You know, there’s an argument that Atticus is meant to be an old-fashioned medieval trickster hero. Read some stories about Renard or Wayland the Smith, and they do some pretty terrible things, including murdering people to take their stuff, but it’s a-okay because they’re the protagonist and they’re flicking off those in power. And if I got the impression that Atticus was a deconstruction of that sort of hero I’d accept Hounded as being somewhat clever! But it’s not really; Atticus plays protagonist-centered morality straight, and doesn’t care about the Plot. He’s just some idiot that the Plot caters to because Reasons.

Anyway, were you curious about the witches’ coven in The Iron Druid Chronicles? No? Tough toenails! He’s a chapter in which we delve more into that.

The new witch who just showed up and chastised Emilya is Malina Sokolowski, a witch who was mentioned earlier from Radomila’s coven. She called to represent the coven, remember? No? That’s fine, you probably have a life, unlike me. In any case, she’s meant to represent the coven and monitor Emilya getting the magic potion she ordered to make sure no funny business is going on and the magical contract is fulfilled by both parties. She’s sort of the lawyer of Radomila’s coven. Which is interesting, considering we keep referring to Radomila’s coven of witches, and we still haven’t met Radomila. It’s an odd way of introducing a character. Unless there’s some big reveal about Radomila’s character, like she’s a complete badass or she’s a joke, having her being mentioned all the time without her appearing on-page makes it feel like Hearne wanted to have the coven there and its leader be friends with Atticus, but without the effort of including the character in a way that makes sense.

We also get a description of Malina. She looks like a hot blonde in her thirties. I’m sure you’re surprised. Except then PLOT TWIST! The reason Atticus thinks she’s so hot, he realizes with his amulet, is that she’s got a “some kind of beguilement charm on her hair.” With that charm out of the way, we get a more in-detailed description… and she’s still a hot blonde. I’m sure you’re surprised.

Nonverbal signals are so powerful at times that I wonder at our need to speak.

Because some tasks, like, say, reviewing a book or movie, need words ya twit.

Oh right this is followed by this:

Without looking at her aura, I already knew that Malina was classy where Emily was not; far more mature, intelligent, and powerful; and was reluctant to give offense where Emily could not wait to give it.And I also knew she was more dangerous by several orders of magnitude.

I can’t be the only one who read this as Atticus basically saying “Emilya’s a trashy skank whereas Malina’s a classy lady,” right? Just by looking at her, and hearing her tell Emilya to shut up, he’s basically telling the audience, “Yeah this witch is hotter and more powerful and also she’s just much better all-around.” Or, in other terms, because she’s harsh to the character who is mean to the protagonist, she’s meant to be more likable.

So Malina, speaking with a Polish accent that is supposedly very obvious but isn’t shown in the dialogue (at least, not as much as the Leprechaun’s), demands that Emilya apologize to Atticus. Because Atticus takes pleasure in Emilya’s pain, he tells us “She was scoring points with me already” but he does point out that you can’t trust witches and the entire thing might have been staged to get on his good side. But he doesn’t care, because he doesn’t care about anything.

When Emily took too long, Malina’s voice lowered to a threatening growl so that only Emily and I could hear. “If you do not apologize to him right now, then I swear by the three Zoryas that I will measure your length on this floor and put you in breach of contract. You are in so much trouble already, you will be cast out from the coven.

Two things:

FIRST: This… doesn’t read like a strong Polish accent. Which is fine! But when Atticus’s Irish neighbor is written with a stereotypical Irish accent so strong it’s basically a joke, telling us this character has a heavy Polish accent and then her dialogue sounds like English is her first language… well, it’s inconsistent. It’s not bad, mind you, but if he’s not going to go through the trouble of writing an accent for Malina, why does he write one for the Leprechaun?

SECOND: So there’s some argument, but consensus among scholars seems to be that there aren’t three Zoryas. The Zoryas, for those not in the know, are Slavic star goddesses. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe they’re the daughters or servants of the Sun god Dazbog? They open the gates to his household as he leaves in the morning and returns in the evening; hence they are the morning and evening stars. They also watch the skies to make sure that the doomsday hound Simurgl doesn’t leave the constellation the Little Dipper, because when it does that will be the end of the world. Hooray!

I’ve seen debate as to whether there’s a third sister (a midnight star), but from what I gather the third sister is injected into the mix to make the Zoryas into a Slavic equivalent to the Triple Goddess motif of different mythologies that became fashionable in New Age movements. The most famous person to do this is Neil Gaiman (who Hearne admits he’s a fan of), who included them as characters in American Gods. Neil pretty much admitted that he made up the third sister, along with a lot of the stuff about different mythologies (and Slavic mythology in particular; the Czernobog/Bielobog thing stands out) to make it all fit the story. Which is fine, as long as you know that’s what you’re doing!

But this… well, it reads like Hearne just read American Gods, or some New Age-y book, and thought, “Hey, the Zoryas are a cool triple goddess, right? Let’s put them in the mix.” It’s the same thing as happened with Flidais—she’s not actually a hunting goddess, but that’s what people who didn’t do research said, so he rolled with it. This is another one of those things that I wouldn’t look at too critically if I wasn’t already disinclined to give any credit to this book.

We’ll hop back to this later.

Anyhow, Emilya gives her apology, Atticus accepts, and Malina shakes Atticus’s hand and oversees him making her magic potion for Emilya. Then Emilya leaves without much dialogue and Malina formally introduces herself. Atticus makes tea for her. Oberon says that he likes her, but Atticus reminds him that Malina’s a witch, and therefore not to be trusted.

Malina mentions that Emilya’s not really well-behaved, and Atticus asks why they put up with each other then? And Malina says it’s “a very long story.” Atticus assures her that he, being an immortal Druid, can deal with long stories, instead of taking a hint that it’s not something she wants to tell him. After all, that’s what I mean when I say “It’s a long story.” Malina’s uncomfortable talking about this here though, considering there are a bunch of nonmagical folk around. But Atticus is all like, “Yeah, no problem, Perry the goth will just shoo them out if I do this!” and he puts a CLOSED sign on the counter.

Oh and we get this thing with a “scruff man” at the tea counter. Because Hearne thinks it’s funny, I guess?

“Whoa, man. You’re closed?” He frowned at me but was not to be deterred. He had something on his mind. “Hey dude, you got any medical marijuana back there?”

“No, sorry.” These guys just wouldn’t leave me alone.

“It’s not for me, I swear. It’s for my grandma.”

“Sorry. Try back next week.”

“Hey, really?”

“No.”

I turned my back on him, pulled up a chair next to Malina, and plastered an attentive look on my face.

Yeah, so I get that this is a New Age shop, and so of course Potheads are going to show up. But… like, really? ‘Cause they keep showing up in the story to be cheap punchlines. They arrive in the second chapter to gawk at the Morrigan and then presumably get murdered off-page. And here’s a guy who shows up just to ask for pot so Atticus can shut him down.

Also, pothead or not, wouldn’t this guy be a little upset that he went into a store and the owner was rude to him? And wouldn’t there be a risk that he goes to his friends and tells them that the guy who owns this store is a rude jerk? I know that the customer is not always right, but this man’s not even particularly difficult? Have you dealt with high college students? They’re not always this polite. And Atticus is incredibly rude to him.

Yes, he’s a druggie and he’s annoying and you’re not obligated to bend over backward to accommodate every single person you meet, especially if they’re only talking to you for drugs. My point is: here is yet another NPC in this story who exists as just some loser the main characters can be mean to with no consequences. And it keeps happening.

The guy tells Malina her hair’s pretty, she tells him to buzz off, and she takes the magic charm off of her hair. She’s still hesitant to talk to Atticus about magic stuff in public, because the Muggles can overhear—

Wait, is the store closed, or just the tea counter? It’s a bit unclear.

—anyway, Atticus tells her that people will assume she’s Wiccan when she talks about witchcraft. Or, if someone overhears her talking about living in the past, they’ll claim they’re members of the SCA, which is the Society for Creative Anachronisms.

There’s also this whole bit where Malina asks if the SCA means “Society for Cruelty to Animals” and Atticus corrects her that she’s thinking of the SPCA and explains what the SCA does, and it’s a bit of a tangent that gets us nowhere other than to clue us in that Hearne knows about nerd stuff while he’s mocking it.

This conversation does get at the root of something I’ve thought about though, and it’s not a bad thought. If you heard two people in a restaurant or store talking about monsters or vampires or magic, you would assume they’re talking about a video game, or DnD, or something like that. If you thought they were serious, maybe you’d tell it to your friends as an amusing story. “Hey I passed these two weirdos who were talking about vampires and witches!” But you wouldn’t assume that there was a secret magic world out there because you heard two strangers talking.

So while I take issue with the stupid tangent and the pothead, the idea that Atticus puts forth, that they’re not really at risk of exposure talking about these things in public, I’m okay with that. I kind of agree.

Malina, being surprisingly forward in the face of all of Atticus’s questions, tells Atticus that she met Emilya in Krzepice, Poland in September of 1939, during the Blitzkrieg. See, Malina saved Emilya from being raped, and so she’s sort of been a parental figure for Emilya ever since—

…wait.

Emilya’s backstory is that she was ALMOST RAPED BY NAZIS HOLY FATHER FRANCIS WHAT THE FUDGE IS THIS?!?

Because Emilya’s entire character has been “Hey look at this one witch she’s a trashy obnoxious ho! Isn’t she annoying?” and now we’re being told that she was ALMOST RAPED BY NAZIS and that’s a heavy thing to drop on us with no warning, ya know? I’m debating whether or not that’s worse than just throwing the Troubles into the Plot for character motivation out of nowhere. This should be the backstory for an interesting, complex character that takes center stage but instead it’s just a sidenote to a character who is just there to bother the protagonist and act like a twit.

So the Leprechaun is a joke character who has the backstory of being widowed because of the Irish Troubles, and Emilya is a minor antagonist that was this close to being raped by Nazis. Anything else? Are we going to learn that Leif was one of the raiders at Lindisfarne? That the bartender at the Irish pub had family in the Twin Towers? The Atlantic Slave Trade? The Armenian Genocide? The Tiananmen Square protests? All of these are sitting right there if Hearne wants to use them for cheap backstories.

Don’t do this guys. I’m not saying you can’t write stories involving these events, but don’t throw them in there for a ‘oh, by the way’ backstory.

Anyhow, getting back to the story: Malina was seventy-two in 1939, and Emilya was only sixteen then. Only the two of them are from Krzepice. When they got together with their current coven, they moved around until they got to Tempe, which is where they’ve lived the longest. Atticus asks why Tempe, and Malina tells him the same reason he has “Few old gods, few old ghosts, and until recently, no Fae at all.”

Alright I covered this: Southwestern Native American nations? Mexican and Mayan mythological figures? Christian saints? These should all be coming out the wazoo. There are very few places you’ll find with no cultural ties to religious figures at all. Antarctica might be one, but I suspect that would put Atticus out of his comfort zone.

Since Atticus asked Malina some questions and she answered truthfully, she requests the same of him. Atticus, being a piece of turd, says he’ll answer with the truth, but not all of it. So when she asks how old he is, he just says that he’s “At least as old as Radomila.” Then she asks if he has the sword belonging to Aenghus, with which Atticus replies “No. It does not belong to him.” Which basically means ‘yes’ and she knows it, and follows with asking if he has the sword Aenghus believes is his, and Atticus replies in the affirmative. And then she asks if it’s on the premises, and he confirms that it is.

Her final question in this question trade-off is “Which of the Tuatha De Danann did you last talk to?” And Atticus tells her that it was the Morrigan, which surprises her. Atticus guesses that she expected him to say Bres, and that by saying Morrigan maybe she thinks Morrigan killed Bres instead of him? Or something stupid, becauses it really wouldn’t be difficult to find out that Atticus was the killer.

Atticus asks her how many witches are working of Aenghus Og, and she refuses to answer, so Atticus basically tells her that he can’t trust her and that she and her coven buddies are allied with his mortal enemy. Malina says they aren’t, but that they can’t give too many details.

We do not want anything to do with the Tuatha De Danann. Mortals who have dealings with them rarely end happily, and while we are not your average mortals, we still are not in their weight class, if you will allow me to use a boxing metaphor.”

“I will allow it this once. I would find it more amusing if you would use gamer jargon from now on, like, ‘If we fought the Tuatha De Danann, we’d get so pwned.

So, uh, that ages this book significantly.

Seriously, what was the point of that comment, other than another attempt to make Atticus sound hip? Was “pwned” a thing people ever actually said outside of the Internet? I only ever heard/saw it as a joke. It’s a joke here, but it’s not funny. It’s another one of those ‘This is what the kids are saying now’ comments that doesn’t do anything but tell us that Atticus thinks gamers are funny. Which isn’t news, considering how he seems to mock nerd culture in general. Why would there be an issue with Malina using a boxing metaphor anyhow? Harry Dresden uses them all the time, talking about different entities’ weight classes. It’s an easy-to-understand way of discussing who is more powerful than who.

Malina says that the witches know Atticus and Aenghus will fight, and are worried that Aenghus will turn on them, considering the potion making him impotent was commissioned by a witch, so they have every reason to want to back Atticus. After all, if Atticus kills Aenghus, then he’s no longer their problem. That doesn’t really explain why some of the witches are involved with Aenghus at all, instead of just leaving him alone. Really, the witches should all just be sitting back and being all like

But I’ve given up on characters making sensible choices. She asks Atticus how they can help him fight Aenghus, and so Atticus asks about the Zoryas, if they’re the source of the witches’ powers.

“Ah. Well, yes, the Zoryas are the star goddesses known throughout the Slavic world. The midnight star, Zorya Polunochnaya, is a goddess of death and rebirth, and, as you might expect, she has quite a bit to do with magic and wisdom. It is she who gives us much of our knowledge and power, though the other two Zoryas are helpful as well.”

Remember how I said I don’t mind too much that Hearne’s assuming Neil Gaiman had done his research? I take that back. Because Zorya Polunochnaya is the one Zorya that Neil made up. That’s what most sources will tell me if I Google the name. Yes, there’s some debate that there was a third Zorya, but that name is taken from American Gods. The only other source I’ve seen mentioning her by this name, in the way she’s described by Hearne, is this site, but with a name like ‘Crystal Links’ and no actual citations to reliable-sounding sources, I’m more inclined to think it’s New Age nonsense.

The Zoryas are not goddesses of death and rebirth. They never have been, as far as I can tell. There are several Slavic deities associated with death and rebirth; that makes sense, considering that the Slavs weren’t really one united group of people in pre-Christian Eastern Europe, and so they’d have some differences in religious practices. There is a goddess who looks closer to this mold (based on her Wikipedia article, anyhow, and I recognize it might be wrong, so take it with a grain of salt): Marzanna. Associated with rebirth, and maybe magic. And she’s been likened to Hecate by medieval writers! See, there’s a Slavic goddess packaged to fit this whole witch thing right there, and instead, Hearne goes with the Zorya made up by Neil Gaiman. Why? Because he just didn’t care to Google, I imagine. He just assumed that the Zoryas were a triple goddess that would fit his needs because American Gods said so!

I hadn’t heard much about the Zoryas before—old Slavic deities had rarely come up as a topic of conversation in my travels.

Why the fudge not? You’re apparently super-paranoid, you try to avoid deities all the time, and you’ve travelled all over the world… and you don’t know anything about the Slavic gods? If I was someone who was trying to avoid gods at all costs, I’d do my best to know about as many of them as I could.

Anyhow Malina offers to help with some magic to give him a boost against Aenghus Og, and asks how he plans to attack him. Atticus tells the audience that he’s not going to answer that, and tells her that he’ll just wing it. She seems surprised that he doesn’t want help.Clearly she doesn’t know him.

Malina looked incredulous. “Are you anything more than a Druid?”

“Of course I am. I own this shop and I play a mean game of chess, and I’ve been told that I’m a frakkin’ Cylon.”

“What’s a frakkin’ Cylon?”

“I don’t know, but it sounds really scary when you say it with a Polish accent.”

Isn’t this so funny? Aren’t you glad this joke from Chapter 5 came back? Isn’t Atticus so clever? WHY AREN’T YOU LAUGHING???

Malina doesn’t like being poked fun at, and she realizes that nothing she says will make Atticus trust the coven or take them seriously. So she leaves, and Oberon makes some more pop culture references (Mary Poppins and Star Wars, if you’re curious!). And then the Morrigan comes back! She flies in as a crow, apparently scaring the customers enough that they all just agree to leave? No really, she just flies in, and everyone just leaves, and Atticus tells his employee Perry to take a lunch break. Perry’s a bit worried about his source of income being left alone in a store with what appears to be a demon bird for company, but does as asked. Atticus flips the sign to CLOSED so I guess the store is closed now.

The Morrigan tells him that Brighid’s on her way.

I jumped up and down and swore violently in seventeen languages.

See, here’s the thing: when someone gives Atticus bad news, he does this thing where he has a gut reaction of freaking out that seems natural. But then he immediately decides he doesn’t really care and chills his way through everything. Again, if he was really that worried about anything he wouldn’t stick around, he’d leave or make some preparations.

The Morrigan told Brighid about Bres and how he died, and she decided she’d moozy on over, without telling Morrigan what her plans were once she got there. Atticus points out that if Brighid decides to kill him, they’re in a kind of awkward position because the Morrigan won’t take him to the afterlife, remember? So the Morrigan tells him basically to play dead if Brighid decides to kill him. Which is stupid advice, but so is all of the advice in this book.

Atticus is like, “Oh BTW, did I mention I talked to Flidas? And I got into legal trouble because she made my dog kill a park ranger?” Which the Morrigan, using half a brain cell, says is fishy. She decides some kind of weird scheme is going on between Irish gods and she doesn’t like being left out, so she says after she sees what happens with Brighid, she’ll go investigate. The Morrigan bails then, because she thinks it might look bad to be seen hanging out with Atticus here.

And then Brighid appears, manifesting as a fireball bursting through the door and melting the little bells on the door. And then she turns into a human form, “leaving a tall, majestic, fully armored goddess in its place. It was Brighid, goddess of poetry, fire and the forge.”

“Old Druid,” she said in a voice of music and dread,” I must speak with you about the death of my husband.”

I’d care if it wasn’t abundantly clear by this point that Atticus will never face the consequences of his actions.

Join us next time, as we find out what it is that Brighid wants to say to the man who killed her husband!

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  1. Aikaterini on 27 June 2019, 09:45 said:

    Malina, speaking with a Polish accent that is supposedly very obvious but isn’t shown in the dialogue

    Actually, I’d prefer this over authors trying to transcribe an accent in dialogue, because when authors go overboard, it becomes extremely frustrating and difficult to read. One example of this is all of those 18th century and 19th century British novels where authors write paragraphs upon paragraphs of people with Yorkshire accents talking. After the tenth misspelling and contraction of a word, it just gets wearisome. In fact, I remember seeing comments by some Harry Potter fans who grew sick of reading Hagrid’s dialogue. Also, there’s always someone who will find the dialogue to be stereotypical and therefore insulting.

    And here’s a guy who shows up just to ask for pot so Atticus can shut him down.

    And he never shows up again, right? So, what was the point of this?

    If you heard two people in a restaurant or store talking about monsters or vampires or magic, you would assume they’re talking about a video game, or DnD, or something like that.

    Yeah, that seems like a simple cover excuse for a contemporary fantasy masquerade. “You guys talking about vampires?” “Oh, yeah, I’m planning to write a fantasy novel about them/I’m running a RPG campaign/we just watched a vampire movie!”

    Because Emilya’s entire character has been “Hey look at this one witch she’s a trashy obnoxious ho! Isn’t she annoying?” and now we’re being told that she was ALMOST RAPED BY NAZIS

    This is the same thing that happened to Rosalie in “Eclipse.” During the whole “Twilight” series, Stephenie Meyer was constantly making Rosalie out to be this shallow, mean beauty queen who was jealous of Bella and so on and so forth. Then all of a sudden in “Eclipse,” Meyer says, “Hey, you know that mean Barbie girl whom Edward calls shallow and skin-deep? Turns out that her backstory is that she was gang-raped by her fiancé and his buddies! But don’t worry, readers, she’s still the dumb blonde who’s SO shallow and whom Edward was SO right to turn his nose at and whom I’m going to subject to ten rounds of dumb blonde jokes in ‘Breaking Dawn’ because I have zero awareness of what I’m doing!”

    Also, how many people want to bet that if Emilya had been a man, the backstory would’ve been different? That instead of saving Male!Emilya from rape, Malina had saved him from getting killed by the Nazis or had smuggled him out of Poland or anything other than rape? Because I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Hearne thought up Emilya’s backstory in two seconds: “Hmm, what’s a bad situation that Malina could’ve saved my female character from? Oh, I know, rape! That happens to women, right?”

    Isn’t Atticus so clever? WHY AREN’T YOU LAUGHING???

    Dear Lord, this is like Jace and his unbearable ‘repartee.’

    Join us next time, as we find out what it is that Brighid wants to say to the man who killed her husband!

    Let me guess, she thanks him, because she never really cared about her husband, and she inexplicably takes off her armor to show off how sexy she is, and she bangs Atticus, because heaven forbid that this jerk face any consequences for his actions or take anything seriously. Is that about right?

  2. The Smith of Lie on 27 June 2019, 15:32 said:

    You know, there’s an argument that Atticus is meant to be an old-fashioned medieval trickster hero. Read some stories about Renard or Wayland the Smith, and they do some pretty terrible things, including murdering people to take their stuff, but it’s a-okay because they’re the protagonist and they’re flicking off those in power.

    I believe we moved a bit forward as a society since then. So while it might have been okey for Renard of Weyland the Smith it is a bad look for a modern protagonist. Unless of course the values dissonance is written as deliberate and reflects past attitudes properly as well as give context for that. Take one of my favourite examples, Harry Flashman. His views on race or gender are quite deplorable, but par for the course for a XIXth century British officer (heck, at times he can come off as progressive for the times). And we as the readers are never under impression that we should accept Flashman’s views as correct.

    Also, I don’t really know the stories you mention but trickster hero imples, as far as I understand the archetype, a) cleverness on ther part of the character; b) at least some amount of underdog status. The examples I know of (Loki and Coyote) don’t act from position of power, they need to use trickery. Hence the “trickster” part. Atticus… Not so much.

    Anyway, were you curious about the witches’ coven in The Iron Druid Chronicles? No? Tough toenails! He’s a chapter in which we delve more into that.

    Oh great. Go ahead, ruin my head canon about them actually being cool, having meetings, doing witchy stuff and avoiding Susan trying to gather the coven membership dues…

    It’s an odd way of introducing a character. Unless there’s some big reveal about Radomila’s character, like she’s a complete badass or she’s a joke

    Radomila does not exist. She was made up by witches of the coven as their leader, shrouded in mystery and powerful. They keep spinning tales about her, setting up her supposed deeds and achievements and making her into the shadowy figure manipulating events from behind. And when she needs to show up some other withc uses glamour to pretend to be the legendary Radomila. Which is how she has been known to be present at multiple different palces at the same time!

    Nonverbal signals are so powerful at times that I wonder at our need to speak.

    This coming from Atticus and recipient being a hot blonde I am afraid to ask what kind of nonverbal signal he is sending and what body part is the transmitter…

    Without looking at her aura, I already knew that Malina was classy where Emily was not; far more mature, intelligent, and powerful; and was reluctant to give offense where Emily could not wait to give it.And I also knew she was more dangerous by several orders of magnitude.

    Wheew. He wasn’t sending, he was recieving.

    Also, what a nice excuse for our main character to be judgmental asshole. He couldn’t even say something nice about someone (Malina) without tearing someone else (Emilya) down…

    Or, in other terms, because she’s harsh to the character who is mean to the protagonist, she’s meant to be more likable.

    Ah, of course. Am I the only one who is getting flashbacks to Inqusitor in Mortal Instruments right now?

    So Malina, speaking with a Polish accent

    Fun little aside. If she is indeed Polish or has Polish roots then her name “Malina” means “Raspberry” and it isn’t really a popular name, quite contrary – it is incredibly rare (I never met any Malina and had to google to see if there are any celebrity ones).

    FIRST: This… doesn’t read like a strong Polish accent.

    Ok, this might be weird coming from me, but how would you transcribe Polish accent? I have never seen a rendering of someone speaking English with Polish accent in a written form and while Scottish, Irish or even Russian as well as German and French accents have their stereotypical variants I must admit I have no idea how a thick Polish accent would look written down (despite speaking with it whenever I speak English…).

    SECOND: So there’s some argument, but consensus among scholars seems to be that there aren’t three Zoryas. […]

    Thinb about Slavic mythology is that, as far as I am aware, the reliable sources are few and far between. More is actually known about the stuff from further east, but back when the Slavic territories were being christianized no one really bothered to write down the pagan myths.

    But I must admit that I have never dug too deeply, so I am not going to pass judgment on Hearne’s interpretation. Just wanted to make a point that what we know about old Slavic religions is at times rather speculative.

    Malina’s a witch, and therefore not to be trusted.

    Why? I don’t remember witches as a whole doing anything to be branded as untrustworthy and even his dealings with Emilya were not really all that above the board on Atticus’s part.

    And his previous deal with coven, for the spell to camouflage the sword, seemed to have been pretty solid. So what is his deal?

    Yeah, so I get that this is a New Age shop, and so of course Potheads are going to show up.

    Ok, this might be a cultural barrier thing, but is there really such an overlap between new age-y crowd and marijuana users? I mean the stereotype of a stoner does not gel well with what I consider “esotheric” crowd.

    But you wouldn’t assume that there was a secret magic world out there because you heard two strangers talking.

    Hehe… Of course. And you’d certainly wouldn’t try to follow them afterwards to find out more about that secret magic world. Nope. Only some creepy weirdo would do stuff like that. Heh.

    Emilya’s backstory is that she was ALMOST RAPED BY NAZIS HOLY FATHER FRANCIS WHAT THE FUDGE IS THIS?!?

    I think Francis wasn’t with Nazis.

    But bad joke aside, we’ve hit a pretty much new low. I mean having a character be a metaphorical (and literal, given the whole spell reflection scene) punching bag for your protagonist is in bad taste already. Now giving that character a traumatic and sympatheric background? I don’t think you can make your character more of an asshat if you tried…

    There are very few places you’ll find with no cultural ties to religious figures at all. Antarctica might be one,

    Elder Things, Shoggoths and Star Spawn of Chthulhu have Antarctica covered.

    Which basically means ‘yes’ and she knows it, and follows with asking if he has the sword Aenghus believes is his, and Atticus replies in the affirmative. And then she asks if it’s on the premises, and he confirms that it is.

    Well for someone who just claimed witches are not to be trusted, he is giving her some sensitive information without much hesitation or dissembling. I guess it’s his famous paranoia at work.

    So, uh, that ages this book significantly.

    [The bit about Zoryas and actual research into Slavic mythology]

    You know, I don’t mind people putting their own twist on mythology and folk lore. But the condition is that they do something cool with it. Mignola took a lot of liberties with myths and legends that appeared in Hellboy. But hell, he gave them a very unique and interesting spin.

    Grabbing something from a different book and repackaging it in the most generic way? Hard no.

    Isn’t Atticus so clever? WHY AREN’T YOU LAUGHING???

    Because I am oscilating between wanting to murder Atticus in the most painful way imaginable and wish for someone to take me out of my misery?

    No really, she just flies in, and everyone just leaves

    Makes it easy!

    I jumped up and down and swore violently in seventeen languages.

    Why? This is completely inconsistant with the blase and annoyingly passive way he behaved this whole time. Why is Brighid for some reason more of a problem than Bres or Aenghus himself?

    “leaving a tall, majestic, fully armored goddess in its place. It was Brighid, goddess of poetry, fire and the forge.”

    Oh, so now Atticus is not going to make any jokes about the armor?

    I’d care if it wasn’t abundantly clear by this point that Atticus will never face the consequences of his actions.

    I’d care if I wasn’t hoping for Atticus to meet a comeuppance so terrible that for thousand generations the very mention of his name would inspire dread and nightmares due to how horrific his end was.

    Man can dream.

    Join us next time, as we find out what it is that Brighid wants to say to the man who killed her husband!

    Eh, knowing Hearne I am almost half expecting it to be something along the lines “Good job, well performed task, gold star! He deserved it for how stupid his armor was. And now take me, here and now, for my lust for you is beyond control!”

    Except from what you said I gather it isn’t quite as bad…

    [Aikaterini] Actually, I’d prefer this over authors trying to transcribe an accent in dialogue, because when authors go overboard, it becomes extremely frustrating and difficult to read. One example of this is all of those 18th century and 19th century British novels where authors write paragraphs upon paragraphs of people with Yorkshire accents talking. After the tenth misspelling and contraction of a word, it just gets wearisome. In fact, I remember seeing comments by some Harry Potter fans who grew sick of reading Hagrid’s dialogue. Also, there’s always someone who will find the dialogue to be stereotypical and therefore insulting.

    I whole heartedly agree. Most of the time those “funetik akcents” are just an annoyance to read through.

    But I can agree that inconsistant use of it smacks of laziness.

  3. Juracan on 28 June 2019, 22:14 said:

    Actually, I’d prefer this over authors trying to transcribe an accent in dialogue, because when authors go overboard, it becomes extremely frustrating and difficult to read. One example of this is all of those 18th century and 19th century British novels where authors write paragraphs upon paragraphs of people with Yorkshire accents talking.

    I whole heartedly agree. Most of the time those “funetik akcents” are just an annoyance to read through.

    Oh for sure. I never much liked it myself. But my point was more that it was inconsistent with the Leprechaun neighbor, who has an accent so obvious it’d be laughable if it weren’t so annoying to read.

    And he never shows up again, right? So, what was the point of this?

    It’s a joke, I think?

    This is the same thing that happened to Rosalie in “Eclipse.” During the whole “Twilight” series, Stephenie Meyer was constantly making Rosalie out to be this shallow, mean beauty queen who was jealous of Bella and so on and so forth. Then all of a sudden in “Eclipse,” Meyer says, “Hey, you know that mean Barbie girl whom Edward calls shallow and skin-deep? Turns out that her backstory is that she was gang-raped by her fiancé and his buddies! But don’t worry, readers, she’s still the dumb blonde who’s SO shallow and whom Edward was SO right to turn his nose at and whom I’m going to subject to ten rounds of dumb blonde jokes in ‘Breaking Dawn’ because I have zero awareness of what I’m doing!”

    If you ever read the Twlight Sporkings on Das_Sporking, an interesting theory that Mervin puts forth is that Rosalie is given a different personality for each book of the series. And Eclipse kind of shows that with giving her an interesting backstory despite her being the shallow Scary Sue for most of the series.

    Also I’ve seen a bunch of people (Brad Jones comes to mind) suggest that Rosalie’s story is essentially Kill Bill with vampires, which is much better as a story than Twilight ever turned out to be. Likewise, Malina and Emilya’s story sounds much more interesting and sympathetic than anything Atticus has ever done.

    Also, how many people want to bet that if Emilya had been a man, the backstory would’ve been different? That instead of saving Male!Emilya from rape, Malina had saved him from getting killed by the Nazis or had smuggled him out of Poland or anything other than rape? Because I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Hearne thought up Emilya’s backstory in two seconds: “Hmm, what’s a bad situation that Malina could’ve saved my female character from? Oh, I know, rape! That happens to women, right?”

    Probs. It’s rather frustrating to see authors who need to come up with a tragic backstory for a female character, and they always land on rape. Or attempted rape. I’m not saying rape can’t be in fiction, but it’s alarmingly prevalent as a backstory to give baggage to female characters without actually caring about making it part of the story. It’s just treated as ‘that bad thing that happened. But only to female characters.’

    Dear Lord, this is like Jace and his unbearable ‘repartee.’

    Huh, it is, isn’t it?

    Let me guess, she thanks him, because she never really cared about her husband, and she inexplicably takes off her armor to show off how sexy she is, and she bangs Atticus, because heaven forbid that this jerk face any consequences for his actions or take anything seriously. Is that about right?

    Well she doesn’t have sex with him.

    I believe we moved a bit forward as a society since then. So while it might have been okey for Renard of Weyland the Smith it is a bad look for a modern protagonist. Unless of course the values dissonance is written as deliberate and reflects past attitudes properly as well as give context for that. Take one of my favourite examples, Harry Flashman. His views on race or gender are quite deplorable, but par for the course for a XIXth century British officer (heck, at times he can come off as progressive for the times). And we as the readers are never under impression that we should accept Flashman’s views as correct.

    I thought about this too. Because we tend to look at mythological and folklore figures and say that they’re all massive jerks, but by the standards of the time they were just fine. And again, I would have liked it if Atticus, over the course of the story, has to realize that his values don’t fit in with the way people think these days. And he’d have to adjust.

    Also, I don’t really know the stories you mention but trickster hero imples, as far as I understand the archetype, a) cleverness on ther part of the character; b) at least some amount of underdog status. The examples I know of (Loki and Coyote) don’t act from position of power, they need to use trickery. Hence the “trickster” part. Atticus… Not so much.

    True dat, but there are also a lot of trickster stories that only work when the antagonists the trickster faces are… well, dumb as rocks. But you’re right, even by those standards, Atticus isn’t very smart. We’ve documented how much he just doesn’t seem to care about what’s going on around him, for instance.

    Oh great. Go ahead, ruin my head canon about them actually being cool, having meetings, doing witchy stuff and avoiding Susan trying to gather the coven membership dues…

    Feel free to headcanon that about covens other than this one in-universe, if it makes you feel better?

    Radomila does not exist. She was made up by witches of the coven as their leader, shrouded in mystery and powerful. They keep spinning tales about her, setting up her supposed deeds and achievements and making her into the shadowy figure manipulating events from behind. And when she needs to show up some other withc uses glamour to pretend to be the legendary Radomila. Which is how she has been known to be present at multiple different palces at the same time!

    See if I didn’t already know how this book went I’d go with this.

    Ok, this might be weird coming from me, but how would you transcribe Polish accent? I have never seen a rendering of someone speaking English with Polish accent in a written form and while Scottish, Irish or even Russian as well as German and French accents have their stereotypical variants I must admit I have no idea how a thick Polish accent would look written down (despite speaking with it whenever I speak English…).

    I… don’t know. But I have seen it done, many many years ago now. Someone in my writing workshop when I was in undergrad, who was Polish-American, wrote a story in which all the characters spoke like Poles who didn’t have English as their first language. Thing was, the story was set in Poland and all the characters were presumably speaking Polish. So we told said writer that it was probably better to remove the written accents since there wasn’t much reason to convey it.

    For the purposes of this comment, I tried Googling ‘How to do a Polish accent’ but then I stumbled upon some argument on how to do it so I just skipped it.

    And his previous deal with coven, for the spell to camouflage the sword, seemed to have been pretty solid. So what is his deal?

    They’re not as powerful, cool or sexy as Druids.

    Ok, this might be a cultural barrier thing, but is there really such an overlap between new age-y crowd and marijuana users? I mean the stereotype of a stoner does not gel well with what I consider “esotheric” crowd.

    Kind of, yeah? The stereotype of people who want to ‘Open their minds’ to ‘Enter new worlds’ is often lumped in with people who take drugs. A lot of the writers in the English-speaking world who believe in esoterica tend to be people who either write about drug use and/or use it themselves. Alan Moore, for instance, is super into occultism in his fiction, and has a thing about characters taking drugs to somehow learn the truth of what’s going on. And a couple years back I did a paper on Victorian occultism and there was a group who claimed that they went to other planets while in a trance that sounds suspiciously like a drug trip.

    Also I suppose this isn’t the English-speaking world, but Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco is about the occult scene, and at the end it’s left ambiguous as to whether there was anything supernatural or if it was just weird drugs.

    In short: yes. Plenty of people in the esoteric crowd are also into drugs, although marijuana is probably more tame than what is stereotypically used.

    Hehe… Of course. And you’d certainly wouldn’t try to follow them afterwards to find out more about that secret magic world. Nope. Only some creepy weirdo would do stuff like that. Heh.

    That’s pretty weird, Smith. I wouldn’t call you a creepy weirdo though, because for whatever reason I recently became convinced that you’re completely trustworthy. Can’t recall why…

    I don’t think you can make your character more of an asshat if you tried…

    Oh he will. Trust me.

    Well for someone who just claimed witches are not to be trusted, he is giving her some sensitive information without much hesitation or dissembling. I guess it’s his famous paranoia at work.

    Sort of. The reason he gives in-text is that since she honestly answered his questions, he has to answer hers with the truth. But there’s nothing compelling him, and even when he says he’s trying to be truthful but not telling the complete truth, he’s still really, really informative. He doesn’t mislead her at all. For instance, when she asks if he has Aenghus’s sword, he replies that it’s not Aenghus’s and then he acts as if this was a clever misdirect when it still answers the question.

    You know, I don’t mind people putting their own twist on mythology and folk lore. But the condition is that they do something cool with it. Mignola took a lot of liberties with myths and legends that appeared in Hellboy. But hell, he gave them a very unique and interesting spin.

    Grabbing something from a different book and repackaging it in the most generic way? Hard no.

    Basically, yeah. I would have given him more of a pass on the Zorya thing if it weren’t for this. He copied and pasted a character name and assumed it was the real deal, instead of doing any work on his own.

    Because I am oscilating between wanting to murder Atticus in the most painful way imaginable and wish for someone to take me out of my misery?

    Same, man. Same.

    Makes it easy!

    Motto for this book.

    Why? This is completely inconsistant with the blase and annoyingly passive way he behaved this whole time. Why is Brighid for some reason more of a problem than Bres or Aenghus himself?

    In theory, because she’s the queen of the pantheon, and Atticus doesn’t actually see her as an enemy. But her husband was? Look it’s unclear. Basically to make this entrance sound as dramatic as possible without doing any actual work.

    Oh, so now Atticus is not going to make any jokes about the armor?

    I had some sort of canon explanation, but basically, it’s because Brighid is hot and Bres is not.

    Eh, knowing Hearne I am almost half expecting it to be something along the lines “Good job, well performed task, gold star! He deserved it for how stupid his armor was. And now take me, here and now, for my lust for you is beyond control!”

    Nah man, she doesn’t fully proposition him until book two.

  4. The Smith of Lie on 29 June 2019, 01:26 said:

    I thought about this too. Because we tend to look at mythological and folklore figures and say that they’re all massive jerks, but by the standards of the time they were just fine. And again, I would have liked it if Atticus, over the course of the story, has to realize that his values don’t fit in with the way people think these days. And he’d have to adjust.

    I wouldn’t even have much problem with it if Atticus acknowledged that the world has moved past what was the standards in his times, but he does not care. He displays all of the dated attitudes, that’d make him a villain when judged with modern standards, but at the same time pays lip service to how he is well adapted and how Morrigan and the rest of supernatural crowd are stuck in the iron age.

    I said it once and I’ll say it again – I’d find Atticus much more likeable if he was an unrepentanant villain. At least that’d be honest. And following bad people’s misadventures can be quiote fun when done well cough Flashman cough.

    True dat, but there are also a lot of trickster stories that only work when the antagonists the trickster faces are… well, dumb as rocks. But you’re right, even by those standards, Atticus isn’t very smart. We’ve documented how much he just doesn’t seem to care about what’s going on around him, for instance.

    Not only he does not care. In pretty much every encounter we have seen him, he was the strongest party. Yes, the giants that fell for Thor in drag were dumb as rocks, but at least Thor didn’t have a luxury of effortlessly slaughtering them as well as being able to outsmart them.

    Atticus on the other hand? Not so much. Also, whenever we seem him try his hand at “deception” and what passes as “subtlety” the characters need to go below “dumb as rocks” and fall to at least the intellectual level of particularly smart politician in order for any of his attempts to work…

    I wouldn’t call you a creepy weirdo though, because for whatever reason I recently became convinced that you’re completely trustworthy. Can’t recall why…

    Must be my witty comments and winning personality.

    Sort of. The reason he gives in-text is that since she honestly answered his questions, he has to answer hers with the truth. But there’s nothing compelling him, and even when he says he’s trying to be truthful but not telling the complete truth, he’s still really, really informative. He doesn’t mislead her at all. For instance, when she asks if he has Aenghus’s sword, he replies that it’s not Aenghus’s and then he acts as if this was a clever misdirect when it still answers the question.

    Now see, if Atticus actually believed that Aenghus has no rights to the sword then a perfectly valid and honest answer would be “Nope, don’t have Aenghus’s sword.”

    That’d be a perfect example of deception through telling what is technically true. Of course anyone with two brain cells to rub (so, not Atticus) would understand which sword she means, but being purposefully obtuse is a valid deceptive tactic.

    In theory, because she’s the queen of the pantheon, and Atticus doesn’t actually see her as an enemy. But her husband was? Look it’s unclear. Basically to make this entrance sound as dramatic as possible without doing any actual work.

    This actually underlines how stupid Atticus is. His reaction to Brighid maybe having beef with him being meant to show, that she means business and might trouble him (lets pretend that we believe that blatant falsehood) contrasts terribly with casual way he went about killing Bres. If we are meant to take this seriously, Atticus should have given it at least a passing thought before he slaughtered him. But he brushed it off when Morrigan mentioned possibility. So now he doesn’t get to press the drama button.

    I had some sort of canon explanation, but basically, it’s because Brighid is hot and Bres is not.

    Ok, new head canon. The allegedly ugly armor Bres wore? It was a perfectly practical, battle-worn armor that would not raise an eyebrow from anyone who has any idea about medieval weaponry. But it was not ornamental nor it had any of the fantasy elements of “cool armor”, so Atticus being dumbass scoffed at it. Brighid probably showed in what passes for metal bikini so Atticus, being a barely controlled horndog, has no issues with it.

    Nah man, she doesn’t fully proposition him until book two.

    I’d like to say I am surprised or disappointed. But that’d require me having any sorts of expectations.

  5. Juracan on 29 June 2019, 10:24 said:

    I said it once and I’ll say it again – I’d find Atticus much more likeable if he was an unrepentanant villain. At least that’d be honest.

    But sadly, he’s meant to be the hero. For ReAsONS.

    Atticus on the other hand? Not so much. Also, whenever we seem him try his hand at “deception” and what passes as “subtlety” the characters need to go below “dumb as rocks” and fall to at least the intellectual level of particularly smart politician in order for any of his attempts to work…

    Yeah he’s kind of a moron. And Hearne tries to excuse the other characters being outwitted by him with really dumb reasons, like that Flidais doesn’t understand DNA or how electricity works, when they’re not really that complicated of a concept to understand the basics of.

    Pro-tip for writers: if the only way your protagonist can come across as smart is by making all the characters surrounding him unbelievably stupid, then your protagonist was never smart to begin with.

    Now see, if Atticus actually believed that Aenghus has no rights to the sword then a perfectly valid and honest answer would be “Nope, don’t have Aenghus’s sword.”

    That’d be a perfect example of deception through telling what is technically true. Of course anyone with two brain cells to rub (so, not Atticus) would understand which sword she means, but being purposefully obtuse is a valid deceptive tactic.

    Precisely. Even if the answer he does give in the book doesn’t necessarily say that he has it, it implies it and the very next answer he gives confirms it. If he’d just responded with the answer you suggested, then it would have created more doubt in Malina’s mind.

    This actually underlines how stupid Atticus is. His reaction to Brighid maybe having beef with him being meant to show, that she means business and might trouble him (lets pretend that we believe that blatant falsehood) contrasts terribly with casual way he went about killing Bres. If we are meant to take this seriously, Atticus should have given it at least a passing thought before he slaughtered him. But he brushed it off when Morrigan mentioned possibility. So now he doesn’t get to press the drama button.

    It’s false drama, really. He gets to act like he’s scared for not even five minutes, to convey to the reader that this is a big deal even though by now we know it’s not—we’re not far enough in the book, and it’s not like Hearne’s going to kill the protagonist, or even do anything to remotely inconvenience him.

    But giving a passing thought to the consequences of killing the husband of the queen of the Tuatha De Danaan? Don’t be silly Smith, when has Atticus ever given a thought to killing people who were in his way? Asking him to do that is ridiculous! Whenever he kills someone, it’s always just because he feels like it without any regard to consequences. He just started killing people willy-nilly the second he got that magic sword, remember?

    So now he doesn’t get to press the drama button.

    Fixed it with a link.

    Ok, new head canon. The allegedly ugly armor Bres wore? It was a perfectly practical, battle-worn armor that would not raise an eyebrow from anyone who has any idea about medieval weaponry. But it was not ornamental nor it had any of the fantasy elements of “cool armor”, so Atticus being dumbass scoffed at it. Brighid probably showed in what passes for metal bikini so Atticus, being a barely controlled horndog, has no issues with it.

    To be fair, there is actually a canon explanation for the armor Bres wears being “ugly”, and we may get it in the next chapter (I have to check), but how Atticus reacts to it is pretty over-the-top stupid.

    Also, this headcanon is entirely in-character for him. So I’ll accept it for now.

    I’d like to say I am surprised or disappointed. But that’d require me having any sorts of expectations.

    Yah, that’s fair. And it’s not like she’s the only goddess who propositions him in book two.