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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Narcissus in Chains Chapter Twenty Seven

Dottie's break down here

Micah also gives Anita the whole you don't have to do this speech, but when she tells him not to give her the same run around Richard did he just tells her to get down the ladder in to the oubliette, then. Points for Micah.

I hate that this book is making me decide which rapist I agree with the most.

The pit is very deep and the walls threaten to close in on her, "like a hand about to close in to a fist and crush me." LKH is so past being able to use this analogy. If only writing were like driving, where an officer could pull over speeding authors and ticket them for repeating things.

Anita realizes that "the earth wasn't closing in around me, only my phobia was doing that." So, her phobia is closing in around her? As opposed to the phobia making it seem as though the walls are closing in?

.."I let out that little yip that is only a girl sound. I always hated when I did it."

I don't understand why Anita hates femininity so much. Not to mention I was not aware that sounds could be so rigidly gendered. The use of the word yip is also unfortunate, because it makes me think of a little purse dog. I don't think that's a fair comparison and the implications stink of misogyny.

Richard helps her down from the ladder and they're standing on a pile of bones. Somehow "[the bones] were deep yet you didn't sink in to them, like a saint treading on water."

Things wrong with that sentence:

1) Implies that Anita is saint-like

2). Uses a word that is often used in accordance with water, treads, which muddies the whole thing until the reader is forced to go over it a couple of times to make sense of it. Treading water is generally accepted to mean that a person is partially submerged, usually up to their neck, and is making circular motions of their arms to keep their head above the water line. Treading, as in walking, is something else. So when treads is used in a water analogy it becomes one of those funny English language things that the reader has to parse because they end up wondering whether Anita is up to her neck in bones.

3). Seriously, how many people have they put in this thing since it was built? I think St. Louis was founded in the 1700s if I recall correctly, and this particular werewolf clan does not seem to have Native American ties that would justify its existence in this area before that point. I am going to guess the lid is made of mass produced steel, which didn't become a thing until the 1900s. The human body has 206 bones? So how many people would they have to cram down in here before you could really get a bone nest so thick you could stand on it as if it were solid? Either the werewolves of this clan have always been sadistic assholes and they've sacrificed that many people, or this is all quite suspect indeed.

Of course, the dimensions of this place are insane anyway, because the space is so small that Anita's head is brushing against the ceiling (and remember, she's 5'3, I think) but it's wide enough for several people across. What? How does that make sense?

Gregory is there, hog tied with silver chains and blindfolded. Anita thinks that the chains have rubbed him raw because of his struggling, and then she and Richard have the exact same conversation out loud. The only new thing we learn is that the raw spots are because of the silver itself, not due to struggling, because Gregory isn't strong enough to resist its touch. Great way to denigrate poor Gregory that extra little bit.

Gregory is gagged, too, and he has silver spikes jammed in his ears. We learn that Marcus (the former Ulfric) made these things, because he liked to pervert his profession as a doctor by creating medical items intended to harm. Richard is lost "in memory and something darker." Something darker? What? Trauma? Death? Is he thinking about how he'd like a cup of coffee? This is not mysterious or edgy. Euphemism is not utilized in this fashion! She shows and tells in all the wrong places. Of course we can infer that she means a flashback, but it's so bland that it still fails.

This is all such bullshit anyway, because Richard not knowing about this just doesn't wash as an excuse. He's the alpha and he was in on taking Gregory as payment for Anita's social 'death.' The idea that Jacob is the one to blame is just so Richard can neatly avoid doing anything too unseemly with his own two hands. In fact Jacob's entire purpose is to be the fall guy for this whole thing, in a desperate bid to keep Richard semi-sympathetic. I don't know why LKH cares though, considering Micah has already raped Anita and we're supposed to accept him as the new--ahem--cock of the walk.

Anita takes the gag out of Gregory's mouth and Gregory works his jaw, trying to get feeling back. Anita is reminded of the scene from the Wizard of Oz where the Tin Man gets his jaw oiled. Apparently this should make her smile. What? No it shouldn't. It's a childish image and therefore should horrify you because of the incongruous juxtaposition of scenes and emotions. Come on, how hard is this shit really?

Anita notices Gregory has been injected with drugs to keep him from shifting, which is how Raina used to treat the victims she put in to this very oubliette when she was lupa. Remember Raina? The one Anita agrees with?

Anita is so horrified she starts demanding that the people who did this take Gregory's place, if they're so keen on torture. I would empathize with this if it were possible to empathize with Anita. Unfortunately she's so thoroughly unpleasant that I actively dislike her, so LKH basically can't make me feel anything beyond disgust or indifference.

Richard quite rightly asks her if she could really condemn someone to die this way, and she claims that she couldn't do that after all.

Richard claims he didn't know they were doing this to Gregory, which is an even bigger pile of shit than whatever moral high ground Anita is hilariously trying to take. He is intimately familiar with Raina's methods, and he was a member of the pack when she was actively putting people down in the oubliette. People had to have known it was going on, especially since all shifters have such amazing senses of smell that they can smell emotions. That oubliette must reek. Yet I am supposed to buy that it was a big secret? Get fucked, all of you.

Anita points out that Richard has to punish the people who did this, lest he lose control of the pack. She's absolutely right. They talk about putting Jacob in the oubliette but without the torture. Yeah uh, solitary confinement is torture. Richard bitches that he doesn't want to go back to a punitive system. You can punish people without using torture methods, you fucking idiot. You're both idiots. Are they really so incompetent that the only punishment they can devise is torture based? What about shaming, or shunning? Exile? Devising a way to take away someone's ability to shapeshift? Something. The choices aren't horrible torture or nothing, though I suppose I shouldn't be fucking surprised that once again it's an all or nothing choice. That's the only kind, as far as these books are concerned.

Somehow Gregory can see Anita, even though they only have a flashlight and he's had a blindfold on for so long that he wouldn't by all rights be able to see shit yet, even with it off. He interrupts this dumbass conversation by asking if they could leave now, please.

There is more disgusting puke about how Richard's touchy feely ways are going to get hundreds of people killed. Anita might as well be wearing an I Love the NRA hat and an Elect Mitt Romney At Any Cost button at this point. She represents the worst part of American politics, descending so far in to right wing frothing that at any moment I expect her to get Michelle Bachmann crazy eyes and start ranting about the benefits of ex gay therapy.

She also calls the Ulfric throne ancient, despite it being from god knows where. Why the fuck do they even have a throne? If they come from Nordic myths, they ought to have a lodge high seat or something to that end. But a throne? From rock? Why? GIVE ME WORLD BUILDING. Why do these ridiculous werewolves do the things they do? I NEED TO KNOW.


Our heroine, everyone.

Anita tells Richard to make an example of Jacob and his wolves. Richard says he can't do something so terrible that the pack will truly fear him. I don't get this shit. He fucking ate Marcus. Sure, morals are good and I don't blame Richard for sticking to his beliefs, but he's also a werewolf and has killed people in a challenge before. Challenge the people responsible up front. That allows Richard to keep his morals in place, but should he win it also shows that such acts as what was done to Gregory won't go unnoticed. But no, this is just one big excuse for Anita to "feel nothing" and do Richard's dirty work for him.

Honest question: am I supposed to empathize with Anita or not? Is being a sociopath good? Is it bad? Sometimes she angsts about becoming one (sigh) and sometimes she's happy she feels nothing. If you don't want to become a certain thing you'd think you'd fight against it at least a little bit. But Anita never does. She just whines and then acts callously anyway.

They send down harnesses! Why didn't they do that in the first place? Then we wouldn't have had to listen to Anita and Richard argue in circles for an entire chapter. Oh, I just answered my own question.

Anita and Gregory are brought up and it occurs to me how fucking dumb it is that Richard went down there at all, since if I was Jacob this is where I'd have Anita and her friends killed so I could lock Richard down there until he starved to death.

Anita is allowed to rescue Gregory basically so once again we can be beaten about the head and shoulders with the notion that Anita is some kind of amazing angel. The constant wanking over Anita is really sickening, especially when she clearly doesn't care about anyone but herself.

When she gets to the top she sees that the wolves have already chained Jacob up and are about to drop him in to the oubliette. Am I meant to believe this is somehow more just simply because they aren't going to gag him or put spikes in his ears? Solitary confinement is definitely torture already. She snarks that they've let him keep his clothes.

"No nudity for the good guys. I guess there had to be some differences, or how do you tell what side you're on?"

That sums up this entire series. The shitty attitude towards nudity and by implication sex, the black and white morality, the idea that the only difference between good and evil is what (metaphorical) hat you happen to be wearing at any given moment in time. And the worst part is, none of this is on purpose. Some novels are bleak and grim because that is what they are trying to achieve. Nothing anyone attempts works, and everyone is filled with existential terror that makes them slowly spin and flicker out until it's as though their light never shone in the first place. I HATE that sort of story, but it does exist. This? This is not one of those stories. No. The most offensive part of these books is that I am meant to take them at face value. LKH tells me Anita is good and morally right, that Micah is her true love, that Anita is destined to protect and rescue the weak, and I am just supposed to fucking swallow it whole despite all evidence to the contrary simply because LKH said it was so. I am supposed to believe that GOD HIMSELF supports all of Anita's disgusting thoughts, actions, and emotions.

Richard tries to get Jacob to confess as to who gave him the silver ear spikes, but he won't budge. He says that once Jacob's imprisonment is over, he'll have the oubliette destroyed. Oh fuck you. You should have done that immediately when you became Ulfric. I would consider agreeing with Anita right now--Richard is a shit leader if he lets things like this go on under his nose--but she's also a massive moron so it's a no score draw type situation.

Richard fucks off with his wolves and Anita goes over to Micah. Cherry and the werewolf doctor confer on what to do for Gregory. Anita--IN THIS ORDER--wants:

1). Clean clothes
2). A shower
3). "to make the lost look in Gregory's eyes go away."

Does anyone else see something wrong with her priorities? 

Anita takes Micah's hand and they leave, with all of her entourage following behind. 

"Anita Blake, preternatural pied piper. The thought should have made me smile. But it didn't."

I'm sorry but this just doesn't work for me. It should not make her smile. Nothing should make her smile right now. 


  1. I forgot about the yip comment. Oh god the yip comment.

  2. My head canon basically tells me the bones are from all of the poor bastards who were killed for the snuff films as well as any other enemies. Because otherwise, the numbers don't add up.

    Also: pretty sure LKH must have an I Love the NRA sticker of some type somewhere. She is in far too much love with guns to not. And I admit, despite my massive distaste of the things (losing family to one will do that to you), I have thought about buying one--one!--once or twice, to keep in the house. But along with that would go plenty of practice. And I would definitely not be taking pictures of it as if it were my new preciouuusss like she's done on her Facebook page. Even though there's limited chatter of following the rules and practicing, I have a feeling if push came to shove, she'd be up here Heston-style brandishing her precious gun-of-the-week. /gun rant