. The guy was scared shitless that he couldn't remember anything before he found out that he had either beaten or been beaten by a girl, and now he's foaming at the mouth scared that he might really have hurt this girl.

And he thinks he did do it. And he's completely disgusted with himself.

"Sir— Captain— I cannot remember anything. But I'll tell you, sir , he must be lying. What we've seen and heard—" 
"You say that even if it condemns you?"
"Yes. Sir, it's obvious. That girl didn't beat me up—and honestly, sir, there's no way she could have." Stephi conveyed all the confidence of a senior veteran, sure of his own fighting ability.

And then Korryn the idiot screams that he did tell Stephi what happened, how could he not remember, and the entire scheme basically falls apart because these guys are dumbasses. Korryn attacks the guards, which, given that he's a new recruit and these are all guys trained in ass-kicking on a daily basis, is about as smart as trying to fight a shark with a toothpick. He gets his ass handed him by a girl. It's kind of great.

Stammel then suggests that it is entirely possible that Stephi might have been drugged, because something really weird is going on with all of this, and that they need to take the investigation someplace very, very private. The chapter ends.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Deed of Paksenarrion--chapter 1-2

Chapter one opens with Paksnearrion, or Pakse, fighting with her dad. I'd say it's your standard teenage fight, except that Dad wants Pakse to marry a neighbor and she doesn't want to. Pakse decides to end the arguement by pulling her grandfather's sword off the fireplace and threatening her dad with it. Dad backs off, Pakse runs, and halfway down the path she jams her grandfather's sword into the dirt so that her Dad can't claim she stole the thing.

I like her.

Having dismissed getting married and/or spinning for the rest of her life, Pakse then does the next most logical thing she can: Joins the nearest mercenary company. NO. LITERALLY. THAT'S HER NEXT BEST OPTION.

There she saw the booth that Jornoth had told her to look for, draped in maroon and white silk, with spears for cornerposts. She paused to catch her breath and look at it. On either side, a man-at-arms with breastplate, helmet, and sword stood guard. Inside was a narrow table, with one stool before it , and a man seated behind. Paksenarrion took a deep breath and walked forward.

The guy is a bit taken back when she says she wants to sign on, but he gives her the rules--be of age, in good shape and don't be an idiot--and she figures she fits it well enough. This is, after all, why she ran away from home. The next set of questions shows that Pakse isn't stupid, either. She's been planning this for a while, and it's just a combination of bad timing re: the wedding and her own plans that it all fell out when her Dad gave her over to the local pig farmer. Finally, he finds out where she came from, realizes that she walked thirty miles on an empty stomach, and gives her paperwork to sign so she can get dinner.

One short summery later, she's in the courtyard with the other recruits, looking them over. No snark, no judgement, just "Hey, here are other people." She shortens her name to Paks, because her dad called her Pakse, and she's not comfortable being called that again.

Off they go on a march. It isn't until they make camp, and Paks and another dude go off to dig the camp latrines, that we get our first hint of conflict:

The man who'd fainted snickered appreciatively. "It took 'em long enough. I'd say they weren't just digging ditches."
Paks doesn't deck the idiot, but one of the other recruits says, basically, "Knock it off, we'll all have to dig". He also names fainter as Jens and another dude as Korryn. The chapter ends when Paks gets to the castle.

Next chapter, they get uniforms. The Korryn-is-a-shithead line is re-enforced when he cat-calls Paks as she walks across the yard in her tunic and not much else (It makes sense in context) and their mutual commanding officer calls him on his shit. Most of the rest of it is training details, worldbuilding and general misery--basic training isn't fun for anybody.

And then they give the newbies weapons and it's kind of pretty:

Siger glared at her. "Ha! Eager, are you? You innocents are all too willing to shed your blood. Very well— pick up the first one in line— yes— that one." Paks could not help grinning: a sword in her hand at last. She waggled it from side to side. "No!" roared Siger. "Don't play with it, fool! It's not a toy to show off with. A sword is to kill people with, nothing less."

I think that's one thing I love about this series. Paks is going to be a fucking bad-ass, but she sucks right now. She's never done it before. Fuck all that Harry Potter-natural flier super-seeker shit. We've got a main character who doesn't even know that the pointy end goes in the other guy.

It's great.

Korryn starts laughing at her the first time the trainer knocks her in the ribs. So the trainer decides that it's his turn.

Its not pretty. It's beautiful.

 "Ah-h. An expert, is it? You've handled a blade before?" Korryn nodded. "We'll see, then. You need not confine yourself to the hauk drill if you think you can do more." But Korryn began with the standard movements, holding his sword easily. "I'd say you were used to a longer blade, recruit," commented Siger. "Taught by a fencing master, weren't you? You like a thrust better than a slash. You handle that blade like you did most of your fighting in alleys. It won't do for us— you might as well forget it, recruit , and start learning it right." And with that Siger began a furious attack that forced Korryn back, and back, and back around the practice ring, taking blow after blow, until Korryn lost his grip and the sword flew out of his hand. Effa caught it in midair. "Now," said Siger, the point of his sword at Korryn's waist . "Is it quite as funny when it happens to you? Let's hear you laugh."

The thing I like best about this is that it's not a "my main character knows better than my side characters do!" because it's very, VERY clear that Paks can't even manage that much. This isn't about Korryn's skill, or Paks's skill. This is about Korryn being a dick, know-it-all and blowhard, and his trainer trying to knock him out of it. It's probably more satisfying than seeing the main character do better, because it's not about making Paks look good. From there, we segue into the number of ways newbie soldiers can hurt themselves with practice weapons, and it's a pretty long, decently funny summery of how This Is Not A Game.

And then one of the recruits gets REALLY hurt and we get our first hint of major plot:

"If there'd been a Marshal here—" began Effa. 
Devlin interrupted. "No. Don't say that. Not here. Not in this Company." 
Effa looked puzzled. "But I thought Phelan's Company recruited mostly Girdsmen— doesn't it?" 
"Once it did, but not now." 
"But when I joined, and said I was a yeoman, Stammel said it was good." 
"Sergeant Stammel, to you. Oh yes, we're glad to get Girdsmen— the more the better. But there'll be no Marshals here, and no grange or barton." 
"But why—?" 
"Effa, leave be." Arñe tapped her arm. "It's not our concern."

Religion is a big deal in this series--one of the reasons I picked it--and this is your first hint that something is probably off in the Company.

This moves into a conversation about gods, and the nature of gods, and how Gird was born human and thus couldn't have become a god, and how very little Paks cares about this.

Chapter two closes with Paks finally scoring a touch on her trainer during practice.

OH MY GOD I forgot how much I love this book. :D

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Update on the CW


It took all week but I finally got all my healthcare stuff in order and FINALLY got in to get an assessment. It actually went really well--the getting in part--as I managed to get there early enough to get the midday slot and get assessed.

I now officially have Major Recurring Depression with a secondary diagnosis of PTSD. And everybody in my family said "NO SHIT MS. SHERLOCK" and then gave me many hugs.

This makes a whole lot of things make perfect sense. I am now waiting for my dr. appointment, which will be on Tuesday.

I wanted to do a positive book. One nonny mentioned Mists of Avalon. Well...a second read-through proved that I still don't have enough patience for MoA (I tried Nonny. Sorry). BUT! It reminded me of one of my other favorite books which I suddenly, desperately wanted to read. So instead I'm pulling Blog Owner status and I'm gonna do the Deed of Paksenarrion. In nice, large chunks, because I remember this book being kick-ass awesome. It also has a lot of the same religious overtones.

We will start that Friday night.

For tonight I'm going to burn nice incense, drink a glass of wine, eat homemade bread and go to bed. Today was stressful as fuck and right now sleep is all I wanna do.

P.S. Next starbleached book is still coming along rather well. Hopefully it'll go better once I have meds in my system and I don't want to just sit with the covers over my head anymore.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Update on the CW

This whole "Getting help for depression when you have no money and no health insurance" thing is really, REALLY fucking complicated. And stressful. And not done yet because even though I got to the place at eight AM they were completely booked by the time we got my paperwork done.

It probably did not help that I started panic-sobbing when we hit our first hitch (I have a relative that works at the office, which is how I knew where it was and that I might qualify. This would normally mean I'd have to go to a different town for services, which I couldn't do because no transportation or time) and then almost passed out when the intake lady showed me the pay scale that meant I'd qualify for free services. So the good news is I can get help....just as soon as I make it to the office in time to get a free slot for a walk-in appointment.

But it is FUCKING HARD to get help, guys. Especially if you don't have a lot of free income. I am now overstressed and will go spin yarn while watching a movie to unwind. Further updates and book things will be posted once I no longer want to curl up in a corner and cry.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

State of the CW

Alright. Updates on things.

First off, everything right now is in a holding pattern. The last couple months have been kind of bad for me emotionally. The last two weeks I have been BARELY able to function, and this last week has been pure, unadulterated, unfiltered hell. That's the bad news. The GOOD news is I will be applying for a sort of financial assistance...thing on Monday, which will include an official screening and diagnosis of some kind, and will probably end with me getting an antidepressant again.

I hate doing this, but it needs to be done. Badly.

Book things: We're working on it. I have no release date for anything. That said, the next Starbleached book is coming along VERY well, all other things considered, and we should hit the halfway point on the first section sometime today. I'm going to push as hard as I can this weekend, see where we're at come monday.

I am tentatively announcing another fundraiser. No set date, no set anything else, but I want ya'll to be aware of it kind of as a warmup.

I've also got a few short stories that are sitting on my bricked computer. I'll be taking the harddrive out and pulling everything off it later today so I can at least work with that stuff.

In short: We're doing good. Not great, but good.

I love you guys so much, and if there's a book you want to read, buy it this weekend and read it. Even if it's not one of mine.

OH and I FORGOT: We finished Harlequin, I do NOT want to do another Anita Blake book for a while, so SUGGESTIONS IN THE COMMENTS ARE QUITE WELCOME.

Friday, February 14, 2014


So Anita is possibly posessed by the MOAD right now. This is not definite right off the bad, and you'd think it'd be something you'd want clearly defined, but whatever. She has a of how Pantaleon was turned by the MOAD. She then lets him know that he's going to die.

So the climax for this book is a character who has existed as his own thing for less than two chapters, dying while our heroine gloats.


You know, I know that Anita being posessed by the MOAD would be a bad thing, and that it doesn't happen in the series, but part of me would really have liked to have read that book. Nothing else, it'd be a facinating character study.

The MOAD then tells Jean Claude that Anita inadvertantly woke her up because the world revolves around Anita, always has, always will.

And then LKH writes something I like:

She gave a low, dry chuckle. “Legend says that necromancers can control the dead, and that is true, but what legend does not say is that the dead give necromancers no peace. We pester the poor things, because they draw us like moths to the flame, except with vampires and necromancers it is a question who is flame and who is moth. Beware, Jean-Claude, that she does not burn you up. Beware, necromancer, that the vampires do not put you in your grave.”
If The MOAD is giving a low dry chuckle that means Anita needs a drink of water. That's her throat that's dry. Other than that, though, I REALLY like this concept. Necromancers collect vampires. Like cats. Big scary ones. I'd read that book.

And again: Laurell. You make these connections. You come up with awesome plot ideas and wonderful things. WHY are you wasting your time (YOU ARE. YOU REALLY ARE) on RAPE PORN instead of using the good ideas that manage to slip through the cracks?

Pantaleon, who I am now calling Pants the vampire, tells the MOAD that Anita should die by the MOAD's laws. The MOAD spanks him upside the metaphysical head and starts chewing his ass out for jumping the Harlequin's rules the way he did and for making a weak Columbine to replace another Columbine that died. And she is bad fucking ass in this scene (Compartively. She's more bad ass than Anita) for all of LKH's attempts at self sabotage by giving the MOAD dainty pearl slippers.

And then Random Werewolf Jake turns out to be Harlequin too, and he interrupts the MOAD's not-posession of Anita (I think she's now left Anita alone and is walking across the room towards Pants) to tell Anita that she needs to stop the MOAD. Well, thanks for the advice Cap. Obvious. The MOAD is feeding off Anita's boundless anger, so she and Jean Claude turn to, of course, boundless sex.

A better lesson would be zen or something, but nope. Sex.

The MOAD vanishes after promising to punish Jake. Just. like. that.

Jake tells Anita he can keep the MOAD out of her head using a random charm. Anita says cool beans.

Jake info-dumps that Pants came to St. Louis to nab his own territory before the MOAD woke up and took that chance away from him. Pants is still alive. Anita is free to kill him according to human laws because the Harlequin is too angry at him to bother right now. Again: Cool beans.

Anita tells Wicked and Truth to go take Pants's head. Pants drops his punctuation and does this:

Pantalone, with a missing arm, stabbed, shot, moved in a black blur.
You know, I would love to stabbed-shot-moved. Can someone teach me how to stabbed-shot-moved?

 Truth beheads him. It takes less than a paragraph.

Columbine is panicky now because her master is dead and Anita is the baddest person in the room. Even though Columbine should be dead because her master is dead and surviving your master is a rare, painful occurance. She is also showing no pain.

Anita interrogates her by threatening to give her to Olaf.

Olaf glanced back at me, gun still trained on them. “Do you mean it?” “Right this minute, yes. She’s a petite dark-haired woman, she even fits your victim profile. If she doesn’t answer my questions, never say I didn’t give you a good present.”
Anita will never be redeemable.

Richard tries to get Anita to back off. All the other guys stand around her and give him the stink eye. And then this happens:

Jean-Claude stood and went to Richard. He began to try to soothe him. It reminded me of when you gamed and you had to send the Paladin around the hill so you could loot the dead.
ONE: you'd have to be a D&D type tabletop gamer to get WTF she's talking about, or at least be familiar with the terminology. Otherwise that's a whole lot of word salad there.

Two: Thank you for letting us know about your new hobby, Laurel. Please stop doing that now.

Columbine answers Anita's questions, but balks at telling her which council members she works for. There is NO REASON for her to balk, and NO REASON for Anita to want to know what member of the council she works for. She already knows she's on their shit-list and she already knows Columbine and Pants came to St. Louis on their own. But because she balked, Anita lets Olaf rip Columbine's heart out while she's still alive.

Yes. Anita follows through on her threat to let Olaf disembowel the female vampire even though the vamp answered ALL of Anita's important questions. 

 And then the most jaw dropping, creep inducing scene in the entire series so far manifests like a demon from the pits of hell. Laurel writes a several page scene where Anita and Olaf nearly snuggle while they're cutting out Giovanni's heart.

He slid his hand inside the hole I’d made, so that his arm slid up alongside mine in the chest cavity. It wasn’t until his hand cupped mine, pressing both our hands into the still warm heart, that I looked at him . We were both leaning over the body, our faces inches apart, with our arms up the much longer torso of the male. He looked at me over the body, our hands around the heart, blood everywhere. He looked at me as if it were a candlelit dinner and I were wearing nice lingerie.

Laurel K. Hamilton has written serial killer porn folks.




And it is nausiating and there is just not enough brain bleach in the world and

He kissed me.
We FINALLY stop the scene several paragraphs later, when Olaf begins to masturbate looking at Anita.

She pukes, and it's time for the end-of-plot summery.

Olaf went home. Anita is scared of Olaf, and she dreams about making out with him in Giovanni's not quite-so-dead body.


Peter's fine.

Anita's got new scars, and we have to get complex magical reasons for these new scars. They're not very important. NEXT.

Sampson got sent home. I guess somebody let Laurel know that the incest plot was a little too squicky for her readers.

Anita caught tiger from Soledad. I now badly want Anita to get into a fight with that were-hippo.

Haven stayed in town with his new lions. Joseph, his wife, and his brother all vanished. Most of the pride was offered a chance to join Haven’s new pride . Some accepted
My headcannon is that Joe and his family used the night to run to Florida. They're alive and well and safe from St. Louis's insanity. NEXT.

Richard had left the church before I threw up. He never saw me have my moment of conscience, or panic. Whatever. We aren’t dating anymore, again . This one may stick, and the thought doesn’t upset me, which is why it may stick.
He never saw me have my moment of conscience

moment of conscience

 Anita with a consssspppppphhhhhAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA sorry could NOT type that with a straight face. But hey, guys. Anita still has a conscience. She might have raped thousands of people but she freaked out while making out with a serial killer while inside of the dead body of her enemy, so that's got to count for something, RIGHT?

(And IMHO that wasn't a moment of consience. That was Anita being sexually assaulted by an asshole.)

Anita is actively wearing the charm that Jake the Undercover Harlequin Randomwolf gave her. Because somebody tied to the MOAD is the perfect person to help hide you from the MOAD. I completely trust everything about this person and see no reason for Anita to worry. NEXT.

And then the summery gets really introspective about Anita's self doubts re: dominating Nathanial, and having Asher teach her how to dominate Nate, and of course we get some Richard bashing in there and THAT'S THE END OF THE NOVEL CHILDREN.





Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Harlequin--chapter 46

There's a stampede. Because of this stampede Micah touches Anita and Jean Claude realizes that Anita loves Micah and he can use her love like a weapon and I think I just threw up a little. One, we did the "love conquers all" shit in the last chapter. And two...a grown ass woman actually wrote this.

Love, love was power in more than just a metaphorical way. “Love won’t conquer her .” It was Richard from behind us. He’d come back to the stage.

Please don't start arguing during the climax please don't start arguing during the climax please--OH GODDAMN IT.

So Richard takes Anita's hand the way Micah did, only there's no love magic anymore. She doesn't love Richard anymore. Under normal circumstances this would be where we'd drop Richard like a hot rock and move on into the sunset, but of course THAT will never happen.

And then Richard realizes that the darkness in the room doesn't smell like the MOAD. So even though we were told last chapter that this was the MOAD it's not the MOAD.

I turned back to Columbine and her servant. “Belle Morte said that the Harlequin are the servants of the Dark Mother. Did she mean that literally?” “All of us bear a piece of the orignal darkness inside us, little girl. Feel the power of the night given human form and know true terror.”

So Columbine brings the shadow of MOAD down on Anita, who shreds it with her perfect puffy cloud of light and love and happiness.

Not kidding. Not even remotely. Guys, all we need now is a fucking unicorn and we'll have a perfect scene here.


Columbine then summons more darkness, only it doesn't smell like rain and jasmine, it apparently smells like wet dog  wolf. So yeah. We're supposed to be terrified of a wolf that just took a bath. She uses her necromancy (now that the church is free of unknown dead people) and scans until she finds a vamp hiding up in the corner. She tells Edward to shoot it.

Apparently, she's forgotten how.

So they all go running to confront the enemy hiding in the rafters and REMUS IS THERE. The...uh...bodyguard. Who never did anything. And he does the bodyguard thing and he gets hit by whatever is making the wet dog smell and he dies.

And we're supposed to care.

Well, if we'd taken time to introduce him instead of RequiemLondonSampsonWickedTruthDamian ALL THE OTHER POINTLESS MALES we would actually care about that "wet, rending sound"

A claw cut across my breast. I cut the claw back.

We have regressed to Dr. Seuss.

This is not boding well.

So someone offscreen comes to Anita's rescue and, when she gets over the swoon, Remus is dead with a severed arm sticking out of his chest. On my first read-through, I thought that meant he'd been impaled.

We have a paragraph where every single named character, it seems like, gathers around Remus's body to pull the arm out. WE ARE STILL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CLIMAX.

 Richard tries to make Anita go sit down with Wicked and Truth because she's hurt so bad.


So then Anita goes over to the shapshifter vampire thingy who killed the C-list character nobody cares about.

“I am Pantalone, once Pantaleon. I was one of the first children of the dark.”

Two: Pantalone is also Pantaloon. So we're supposed to be scared of a pair of fucking bloomers.

Three: Pantaleon is not a variation of Pantalone. Pantaleon was a Greek King from ancient history. So not only are we introducing random ancient royalty IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FUCKING CLIMAX, we're introducing it in a way that no one will recognize (I only found it because I couldn't spell Pantalone right and thought Pantaleon was just a variation) but we're doing it as the king in question lays dying.


I really hope LKH was just trying to be obtuse and clever.

And then the MOAD possesses Anita so she can bitch-slap the snot out of her son...person...thing. The dude on the ground. The chapter ends with Anita psychically cutting everybody and smelling jasmine.

I hate this book.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Harlequin chapter 45

So Richard falls to his knees in agony after letting go of Columbine and Anita is all like "Told you you should accept us."

Yes. One of her lovers falls to the power of her enemy of the month, and Anita does nothing in response. He's not just a lover and an ally, he also controls the wolves. You could argue that this is Columbine's chance to take ALL THE WOLVES if she wanted to. This is such a dumb move on Anita's part it's like...SAVE THE RELATIONSHIP SHIT FOR AFTER THE BATTLE. WIN FIRST, ARGUE LATER.

And of course Anita has a guy all ready to step into Richard's place.

Damian’s hand in mine drew him into the circle of our power. He had some of the same issues with the other men that Richard had, but Damian was a more practical creature.
Again: I try hard to ignore the "This is the author's personal life" theory, but it's seriously Occam's Razor with this series. It's the simplest explination for this shit. Otherwise I have to go into these convoluted reasonings that both hurt me and make LKH look like a utterly reprehensible human being, rather than a silly, vindictive one.

I think Columbine's taking a nap now. Seriously, I've never seen a villian be this disinterested in the battle she's fighting. She could have taken the other vamps about four times while Anita's working through her relationship issues.

And then Anita starts making out with Jean Claude, Damian and Nathanial while Richard watches.

Columbine's clothing gets another description that is copy-pasted from that section in the other chapter. It still looks silly. Anita also uses the phrase "Jean Claude's driving the metaphysical bus" more than once, and it doesn't improve with each repeat. Columbine finally gets sick of watching Days of our Vampire, and grabs her servant for a nice power boost. We get another bus metaphore.

Columbine then throws their collective greif at them, because that will work (That totally never works) and of course it's Juliana, the woman that Anita replaced, that figures big in the emotional infodumping. This is so Anita can soothe Jean Claude's pain.

Richard is still somewhere on the floor.

We do get a very cool scene of Nathanial flashbacking to his childhood abuse and making a statement of purpose against the memory of his own pain. If I actually gave a fuck about Nate it'd be rather meaningful, but he's a manipulative, passive-aggressive abuser and accomplice to a thousand rapes or so, so no. Sorry. You get to have heroic statement of purpose before you violate someone else's human rights. When you pass the abuse along you're just a shithead. Sorry.

And then Anita usurps this because her pain is the biggest:

I was eight again, and my father was about to say the words that would destroy my life. My mother was dead. But I hadn’t run then. Nathaniel had run because his older brother told him to run, but he wasn’t little anymore. It had been my father who had collapsed. He had wailed her loss, not me. I did not run. I did not run then, and I would not run now. I found my voice, and said, “We won’t run.”

Jean Claude lost the loves of his life to the spanish inquisition, both to torture.

Damian relived his torture at the hands of his mistress.

 Nathanial watched his younger brother get beaten to death.

Anita's mom died miles away and her surviving parent was too greif stricken to coddle her, and then he got remarried to a blond woman. And HER greif is the biggest.

And you know what? Anita's been assaulted by monsters. She's been raped. She's been abused. She's had people she cares about die (Phillip) and people she cares about get severely hurt. And for all that I saw at her for raping Richard (And she did) her biggest relationship went down in flames with an awful lot of awful to spur it on. But it's her mother's death and her father's failure to perfectly accomodate her greif that is her biggest wounding.


The guards, even Richard, had fled from us. Fled from the weight of horror and loss. Fled so it did not spread to them. I guess I couldn’t blame Richard, but I would later, I knew I would. Worse yet, later he would blame himself.

Anita ordered Joseph dead because he wouldn't let her fuck him under slightly less severe circumstances. Richard has abandoned her in the face of the enemy. Richard, if he had any sense, would turn things over to Jason and make tracks for Mexico. Or Canada, because they probably let werewolves teach out of the closet up there.

 And then they are all saved by the power of love.


 Love, love to chase back the pain . It washed over my skin like a warm wind , love, life, that spark that makes us get back up. It poured down the metaphysical links between Nathaniel and me, and the other men. Love, love to raise their faces and make them look at us. Love to help them to their feet, love and our hands to steady them, to help dry their tears. We finally stood , perhaps a little shaky around the edges, but we all stood and turned to Columbine and her Giovanni. 

“Love conquers all, is that it?” she said, her voice thick with disdain. 
“No, not all,” I said. “Just you.”

And then the chapter ends with Columbine summoning the Mother of All Darkness, because I guess when you turn love into your ass-pull Deus ex machina, you gotta give one to the villian too.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Harlequin--chapter 44

Sorry about the long quiet, guys. My bottom dropped out on Friday (with none of the usual precursors to shitty moods being present. It was weird) and I took the weekend off to get over things.

It's mostly better now.

So where were we?


Anita and Nate rush the stage so they can save Richard from his self doubt. Because obviously saving Richard from his self doubt (While being dressed in a gimp suit) is MUCH better than actually fighting the bad guys during the climax.

He pulled Richard to his feet, and they stood there, hands on each other’s arms, like a version of the guy-greeting that friends use sometimes when a handshake won’t do but they’re too manly to hug.
That description has no place in a climax whatsoever.

So for Anita to win the fight with Columbine AKA ripoff Harly Quinn who ain't nearly that scary, Anita must win over the crowd of vampires.

The ones she just blood-oathed to herself and then seduced with the ardeur. Those vampires.

Yeah, you could argue that Columbine just ripped a lot of them away, but WE ALREADY DID THIS.

 Richard gets nasty and posessive with Asher.  Because measuring your dick is more important than NOT GETTING DEAD. Of course, everyone stands up for Asher (and through him, Anita) because you love who you love and we all must work together and Richard is a homophobe, and OF COURSE Asher has to go off in a sad little huff because no one loves him, and OF COURSE everyone has to go OF COURSE WE LOVE YOU and I have to think Columbine is standing over in her corner giving all of this some serious side-eye. You sure you really WANT St. Louis vamps, hon?

 And the whole crowd starts screaming FIGHT FOR US JEAN CLAUDE and FIGHT FOR US ANITA, so again, I have to ask: WHY ARE WE DOING THIS AGAIN? The crowd is pretty much decided already. All Anita has to do is pull some new magic out of her ass and hook it up to the willing.

Richard suddenly looked wrong in the leather mask. He didn’t look cool in the leather outfit, he looked like he was doing exactly what he was doing. He was hiding. The rest of us stood there in plain view. Only the bad guys, and Richard, were hiding who and what they were from the world. Malcolm gripped his shoulder. “Fight for us, Ulfric. Do not let your fears and doubts destroy us all.”

You know, it's been four books already. Just fucking kill him and get it fucking over with.

Malcolm also has more jewels, now that he's been mind-wiped into the harem:

“I felt what Anita and her triumvirate raised earlier. It was friendship, love as pure as any I’ve known.


 Richard keeps focusing on his self doubt, rather than, you know, GOING FOR COLUMBINE'S THROAT, and Anita has to bring up that "God has not forsaken" her. Which is big points for God, but it also means He'd hold to a tree at this point. It rapes less. But no, Richard can't share and the fact that Richard can't share is ruining his life.

And then this happens.

“But he should have,” Richard said. “He should have, don’t you see? If what I believe is right, if what you say you believe is right, then your cross should not burn. You have broken so many commandments. You’ve murdered, tortured, fucked, but your cross still works. I don’t understand that.”
Kids, I keep my religion off the blog as much as I can, but I'm about to go full religious nutcase. You may go pop popcorn if you want.

Now. This is the point where a sane writer with any kind of a grasp AT FUCKING ALL of basic Christian theology would bring up that that's kind of the fucking point of the faith. That the Christian God does accept murderers and prostitutes and addicts, that he does honor the faith of the fallen, so to speak. You can never be so bad that God can't haul you out of it as long as you're open to His help. And this is in spite of bad behavior, not because of it. God does not condone your poor choices. What defines a poor choice is between you and God (and if it's not an issue between the two of you, wonderful) But God does not honor your faith because you're good or bad, perfect or imperfect. He honors your faith because he loves you. If the faith of the individual Christian has any power it is not because of their own behavior, but because God values the individual no matter what, to the point of his death. If a Christian in this universe had power, it wouldn't be because they were especially faithful or not faithful. It'd be because they understood how little their own behavior and choices actually matter, save for the big choice of belief. The love of God simultaneously reduces the individual down to insignificance--it's got nothing to do with you--and raises them up to the highest point short of Himself. To the Christian, the God of Glory has decided your value is equal to His own life, and that it is worth paying that price to retain your existence in the universe.The fact that a murderer could absolutely have the power to call on God and be secure in the fact of his answer would not be a power trip. It would be incredibly humbling. God is bigger than you. He's bigger than your definition of morality, and when he answers you, neither you nor He are under any compulsion to justify his decision to honor you.

So, having been offered a window that freaking massive, how does LKH handle this situation?

“Maybe God isn’t the sex police, Richard. Sometimes I think Christians get all hung up on the sex thing because it’s easier to worry about sex than to ask yourself, Am I a good person?
One: Richard mentioned a lot of things other than sex. For God to honor Anita because Anita is a good person means God has to honor the rapes, the murders, the rapes, the backtalking, the cruelty, the bullshit she did with Joseph, the wanton disreguard for the health and safety of everyone in St Louis--you can go on and on. Lady, I don't think RICHARD is the one hung up on the sex.

Anita asks Richard if he tries as hard for the people in HIS life as Anita does for the people in hers. He avoids the question by asking her if she put herself and Jean Claude on "that list". She asks if she's on his list. He says no. She rants at him because how could he fuck her and not care.

Columbine has to be sitting on the fucking floor with a bowl of blood-soaked popcorn by now.

“You benefit from our evil, Richard. You count on us being willing to do your dirty work.
Well, he is the only major were-leader in St. Louis who managed to protect his pack and not get dead, so I'll give him credit for that. But that's less benefiting from the evil and more knowing who to pay protection money to.

Seriously, this is why I go off the rails every time LKH brings up religion. If she would just make Anita some kind of weird ass pagan (Not that I would wish Anita on pagans any more than I want her in my religion) who worships an amoral God, I'd feel a lot better about it. But Christianity does have some pretty set rules, and when ANITA can get her cross all glowy and someone else can't, it makes me irritated. When she says that it's proof that GOD CONDONES HER LIFESTYLE I go off the rails.

Anita has raped THOUSANDS of people in the course of this book. THOUSANDS. And now she's trying to argue morality within a Christian framework with one of her rape victims.

The only thing keeping Richard sane at this point, the book is very careful to point out, is Damian's hand on his arm. Damian is feeding Richard positive reenforcement, and Anita orders Damian to take his hand away and leave Richard suffering out in the wilds of Columbine's powers.

“If you mean what you say , if you truly believe it’s wrong, evil, then let go of Damian’s arm. Let go, and stand on your moral high ground. If Jean-Claude and I mean nothing to you, then stand by yourself, Richard, stand on your own two feet.”


There's a parable about a King who had a bunch of servants and one of 'em owed him a lot of money. The King decided to sell the servant and the servant's whole family into slavery to pay the debit, because that's how Kings rolled back in Bible times. The servant begged for mercy, maybe a little time to earn the money back? The King said "Screw it. I'm forgiving the entire debt. You and your family are safe." Servant goes out, finds another servant who owes him MUCH less money than he owed the King, and chokes him for the money. Other Servant doesn't have it, First Servant throws Other Servant in jail, and when the King finds out he hits the roof:

‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from [g]your heart.”
 You ought to be smart enough to see where this is relevant.

God has forgiven Anita for RAPING THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE. Debt and Sin, in Christian theology, are treated as pretty much the same thing. Anita technically owes God an awful lot, and God has clearly said "You're forgiven. And protected. Here's a shiny cross."

And she throws Richard into the cold because he won't love her unconditionally.

A guy she raped.

Laurel was originally Episcopalian. The Unmerciful Servant is one of those stories that makes you go "Not THIS shit again" every time you read it. She should KNOW this shit.

And again, you know, I could cut a lot of slack for this if it weren't a conversation DIRECTLY ABOUT THE CHRISTIAN GOD AND CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY.

They argue back and forth about this for a while. Richard is asking if anyone is on his side, and Anita and Company are all like "No. If you really believe that we're evil, then let go"

And the chapter ends with him letting go.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Harlequin--chapter 43

Anita finally makes it into the church. She showcases amazing lack of concern for Micah, who she gave her leopard to.

Micah moved wide around us all. Was he still fighting off his beast? I trusted him to handle it. I had to trust him, because there were things happening that I didn’t trust anyone else to handle.
On the one hand, Micah is more capable than just about any other shifter in the series. On the other hand...she's supposed to love Micah, and she's heading off into a supernatural warzone with him. If he's fighting his beast, he's a liability and he's probably going to get shot, or stabbed, or severely hurt because he's more focused on not going leopard than he is on not getting dead. Anita should be worried about him, goddamn it, but instead we get this "He's a man, he can handle it" attitude that's just...yeah.

She was elegant in a skintight version of the Harlequin’s motley, all red, blue, white, black, and gold with a short half skirt to pretend at modesty. A gold tricorn hat had multicolored balls to echo the colors of the rest. Her mask left a white chin and crimson mouth bare.
 NOT SCARY LAUREL. NOT SCARY. How very much not scary?

This. She means this.

Either Laurell K. Hamilton is severely colorblind with the dress sense of a rabid chipmunk, or she has never seen a picture of these things, EVER. NOBODY is scary gothic elegant in pantomime gear. That's kind of the entire point. 

And you know what? The three minutes of googling it took to find that image tells me I'm exactly right. Blue blazing Jesus Fuck did Laurel get the pantomime imagry wrong. Holy fuck. See, that dude up there? That's Harlequin. Columbine is another character. She took the entire Harlequinade (YOU WERE SO FUCKING CLOSE LAUREL. SO FUCKING CLOSE) picked one character to be the group name, and gave the rest of the character names to, well, characters. So the naming convention for her killer vampire clowns is basically like taking the DC universe, saying that they're the Superman, collectively, and this character is Wonder Woman.

Speaking of which, from here on out whenever our villians are mentioned I want you to picture this:

The girl is Columbine. The boy is Harlequin.
By the way? The Wikipedia article I used to source this information has existed since 2007. She has NO EXCUSE not to know this shit.

Meanwhile, Richard decided to attend this fight for his life in random bondage gear. He's got a full face mask (I think it's called a "gimp" mask, but don't trust me on that) and everything. Why? This is not explained. So we got Jareth the Goblin King and the promo art for American Horror Story on one side of the stage, and a kid's show on the other.

Picture that. PICTURE THAT.

Colombine opens the gambit by smothering everybody with her magic and making Anita feel choky and uncomfortable. She threatens to take free will from everybody she touches.

*looks up at picture*.

Throw in the ballet shoes and it'd be legit scary. As is? No.

So we get paragraphs about how dainty and delicate and fluffy Columbine's power is, and how Anita's manly power of manly manliness smashes it into little bitty pieces. I DO NOT MAKE THIS UP.

 I thrust that power into the delicate, coaxing touch. There was nothing delicate about what I did. I smashed into her power with a hammer, straight through that deceptive softness. it just me or is that fight scene more than a little...erm...rapy.

Anita then smells everybody in the church. It's kind of creepy.

And then Malcolm proves that he's a bad-ass motherfucker who should not be touched. He realizes that Anita is doing fuck all to save his vamps, most of 'em are already taken by Columbine, and instead of letting her dither around, he sticks his hand in Damian's mouth and makes the dude bite down. Blood flows. The lesser of two evils is chosen, and BAM, all his vamps are blood oathed to Anita.

Malcolm also proves to be a pretty genuine dude for a vampire. Can I be reading his book?

Anita then wallows in being a sexual vampire from Belle Morte's line for a little. Apparently this exposes Malcolm to all the shitty abuse Anita's men have suffered and then LKH proves that she doesn't understand human values at all:

Malcolm gave us (His vampire's) problems and hopes. What we gave him back was the scent of their skin, the finger brush along a collar, a dozen different aftershaves, twenty different perfumes, from powdery sweetness to an herbal cleanness that was almost bitter.
Yeah. Malcolm tries to show Anita that his vampires are real people in desperate need of protection, and she tells him what they smell like. ARE YOU MISSING THE POINT ON PURPOSE OR IS THIS JUST AN OFF DAY

Columbine points out that she's gonna take the congregation anyway. She and Jean Claude dither about the rules for a minute. Because having these be established BEFORE the fight would be, you know, logical. Then we take a break for random homophobia. It doesn't accomplish much.

Columbine starts cutting the ties between Anita and her new vampire horde. The vampire horde starts crawling all over and/or petting Anita. Because everything can be solved by heavy petting sessions, I guess. She then starts kissing them and using a little tiny bit of the ardeur--a proven addictive thing--to get them back on her side.

If I hadn’t tasted Malcolm’s power only moments before, maybe I couldn’t have done it, but his intent was so pure, so unselfish, that it was like the ardeur had learned a new flavor. I offered that flavor to them. I offered them a choice. I gave them cool water and safety. She offered terror and punishment. She was threat. I was promise.

Replace "Ardeur" with "Cocaine" and see how far that gets ya.

We then get something really close to the Danarys body-surfing scene from Game of Thrones. Anita is their savor and she passes through the crowd while they celebrate. Columbine uses her servant to amp up her power. Anita and Micah play tonsil hockey and somehow this solves things. Columbine then starts doing the doubt thing again and Nathanial's perfect belief in Anita saves her.

I'd be using the vomiting Applebloom pic, but I think she'd have an eating disorder at this point.

And of course we have to turn on Richard now. He can't break free of the self-doubt because he has no one to love him, poor him, he's crippling Jean Claude, so he'll have to go. The chapter ends with Anita running towards him.

We're reading a book about fighting clowns. Mostly rape, but also fighting assassin clowns.

the Harlequin--chapter 42

One of the things I watch out of morbid curiosity are the Amazon boards for LKH's books. There's been a facinating train wreck concerning the next book. First she'd started an Anita Blake book, but that got murdered in its sleep when she (or, more likely, somebody with veto power on her career) realized that everybody wanted the next Merry book, and everybody was sick to death of Anita Blake. This probably became either Shutdown (A god awful short story in which Anita is horrible to Richard's new girlfriend) or Dancing (A slightly less-awful short story in which Anita goes to a barbeque and feels alienated by the handful of people who still like her, and Nathanial teaches everybody ballet because somehow this solves everything) and she got to spend the next six months screaming about how hard she was working on the Merry book. Her deadline was last month. She finished it yesterday. At least 100 pages of it were written in the last week. She's already sent it to her publisher. The release date is in June. May I repeat that she sent in her first fucking draft, a significant portion of which was panic-written over the course of a week, in to her editor with exactly four months before the book drops?

 So basically the next (and probably last for a good long while) Merry book is going to be the last Anita book, only with fairies instead of vampires. And a couple of newborns are going to be involved.

This is not going to be fun.

SO. Current Anita book.

Anita, Edward, Olaf, Micah and Nate all hurry to the Church of Eternal Life. Yeah, half the characters introduced in the latter half of this book? Served no purpose whatsoever. 

 In the December cold it was a bleak little space, or maybe my reaction was partly that the last time I’d stepped on the church’s grass I’d shot a vampire to death with a handgun .

So basically Anita only goes to church when she kills someone. And she gets to criticize other people's faith. She does wax eloquent about how there's no "decoration" in the church because "no religious icons allowed".  Malcolm could have commissioned some kickass gargoyles and bitchin' stained glass. Those aren't "religious icons". Also, obviously neither Anita nor Laurel K. Hamilton has set foot in a modern megachurch. The biggest church here in corpus? No religious symbols on the stage. Ever. (No prayer altar, either. And that's enough of that rant)

LKH makes it real clear that Graham is our designated red shirt for the evening. Of course it's a character Anita isn't attached to.

They walk up the stairs and then we derail the plot by having Anita's leopard try to rise again. GODDAMN IT. PLOT. PLOT IS THROUGH THE DOORS. GO. THROUGH. THE DOORS.

Anita manages to get Damian to block her leopard, and the Harlequin vamp inside the church decides that means the magic contest can begin, and Anita moved first so now it's her turn.

If this were blocked a bit better, I'd totally be loving this right now. As it is, it's just a distraction and a delaying tactic.

And then LKH shows that she does still have a couple good ideas (which, sadly, she won't use) by giving us the thought of the ardeur rolling Olaf.  I am legit creeped out and I hope to god LKH never ever ever fucking EVER crosses that line. Because she won't do it right, and it'll be more the taming of the shrew and less UNLEASED SERIAL KILLER. (If there was ever any prayer of her not treating Rolled!Olaf as sexy fun times, I'd be screaming OH GOD YES PLEASE because 1. it would be legit creepy and 2. it would end with dead Olaf.)

And on that note, the chapter ends.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Harlequin--chapter 41

One question that most Anita Blake fans ask is usually why St. Louis? Other than "The author lives there" there's not much to offer. We now have an answer.

The cops are all fucking morons.

And hey, it's time to play What's My Move! You are a cop in a town with an increasing supernatural crime rate, and you've got reports that the rising star in the vampire mafia is in your hometown. His girlfriend, who is sadly also a cop, just got landed in the hospital with severe wounds and an awful lot of muscle. Do you:
1. Put an obvious tail and a not so obvious GPS unit on her car and follow her until the Grand Jury the DA just convened can meet re: racketeering charges for Jean Claude, and you can serve her with the most beautiful subpena known to mankind?
2. Put a tail and a GPS unit on her car anyway because SERIOUSLY WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING TO OUR TOWN?
4. Ignore her because she probably got the wounds during sex.
5. Drag her ass downtown for questioning re: Cisco's death and then FOLLOW HER ASS when you are legally required to let her out.

If you said four, congrats, you're a cop in the Anitaverse.

They don't follow her. They don't talk to her. For fuck's sake, she was nearly eviscerated, Peter nearly died and Cisco DID die, and they're just giving her the side eye and moving away like she's got plague. Folks, Anita should be in an interrogation cell right now. SOMEBODY DIED.

But being followed would complicate the plot, and LKH wasted most of the book on rape. She doesn't have room for actual plot manipulations.

 Aww. And Anita is rejected by the ENTIRE POLICE DEPARTMENT for being a were and she's forced to make a walk of shame amongst her peers. Because OBVIOUSLY there aren't any were-cops anywhere, and there wouldn't be people who'd support her anyway because she got hurt on the job. And this walk of shame couldn't POSSIBLY be because, you know, SHE IS A RAPIST ABUSIVE IDIOT AND A GANGSTER'S GIRLFRIEND, no sir. It's because there are so many mean nasty haters in the world.

LKH is probably trying for a "Gays in uniform" paralelle. If you need a shower after reading that, the stall's over there.

And then Olaf is making eyes at her and he's so scary (He legit is) and Anita is so EDGY because she UNDERSTANDS HIM and WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO UNDERSTAND HIM, ANITA. WHY.

We also have to have the obligatory "Anita can't be protected by her menz from the big bad serial killer" moment, because even though Olaf is doing everything short of licking his chops, she refuses to let anyone stand between her and the serial killer.

Guys, to me, that's not a gender issue. That's a friend issue. I have someone that I care about being eyed like they're beef? I defend friend. Olaf kills women for a hobby. Anita is exactly her type. Edward is an idiot for bringing him along, and the guys aren't being sexist for trying to break Olaf's line of sight. They're being humans. Because, you know, we're supposed to protect each other from shit.

Dolph is talking to Graham. Guys, Dolph is so totally fucking onto Anita. It's great.

“I want to know why a federal marshal needs a bodyguard,” Dolph said through gritted teeth.
Yeah. Laurel, there's no way in fuck good cops wouldn't know that Anita was boinking two gang lords/crime bosses at once. That's the kind of thing thugs trade for basic currency when they're being interrogated.

Micah says he hired the bodyguards because Anita almost died and he loves her. It's very sappy.

“You aren’t married to Anita.” “Micah’s been living with me for seven months.” “Talk to me when you’ve made a year,” he said.
Yep. I can testify that the longer you give yourself to know somebody, the safer your relationship is. Seven months? You can bullshit your way through seven months. Even living together.

The chapter ends with Anita rambling on about how much people hate her.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Harlequin--chapter 40

First off, blog-readers, I need to inform ya'll of a recent Thing in the book-publishing world. Publish America, a company that is about as honest as dog shit is clean, is now calling itself American Star Books. So if you want to get published? Avoid. They are scum.

Second: This book. Read this book. One of my editors, Tiger Gray, is also the author. It's really, really good and definitely worth reading. Not doing it because they're my friend (They are :D) but because it's a DAMN good book.

...I've put this off long enough, haven't I?

Anita goes into Peter's room. Leaving aside the squick of a rapist talking to a rapist after she's molested by another rapist, the first thing Peter does is look straight at her boobs. Anita bemoans her choice in shirt. It's all the shirt's fault, because boys will be boys. The ENTIRE PARAGRAPH is an ungodly wreck, disjointed and meaningless. I hate it.

We go over all of Anita's scars. This is kind of a good place to put the Scar Accounting (closer to the beginning would be better) but there's an emotional subtext that should be there (Anita comforting kid who just almost died defending her) that isn't. This doesn't come off as a "look, we're both alive!" moment. It's more...look at what I survived.

And then Anita almost shows Peter her ass. Because her best scars are on her ass. But she shows off her tummy scars instead.

Anita mentions that she carries four kinds of lycanthropy.

Peter points out that the whole point of the shot is you can't get more than one kind, isn't that bullshit?

Laurel K. Hamilton goes "SHUT UP YOU ARE MESSING UP MY BOOK"

The readers cry.

Then Anita and Peter discuss Cisco's death and Peter is all "I can't believe he died to save me" And Anita straight up sabotages that, because NOBODY is allowed to be a hero if Anita can't be a hero.

“I was there, Peter. Cisco did his job. He didn’t sacrifice himself to save you.” I wasn’t entirely sure that was true, but I kept talking. “I don’t think he meant to sacrifice himself at all. Shapeshifters don’t usually die that easily.”

Yes. Because bodyguards are totally safe the entire time.

Peter and Anita than discuss the DUMBEST MEDICAL CHOICE IN HISTORY AKA the anti-lycanthropy shot. There's a little less than a fifty-fifty chance of getting lycanthropy from the shot. Peter decides to risk not taking the shot, which means this stupidity is a non-issue introduced for NO REASON WHATSOEVER. Especially when, after this scene, he's not in the book anymore. So here you have it. Random character introduced and then removed in the space of about ten chapters for no reason whatsoever.

And then, in a moment of really gross egotism, Anita compares her mother dying in a car wreck when she was eight, miles away from where Anita was, to Peter's dad being eaten by a werewolf while Peter watched. This is supposed to comfort Peter somehow. It just comes off once again as Anita's things--pain, this time--having to be bigger than everyone else's pain.

You know, there's a thing that C.S. Lewis said, that pain doesn't scale. At all. After a certain point you can't double pain or triple pain, and you sure as hell can't fit two people's pain into one person. So yeah. With pain, the whole pissing context is even more special bullshit. It's not whose pain is bigger that's the problem. It's that the pain exists.

 We then swing back and forth on the shot issue again, because this chapter is too short, apparently.

And then Zerbowski shows up. I think I shall designate him Offical Plot Carrier from here on out because when he shows up, we get plot.

There's a scene where Nate embraces Anita that reads like it's Zerbowski snogging her instead. Nice one. Also, the offical story about how Peter got hurt is that Anita went in to save him, and not the other way around. WHY WOULD YOU HAVE TO CHANGE THIS? Everyone knows that Anita has body guards, because everyone knows that Anita's Jean Claude's girlfriend. Admitting to the cops that her people got hit by somebody trying for her wouldn't be bad for anyone. Except maybe her pride.

Zerbowski goes on a long speech about how Sleeping With The Vampires Makes Anita A Better Cop. RIGHT.

And then Anita gets a random phone call from a random vamp. Random Vamp was rolled by Malcolm. He's got shit going down at the Church of Eternal Life and he wants Anita and Jean Claude to come down to the church and blood-oath all his people RIGHT NOW. Random Vamp then wakes up and is like "MESSAGE WHAT MESSAGE WHERE THE FUCK AM I"

So it turns out female vamp's Harlequin name is Columbine. Her servant is Giovanni. They're down at the church making asses of themselves. Random Other Dude comes on the phone. It's probably Giovanni but this is never explained. Apparently there are NO LAWS WHATSOEVER protecting vampires from other vampires and that makes the Church fair game. But Columbine will make it a contest of wills and she'll get to keep it if Jean Claude blows it. Anita calls Jean Claude and fills him in. Then she doubts that she'll be able to save the Church vampires, only to remember she's the main character in this fucking book, and that means somebody must be fucking with her. She throws the enemy vampires out of her head.

Anita also acknowledges this as "emotional rape". Yeah, but what she did to the were-rats, wereswans et all isn't?

Anyhoo, the enemy vampires keep coming back and clouding her judgement. Then Nathanial grabs her and he has Perfect Faith in her, and this Perfect Faith fills her mind and expells the self-doubt that was crippling Anita, because he is her one true love and this is just oh, so very special.

End of chapter. Bring me a vomit bucket.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Harlequin chapter 39

So Anita gets discharged from an unidentified hospital of no definite nature. Her doctor is very confused by the fact that she's a panwere, and she goes on about how Chimera was more of a were than she was.

Quick tangent, folks: Were means "man". As in the species, not the gender. Werewolf is literally "Man wolf". Calling a werewolf a wolf would be a little bit like denying the humanity of the werewolf and reducing them to just their inner animal, which, you know, would be insulting and dehumanizing and the kind of thing a REALLY GOOD writer would do, that LKH can't be arsed about because it ain't shiny or sexy enough for her. A panwere, linguistically, is an everything-man. Anita is all humanity. You wanna be accurate, something like a pan-therian would be closer than a pan-were.

 So now we're going to Peter's room with Olaf in tow. And Olaf is creeping Anita out because she knows he either wants to kill her, rape her, or both. And she's very scared because she doesn't like having a potential killer plan her death while she is in the room.

And again: Nate picked out her clothes. So she's in lace up boots with heels, skintight black pants and a very, VERY scouped necked shirt that shows all her mounds of creamy goodness. We also MUST know that Anita's underwear match both each other and the outfit perfectly. Oh, and you know how saying that Anita dresses like she raided a hooker's closet is frowned upon? Well, the text has finally addressed that, and we're all wrong. A stripper has raided her closet.

Nathaniel was twenty and male and often looked at clothes from the perspective of his job.
Yes, sports fans. Anita dresses inappropretely in unsafe ways because she's being dressed by a stripper. That's what the book says.

Have I mentioned yet how much I hate this series?

My favorite bit is how Olaf is shown oggling Anita's breasts because they're on display. That's bad on his part, but again, we've got a total lack of anything resembling reality. If I knew that I were on a serial killer's menu, and there was no way on earth to get rid of him? I WOULD NOT BE WEARING A REVEALING BLOUSE. No. No way. No how. Uh-uh. I would BURN that fucking shirt and steal a lab coat or something. The thought of being in that situation--being oggled by a serial killer rapist while in revealing clothing--makes me feel very, VERY dirty. This isn't bad form on Anita's part because Anita isn't real. This is LKH writing a scene so that Anita is in revealing clothes being oggled by a serial killer because THERE IS NO SENSE LEFT IN THE UNIVERSE.

I felt heat, or air movement, or… something. I turned and must have done it fast enough to catch Olaf in midmotion, pulling his hand back. He had almost touched me.
Anita is being molested by a serial killer. It goes on for pages.

Fuck this book.

Then there's a little bit of fun slut-shaming from Olaf about how Anita bought those clothes so she can't blame Nate for picking them out, and yes you CAN blame Nate because a twenty fucking year old man should know better than to dress Anita in her clubbing clothes when she's working. He knows that Olaf is a murdering piece of shit, he knows that Anita is on Olaf's list of things to do, he ought to have taken three minutes to think this through and realize that maybe dressing his girlfriend like a side of beef isn't the smartest thing he can do right now. Unless we're killing Olaf, a move I completely support and pray for, Anita has to protect herself. Picking clothes that don't antagonize the son of a bitch is a good idea. Putting a bullet in his brain is a better one.

And Anita isn't defending herself. At all. She knows EXACTLY what Olaf is thinking and all she does is tell him not to look at her. NOT TO LOOK AT HER. YES. THIS IS EFFECTIVE. AVOID THE MURDERER BECAUSE MAYBE HE'LL PICK SOMEBODY ELSE.

At one point Edward reveals that when Anita was out, Olaf snuck into her hospital room and touched her wounds before they were stitched up. She looks up after this revelation and Olaf is standing there biting his lip and looking all hot and bothered.

And he somehow gets to walk out of the building alive.

Anita motherfucking ordered Joseph killed for refusing to have sex with her. Olaf molested her. He plans to kill her. Every time he looks at her he objectifies her. HE TOUCHED HER IN HER SLEEP.

He gets to walk out of the building alive.

  Nate, Micah and the unfortunately named Cherry all snuggle Anita and make the bad touch all better. She goes into Peter's room. The chapter ends with him blushing because Anita is just that fucking sexy.

I. Hate. This. Book.