I’m guessing you guys are probably tired of this book sporking, considering that the amount of comments on the last chapter was [checks] zero. I get it; this sporking became pretty repetitive over time. But I did say I was going to finish this book, and I feel like I should at least try to do that before disappearing into the ether. Maybe nobody’s reading it, but at least it’ll be out there and I’ll feel some sense of inner peace.

So last time, Granuaile’s possessed by an Indian witch named Laksha and she wants to be a Druid! At the end of Chapter 19 the witch takes over Granny’s body to talk to Atticus. The chapter opens with Atticus asking Laksha to drop an info-dump about her backstory, and she is happy to oblige!

She was born in 1277 in Madurai and she met Marco Polo when she was sixteen years old and happened to be passing through the area. She decided she also wanted to know more about the world, so when she got married, she made deals with demons while her husband was away.

No really.

“I married a Brahmin and played the dutiful wife while he was at home. While he was away, I played with the demon kingdom. I saw no other way for a woman in a caste system to free herself from that system.

Hearne? There are ways to do sympathetic backstories, and this ain’t it.

I don’t know enough about the Indian caste system to really do a full analysis, but given the level of research Hearne’s done so far, I doubt he has either. Stereotypically, the Brahmin caste is pretty high up, if not the highest caste in the system. So basically, Hearne’s had this character say to the audience, “I’m from the most privileged background a person from my time and place could have been, and it wasn’t enough so I cut deals with demons.”

And here’s the thing: there were movements by people in the Brahmin caste to try and make social reform accept people despite their caste or gender. Some of them lived in Laksha’s time! I figured this out from five minutes on the Wikipedia page! And you’re telling me that Laksha decided that the only way she couldn’t be a housewife was through becoming BFFs with demons?

I suppose this might have been on purpose, and that Hearne is trying to portray a witch as a terrible person and for once succeeding, but it’s a bit weird, yeah? We have one witch that was almost raped by Nazis, and another that sold her soul to demons, and… the one almost raped by Nazis is the skank ho, while the one who sold her soul with no regrets is the helpful witch that helps our hero? Doesn’t that feel like it should be switched? And yes, Atticus seems uncomfortable around Laksha and her magic, but the character’s treated like an anti-hero. It’s not bad mind you, because Laksha explains that she’s trying to become a better person, but this level of sympathy isn’t given to someone whose backstory is that she was almost raped by actual Nazis.

More to the point though, this exposition is really, really boring. Laksha tells a quick bio of herself. She tells how she learned from a vetala how to live indefinitely by moving her soul from one body to another. She asks Atticus if he knows what a vetala is, and he says he does and asks how she ended up in a necklace on the ocean floor, and she tells him that in 1850 she took a boat from China to the US, paying for it by sleeping with the captain, but then the ship wrecked and a guy one of the lifeboats tried to mug her so she jumped in the necklace after she got stabbed and sank to the bottom of the ocean. She explains when Atticus asks that the necklace in question is a very powerful magical item crafted by a demon and that she can’t replace it. Then she explains that she can take any body she wants, but she would prefer not to steal an innocent’s body because she is actually trying to become a better person.

I remember when I did a writing workshop in college, we were warned against infodumps, and I think some classmates took that lesson too much to heart because they labelled any exposition at all as an infodump. But this? This is a textbook infodump. It’s just one character telling us a bunch of backstory, occasionally interrupted by questions. It’s dull to read, especially because we’re getting pretty close to the end, and the book promised us that the protagonist was going to start actively trying to take the fight to Aenghus Og. But that’s not happening; instead he’s sitting in the bar talking to a hawt bartender and the witch in her head.

And there are ways to make infodumps not feel tedious! Think about the end of a lot of the Harry Potter books, where someone sits down and explains what’s going on. That’s an infodump, sure, but there were a lot of mysteries in the Plot, so you don’t feel bored as much as excited to finally find out what’s happening. Not so here—Granny’s deal was barely a footnote in the story, but now it’s taking up two entire chapters and some change to get payoff on something we never really cared that much about to begin with. Imagine if near the end of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban there’s a couple of meaty chapters explaining the origin of the Herbology department and the history of magical botany. Who cares? Not me.

We also get bulshimflarkus like this:

All this time the Scary Witch-O-Meter had been traveling further and further into the red. The phrase crafted by a demon sent it all the way over to the right so that the arrow was pointing only a degree or two above the x axis.

Yes, her amulet/necklace was made by a demon. And that’s not great! But you know what, Atticus? You’re lawyer is an actual serial-killing vampire and by many cultural standards, that counts as a demon! Even Buffy the Vampire Slayer got that right. And while she’s not technically a demon, you also pal around with the Morrigan, the Irish goddess of war and violent death. And you’re planning on giving her the knowledge to craft an amulet like yours, so that she can kill magical beings by touching them, in exchange for immortality. That’s not a deal with a demon, but it sounds pretty close, doesn’t it?

There’s also this bit where Atticus asks what happens to the souls of people when Laksha takes over their bodies, and Laksha admits she doesn’t know. Which, considering she’s been doing this for, like, seven hundred years, is kind of silly. But for all she knows, they’re dead and passed on to the next reincarnation (because she’s nominally Hindu, I guess). Atticus is all disgusted by this, as if he doesn’t kill people or let people die all the time. Do I need to pull out the list again? This doesn’t work, Hearne! You can’t say that Atticus is cool when he kills his allies or innocent people, and then turn around and say it’s not okay with Laksha does it! Pick a stance and stick with it!

After reaffirming that she wants to help, Laksha explains that Granny’s plan to get her a new body was to go to the hospital and find a coma patient; or as they put it “Bodies that are still alive but whose spirits have already left them.” Okay, I guess?

And then Atticus says he’ll agree to help, but only if Laksha does something for him. She says she’s already agreed to kill Radomila for him, but Atticus insists that doesn’t count, because she already wanted to kill Radomila, so it’s not really a favor? That’s pretty stupid reasoning, and Laksha should tell him to shove it, but because “Make it easy!” is this book’s motto she agrees, and the task Atticus gives her is to remove the cloaking spell Radomila put on the magic sword. She agrees to this.

Atticus gives another condition: that when she gets her new body and her necklace, Laksha has to move the fudge away (his words are “east of the Mississippi”) and never come back without telling him. He basically says that he thinks it’s possible that she’s going to be doing weird deals with demons again and that’ll lead to trouble, so he’d rather it not be his problem. Because that’s what makes a good hero, right? One who’s all too happy to make it someone else’s problem?

Laksha agrees to this too, and then retreats and Granny takes her body back. She goes off to deal with the actual customers, “when Gunnar Magnusson, alpha male of the Tempe Pack, came barging into Rula Bula with most of his werewolves behind him”—waitwaitwait, Gunnar? Who the fudge is this guy? You’re telling me Hal’s not in charge? Hearne, what are you doing introducing the leader of a major faction this far into the book? Considering how important the Pack is to the Plot, you’d think Hearne wouldn’t have saved him until right as he’s Plot Relevant to introduce him.

Welp turns out that Hal, Atticus’s werewolf lawyer, has gotten dognapped! As did Oberon, I guess. Atticus checks his phone, and there’s a text from Emilya saying she’s taken Hal and Oberon and that she wants the sword, or they’ll die. And so the chapter ends with Atticus being angry, and that “Gods Below, I hate witches.”

This is such stupid plotting! Chapter 17 ends with Atticus swearing that he’s going to go on the offensive, that he’s going to make an active effort to go after Aenghus before he goes after his friends. And it’s not that Atticus fails to live up to that promise; to paraphrase George Washington, the damned poultroon didn’t even try it! After that oath he just goes to his favorite bar, and essentially gets caught up talking to the hawt bartender that he doesn’t realize one of his friends and his dog has gotten kidnapped. And this is what kicks off the buildup to the final showdown. So that proclamation that he’s going to take this all seriously? Completely pointless!

Wow, that chapter was short, so I guess we’re on to Chapter 21!

So Atticus shows the text to Magnusson. Instead of telling the others in the Pack who are there with him, “he communicated the message to them through their mental link.”

[lowers book] I’m sorry, what? Werewolves are telepathic? Since WHEN? I don’t read/watch a lot of werewolf fiction, so maybe this is something that Hearne picked up from pop culture and I had no idea. If this has been brought up before, it hasn’t been highlighted, and that’s weird considering we have seen different members of the Pack interact with Atticus. If they’re all telepathically connected, we should know this, and it should have been more relevant before instead of only being brought up as it’s important to the Plot.

Because it is important to the Plot, in that they’re going to use it to find where Hal’s been taken. Magnusson explains that Hal was knocked out when he was taken, and now he’s blindfolded, so they can’t discover where he is, but if Atticus calls then maybe they’ll get some hints. Atticus requests that they all stay quiet while he calls, so that Emilya doesn’t know they’re listening.

Atticus calls and Emilya’s all like, “It took you long enough,” and this is ridiculous? Atticus was talking to Hal two chapters ago, right before this conversation with Granny. That means that at most, it was like, what, an hour ago? And Emilya’s acting like it’s been hours, and implying that he doesn’t care that much about his dog, when the message about Hal and Oberon was probably sent twenty minutes ago. That’s not that long of a time for him not to respond to a text.

Before going further, Atticus demands proof that the captives are still alive. Emilya puts the phone to Hal, who of course uses the opportunity to pass information. He says that he’s in the woods somewhere, and that they’re tied to trees with silver chains. Emilya takes the phone back and says that they’re in “the eastern Superstition Mountains” and that he’s to meet them at “Tony Cabin” with the sword so that they trade them.

Of course, Atticus loses his cool and threatens Emilya, who doesn’t care and points out that she’s got Aenghus Og as an ally. Atticus, having no restraint, barks back that Aenghus hasn’t killed him in two thousand years of trying, what makes her think she’s got a chance?

“Two thousand years?” Emily said.

“Two thousand years?” Magnusson said.

Whoops! This is why I don’t like to get angry. It makes you reveal things you would rather keep secret.

Oh, right. Yeah. There’s that whole thing where the werewolves don’t actually know how old he is. I don’t get why this is a big deal? Did Aenghus Og not tell the witches how long their feud has been going on? It’s just a fun fact that Atticus kept secret from his friends and enemies for no reason.

Also, Atticus doesn’t like getting angry? Which is weird for a guy who is constantly going around provoking everyone he can.

Atticus hangs up, and Magnusson, with his super werewolf hearing heard the entire conversation. He insists that Atticus is not going out there by himself. With their werewolf telepathy, they were able to see some of the coven when they pulled the bag off of Hal’s head. Because apparently, with this telepathy, they can see through each other’s eyes, and also smell through each other’s noses! Magnusson asks what was up with the swan smell, and Atticus explains that it was probably Aenghus Og, as the swan is one of his animal forms. For once, Atticus acts like this is a fight he might actually have trouble with, but he hopes that bringing Laksha will give them an edge.

So he calls over Granny and says that he will accept her as an apprentice, and that she must quit immediately. Like, right this second.

“Okay,” she said, beaming as she jogged back to the kitchen entrance to slap open the swinging door. “Hey, Liam! I quit!” Then she vaulted herself onto the bar, swung her legs around, and hopped off between a couple of stools.

“Attagirl,” and elderly gentleman said, raising his pint in salute.

We left the place en masse before Liam, whoever he was, could properly register that he had just lost a damn fine bartender.

Where to start?

Well how about here: this would be a mildly amusing scene if I cared at all about these characters. Instead, Granny’s a character we barely know, and her yelling that she quits and bailing is just something that feels like it’s meant to be a joke, instead of a convenient fix to make her active in the Plot when she’s only really been a character for the past three chapters.

Also some random old guy is there and thinks that’s cool? Uh, okay? Is that supposed to be funny? ‘Cause it’s not. It’s just random. There’s Just Some Old Guy there, and he approves of her quitting.

And lastly: Atticus doesn’t know who Liam is? Dude, you’ve been going to this bar for years, you’re apparently a regular customer, and were constantly flirting with the bartender. But you didn’t even know the manager’s name? I guess if it’s not a hawt girl he just doesn’t care.

Anyhow, Atticus’s whole crew leaves the bar and drives to the Leprechaun’s house, because again he thinks the police are watching his house, so it’ll be perfectly safe to instead go to his favorite neighbor’s house and no one will notice. He has them working on the yard so that he can still help the Leprechaun with yard work even while he’s busy with the Plot.

While the widow was happily occupied admiring impossibly fit men and women grooming her landscape

Oh right, we need a reminder that everyone in this book is a horndog. And I don’t know about you, but if when one of my neighbors has a bunch of people working on the yard, I’d notice. The cops watching Atticus’s house would also notice this, and probably notice that these guys aren’t professionals by their lack of equipment. This should send up a million red flags.

Atticus tells Granny that Laksha needs to remove the cloaking spell on the magic sword. Then he tells Magnusson to keep an eye on Laksha, because he’s “paranoid.” He’s not, but that’s what he says, and in this case it actually makes sense to have a trusted ally watch the witch he just met and doesn’t fully trust.

Because he wants to get Radomila’s blood sample from his house, but his house is being watched, Atticus turns into an owl and flies to his backyard. He confirms that the cops are indeed sitting in front of his house to watch. He gets the blood sample, and then goes back to the Leprechaun’s house.

While Laksha continues working on the cloaking spell, Atticus infodumps to Magnusson for a bit. It’s boring. He explains that he wants the cloak off of the sword because Radomila’s found a way to weaponize it when Fagles could see it, so maybe she could turn it against him or something.

Atticus also mentions that while having the Pack will definitely be an advantage, the witches would be stupid not to expect it, so there will be silver weapons. This makes Magnusson mad, I guess? And also the other werewolves, some of whom change. And hey, remember they’re working on the front yard of the Leprechaun’s house? While the Leprechaun’s watching? Welp, Atticus decides that it’s high time he had a talk with the Leprechaun.

“Can she be trusted?”

“Absolutely,” I replied. “Two days ago she watched me kill someone, and she offered me her backyard as a place to hide the body.”

“Truly?” Magnusson raised his eyebrows in surprise. “That’s a fine woman.”

No, that’s an unhinged woman. And if you recall, she only agreed to help you cover up the murder when you lied to her about who Bres was. If you have to lie to someone in order for her to help you, that’s not trustworthy. Besides, the woman is downright homicidal when it comes to English people. The Leprechaun isn’t some eccentric but wise old sage. She’s an insane woman with whipped crazy on top.

This is proven when Atticus goes to talk to the Leprechaun, who is more than a little freaked out that a bunch of people turned into wolves right in front of her. When Atticus tells her that it’s okay, she first asks if that means they’re Irish. Atticus replies that they’re Icelandic, and she asks if Iceland was a British colony. Atticus has to tell her more than once that they’re not British.

So Atticus sits her down and has the Talk. No, not that one. The one where he reveals that the world is actually magic and there are gods and monsters and stuff walking around and that he’s a Druid.

“All of it’s real, then? There’s no make-believe?”

“There’s plenty of make-believe in the details. This vampire I know actually likes garlic quite a bit. And werewolves, as you just saw, can change anytime, though they do try to confine it to the full moons when they have to change, because it’s a pretty painful transformation.”

Okay, cool, I guess, but this doesn’t change that Hearne hasn’t really done anything new with his vampires and werewolves, except maybe the telepathy thing which he pulled out of his butthole when it was Plot Relevant. Other than that, the vampires and werewolves fit pop culture perceptions, and not the actual myths that the pop cultural creatures are based off of.

Hearne’s werewolves are:

-A wolfpack that works on outdated notions of how wolves behave based entirely on animals in captivity.
-Weak to silver, something that’s not present in any werewolf stories before they became big in Hollywood.
-Hate vampires, because that’s what they always do in urban fantasy.

Hearne’s vampires:

-Can’t come out in the day, something invented by the film Nosferatu to have an ending without too much violence.
-Have super strength and speed, like they do in all pop culture fiction.
-Hate werewolves, because that’s what they always do in urban fantasy.

It’s like Hearne’s trying to insist that there’s creativity in his worldbuilding, and there just… isn’t. It’s almost all copied-and-pasted. That his vampires actually like garlic is the absolute bare minimum of originality. This wouldn’t necessarily be bad, even, but this story’s just so terribly done that it’s another thing that feels half-baked. This story could have been more interesting if the worldbuilding was cool at least, or if the Plot was good but the worldbuilding was cliched I wouldn’t have minded so much. But if both are barely thought-out, well… it’s just a weak book all-around.

And then we get this:

“So God really exists?”

“All the gods exist, or at least did exist at one time.”

“But I mean Jesus and Mary and all that lot.”

“Sure, they existed. Still do. Nice people.”

“And Lucifer?”

“I’ve never personally met him, but I have no doubt he’s around somewhere. Allah is doing his thing too, and so are Buddha and Shiva and the Morrigan and so on. The point is, Mrs. MacDonagh, that the universe is exactly the size that your soul can encompass. Some people live in extremely small worlds, and some live in a world of infinite possibility. You have just received some sensory input that suggests it’s bigger than you previously thought. What are you going to do with that information? Will you deny it or embrace it?”

I’ve alluded to my issues with the Gods Need Prayer Badly trope in this sporking before. But let’s talk about it in full, and why I think it hardly ever works:

It’s become increasingly popular in fantasy fiction to treat mythology this way: the gods exist because people believe in them. When belief in them wanes, then the gods get weaker, and if no one believes in them at all, then the gods die. This system was made popular by Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. The thing is, it worked in those stories under specific circumstances. The Discworld is a parody of fantasy, and a world that explicitly runs on magic. Likewise, the world of American Gods is the world of one-shot novel that’s meant to make a statement about human nature in general and American culture in particular: specifically, that we live in a culture that’s always trying to move on to the Next Big Thing and forget a lot of the important ideas that shaped the past. I’m condensing a lot in talking about those works, but you get my idea, right?

But here, it doesn’t fit at all. In this conversation, it seems like Atticus (and by extension, Kevin Hearne) is using this system to point out the idea that different people will have different experiences of the world. The small-minded, who aren’t open to other people’s beliefs, have a smaller world, whereas more open-minded people live in much larger worlds.

Here’s the thing: everyone lives in the same world. So whether you personally believe that there’s a Zeus, there is a Zeus because enough other people believed in a Zeus. So Atticus’s statement? Isn’t true. The world isn’t “exactly the size that your soul can encompass.” It’s the size that everyone had unconsciously decided it already is.

And again, that means that God is potentially a fake. Because if God exists because people believe in Him, then He’s not God! He’s a created being! Christianity, Islam, Judaism… heck, any religion, becomes a lie! So yeah, for someone who isn’t religious, this sounds warm and fuzzy, but for the Leprechaun, who is at least nominally Catholic, reciting a creed that declares God the Creator of Heaven and Earth every Sunday, this should be grabbing her worldview out from under her. Atticus is telling her that God only exists because He was made up! But we’re acting like this wouldn’t fundamentally change the way a believer thinks? That a religious person would just nod and be like, “Hmmm, okay, so that just means all religions are correct, right?” Because it doesn’t! It means that all religions are at best misunderstandings and at worse hollow lies! And if the characters acted like that, that’s fine. But instead by Atticus’s words and the Leprechaun’s reaction, this is supposed to be a heartwarming affirmation of everyone’s beliefs and the connectedness of humanity or… something. It’s not. You just told this woman her religion is a lie. Mind you, she’s not especially devout, but given how the next book goes we’re meant to believe this is a large part of her worldview.

And like, if reality is shaped by people’s beliefs, how the fudge does anything work? Are you telling me if that the Flat Earth Society ever gets enough members, then the Earth will actually be flat? Because if the world is shaped by people’s beliefs…then this, and a bunch of other stupid beliefs are just as valid, right? That’s what the ‘Everything Anyone Believes is True’ trope means, doesn’t it? So Flat Earth? Yup, it’s true. World run by Alien Lizard People? Also true. Elvis assassinated JFK? Get enough believers, and it will be true! And that’s only the relatively tame conspiracy theories. What about the beliefs of groups of violent extremist factions in the world? Because if reality is built on beliefs… well, those guys also have very strong beliefs about things.

How do scientific discoveries work? Like how did we discover that the Earth revolved around the Sun if everyone already believed that the Sun revolved around the Earth? Because if the universe conforms to what people believed, then there’s no way that anyone would have made a discovery of anything that wasn’t what people already believed. You can’t discover something that contradicts what everyone already believes, which means science would barely work at all!

To be fair to Hearne, it’s unclear how much of reality is shaped by belief in this universe. Is it just the gods/religious figures? Or is it like Sandman where it affects everything, like who is in charge of the world, how physics and geography work?

And again, this system can work, if it’s applied to a specific setting or if it’s done to make a point, like what Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman did. But that’s not what Hearne’s done here. Like with the vampires and werewolves, he’s lifted an idea wholesale from other authors and hastily taped it onto his own series, without any deep thoughts into how it doesn’t make any sense. And then he has his protagonist explain it to another character in a way that’s meant to be warm and fuzzy, and she just smiles and nods, when instead she should be acting like everything she thought she knew is falling apart in front of her.

[sigh]

Oh and because I’m in constant emotional pain I’m making you guys read the Leprechaun’s accent.

She grinned fondly. “Ah, me dear boy, how can I deny anything y’say? If ye haven’t killed me yet for seein’ more than I ought ter, I figger ye mus’ like me and ye wouldn’t steer an old widow wrong. And besides that, I saw those bloody werewolves with my own eyes.”

Wait, hang on, I need to do that thing TMary suggested:

She grinned Irishly. “Ah, me dear Irish boy, how can I deny anything y’say? If ye haven’t killed me yet for seein’ more than I Irishly ought ter, I figger ye mus’ like me Irishly and ye wouldn’t steer an old Irish widow wrong. And besides that, I saw those bloody werewolves with my own Irish eyes. I’m Irish!”

…you know, this actually doesn’t change that much, but it is a little easier to read.

Atticus affirms that he does like the widow, especially because she’s the kind of person who helps him hide a body, but, uh, again, the reason she did that was because he lied to her about who it was that he killed in the first place, using her only-then established trauma and prejudices. You can’t count someone as “the friend who helps you hide a body” if you have to lie to them to get them to hide the body!

Anyhow he tells her that he’s got to go save his dog and his friend, but if he survives then he’ll sit down and answer any questions she has about him being a Druid or the supernatural world or whatever.

The Leprechaun expresses some surprise at the idea that Atticus is actually in danger. I would too, if I actually thought he was in danger, and this wasn’t just more lying on the narrator/author’s part. Yes, this is going to be the final battle. But look at this! Atticus is only barely acting concerned about his own safety! He’s preparing for a fight, for once, but it isn’t as if he’s leaving behind notes in case he dies or anything like that. It’s just business as usual, but with more allies this time.

Gunnar strolls up with his wolf pack and Granny and holding Fragarach in his hand. The cloaking spell Radomila put on it is gone, and apparently it’s basically buzzing with magic. The chapter ends with Atticus declaring he’s going to stick the sword in Aenghus.

This sporking chapter got longer than I hoped. But at least we’re getting towards the end of the book? And it all feels very… rushed. We’re just now getting a handle on the world, on how werewolves work and how Druids work and yet now we’re running to the final battle? And now we’re going to meet the villain for the first time? It doesn’t feel right.

Furthermore, we were told by Atticus that now he was going to take a more active role in pursuing Aenghus Og and his minions. Except he hasn’t; what kicks off the final battle is the bad guys kidnapping his lawyer and dog while he wasn’t paying attention. This entire story is Atticus being passive and then reacting to whatever the villains throw at him. He never pursues any course of action that isn’t a reaction to what someone else is doing!

And this “final battle” doesn’t feel remotely final. We’re told that Atticus is concerned that he might die, but he doesn’t act like it. Sure, he makes more preparations than he has the entire book, but that’s not a high bar. This is supposedly the final confrontation with the god that has been chasing Atticus his entire life, and I don’t feel hyped. I feel confused.

Welp, that’s it for this time. If there is anyone out there reading this, pray that I make it through NaNoWriMo in one piece.

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Comment

  1. Aikaterini on 8 November 2019, 11:28 said:

    Stereotypically, the Brahmin caste is pretty high up, if not the highest caste in the system

    Maybe it would’ve made more senes if he said that Laksha used to be an Untouchable. Because, yes, this sounds more like Laksha was bored and stifled in the same way that a stereotypical 1950’s housewife might be.

    I mean, what did she find personally oppressive about the caste system? Was she married to the Brahmin against her will simply because he was a Brahmin and he turned out to be an abusive husband that she couldn’t leave? Was she in love with a person from a lower caste? Nothing is explained. The reader is just supposed to take it for granted that the caste system is awful for her and that’s why this woman is apparently justified in ‘playing with the demon kingdom.’

    this level of sympathy isn’t given to someone whose backstory is that she was almost raped by actual Nazis.

    I don’t think that Hearne had any actual awareness of what he was doing when he assigned that backstory to her. I think it was really just a matter of flipping the coin or pulling out a random generator or something. I mean, Laksha’s backstory may be minimal, but at least it portrays her as proactive. I don’t get what the point of the Nazi backstory was supposed to be.

    All this time the Scary Witch-O-Meter

    Yes, the ‘Scary Witch-O-Meter.’ That’s how I would expect an immortal who’s lived for hundreds of years to talk. Sure.

    Werewolves are telepathic?

    And Atticus isn’t a werewolf, so I guess that being able to tap into their mental link is one of his abilities as a Druid?

    Which is weird for a guy who is constantly going around provoking everyone he can

    No, it’s okay for other people to get angry so that Atticus can show how superior he is. Because he’s a jerk.

    instead of a convenient fix to make her active in the Plot

    Yes, the whole moment is a plot convenience. No need to give two weeks’ notice, no need to figure out how she’s going to pay the bills after she quits her job, no need to make sure that there are people who can pick up the slack. No, just quit on the spot to make Atticus’s life easier.

    No, that’s an unhinged woman.

    She’s a fine woman in their eyes because she’s helping them. If Aenghus Og murdered someone and the Leprechaun offered to let him use her yard to hide the body, Atticus and Magnusson would denounce her for being an accomplice to murder.

    Atticus replies that they’re Icelandic, and she asks if Iceland was a British colony

    Uh, yeah, you know what else used to be a British colony? Ireland and America. You know, the country that you’re from and the country that you currently live in?

    Seriously, this is as silly as Garrett from “Breaking Dawn”, who killed a drunk guy singing a Beatles song in the movie because he’s American and was turned into a vampire during the American Revolution.

    Because if the world is shaped by people’s beliefs…then this, and a bunch of other stupid beliefs are just as valid, right?

    Honestly, I think this is why a lot of urban fantasy doesn’t bother with gods from real-world religions and only includes the mythological beings. Because once you introduce gods, then, yes, an inevitable question is, “Well, if this god really exists, what about that one?” I saw a review of the first Percy Jackson book that asked this question: if the Olympian pantheon is real, then what about other gods? What about the Abrahamic God, who specifically stated, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”?

    Authors use monsters because they find them cool and they make them secular because it’s easier. You don’t have to explore complicated questions of religion; you don’t have to run into potential minefields of which belief is right. You just have people interacting with the supernatural.

    But since Hearne decided to include gods in his story, he had to come up with a reason for why there are multiple pantheons running around, so he settled on that explanation.

  2. TMary on 10 November 2019, 18:12 said:

    I’m guessing you guys are probably tired of this book sporking, considering that the amount of comments on the last chapter was [checks] zero. I get it; this sporking became pretty repetitive over time. But I did say I was going to finish this book, and I feel like I should at least try to do that before disappearing into the ether. Maybe nobody’s reading it, but at least it’ll be out there and I’ll feel some sense of inner peace.

    I’m going to leave a longer comment, but I had to pop in here just to say no, don’t feel like that! Admittedly, I don’t know where anybody else has gotten to, but I’m still reading and enjoying. I’m just being bizarrely completionist about leaving comments. :)

  3. Juracan on 11 November 2019, 22:44 said:

    I mean, what did she find personally oppressive about the caste system? Was she married to the Brahmin against her will simply because he was a Brahmin and he turned out to be an abusive husband that she couldn’t leave? Was she in love with a person from a lower caste? Nothing is explained. The reader is just supposed to take it for granted that the caste system is awful for her and that’s why this woman is apparently justified in ‘playing with the demon kingdom.’

    Yeah, but that requires, like, research and stuff beyond a five second Google search, and I don’t think Hearne wanted to do that. It’d be less egregious if this was a minor character, but she’s introduced as a key part of the climax of the novel, and all the character development is lazily shoved here.

    I don’t get what the point of the Nazi backstory was supposed to be.

    I think that when he decided that the witches were Polish, he wanted to tie in something from Polish history, and that’s the first thing he could think of: that it was invaded by Nazis. And he just rolled with that, not really caring about how horrific a backstory that is because… well, I don’t think he really cares much about his side characters at all.

    Yes, the ‘Scary Witch-O-Meter.’ That’s how I would expect an immortal who’s lived for hundreds of years to talk. Sure.

    I would say this fits under a ‘That’s how the kids talk these days’ count, but it doesn’t even fit in that. It’s just… really weirdly juvenile. Out of someone like Harry Dresden or Shawn Spencer, who is written to be a goof with a juvenile sense of humor, it’d be fine, but with Atticus it feels strange. He does have a juvenile sense of humor, but no one else seems to really react to it? And it never lands correctly because he’s a massive douchecanoe.

    And Atticus isn’t a werewolf, so I guess that being able to tap into their mental link is one of his abilities as a Druid?

    Does he tap into their mental link? I never got that impression. It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s another power of his that I missed.

    No, it’s okay for other people to get angry so that Atticus can show how superior he is. Because he’s a jerk.

    Pretty much.

    Yes, the whole moment is a plot convenience. No need to give two weeks’ notice, no need to figure out how she’s going to pay the bills after she quits her job, no need to make sure that there are people who can pick up the slack. No, just quit on the spot to make Atticus’s life easier.

    To be fair, it’s made clear that she’s going to be working for Atticus now at his shop and as his apprentice, so he’ll be paying her bills. But there’s not a lot of consideration put into this. We don’t get any indication she knows where Atticus’s shop is. So she’s uprooting her current job for another which she’s only been briefed on… for less than ten minutes. And is a lifelong commitment.

    And yeah, it’s an urban fantasy novel and that’s not the point of the story, so this can be sped up. But not that much! She just quits on the spot! She didn’t make any friends on the job she needs to say goodbye to or anything.

    Smith’s “Make it easy!” comes to mind.

    She’s a fine woman in their eyes because she’s helping them. If Aenghus Og murdered someone and the Leprechaun offered to let him use her yard to hide the body, Atticus and Magnusson would denounce her for being an accomplice to murder.

    Let’s be real—this is probably true. And then Atticus would kill her and crack a joke about it.

    Uh, yeah, you know what else used to be a British colony? Ireland and America. You know, the country that you’re from and the country that you currently live in?

    That’s using common sense. These characters don’t have that.

    Seriously, this is as silly as Garrett from “Breaking Dawn”, who killed a drunk guy singing a Beatles song in the movie because he’s American and was turned into a vampire during the American Revolution.

    I’m sorry, what?!

    Honestly, I think this is why a lot of urban fantasy doesn’t bother with gods from real-world religions and only includes the mythological beings. Because once you introduce gods, then, yes, an inevitable question is, “Well, if this god really exists, what about that one?” I saw a review of the first Percy Jackson book that asked this question: if the Olympian pantheon is real, then what about other gods? What about the Abrahamic God, who specifically stated, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”?

    Percy Jackson sort of tries to get around this in the first book with Chiron specifically saying they’re not going to talk about “capital G God” and handwaving that as metaphysical, or not their problem. And it’s not really as big of an issue, because it’s just one mythology, and it’s unclear how many of these characters really “worship” the Greek gods as such, or just kind of accept that they’re facts of life and parts of the way the universe works.

    That being said, the sequel and spin-off serieses sort of blur that by trying to suggest that every pantheon that people remember is simultaneously true, and that’s… I’m sorry, that makes for a very convoluted universe. And Magnus Chase bends over backwards to make the first openly religious character, a practicing Muslim, feel completely justified, what with Valhalla having halal dining options and Heimdall even admitting that the gods aren’t really “gods” as such.

    Authors use monsters because they find them cool and they make them secular because it’s easier. You don’t have to explore complicated questions of religion; you don’t have to run into potential minefields of which belief is right. You just have people interacting with the supernatural.

    I think, when the supernatural comes up at all, religion isn’t that far behind. But it is much easier to use secular monsters. I don’t think Hearne’s even bad for using gods and such from mythology, but he could have come up with a better explanation, or just not used one at all (like Dresden Files or Hellboy does). Instead he copies and pastes one that really doesn’t work.

    I’m going to leave a longer comment, but I had to pop in here just to say no, don’t feel like that! Admittedly, I don’t know where anybody else has gotten to, but I’m still reading and enjoying. I’m just being bizarrely completionist about leaving comments. :)

    Alrighty then! But I will, at the very least, take a break after completing this spork. I’ve got enough stress going on as it is right now.