I am so done with reading about sleazy angelologists lusting after Eno. Or just angelologists in general. So where are we now?

Grigori mansion, Millionaya Street, St. Petersburg

Props to a less specific location than the first chapter, I guess.

It’s also in a fairly urban area. Which isn’t what I’d do if I were an evil angel who secretly wanted to take over the world. Although I guess that’s just me—these people supposedly run the world. It has to be crawling with guards, so no one could just walk up and bomb the place. I don’t think they feel like they should hide from anyone.

Against his better judgment, Armigus left the human creature to scream.

Oh. It’s one of those scenes.

So here we meet Armigus Grigori, Axicore’s twin brother. And when he’s by himself, he apparently likes to tie down humans and… honestly, I don’t know what he does with them. I really don’t. Is it rape? Is it murder? Is it both? It’s not like the text tells us. See, take a looksie:

He knew it would be much less trouble to end its life quickly and be done with it. He had a dagger—a piece of sharpened bone that had been passed down for generations by the Grigori men—ready, he had the human’s hands tied and the plastic sheets ready to catch the blood, but the doorbell was ringing on the first floor, the sound echoing through the vast plaster and marble interior. As Armigus left the room the human looked at him, pleading, desperate. He wanted to die quickly, Armigus could see it, but there was no choice but to put a pause to this little amusement.

One: there’s a notation I wrote under the word ‘bone’ asking, “What kind?” Because if you put in some kind of exotic or Biblical creature, it’d make the family heirloom that much more interesting, you know? It’s touches like that which would make any scene significantly more interesting, even if you don’t like the characters.

Two:

Seriously, what the hell did I just read? The guy straps down people and tortures them for funzies? I mean… what? I mean, that’s the impression I got. But later in this chapter it’s referred to as “his appetite for human men” as if it were some kind of super-kinky/rapey type thing. It’s never fully explained, but it’s referred to in just this chapter.

I get what Trussoni was going for: we don’t see for sure what’s going on, but we know it’s painful and awful, and Armigus is a horrible horrible angel for doing it. But… I mean, c’mon, can you take these villains seriously? Let’s do a headcount:

-Axicore, a snobby, rich pretty boy who sits in his car and complains about how disgusting humans are.
-Eno, a mercenary who kills guys and castrates them for fun and eats at McDonald’s.
-Armigus, who ties down dudes in his room and knifes them for funzies.

Our villains!

Let’s be real here though: these awful things that these villains do aren’t frightening. It’s just so over-the-top that we can’t take it seriously. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them strangled a bunny rabbit, guys. They’re just that bad.

Look Trussoni, the best villains are memorable because they’re just EBUL!!!!! It’s because they’re interesting. We see where they’re coming from, or maybe they just leave an impression on us. Let’s look at another literary villain: Lord Voldemort. Yes, he did try to kill a baby, but that’s not what makes him a memorable villain. He’s a sociopathic fanatic who built a cult of personality around him. He’s the Dark Lord, but when you really boil it down to his base, he’s a bully with a magic wand and a death spell who doesn’t give a shit about anyone other than himself. He doesn’t even have a sympathetic childhood—he was always an asshole. And yet he’s one of modern literature’s most enduring and intimidating villains, in part because he reminds us of real life historical figures who could and did do similar things.

Armigus? I don’t think of Nazis when I read this. I think of a badly-written villain by an author who is trying way too hard.

There’s nothing to suggest that he’s particularly dangerous. Yes, he’s got wealth and guards, but Armigus doesn’t seem to have any physical prowess to speak of, or special abilities like Eno. And he’s not particularly clever, as we’ll see. So… he’s just some rich asshole who stabs people in his bedroom.

Lovely.

Hang on… this little torture thing… it’s a scene that comes right the fuck out of nowhere, has no bearing whatsoever on the plot, is way over the top in terms of ridiculousness even within the context of this book, and after this chapter, no one speaks of it again…

…it’s a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment!

Armigus walks to his front door, noting to pass the stuff he and his brother have collected to prove that they’re not old people. This means a bunch of modern stuff, like “modern furniture, tatami mats, Japanese manga, folding silk screens—anything to dispel the musty air of the past.”

Well then.

I suppose, this technically is showing instead of telling. I mean, we already got off the bat that Armigus and Axicore try to style themselves as modern people with modern interests, instead of as the old-fashioned aristocrats that the other Grigori go for. It’s interesting. Well, mildly. Glad to see Trussoni’s finally learning to be a bit more subtle about character traits rather than just telling—

They had the same tastes in everything. In conversation one twin would finish the other’s sentences. As children they would switch identities, so as to confuse their teachers and friends. When they were older they would take each other’s women to bed, sharing lovers without disclosing the truth to their partners. Indeed, Axicore and Armigus Grigori were identical in every way except one: Axicore’s right eye was green and his left eye blue, while Armigus’s left eye was green and his right eye was blue.

Not only are they identical twins, they’re exactly like every other fictional pair of twins ever of all time. I mean, look at that! It’s the same thing you’d expect to see from any pair of twins in fiction (except maybe the sex thing). It’s as if the author didn’t bother to try to come up with different personalities for them.

And why show them interacting with each other when we can just tell the reader about their lives as twins!

Would it kill you, Trussoni, to have an interesting character in this book??

Under normal circumstances his Anakim angel would take care of this for him, but he always dismissed the Anakim from the house when he held human beings there. The screaming and crying always spooked the Anakim…

That’s right! The guard to his house? Isn’t there! Why? Because the screaming of a tortured person was just too scary. So right now, when Armigus is having his fun, he’s at his most vulnerable. I’m not saying there’s no security; I don’t know, and the book doesn’t tell us. But it does tell us that there’s less of it. So if an angelologist wanted to infiltrate the house, now would be the time to do it.

Well the doorbell just rang. Do we get something that interesting?

We get Eno instead.

Apparently Eno went to tell Armigus that Evangeline is captured, and his brother wants him to talk to their great-aunt Sneja to meet up in Siberia and “finish the job.”

Okay, Axicore…. Here’s a thought. Hows abouts you call your twin brother? There’s no reason for Eno to be in this scene. Axicore could have just made a phone call to his brother. It’s 2010 in the book. Or an e-mail. Hell, a text would have sufficed. Getting Eno involved to physically travel to the house and tell Armigus the message only slows things down.

Armigus asks about a guy named Godwin, but since we know nothing about him and nothing is revealed about him in this conversation, I don’t care to relate it to you guys. But how about this?

The Grigori dealings with Godwin were confidential, not the kind of topic to be discussing with a mercenary angel, but Armigus wanted to win Eno’s confidence. He wanted her to like him. But she only thought he was weak. He could see it in her eyes.

That’s right! Yet another male character who wants to get in Eno’s pants! And it’s not just flirting; he’s gotten to the point that he will sell out family secrets just to impress this woman. And he’s surprised she thinks he’s weak.

Armigus, you are weak. You’re an idiot. If she wanted to, Eno could probably fry your ass until you squealed all of your secrets right now, and your guard would still be out because the screaming bothers him. You are possibly one of the worst villains I’ve ever seen.

After there’s some screaming from the bedroom, Eno realizes he’s got a dude tied up and finds this really amusing. Or hot. It’s hard to tell, okay?

Eno met his eye and smiled, a sadistic look suffusing her face.

Eno understood his preferences all too well.

“I would be happy to take care of the creature for you,” she said, stepping toward him. “More than happy.”

I… I don’t know what to tell you guys. It sounds like a sex thing, but with more stabbing, I guess? I assumed it was torture, but this dialogue and Eno’s reaction makes it much more… ambiguous. Eno offers to finish the distressed dude for him, since Armigus is supposed to be rushing off to do the thing that his brother asked him to. And then there’s this:

She was doing him a favor—he hated finishing them off, hated the stink of the blood and human flesh…

That’s right! Armigus stays up in his room cutting people, but he doesn’t like the stench of blood and flesh.

I don’t know what to do with this chapter, guys! It just keeps getting weirder. This book just keeps getting weirder. I know I just said that, but I really don’t know what else to say! It’s like someone publishing their secret angel fetish book or something. I can’t explain it any better than that.

“Don’t leave a mess behind,” he whispered.

“You know me better than that,” Eno said, smiling.

What?

I really don’t know what’s going on. But given Eno’s characterization thus far in this book, I assume that means the dick’s going to be chopped off.

I can’t believe I just typed that last sentence. What has my life come to?

So what am I going to be dealing with in the next chapter? Something interesting I hope?

[flips over to find angelologists having stupid conversations]

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Comment

  1. The Smith of Lie on 15 October 2014, 09:47 said:

    The Grigori dealings with Godwin were confidential, not the kind of topic to be discussing with a mercenary angel, but Armigus wanted to win Eno’s confidence. He wanted her to like him. But she only thought he was weak. He could see it in her eyes.

    This is goddamn annoying. There’s a character in Skullduggery Pleasent series whose powers include a fact, that everyone who lays eyes on her, falls in love. And despite that we see people who resist the allure, who can and will oppose her, who don’t obsess over her. AND MAKING OTHERS LOVE HER IS HER POWER!

  2. Juracan on 16 October 2014, 18:25 said:

    I can assure you right now that everything in Skulduggery Pleasant is better than everything in this book.

  3. Lone Wolf on 16 November 2015, 03:05 said:

    To be fair to Trussoni, Voldemort sucks in more ways than one.