Were you wondering what happened to Verlaine? I wasn’t, because I didn’t care about him so much, but if you were he finally wakes up after his fight with Eno. Honestly, it’s kind of a boring chapter. Last one I could talk about all the ridiculous backstory and “research” that went into it. But this is much less crazy.

So Verlaine wakes up on the—

Trans-Siberian Railway

—yeah, that. Sadly, he’s not tied to it, he’s on a train. But to make up for it, I offer my dear readers this link to music by Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which is significantly more fulfilling.

Our middle-aged hero starts to see a woman approach, and he thinks he might be having that recurring dream about Evangeline he mentioned at the beginning of the book. But nope! It’s not his love interest at all, but one of the Russian angelologists, a badass biker angel hunter! She offers him back his glasses so that he doesn’t bump into anything.

Without her helmet she looked softer than he remembered—less the professional killing machine and more a regular person.

…look, I get what this sentence was going for, but it sounds stupid. The idea is that Verlaine sees an angel hunter with a helmet and they look like a faceless Nephilim-slaying badass who you’d never see as an individual, but without the helmet they’re much more approachable. But what it comes across as is that Verlaine is astounded that she looks like a human being at all without a helmet. It sounds like he actually thought the helmets were their faces.

“Welcome back,” Bruno said, moving close to squeeze Verlaine’s shoulder.

…I want to put a rage gif here. But I can’t think of anything appropriate. Not because Bruno said or did anything bad, but I just really hate Bruno and want a gif that just has someone yelling ‘GOD DAMNIT BRUNO.’ I’m bummed he still exists is all.

Bruno clues in Verlaine that he’s on a train on their way to Siberia. Verlaine asks why he’s covered in blood and dirt, and Bruno just says “Run-in with the Russian Raiphim.”

“Sounds like a good name for your memoirs,” the blond woman said.

…no, not really, given that he’s stationed in Paris. I guess it’s not a bad name, but it might be weird for other angelologists that the guy in charge of their Paris branch named his memoirs after an incident that happened when he decided to skip off to another country without consulting anyone. That’s like naming your biography “Look at Me, I’m Skipping Work!”

Also it sounds suspiciously like a title Gilderoy Lockhart would use.

…I take it back; it’s perfect.

Bruno introduces the Russian biker as Yana, and I wonder once again why the book isn’t about the Russian bikers. Verlaine asks what happened to him, and they tell him that Eno electrocuted him a bit, but it’s only in part of his body.

“If you recall the bodies at St. Rose Convent, I think you’ll count yourself as one of the lucky,” Bruno said.

Ah, the St. Rose Convent. It was destroyed at the end of the last book. However… the attack on it wasn’t done by Eno. It wasn’t even done by Eno’s subspecies of angel, Emim. It was just set on fire. This line and the paragraph afterward tend to imply that Emim used their powers on the people there, but that’s not the case. The nuns weren’t burned because Emim electrocuted them. They were burned because they were trapped in a burning building.

So after being electrocuted, apparently his heart had a seizure, and he’s only alive right now because Yana CPR’d him before the other bikers brought along a defibrillator.

“You came back from the dead,” Yana said. “Literally.”

“I guess I have one thing in common with the Raiphim,” Verlaine said.

You do know that technically, you weren’t actually dead, right? Just because you needed your heart restarted, that doesn’t mean you died. It just means that your heart beat was irregular and needed to be jolted. I guess that’s splitting hairs, but it’s not like he came back from the other side or anything like that.

Also… is that how the Raiphim work? Is that how their resurrection works? They put their hearts into seizures and then jolt them back? Maybe? I don’t know, because no one in this book tells me.

He held the mirror level with his chest and saw that it was blackened, with raw patches of red and pink oozing a clear liquid. An impression of Eno’s hands was branded into his skin.

Ah, handprints. That’s actually kind of cool. Well, not for Verlaine, but I think it’s an interesting bit of worldbuilding that Emim attacks are often marked with burn marks in the shape of hands where they touched someone to electrocute them.

Of course, there’s some BS about how Eno’s hands were in a position that resembles wings, and left that mark on Verlaine’s skin. Because Lord forbid you forget that there are angels in this book; Trussoni will beat it into your skull with a mallet.

Verlaine is given some sort of magic medicine that heals his skin, developed by angelologists, which really makes me wonder: what in the heck is the deal with this group? I sometimes get the impression that they’re supposed to be this super-organized elite secret society with awesome technology and knowledge and stuff, but at other times they come across as the most inept secret society of all time. Like, they have magic healing paste, but don’t tell each other what they’re doing in each other’s countries? They have a secret database of every evil Nephil ever, but they have no apparently central leadership that they answer to or take orders from? They have research facilities digging up important archaeological sites, but not a shrink to prevent their field operatives from getting creepily obsessed with and raping enemy targets?

It’s this huge organization with all these resources, but it clearly isn’t run by anyone with anything resembling common sense. The fact that they continue to employ several rapists in their society just proves it. Trussoni thought of this awesome idea for a cool secret society but seemed to forget that there has to be some common sense holding them all together. As it is, it’s a miracle that the angelologists are running at all.

Bruno explains that they retrieved the egg, and they captured Eno. They have her on the train somewhere, though Yana won’t specify where for whatever reason. Seriously, if these angel hunters, who are members of the same organization and have the exact same job don’t trust each other, I can’t imagine why we’re supposed to think much of them.

Yana claims Eno’s being taken for “observation” but Verlaine quickly deduces that means “torture.” Verlaine asks if she’s sure they can get info out of Eno, and Yana replies with

“There’s no other way,” Yana said. “Once Eno is taken into custody in Siberia, she’ll be forced to talk.”

Uh… no! Not at all! I can tell you right now that it’s probably not going to get you anywhere, because, fun fact guys, torture doesn’t work. Or rather, it’s not a reliable way to extract information. I’m sick and tired of seeing this in fiction. History has taught us that when you decide to torture someone into telling you something, they’re more than likely to tell you what you want to hear, but not necessarily the truth. We know this from witch trials, from the trials of the Knights Templar, and from the research we can do on the subject1.

I’m sorry, but this is a pet peeve of mine because it comes up in fiction so often—good guys pushed into torture as the only way to extract information. Because while there are certainly some people who will tell you things if you poke them with enough sharp objects, a good chunk, the types you really want info from, aren’t going to give you anything useful. And so for characters to act as if this is the only reliable way to get information is frustrating.

And may I remind you that the angelologists say that their society cut ties with the Catholic Church over the Crusades and the Inquisition? Hell, in the Inquisition, torture was only used after other methods of finding proof for heresy didn’t work. The angelologists jump right to it!

C’mon, Yana, what’s your prob—

“The specialists at the prison have very particular methods of extracting information from their prisoners,” Yana replied, her voice quiet.

…and once again, a Russian biker angel hunter proves to be awesome. You see that? She’s uncomfortable with the idea. She doesn’t like the torture. Every other angelologist has been perfectly on board with torturing victims. Up until now, the only one we’ve seen object is Verlaine, and that’s because he’s obsessed with Evangeline.

But Yana? Look at this! She’s very clearly uncomfortable with the fact that she’s in an organization that quickly jumps on the torture train. She doesn’t have any reason for it that includes wanting to sleep with anyone; she objects because it’s just an awful thing for anyone to do.

Can we swap main characters? Can we get Yana leading instead of Verlaine? No? Okay then. Well at least now I have something to write fanfiction about.

The chapter ends with Verlaine contemplating how strange things are in his life. He insists that they’re getting stranger, but honestly, they’re really not. Not yet, anyway. But we’ll get there.

1 In truth, I tried to find a good link around to help, but most of the pages on the subject I could find had to do with recent political events, which I’d rather us not get into here.

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Comment

  1. swenson on 25 March 2015, 09:57 said:

    And may I remind you that the angelologists say that their society cut ties with the Catholic Church over the Crusades and the Inquisition?

    Yeah, probably because the Catholic Church was too sissy for the angelologists’ tastes.

    I agree with you on the torture thing, though. It’s so often supposed to be shorthand for “WE ARE JUST SO DESPERATE OVER HERE T_T” but when everybody does it on a routine basis in the story, it kinda loses its impact. Not to mention, as you point out, that simply hurting someone a lot in new! and exciting! ways doesn’t necessarily give you the information you want. There’s a lot of different methods of interrogation aside from just causing pain.

    Oh waaaaait, but this is the angelologists, 99% of whom seem to be entirely driven by a desire to hurt angels, and nothing else. The torture probably isn’t for interrogation, it’s just a hobby.

  2. The Smith of Lie on 25 March 2015, 14:16 said:

    I remember that the torture as source of information was subverted in few books. In Joe Abercombie’s ‘Fist Law’ Trilogy the character who was torturer knew how unreliable it was, but that was a point – to get an admission, not to find out the truth. When it came to finding out what happened he had to work things out first and apply torture later.

    In Polish series about Inquisitor Mordimer Madderdin, the torture was a tool to “teach” heretics humility and have them accept the error of their ways. That and in the setting the black magic existed so it was somewhat different.

    But those were exceptions, more or less.

  3. Juracan on 28 March 2015, 21:43 said:

    There’s a lot of different methods of interrogation aside from just causing pain.

    Oh yes. If you’ve ever watched Burn Notice, many times it’s exposited that while physical torture doesn’t work, psychological torture does. You can probably tell that I’m not a huge fan of any kind of torture being employed, and I have no idea how true that is, but I think it’d certainly be much more of an interesting read. As it is, the torture is just there… to make it edgy I guess.

    Oh waaaaait, but this is the angelologists, 99% of whom seem to be entirely driven by a desire to hurt angels, and nothing else. The torture probably isn’t for interrogation, it’s just a hobby.

    Yup. It’s fairly disturbing. I noticed how much unnecessary torture and dissection was in the book on my first read through, but it wasn’t until my second that I saw just how much it’s ingrained into the angelologists. Bruno even admits that just on seeing Evangeline with wings he has “an instinctual desire to destroy her.”

    But those were exceptions, more or less.

    Yes, because when your protagonists just hop onto torture as the first solution, you have some major issues that need to be worked out. Nobody seems to have told that to Trussoni at any point in the publication of this book.