Monday, October 20, 2014

Stroke of Midnight chapter 11-12, Elsie chapter 9

The smell Doyle found was blood. His sword is bleeding. His sword is bleeding because Rhys can't talk through a magical weapon, so he had to make Doyle's sword bleed until it formed words on the floor.

I have absolutely no idea, and I think hallucinogenics were involved.

Anyway, Rhys wants more people because there's a lot of cops and a lot of feds and they're having a lot of dick measuring contests because inter-office cooperation is a little much in an LKH novel.  Nobody will talk to Rhys because of the bleeding sword thing, so Doyle and Merry have to come up and sort things out.

They agree to do something about the feds. Its never very clear. And that's the end of the chapter.

Next chapter:  Merry balks at wearing a fur coat because it was made from an animal. Then she finds out it was made from a troll, which is worse. Everyone rolls their eyes. Doyle assaults her.

I'm serious.

Doyle grabbed my arm. His grip was bruising, and his face held the anger that his hand pressed against my flesh. “You are a princess of the Unseelie Court. You will rule us someday. You cannot show this much weakness, not if you expect to survive!”

Dude. Her problem is that you killed a person and are wearing its skin. I mean, this?
This is not a good thing. Merry has a chance to make these idiots be something that isn't murder-rapy.

Doyle keeps it up, too:

Doyle jerked me close to his body, and I felt the creeping line of energy as his power began to unfold. He snarled into my face, “Won’t wear the skins of our honored enemies. The police await us, our men stand in the cold, and you don’t like your coat! Such delicate sensibilities for someone who just fucked a stranger on the floor in front of us all.”

Fucking is consensual (which is unusual in LKH's worlds). Murder is not. Merry understands the difference.

Oh, but the real problem is that he is envious of Merry!

He looked up, and grabbed Frost’s arm, much as he’d grabbed mine, almost pleading. “I cannot go back to what I was here. I cannot stand at her side and watch another take her. I am not that strong, or that good.”

I...actually understand this. Not the Merry thing, but the "I cannot go back to living here" bit. Remember the cultervention back in Danse Macabre? This is another moment like that. This is a person realizing hey, this is an INCREDIBLY shitty place I'm in and I need to not ever be here again.

And of course it's getting explained away as having to do with sex. The Ring, they say, has chosen Mistral as her mate. Because she "Rode the Storm". And all the other men are being pissy. Merry points out that this is the first time she's screwed with the Ring on, and the other men calm down really fast.

Please don't decide to fuck, please don't decide to fuck, please don't--oh, hell, you're going to, aren't you.


They make out. Then they talk about how all the guards are abused. Then they talk about how much they love each other. Then more talk about abused guards. They tell Merry that her cousin Cel threatened to rape her as soon as he gets out of his cell. Where he's being tortured with unslaked sexual desire.

I hate this book.

Merry agrees to wear the damn fur. She makes a mirror appear and them disappear. It's treated as earth shatteringly important. Merry gets women added onto her guards and this is also important for some reason. FINALLY, though, they all make it out to the snow to greet the cops.

On to Elsie.

Elsie is happy. This is an unusual development in this novel. Elise is happy because Horace isn't treating her like shit. For some reason the carrige ride knocked a screw loose and he's forgotten how to abuse his daughter.

She felt grateful for all the kindness she received, and liked to visit with her papa; but her happiest days were spent at home on those rare occasions when they were free from visitors, and she could sit for hours on his knee, or by his side, talking or reading to him, or working at her embroidery, or knitting and listening while he read.

This book thinks that subtle is a kind of fruit, so we know they're gearing up for something. It's all "Elsie isn't scared of Daddy anymore, do you get it? ELSIE'S NOT SCARED OF DAD." 

It lasts for a week.

It was Sabbath afternoon
Alright. Let's stop there for a second. Elsie's two guardians--the calvinist scottish maid and Chloe--are of the "You can't do secular stuff on Sunday" variaty. It was a common-ish thread in Christianity back then, but it's not so common anymore. And remember: Nobody else in this household is devout.

This will not end well. 

It was Sabbath afternoon—the first Sabbath after their return—and Elsie was in her own room alone with the books she loved best—her Bible, hymnbook, and "Pilgrim's Progress."

I have read Pilgrim's Progress, and I repeat my earlier comments about functional illiteracy.

 She had spent a very happy hour in self-examination, reading and prayer, and was singing to herself in a low tone her favorite hymn, "I lay my sins on Jesus," while turning over the leaves of her Bible to find the story of Elijah, which she had promised to read to Chloe that afternoon, when a child's footsteps were heard coming down the hall, the handle of the door was turned hastily, and then, as it refused to yield, Enna's voice called out in a fretful, imperious tone, "Open this door, Elsie Dinsmore. I want in, I say."
And we've dragged in Enna, who is this series' special whipping post. When they want to make a point about something, they drag in Enna. No bullshit, by the time she exits the series she has severe brain damage and her daughter has been crippled because Enna made the kid wear high heels.

"I told you I wanted to come in," replied Enna, saucily, "and now you've got to tell me a story to amuse me; mamma says so, because you know I've got a cold, and she won't let me go out."

Sane response: "No"

Elsie's response:
"Well, Enna," said Elsie, patiently, "I am going to read a very beautiful story to mammy, and you are quite welcome to sit here and listen."

But Enna doesn't want a bible story, she wants a fairy tale that Elsie told Henry Carrington. Elsie refuses because it's Sunday and fairy tales aren't for Sundays. Well, Enna goes and gets her mother and father, and they both start shouting at Elsie that she has to tell the fairy-tale because Sunday isn't different from any other day.

"Do you dare to contradict me, you impertinent little hussy?" cried the old gentleman, interrupting her in the middle of her sentence; and catching her by the arm, he shook her violently; then picking her up and setting her down hard upon a chair, he said, "Now, miss, sit you there until your father comes home, then we will see what he thinks of such impertinence; and if he doesn't give you the complete whipping you deserve, I miss my guess."

So Horace, with his usual asshattry, sends the kid down to his study to wait for punishment. And Elsie panicks because she's lost his love all over again. Well, that screw is still loose because instead of beating her, he *gasp!* Listens to both sides of the story and decides whose is more likely. And he sides with Elsie! this actual improvement? Character development? ARE THINGS FINALLY IMPROVING FOR OUR LITTLE GIRL?

 He makes her apologize to her grandfather, then takes her upstairs and "punishes" her by making her read the Bible, he lets her eat a good supper, he stands up for her against Enna...sir, who are you and what have you done with Horace?

Oh, he's still there. He tells her that her religion had better not ever get in the way of his instruction. She begs him not to ever make her do something wrong...aaaand then this happens.

"I never intend to bid you do wrong, but, on the contrary, wish you always to do right. But then, daughter, I must be the judge of what is wrong or right for you; you must remember that you are only a very little girl, and not yet capable of judging for yourself,

Yeah. That, right there, is straight out of the "Stay At Home Daughters" textbook. You cannot and should not tell your children that they can't make decisions for themselves. Elsie realizes that she's going to have to eventually choose between obeying her religion or obeying her father.

End of chapter.

1 comment:

  1. I've seen other SF/Fantasy stories use the "character wearing the skin or body part of a sentient being" bit before. In the cases that I've seen, it's a sign that the wearer has long since accelerated past the moral event horizon. This is the first time I've ever seen it used as a chance for the wearer to explain that they're a victim too.

    As for Elsie, all I can think is... At least LKH or John Ringo or a thousand other similar authors don't market their abuse apologism as instructional material for children.