We’re back on the Trans-Siberian Railway with Bruno, Verlaine and Yana. Once again, you’ll note that this is not Trans-Siberian Orchestra, so I’ll go ahead and hook you guys up with a link to make it all better.

The first page or so of this chapter is Bruno thinking, and it’s boring so I’ll spare you guys from reading through all that. Basically he’s thinking about how the landscape outside is all stereotypically Russian, how he’s worrying about Verlaine, and then a trolley comes by with tea and coffee…

Wait, what?

I got the impression that this train was like a private, secret train for angelologists alone, not a public train? So if he wanted a drink, he’d have to go get it, not have someone pull up a trolley. They’ve got angels locked up a couple of cars over; there’s no way that this is a public train. It seems as if Trussoni wanted to include a full train experience without actually thinking about the fact that this really wouldn’t be.

Also this:

It was up to them to learn what Rasputin had intended by his book of flowers.

Um, no. Vera and Azov already figured that one out (although you’re not with them, so you wouldn’t know that yet). In fact, Vera left with the book specifically for that purpose. You didn’t go with her because… wait, why the heck did the main characters split up? There’s not any reason for it. Other than to get them where the Plot needs them.

Anyhow Yana, the angelologist biker who gets any trace of sympathetic character development murdered in this chapter, leads Bruno off to see their imprisoned angels.

…he remembered her savvy in taking down Eno in St. Petersburg, handling the Emim with unbelievable skill in a studied, almost clinical manner. Bruno wondered what hindered his own ability to fight Eno. Maybe he unconsciously subverted his own efforts. Maybe something inside him wanted her to be free. Maybe women hunters didn’t have these problems.

I can tell you what is hindering your ability to catch Eno: the fact that you’re obsessed with her and lusting after her. Letting those emotions get in the way is bound to slow you down on a job like that. There’s also the fact that you’ve only been actively hunting Eno since the beginning of the book (so only a week at most?) and you only had two chances to actually do it. One of which was when she was fighting Evangeline, and you and Verlaine just stood off to the side and watched. Idiot. Later in the chapter it claims that he spent half of his life hunting Eno, but there’s not really any evidence of that in the text.

And once again, we’re told how badass a character is without getting any backup. Instead of seeing Yana take down a dangerous killer angel, Trussoni lets it happen off –page. She could have taken this chance to give us some hint as to how it was done: what equipment was used, what skills Yana has, and so on. Instead, Trussoni just says, “It was awesome. You have no idea how it happened, but trust me, it was awesome.”

Turning to Bruno, [Yana] said, “The last ten cars are our storage and transport cabins, reserved for prisoners on their way to Siberia. In addition to the infirmary, there are cars equipped to hold the various species of angelic creatures, each one designed to counter the creature’s particular strength. Nephilim are kept in a car filled with high-frequency electric current that renders them comatose. Eno is in a freezer car, a space reserved for the most violent angels—warrior angels such as Gibborim and Raiphim, as well as Emim like herself. As you’re well aware, the lower temperatures slow the heart, diminish the power of the wings, and bring the level of violence to a minimum.”

If Bruno knows, there’s no reason to tell him other than to inform the audience, which easily could have been done in narration. Just sayin’.

But I got to give the angelologists props; that’s… actually an impressive system. That being said, can you imagine how much power has to be used to make sure everything works? Where is that much power coming from? A generator of some kind?

Also, how does the freezing cold affect them? We’ve established in chapter five that Evangeline, who is Nephilim, has a body temperature only one degree above freezing. I know that not all subspecies of Nephilim are the same, but as far as I know, that might be a standard body temperature for angels. Would creatures that have a body temperature that low really be affected much by extreme cold?

Yana smiled and pushed the door open. “Eno is in bad shape. You may not even recognize her.”

Yana smiled

YANA SMILED

Seriously! I give up on trying to find a sympathetic or likable character! Because I’ve been trying, and my best shot gives us a perky grin as she talks about their enemies being frozen into comas and disfigured by torture!

FUCK

THIS

BOOK

There were three angels bound together in one cell—a Leogan, a Nestig, and a small red Mendax—three creatures whose words could never be trusted.

…all three of those words mean ‘untrustworthy’ or ‘lying.’ I don’t know whether that’s clever or just unoriginal; I’ll let you guys decide.

Bruno and Yana get to the freezer where Eno is being held, and we get this description.

Her head had been shaved, and thick veins snaked over her skull, pulsing and blue, living. Now that her beauty was stripped away, Bruno could perceive, with visceral poignancy, how inhuman she was. As he knelt beside her, he heard her breath sticking in her chest, as if the freezing air had lodged itself into her lungs. He ran a finger over her cheek, feeling the old electric attraction to her. The train jerked and Eno opened her eyes. Their reptilian sheaths retracted. As she trained her gaze on him, he saw that she knew him, that she wanted to speak to him, but all her strength was gone.

Yes, this is what awaits the angels who are captured by angelologists—they are beaten, shaved, frozen and shipped to a prison where they can be tortured and experimented on until angelologists kill them and split up their remains as personal trophies.

I’m not going to say that Eno isn’t an awful person. She’s incredibly stupid and unnaturally violent. And I’m not saying that in a conflict like this you shouldn’t kill your enemies. That’s for people with more wisdom than me to discuss. But this? The torture, the degradation, the humiliation that the angelologists put these angels through? There’s no way that you can argue for it. And these are the good guys doing it without question.

I also find it really strange that when we hear of a male Nephil being tortured (Percival Grigori), we get a long description of how hot and smexy he still is, while when a female Nephil gets captured and beaten she’s immediately ugly and inhuman. Hell, Trussoni even gives her a “long black tongue” that’s “forked like a snake’s.” So make of that what you will.

The game was over. Bruno had won.

NO! No you haven’t! You didn’t catch Eno—Yana did! Hell, even as an evil piece of shit, Bruno fails; he takes other people’s victories as his own! It’s not like he manipulated Eno into being captured by Yana, or that he’s even Yana’s superior officer. So Bruno claiming victory is downright absurd and nonsensical.

Yana pulls out cigarettes and she and Bruno start smoking there in the freezer with Eno. At least, that’s what I assume is happening, because it never describes the two of them leaving Eno in her freezer cell and going to a different room. So this upcoming conversation? Evidently they said it all in front of an enemy prisoner, who may or may not be able to hear them.

These angelologists, I swear…

Of course, it’s entirely possible and plausible that this conversation was meant to take place in another room or car on the train, but that the editor just didn’t care and didn’t look at this book. Which given some of the other things I’ve seen in this book, is more probable.

The two of them talk about work. Yana says that there used to be less Nephilim out in Russia, but in the past five years oil companies run by Nephilim are heading back to Russia and working with the Grigoris making things much busier for angel hunters. Because I guess Trussoni felt like you can’t have a conspiracy book without an evil corporation or two somewhere.

“All this is to say that if you’re looking for Nephilim in western Siberia, I know how to find them. I have files on every creature that has passed through here in the last fifty years.”

I would say that’s impressive, but my real impression is more along the lines of: I call bullshit.

I absolutely refuse to believe that the angelologists are so organized that they have records of every Nephilim that goes through western Siberia. I’d be astonished if they have records of every Nephilim in that train right now because they’re just that bad at organizing anything. And guess what? You’ll get a display of how moronic they are in this very chapter!

Yana explains that the prison they have in Siberia is a panopticon, based off of Jeremy Bentham’s. Aside from being the name of a badass episode of Person of Interest, a panopticon is a prison that would theoretically allow a single watchman (or at least a small amount of them) to keep eyes on several prisoners. Which reminds of Jurassic Park, actually, in that the builders of the titular park also designed it to cut as many corners as they could and look how that turned out, hmmmmm?

Yana also exposits that she can’t get Bruno in because even she doesn’t have full clearance to the prison in Chelyabinsk, which is the “most polluted patch of land on the planet.” Wait a second… Chelyabinsk? Wasn’t that…

[looks back at chapter 14 ]

…that’s where the Angelopolis is. The place where Godwin is torturing Evangeline? It’s in Chelyabinsk.

Bruno, while he doesn’t know that piece of info, decides (out of nowhere) to ask if Merlin Godwin is at the prison.

“Of course,” Yana said. “He’s been the director of the Siberia Project for more than twenty years.”

But WAIT! There’s MORE!

Bruno asks if she’s heard of the Angelopolis, and Yana tells him that it’s the most secure part of the prison, which only people with the highest clearance can get into. Nobody else knows what the hell it is, though there are rumors that it’s a “sci-fi genetics laboratory, that Godwin is cloning lower angelic life-forms to be used as servants for the Nephilim.”

And later in the conversation, they admit that they both know that Godwin worked for the Grigoris in the past.

Now I know that the Plot has kind of been all over the place, and some people have had some trouble following, so let me clear up this part for you:

-Merlin Godwin, an angelologist scientist and protégé of Angela Valko, at some point was revealed to be a traitor in the 1980’s. This is recorded fact; Angela knew it, Percival Grigori admitted it, and it’s on the tape the protagonists watched in chapter 13.

-Either Godwin wasn’t expelled from the society, or he was and was allowed back in some time before when this book takes place, 2010. Because not only is he officially aligned with the angelologists, he has top clearance in a prison facility and is allowed in rooms and places that no one else is allowed to go into; there’s no one monitoring his activities. For reference, this would be like if Lex Luthor had more clearance on the Justice League Watchtower than Superman, and the entire Justice League knew it and didn’t question it.

-Not only do all the Russian angelologists know that this traitor is in charge of a facility and can go to top-security areas without any sort of supervision whatsoever, but there’s tons of rumors (which we know aren’t without foundation) that he’s performing evil experiments and may be in league with the society’s enemies. The higher-ups of the society have not, it seems, taken any measures to look into or disprove these rumors.

So Yana and Bruno decide to look up Godwin’s files on the Angelologist Database (or whatever they call it) and they look up Godwin. They find his basic info, like his education, birth date and when he joined the society. They also find that there was a classified dossier made in the 80’s (around when he was found to be a traitor) but that the file has now been deleted by someone with high clearance. Like, say, Godwin himself.

The chapter ends with Yana hoping to find what’s left of the deleted file somewhere, so I get to sit here and fume.

So… yeah. The angelologists have a known traitor in their midst, and they not only don’t have him watched at all times, they gave him top security clearance and access to all of their equipment, facilities and resources.

THIS MAKES NO FUCKING SENSE

Did an editor even look at this? The main faction in the book, the “good guys” as it were, have someone they know to be evil and sadistic as their employee. Screw that; they have him as one of their bosses! When someone betrays your society, you don’t give him unlimited resources. This is common fucking sense, but for whatever reason Trussoni doesn’t seem to understand this. As it is, the angelologists are basically sitting there waiting to say

This is absolute shit writing, guys! I don’t understand what was going through anyone’s mind while writing and editing this! Hell, even some of the positive reviews of this book bring this up—it just doesn’t make any God-damn sense in any God-damned context!

Once again, this shows one of the major problems of the novel, that I’ve harped on before: characters don’t act like ordinary people, they act in a way to service the Plot. If any of these angelologists acted like a normal person, they’d immediately freak out about someone who was a traitor being that high-ranked in their organization. Instead, they all just calmly discuss how everyone knows Godwin’s dirty and that it’s a bit unusual how important files about him are missing and he may or may not being doing God-knows-what in his secret laboratory, activities that are completely sanctioned by the people running the organization.

I just… I need a break guys. Thank God it’s the end of the chapter. Join us next time, as we get to see Vera, Azov and Sveti talk to Raphael Valko for more exposition!

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Comment

  1. swenson on 6 May 2015, 11:22 said:

    Thanks, now I’m going to listen to Trans-Siberian Orchestra all day. That is not a complaint, by the way. :D

    Anyway, I’m sitting here trying to think of a way that this would make sense, and it just— doesn’t. In any way, shape, or form. You could say “maybe not a lot of Angelologists know this”, but… they do. You could say “maybe they think Godwin reformed”, but… there’s apparently rumors that he’s still working for the Nephilim and you haven’t mentioned if the book brings up the possibility of him reforming at all.

    So it just… makes no sense whatsoever.

  2. The Smith of Lie on 7 May 2015, 05:09 said:

    So. Grigoris captured Evangeline and let her be experimented on by Godwin in Angelopolis, which is Angelologists super secret prison. At this point I must say, that everyone in this book, on both sides of the conflict is a moron.

    Apparently having a traitor in Angelologists higher echelon was not enough for Trussoni, he had to remain in direct emplot of book’s Big Bad. Which makes me question, how the hell Grigoris have not eliminated the Angelologists yet? At least in Russia.

    Now that I wrote that, I realize that this book is actually an incredible accomplishment. It manages to do something I have not seen done ever. Characters are fractally stupid – a show of monumental stupidity of one character is just a starting point for even more monumental stupidity of another!

    Now onto the lesser complaints. About how BS is the Orwellian level of invigilation supposedly done by Angelologists I already commented in previous chapter. In the light of recent discovery of fractal stupidity if such invigilation was real, it would just further prove how inept the organization is, able to track movements of virtually every nephilim and yet not having them exterminated long ago. Pardon the use of overused meme, but: wow so stupid much fractal.

    And again with Eno and her succubus like quality. It is fractally stupid and creepy. Seriously Trussoni, if you want to have a supernatural creature with powers that turn it into a sexual magnet, just write it as such. At least then it would make sense within context of the story. It would be bit cheap and it would require characters to struggle with their obsession armed with knowledge that it was induced by powers. And hey, such character can still kick all kinds of posterior (look up Lara Raith for an example). But that would be potentially interesting, so I guess we can’t have that in Angelopolis. And hey, added bonus – it would give an explanation alternative to fractal stupidity as to why in addition to wanting to kill her, Angelologists repeatadly tried to rape Eno (I know they are pretty evil for supposed good guys, but the rape part still rubs me wrong way as not only reprehensible but impractical as well).

    And Yana’s awesome off-screen battle. I hate when this happens in book with third person narrator. One can excuse it in first person narrative, since the viewpoint character can’t always see everything. But this book (judging by spork, I reserve right to change opinion if proven wrong) never does a good job of explaining how exactly do Angelologists defeat their supernatural enemies. It is one of most fun things in such books, how the characters use their wits, skills and preparation to defeat stronger foes. Harry Dresden (yes, I do compare all those books to Dresden, so sue me) is interesting in this regard, since he is always going against the odds and prevailing through guts, cleverness and sheer amount of luck. Hell, Codex Alera took this to the eleven with protagonist who was on non-powered individual in world of superpowers being ubiquitous. Nothing like this here.

  3. Juracan on 7 May 2015, 13:51 said:

    Thanks, now I’m going to listen to Trans-Siberian Orchestra all day. That is not a complaint, by the way. :D

    No problem. ^ _ ^

    You could say “maybe not a lot of Angelologists know this”, but… they do. You could say “maybe they think Godwin reformed”, but… there’s apparently rumors that he’s still working for the Nephilim and you haven’t mentioned if the book brings up the possibility of him reforming at all.

    There’s not any mention of him reforming at all. It really doesn’t make sense in the slightest. The first time I read this book, I was kind of rushing through it, so I assumed that it was just that not everyone knew about Godwin being a traitor. But re-reading it now, it’s obvious that at the very least everyone suspects it, and Yana’s not the least surprised to hear that he used to work for the Grigoris. It’s just baffling.

    Apparently having a traitor in Angelologists higher echelon was not enough for Trussoni, he had to remain in direct emplot of book’s Big Bad. Which makes me question, how the hell Grigoris have not eliminated the Angelologists yet? At least in Russia.

    I do have an answer for that, actually: both sides in this conflict are hopelessly inept. Just look at the how the villains do in this book alone—the only reason they manage anything is because the Plot allows them. Eno only captured Evangeline because she let herself get caught. Eno didn’t get captured because the angelologists barely even tried, and it wasn’t even the protagonists who caught her, it was Yana, off-page. The twins, who are marginally villains of this novel, haven’t appeared since the beginning, really, but they’re pretty awful too.

    But this book (judging by spork, I reserve right to change opinion if proven wrong) never does a good job of explaining how exactly do Angelologists defeat their supernatural enemies.

    There’s really not. It’s kind of strange. The last book was even more vague, but we don’t actually see angelologists do as much action in that one. The angel hunters have stun guns, and I think there’s some kind of shock collar they use, but other than that, we’re not given much specifics. There are vague references to “binding” as if it was some magical method of capturing angelic beings, but no one really clarifies what the heck that actually is, and it isn’t as if we see runes or sigils anywhere in the book.

    It’s really hard to see these characters as badass when we have no idea what it is they actually do. We’re told they do it with skill and talent and cleverness, but we’re supposed to take the author’s word for it. Because when we actually see these skilled, talented and clever people in action, it’s kind of a letdown.