This is my personal blog and does not necessarily reflect the collective views of Hard Limits Press

Friday, June 13, 2014

Narcissus In Chains Chapter Twenty Six

Dottie's breakdown here

They go to the oubliette and Anita treats me to a history lesson about what an oubliette is. Joke is on you LKH, I'd already typed out oubliette to describe the damn thing before you confirmed it for me. (Do any other oWoD nerds remember that the Lasombra vampire clan had a Discipline power called Oubliette?)

Two of the werewolves are in "nice human form." Okay. We've just spent the entire lupanar establishing that these guys are assholes in human form too. She acts surprised that the oubliette is meant to be sealed and forgotten despite having told me that very thing a paragraph ago.

Two people carry the lid away, yet Anita says it would still be heavy if you were in your wereanimal form. Gee, I thought everyone in this world could bench press small elephants?

The hole smells like someone has been shitting and pissing themselves in fear for about four days, which Gregory has. Wait, I thought they only had him one day? I don't even know. I am not good with numbers or time as it is and if I try to keep track of either right now I'm going to explode.

Anita tries to make a point about how starving to death isn't romantic like in the movies. Movies do indeed portray a lot of horrible things through rose colored glasses, but I can't think of a single time starvation has been portrayed as pretty.

Anita informs us that Gregory isn't in the top one hundred strongest people she knows list, so he's probably a gibbering mess. What a great time to make snide comments about his ability to take care of himself. Why not tell me exactly why he would be particularly vulnerable to this treatment? CHARACTERIZATION, GET YOU SOME.

OR, conversely, realize that the truth about torture is it doesn't matter a whit how strong you are you will break, and fucking quickly. You could be a badass super soldier and still break under torture. Waterboarding takes less than thirty seconds. And I know, because I fucking researched it. That's the kind of shit that goes down in my novels.

The hole is black, you guys. No, but it's like even more black than black normally is. Anita is conveniently claustrophobic, so it can seem like she's acting heroically when she insists on going in to the hole of endless night even though Richard and his immense shoulders are right there.

Richard quite reasonably asks her why she always has something to prove. She insists and insists on going down in to this fucking ridiculous oubliette because she has something to prove to herself. If Anita were an actual good, mature person she would leave this sort of shit for times when someone's life isn't on the line. Also can I just say, this is all about Anita again. It's not about Gregory or rescuing him, how he must have suffered or what they're going to do to make him better. It's about whether Anita can overcome her fear of closed spaces.

Imagine how this must look to everyone else. Or how it would look if anyone in this novel behaved like a human being. Anita and Richard are sitting at the opening of the oubliette. Anita repeatedly asks for the flashlight so she can go down in there. Richard repeatedly asks her why she must do so when she's obviously frightened, when there are plenty of people who can accomplish the exact same thing without having to push through abject terror to do it. This goes on for at least five back and forth exchanges. It's like Richard is a child asking her why the sky is blue, which only spawns more questions.

There's a moment that wouldn't be terrible if LKH had built up any authorial good will. Richard wants to embody a traditional masculine role in that he wants to lead from the front in his relationship with Anita. Hence, he wants to protect her and show that he is brave by going in to the oubliette and sparing Anita from having to do so. There is nothing wrong with this per se, just like there's nothing wrong with a woman wanting to inhabit traditional Western ideas of what womanhood is. What is a problem is when anyone is forced to behave that way regardless of their desires, or assumed to behave that way based on arbitrary cues, which Anita points out. Richard says that it's not so different from her willingness to kill Jacob and thereby spare him the moral cost of doing so. They come to an accord whereby Richard goes in to the oubliette first.

But don't let my relative enjoyment of this little aside fool you. There are still problematic elements, namely that Richard would not be absolved of Jacob's death just because Anita pulled the trigger. That's a very dicey ethical position to take and, I yearn to point out, not one that has ever gone over well in the U.S. justice system. Now, the U.S. justice system is in my eyes massively fucking flawed, but we do have that one more or less right. That's why Charles Manson is in prison even though he didn't murder a single person in the Tate or LaBianca attacks.

Richard kisses Anita because she wants to. 

It's like I'm reading another book. I'm going to send LKH my physical therapy bill for giving me such terrible story whiplash.

Anita feels hopeful about her romantic relationship with Richard, and wonders if Micah is serious about sharing. It bothers me how she's just accepted that Micah is going to be a part of her life now and has a say in what she does and/or who she fucks. I don't even mind the idea of a mated pair--but dear god could we make them something other than leopards?--but I do mind the magical part carrying the entire relationship. Maybe the magic predisposes them to like one another, but it shouldn't stand in for the actual rapport building that comes from people interacting authentically.


  1. Oh, Lasombra. I never really played the classic WoD, but I loved buying the books; some of the stories in the city books were *crazy.* (Especially Montreal. Holy shit.)

    1. I own so many oWoD books it's almost embarrassing. Like, almost three hundred of them. The lore is amazingly detailed and it has had a huge influence on me as a writer.