We’re back! And we’ve got some new tricks. Dr. Azov leads Vera and Sveti to Dr. Valko’s place in the mountains of Bulgaria. And despite everyone insisting that Valko is a pariah that doesn’t like visitors, he immediately welcomes them inside his place. Seriously.
“Azov,” he said. “My friend, what are you doing here?”
“Come with me. It’s best to get out of the street. Anyone, or anything, could be watching.”
His place has a gigantic courtyard with tons of trees and vines all over, which is of course part of the garden he’s been growing from Noah’s seeds, which is how he’s been alive so long. Now, if Valko was any kind of decent host, he’d bring them to his study, or living room, or his game room so they could all sit around and play Titanfall while they talk about what’s going on. Instead, because Trussoni wants to go back to taking infodumps on our faces, he takes them to his greenhouse and immediately starts handing them fruits to smell and taste.
Valko smiled, clearly pleased to have captured their attention. “Everything you see in this greenhouse is a plant that has not existed for thousands of years. The flowers blooming on that table, the vegetables growing at the far end of the greenhouse, the fruit you have just smelled—none of these things have blossomed since the time of the Flood. In my original plans, the greenhouse alone was to be vast, with over two thousand varieties of antediluvian seeds.”
So not only have they got a bunch of seeds from Noah’s storage, they’ve apparently enough for “over two thousand varieties.” I remind you, these seeds were sitting in storage jars in a cave for possibly tens of thousands of years. I refuse to believe that’s possible.
And it’s a bit late for me to be asking this question, but… what language are they speaking? Vera’s Russian, Azov’s Hungarian, and Valko in the last book was teaching angelologists in Paris, so presumably he spoke French. What are they speaking now? What have they been speaking the entire book? It’s not a plot hole, I’m just curious if there’s a common language for all the angelologists to use.
Azov, looking at the plants, notices that they look kind of like normal plants if they were mutated. In particular, he stares at an apple tree with apples that had “skin that shone brilliant pink” and a “glowing blue” stem. Valko grabs one of the apple and tells him to eat it. The thing of course tastes disgusting, and the inside of the apple is glowing blue.
Guys, that does not sound remotely safe to eat.
“This may very well have been the fruit that caused the exile of Adam and Eve.
Look, the whole point of the Tree of Knowledge was that you’re not supposed to eat it. If we’re taking Adam and Eve’s story from Genesis as literal (which is difficult given that there’s two creation stories in Genesis, but whatevs), and that Adam and Eve were actually kicked out of a literal Garden of Eden… why the fudge would God let them waltz out with a sample of the seeds from the tree that got them banished in the first place? Why would there be more than one of these trees at all? What would be the point?
In any case, the idea of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil being an apple is a fairly recent invention, taken from the similarities of the Latin words for ‘evil’ and ‘apple.’ It could have been anything, but scholars disagree on what it might precisely be. Fruit like the fig and or the grape are pretty popular candidates.
Also, if this fruit is, beyond any logical or theological justification, actually the fruit that caused the Fall of Humanity… why the ever-loving fudge is Valko handing it out to guests like it’s a plate of hors d’oeuvres?! Whether it is the Forbidden Fruit or not, Valko thinks it might be. So with this possibility, he just hands it out to people? Without even telling them what it is? What kind of sicko does that?
Isn’t this a suicidally stupid move? Valko is committing something pretty damn close to the strongest blasphemy you can possibly do, in a world where Heaven and angels are confirmed to be real (implying that God is too). That’s like inviting an archangel to come and smite your ass with a flaming sword.
And hasn’t Azov met Valko before? They’re friends! Valko even calls him “My friend” when Azov shows up. So apparently Valko gets guests he’s never met before and immediately shows them his Forbidden Fruits1, but Azov has never seen any of this before this point in the story? What?
“I developed a solution of fertilizer and plant hormones in which I soaked the seeds until they began to sprout. In the protection of the greenhouse, most of them have thrived. I have kept a record of every blossom on every tree and every fruit that has ripened.”
You know… I’ve usually complained about how unorganized the angelologists are, but truth be told this kind of meticulous care here? I believe. Because he doesn’t know the biology of the plants he’s dealing with, it makes perfect sense for him to be incredibly attentive to every detail. And apparently he’s cut off from the outside world, so I suppose he’s got the time.
Valko admits that he’s been using the plants to make medicines for himself, prolonging his life. He’s only had one incident in which he was poisoned, but apparently there’s no other negative effects to consuming a bunch of fruit and seeds from plants that haven’t existed on the planet Earth for thousands of years.2
The scientist claims that he can “feel and look younger and younger each year.” But I don’t see that as being true. The looking bit, anyhow. He’s described having wrinkles all over his face, long white hair pulled back into a ponytail, and a white beard “curled to his stomach.” I understand that he’s in better shape than he has any right to be at one hundred years old, but that description doesn’t sound like he looks any younger.
And after all that unnecessary exposition, finally Valko wonders what these people are doing in his house.
But enough about me and my fountains of youth. Come inside now and tell me what brings you here.”
This quote was actually at the end of a paragraph where he’s monologuing about medicine. I cut it from this sporking because it’s boring as hell and few enough people comment on my sporkings as it is. But now, after Valko just showed his friend (Azov), his assistant (Sveti), and this lady he maybe barely knows (Vera) the secret of eternal youth and arguably one of the most important and valuable sites on the planet…only now does he decide to ask them what it is they’re doing here.
Would it kill you, Trussoni, for someone in this novel to act like a normal human being? Where are his basic manners? Also where’s his… wife? Girlfriend? I don’t know her status, but earlier in the book it said he lives with someone who is pregnant with his child, so I’d expect we’d meet her in his house. But we don’t because she’s not relevant to the Plot or exposition. Heaven forbid we meet a woman who just exists as her own character in the house she lives in.
Right. With this chapter ends “The Fifth Circle: FURY” and the next chapter begins “The Sixth Circle: HERESY,” which is a word that fits for this book. Not that this book is a heresy in the theological sense (though it is), but I’d argue it’s heretical towards reason, research, and rational thought.
See you guys next time.
1 Not like that; get your mind out of the gutter!
2 …I kind of want someone to do a spitefic where Valko’s garden goes all Jurassic Park on him.