Here it is.
For you e-pub book readers--I am having a very, very, VERY difficult time getting Nook Press to work today. It won't load or process the manuscript, and now Firefox won't connect with the NP servers no matter what. If you are an e-pub reader and you really, really, really want a copy Smashwords is probably your best option right now.
Other news: well, look at that. We're already announcing the next book launch date? Why now? Why so late?
No. I'm serious. Smashwords has been offering pre-orders for a while, but since my turn-around time is so fucking tight I haven't been able to take advantage of it. I wanted to do it with Liberty, but that book turned out to be a very difficult one to write. And the next few chunks will probably be too.
Ivory Scars, however, is nearly done with several very comfortable months to go. So we're going with that, breaking it into three parts. Part one will be available for pre-order in June, with a release date in July, Part two will be up for pre-order in July with a release date in August, and so on and so forth.
Also, the fourth is my THREE YEAR SELF PUBLISHING ANNIVERSARY! Three years, my lovelies. Three beautiful, fun, fantastic years. And you know what? I wouldn't have traded one second of it. I love ya'll. I love all of ya'll so much.
Alright. Shitty book. Well, at least now we're on to politics. This cannot possibly suck worse than unconsious racism and WTF sex acts, right?
I heard Kitto’s voice in the hallway long before we got to the bedroom.OH FUCK.
Just in the off chance that you are 1. not a regular reader here and 2. not someone who has survived Laurel K Hamilton's Merry Gentry series, Kitto is an immortal half-goblin, half Sidhe man who has the size, proportions and behavioral mannerisms of a twelve year old child. Something that LKH calls attention to over and over and over and over again. He constantly has to platonically snuggle with Merry for comfort, his entire personality is "whipped rescue puppy" and he sleeps, no bullshit, in a dog bed.
Kitto is a fucking indictment on this entire series.
It isn't made any better that part of his defining characteristics is that he is, what else, a product of rape. Because no one would consensually sleep with the goblins. They're ugly.
And when we get a good look at the Goblin Queen, the person Kitto is talking to, they're also Pizza the Hut, apparently.
She sat in the mirror, not a reflection, but as clear as if she sat just in front of us. She wasn’t much taller than Kitto, and her hair was long and black, but where his hair was silken, hers looked as dry and harsh as it truly was. She had more eyes scattered about her face than I could count. That along with a nest of arms around her middle gave her the look of some great spider. A smile split the wide lipless mouth and flashed fangs enough to make any spider proud. She had only two legs and two breasts. If those had been multiples, she’d have been the epitome of goblin beauty.
Uh. Unless that's a truely terrible mirror, it probably would look like she were sitting with her reflection. Also: first female character introduced in the book. Ugly, nasty and contemptable.
I would like to give LKH kudos for trying, very, very hard, to write about a beauty standard other than that of humans. That's what she's trying to do here. It's not what she's succeeding at, but dear God is she ever trying. The problem here is that she's not using the right descriptive words. None of these are positives. They're all either neutral words, or negatives (dry and harsh, in respect to hair). Not once are we given a reason for the queen to be the epitome of goblin beauty. Are the arrangement of her eyes quite fetching? Has she dressed so that the curve of each arm is best displayed? Is the smile enticing? Nope. So instead of it emphasizing Creeda's beauty, it emphasizes the impression that the goblins are perverted little shits. And it also means that, once again, Merry is Kitto's rescuer.
Tiger, yesterday, commented that male rape victims only exist in LKH's fiction to be rescued by the main character. I would go as far as to say that every male character only exists to be rescued by the female lead. In the early Anitaverse it was a little different. Jean Claude started out as an antagonistic anti-hero, and has continued to be Anita's primary teacher/abuser. Edward did not give a fuck, other than if he got to kill things. But Richard had/still has to be rescued from himself, Asher was rescued by Antia through sex. Nathaniel was rescued from Chimera's people. Micah had to be rescued from Chimera--his assault and rescue by Anita thus negating his assault of Anita--Wicked and Truth were rescues, Requiem was a rescue. And all of the men in the Merry verse--ALL OF THEM--were rescued from celebacy and torture by this sex contest. This provides Merry with a deceptively dominant position over them. I say "Deceptively" because it is still possible for someone to take a victimized stance and still abuse and manipulate their rescuer. People have a tendency to give perceived victims a behavioral blank check--they were abused, so of course they did the whatever. The problem with this is probably best displayed in the context of an abused child. An abused child will absolutely act out when they feel they are in a safe environment. They feel safe in a way they do not feel at home. Simultaneously, they are unsure of what the limits are--will they get spanked if they do this? Or this other thing? Will they ever get spanked at all?--and their expectation of a punishment is usually further abuse. The job of a care-giver is to provide healthy limitations and healthy consequences for those limitations that do not include abuse (Preferably, that do not include physical chastisement at all.) And the very first thing the care-giver has to understand is that abuse explains the child's behavior, but it does not excuse it, and that's where a lot of our reactions to abuse victims becomes an issue. We excuse a lot of bad, learned behavior--manipulation, self mutilation, the abuse of others--on the history of the person behaving badly. In the process, we often violate our own boundaries, and teach the former victim how to make all those icky limits go away--something that, right now, they very much want to do, because they do not understand what healthy boundaries are. they don't understand how to interact with them, and they have no clue how to set boundaries of their own. Allowing an explanation for abuse to also become an excuse for it allows abuse victims to become abusers themselves, and perpetuates the real problem: That this person does not now and never has had good, safe boundaries, or a competent understanding of social interaction rules.
This is why every single abuse victim in this series--Anita, Merry, Micah, Nate, all of Merry's men, effectively everyone who has been hit or struck by someone else--turns around and begins abusing others. That said, it is worth noting that accepting and perpetuating abuse is the only way to live in these two social circles. If you become healthy enough to set good boundaries, place limits on how others may behave towards you, and refuse to behave badly towards others, the only option you can have is to leave that circle. You cannot be a healthy human being (or a healthy Were, vamp, or Fae) around either Anita or, to a smaller extent, Merry, without causing massive conflict.
I smiled, and knew my face was pleasant, even bright and shiny. I’d been relearning a lifetime of polite lies that had kept me alive as a child in the faerie courts. You had to be able to lie with your face, your eyes, your entire body language, to maneuver through the politics of the courts. I wasn’t always perfect at it, but the goblins were less noticing of such things. The true test was always my aunt, the Queen of Air and Darkness: She noticed everything.I'm starting to get incredibly creeped out. "Keeping Sweet" is a term used extensively in FLDS circles. Abusive Christian sects also demand a smiling countenance, that things be done in an atmosphere of joy--even if the "thing" being done is sanding the paddle your daddy is going to turn around and use on you. Controlling the outward attitude is also another way to control the inner mind. If you're busy trying to keep from crying, you're too busy to go "Hey, this is bullshit. We're not playing this game."
And you know what? That's all Merry has to do to end this awful, awful situation she's stuck in. She'll advance to one that's uglier in the short term--abusers hate to lose control, and it's obvious that Anadais has Merry by the throat right now--but one that would, if successful, end with her being free to make her own choices. "I don't want to play this game" is always, always, always an acceptable response to being somewhere you do not want to be. It may not have a good short-term outcome, but saying "I quit" when you feel reasonably confident you can get out in one piece is always something you may do. Setting your own boundaries is never, ever, ever wrong.
Anyway, Creeda and Kurag both say that they want to see Kitto "naked and shining". In short, they want to make someone who looks and acts like a twelve year old child strip and preform sexually in front of someone they are terrified of.
Dear Laurel K. Hamilton:
She does, however, manage to find something that is legit horrifying.
I waved back and said, “Greetings, Kurag, Goblin King. Greetings also to Kurag’s twin, Goblin King’s Flesh.” The stray bits were part of a parasitic twin trapped in the goblin’s body. The mouth could breathe, but not speak. The eyes and hands moved independently of Kurag. When I was a child, I’d played cards with the hands while my father and Kurag did business. I was sixteen before I realized that it was a whole separate person trapped inside the other male’s body.Alright. That is creepy. Why aren't we reading a book about that?
Because instead, we have to read about a rape victim preforming consensually for someone who watched his rape and has spent years needling him about it.
Everything about this exchange is completely vile. Completely. Utterly. Totally. I keep looking for any one thing to hang my hat on here, but it just keeps on coming up. The fact that they're bargaining for Kitto without talking to Kitto about it. The fact that Kitto looks and acts like a child. The fact that Rhys has to preform for one of his own rapists. The fact that the goblin queen is jerking off the goblin king WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK.
Laurel. WHY. WHY IS THIS HERE.
Even better: it continues until he gets annoyed, and he squeezes her arms to the point of breaking them to make her let go. And then we get this paragraph:
She sat in his lap, rubbing her arms with some of her other hands. She looked sulky , like a child told, No. I’d have been angry. Creeda saved her anger for other things.Let's see: slut shaming, check. Shaming an abuse victim for not standing up to their abuser: Check. Excusing the abuse Creeda has done, and probably will do, because she's refocusing misplaced anger: Yep.
And here's the thing: Merry and Kurag's negotiations in universe are a really, REALLY big deal. It'd be like a presidential candidate promising an ally country he'll give them a couple of nukes if they'll support his bid for president. It'll change how the goblins are reguarded AND it'll give LKH an excuse to write a lot of really nasty sex scenes. So why are we sapping this scene's energy by focusing on sex?
Things devolve into Merry doing a strip tease for the Goblin King. And then this happens:
“Those same women tell me I am too short to be beautiful,” I traced my hands across my breasts, “they say my breasts are too large,” I traced down my waist to my hips, “that I curve in places they do not,” I traced down my thighs. Sidhe women don’t have thighs. I let my hair fall across my face as I moved, so that my eyes gazed at him half hidden behind the scarlet of my hair. “They tell me I am ugly.”
He spilled out of his chair, dumping his queen to the floor. He roared, “Who says these things? I will crush their jaws and see them choke on their own lies!”So the race of beings with a beauty standard other than human will go to war for a woman who fits every line of humanity's beauty standards simply because she's been told that she doesn't?
I have nothing.
They wheel around Fae history for a minute, and it'd be rather entertaining to base a book on that, and then Merry demands that Kitto "shine" for Kurag. "Shining" only happens when a Sidhe is sexually aroused, so we've just plunged back into "ick" territory.
Especially as Kitto is so scared, he doesn't want to. The rest of the chapter is just repeated variations on a them of "Let's sexually molest the fake twelve year old."
I hate. This book.