So now we’re going to be checking on that angelic assassin we mentioned before. She’s chilling out in Paris away from the prying eyes of angel hunters. Now, there are plenty of places in Paris to hide. I mean, she could be in the catacombs and sewers under the city, where God knows what else is hiding. I mean, with a setting like this you could put all kinds of monsters down there. Or maybe she’s flown up on top of the Notre Dame, or the Eiffel Tower, a place where no human being could ever reach her. Or hiding in plain sight, at the Lourve, or in the cathedral, or Shakespeare and Company, that bookstore by the Seine. Or anywhere by the Seine! Or maybe, tying into the occult themes, she’s eating at the restaurant that was once Nicolas Flamel’s house! The possibilities are damn near endless!
McDonald’s, avenue de Champ-Élsées, first arrondissement, Paris
OUR ANTAGONIST, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!
Look, I’m not going to judge you if you go to Paris and eat at McDonald’s. That’s fine, you already spent enough money getting to Paris, and it’s an expensive town. And even then, you’re allowed to eat whatever you feel like. Hell, I ate KFC when I went to Aberdeen because I really wanted to know what a Scottish Kentucky Fried Chicken tasted like.1 And I’ve heard the McDonald’s in Rome is surprisingly good.
This is fiction though. Specifically, a conspiracy/urban fantasy thriller. You can put these characters anywhere in Paris and come up with some sort of justification for it. And it’s not like it needs to be some place cheap—assassins aren’t people you hire cheaply.2 And this book has her at McDonald’s.
But whatever. I’ll stop freaking out on the details and get to the meat of the matter—
Paris was full of angelologists and, as such, one of the most dangerous places in the universe for an Emim angel like Eno, who had a tendency toward recklessness.
Er…. Thank you, Exposition Fairy, for telling us her character trait before it’s ever given any chance to show itself. But let’s analyze the first bit of this sentence, shall we? Just based on what we know from this book right now. Yes? Don’t worry if you haven’t read the last book.
What we know:
-An angel gets dismembered, burninated and thrown from the Eiffel Tower and as far as we know there’s not a media scandal.
-Upon her death, there are at least a dozen or so OTHER angels that are in the crowd of observers looking at the body.
-The angels apparently don’t assume that the guys studying the body are angel hunters, despite them clearly not being angels.
CONCLUSION: Paris has a large population of angelic creatures that interact with vanilla humans on an ordinary basis.
So here’s a question: if Paris is “swarming with angelologists,” how is there also a huge population of angels living here too? Reminder: the goal of the angelologists is to wipe out all of the Nephilim. So it can’t be a peaceful community.
It’s entirely possible that the two groups are in constant conflict, but then there’s a host of other issues that come up. Wouldn’t that mean there’d be tons of killings and fights on both sides in the back allies and sewers and stuff? Wouldn’t Verlaine and Bruno have to travel in a large group when in public out of fear of being recognized as angel hunters and being attacked?
Well not all angelologists are angel hunters, but they’re associated. Several of the angelologists in Paris are more or less scholars that couldn’t fight any better than your average Joe. There’s still plenty of angel hunters though, as according to Eno, “Hunters seemed to be on every corner lately.”
Maybe it’s separated by district? But then you still have the fact that Verlaine and Bruno apparently weren’t identified as angel hunters by a crowd of Nephilim while they were examining a dead body. But how would the angels not know if the city is swarming with the guys? This doesn’t make any sense!
Now granted, this chapter is from the point of view of Eno, and it’s plausible that this is a fact espoused by Eno in her own paranoia. Sure. I’ll go with that for now. That’s the only way this can make any sense at all.
She wore heavy black eye makeup, red lipstick, and black leather, and often wore her black wings openly, unafraid, daring angelologists to see them. The gesture was considered an act of provocation, but Eno didn’t have any intention of hiding. This would be their world soon.
…so it’s not paranoia. Because she honestly thinks this place is crawling with angel hunters, and wears her wings out just to screw with them.
Now notice that it doesn’t say whether she has her wings out right now, just that she often does it. So what is it she’s doing right now? Hell if I know, because this chapter doesn’t tell me! All I know is that she’s at McDonald’s; whether she’s sitting or standing in line, whether she’s eating, if she’s with friends—nope, I have no idea. Just that she wears makeup and black leather, and that sometimes she lets her wings hang out.
Guys, I don’t know what’s going on right now. Why would we bother specifying the setting when it doesn’t matter? We’re not told what she’s doing!
I also highly suspect that Eno’s an idiot. Because for all her talk of not getting caught, she draws an awful lot of attention to herself. Though she “understood that sometimes it was best to hide in plain sight,” I fail to see how this translates into walking around Paris with makeup, black leather, and your huge-ass wings hanging out.
The only clue that the reader gets that there is anything Eno is doing other than telling the reader that she’s evil and stupid is when “Eno folded her hands around the Styrofoam cup, taking in the ceaseless motion of the Champs-Élysées.” Do I know what she’s drinking? Nope! But it’s in a Styrofoam cup. We don’t know if it’s a McDonald’s cup either, because we’re never told.
Guys, this is what we know about this scene: Eno is either sitting or standing inside or outside the McDonald’s in Paris, and is watching the crowds while holding a cup that may or may not contain unspecified liquid. She is probably wearing makeup and black leather, and may or may not have her wings out for anyone who can look through the Mist to see. This is the vaguest scene that I’ve ever read!
Have you ever had someone point to a blank page and say it’s a picture of a polar bear eating marshmallows in the snow? Yeah, this is like that, except in that picture, you have a better visualization of what’s going on than in this scene!
The narration goes on for a while about how she stalked Evangeline before taking her out and that the Grigoris really wanted this girl dead, but I’m thinking that so much of this is just pointless exposition.
You know those conversations in amateur fantasy novels where the mentor just tells the hero everything in an infodump of a conversation? Yeah, this isn’t even that. The narration is just telling us everything. It tells us she’s reckless, that Paris is crawling with angelologists, and that she tracked down Evangeline by following her around for weeks.
Instead of that, what if the reader met Eno meeting up with her boss some time after the hit and discussing the job and/or the presence of angelologists in Paris? We’d meet the character, we’d learn all the information, and we’d see how she interacts with others right off the bat in a way that wouldn’t be awkward. You wouldn’t have to tell us all these things, and instead you could show us. Imagine how cool that would be?
After a mention that she’d blend in better in Russia where apparently there are “masses” of Emim, we get a bit of a flashback.
It had been the summer of 1889, during the Paris World’s Fair, and people had flooded into the city to see the newly erected Eiffel Tower.
So she was present in Paris for a famous event, something Paris is known for…. But when you set the scene for the chapter, it starts in McDonald’s.
I’m sorry, I just can’t get over that. There was no reason whatsoever to set it there. I didn’t even realize that it took place at McDonald’s until I was making notes for this spork, because it isn’t mentioned aside from that line at the top at the beginning of the chapter.
In any case, this flashback serves a purpose! It shows how Eno first came to realize the greatest evil in the world: angelologists!
Eno met an Englishman, you see, and the guy was apparently pretty hot. He had been “staring at her from across Champ de Mars” and then led her to an isolated place to talk and to carefully examine her.
…sounds like a real charmer.3 Of course, the guy turns out to be an angelologist and attempts to stab Eno in the face once they’re alone. Eno, sadly enough, did not die, and only received a scar in the shape of a crescent moon on her shoulder. After rather justifiably killing the chuck muffin, she “pulled him behind the trees and destroyed all traces of what she had found beautiful in him: His lovely eyes, his skin, the delicate fleshy curl of his ear.” How? I don’t know. I suppose she ate them.
Now I have to ask, why did this guy try to kill her? Okay, I get why, but… you see what I’m talking about with the angelologists? If this guy had just tried to arrest her, instead of seducing and stabbing her, would she be this hell-bent on messing with angelologists? Yes, she was dangerous (and still is), and yes, she was working as a mercenary killer even back then, but now she actively hates angelologists. The angelologists are actively making antagonists for themselves for their needlessly brutal methodology.
I mean, this happens in real life. Governments and organizations make enemies of people who end up becoming threats to them. But those are always seen as mistakes in hindsight; in this case, it’s an even bigger mistake, because Nephilim won’t just die. As we see with Eno, she’s at least over a hundred years old, and she shows no signs that she’s even reaching middle age at this point. The angelologists (who have limited resources and no superpowers) are pissing off enemies who can live hundreds of years and have oodles and oodles of money.
Let me put it simply: EVIL BEGETS EVIL. Be a dick to someone, and they’ll be a dick to you. Which isn’t such an issue in everyday life, but when you’re dealing with angelic beings with lifespans of hundreds of years who can fry you… it’s a problem. I mean, look at this:
From that moment on her work as a mercenary began to please her more and more with each new victim. She studied the angelologists’ behavior, their habits, their techniques of hunting and killing angelic beings until she knew her work inside out. She could smell a hunter, feel him, sense his desire to capture and slaughter her. Sometimes she even let them bring her into custody. Sometimes she even let them act out their fantasies with her. She let them take her to their beds, tie her up, play with her, hurt her. When the fun was over, she killed them.
It’s a never-ending cycle of hatred and violence! They tried to hurt her, so she makes it her purpose to hurt them back more. And instead of being more cautious, the angelologists are worse in that they capture her, and instead of quickly and quietly eliminating the threat they decide to rape her. Yeah, she’s going along with it so she can kill them, but they don’t know that.
Let me remind you, the angelologists are supposed to be on our side. The people there to protect us against a race of insidious otherworldly beings has a habit of torturing and raping its enemy.
Right now, you might be thinking that Eno’s a misunderstood woobie, and might go back to the light Prince Zuko-style to become an anti-hero who redefines the conflict. As much as I’d like that to happen, I can assure you that’s not the case. Eno remains an antagonist throughout the novel, and the angelologists are still going to be the “good guys.” Once again, none of the angelologists stops and says, “Hang on, this is a little fucked up.” The only reason Verlaine ever questions anything is because Evangeline is in danger and he wants to bone her.
So anyhoo, Eno gets a phone call and it turns out it’s the guy who hired her. And reinforcing my suggestions that Nephilim live under a strict caste system:
Emim were bound by their heritage to serve Nephilim, and for years, she had simply done her duty, working for the Grigoris out of gratitude and fear. She was of a warrior caste and she accepted this fate.
Yup! She’s of a warrior caste. That means that if she tried to do any other service for the Grigoris (apparently there are no other major Nephilim royal families) she would get shot down. Killing people is what Emim do. Which makes me wonder what would happen if she decided to do something else, like opening an art gallery or a barber shop. Would she be an outcast from angel society? Or would the others just kind of go with it? After all, she can just fry people who disagree with her life choices.
Also…. The warrior caste clearly isn’t the ruling one. Now, call me a schemer, but why doesn’t the warrior caste take over? That kind of thing happened all the time in real history. What’s stopping the Emim and other warrior angels from stepping up and taking out their stuck-up overlords? In Supernatural, we’re constantly told that it’s in the very nature of angels to follow orders, but here we’re not so much as given a clue. It’s as if it just hasn’t occurred to anyone to throw a coup.
Eno picks up the call from her unnamed boss. It’s not a long call, but she instantly knows “that something had gone wrong.”
Give you one guess to find out what it was.
1 Pretty much the same. They had shoestring fries though. Also, the McDonald’s on that street had waffle fries.
2 DISCLAIMER: This is an assumption. Juracan has no personal experience with hiring assassins.
3 And also a bit like Augustus Waters…