Crap, guys, this chapter is just infodumping. It’s not even a full infodump to move the Plot. It’s an infodump so that we can be led to another infodump a couple of chapters from now and then the Plot will move. It’s that stupid. But we can make it through.

Probably.

Before we do that though, fun fact: a couple of you wonderful readers suggested that the reason Valko was so chill and acted so strangely towards his guests was that he might actually be high. I thought it was an amusing headcanon and kind of dismissed it, but then I found this line in this chapter:

Valko seemed unnaturally calm, as if he were in a trance.

The book is pointing out his weirdness.

I think this is as close as we’re going to get to canon confirmation that Valko is high as a kite right now. Do with it what you will.

So Azov, Sveti and Vera go into what I imagine is a study of some kind, as it’s filled with a bunch of exploring equipment and such. We get no indication that they sit down, though, so I suppose there’s not chairs in the room. Vera takes a look at all the maps and such, and Valko tells her that he’s an explorer because he couldn’t bear to be in Paris after his stepdaughter Angela died, as being reminded of her hurt too much. This doesn’t stop Valko from talking about her without any issues throughout this entire chapter though.

Anyhow, after he left Paris he went mountain climbing.

My major discoveries have always occurred when I returned to the original dwelling places of the Nephilim—the Alps, or the Pyrenees, or the Himalayas.”

The places most important to the creatures are always located in the remotest regions of the earth, away from human eyes.”

[raises hand]

Uh… question: maybe by ‘original dwelling places’ you mean before the Noah’s Flood and all, but after that the Nephilim have been ruling the world, or at least Europe. So… how would they keep their hiding places in the mountains and such, if they were busy ruling Europe? I think historians would notice if all the monarchs of the past two thousand years of Western Civilization stayed exclusively to the mountains. Or if they continuously disappeared to the mountains for no discernible reason.

A little girl walks in and puts tea on Valko’s desk, and Vera guesses this is the daughter that Valko had with his girlfriend/wife (still not specified). And her name? Pandora. Why the hell a guy from a secret society that specializes in folklore, mythology and history would name his daughter after the woman who released all evil into the world, I don’t know. Maybe he’ll name his next kid Delilah or Cain or Sisyphus.

Vera finally tells them what they’re here about, and tells Valko about the Book of Medicines of Noah. Valko tells her that the formula mentioned in Jubilees has a long list of people who sought to make it— “Noah, Nicolas Flamel, Newton, John Dee.”

I do like the mention of several historical figures.

Wait, Noah didn’t seek the recipe, he made it. And there’s a huge gap between Noah and Flamel—did no one look it up in between those two? There’s a lot that happened between thousands of years ago and the 1400’s.

Valko claims that Angela didn’t think Rasputin’s book was authentic at first, because it was weirdly convenient that someone she knew just happened to have this book of Biblical recipes on hand to give to her. But Valko claims that she was convinced it was real after looking at the Nephil family tree? How looking at the family tree cleared up anything, I don’t know, but whatever. Valko launches into a spiel.

Okay, I’m sorry if this next part isn’t clear, because I don’t understand it, but I’m going to try to convey it to you guys:

-Alexei Romanov was a hemophiliac, yes? We know this from history. That’s what Rasputin came to the Imperial Court to deal with. Alexei Romanov apparently got his hemophilia from Queen Victoria, who was “one of the most vital, effective Nephilim rulers in English history” and Albert, who was part “Golobian,” whatever the fudge that means.1 Theoretically, Rasputin’s copy of Noah’s Book of Medicines would cure the hemophilia.

-Now I don’t quite understand what they’re getting at here though, because Valko and Vera seem to think that if Rasputin cured Alexei Romanov’s hemophilia, this would conceivably somehow turn him human? Or perhaps killed him. There’s no indication that ‘curing a Nephil’s hemophilia’ => turning him human, but that’s what I’ve gotten out of it.

This also doesn’t make much sense. If it was feasible for someone to come up with a formula to turn a Nephilim human, why hasn’t anyone brought it up? If turning your monstrous enemies human was in the playbook, why are they inhumanely torturing and killing all the angels they get their hands on? Hell, that might be torture for a Nephil, having been turned mortal. So it still might be fun for you guys.

-Vera points out that if Alexei Romanov had died, Rasputin would have lost all his power at the Russian Imperial Court and be executed or exiled. Valko says (or rather implies) that he wouldn’t, but then turns around and says he would, contradicting himself. See for yourselves:

“Rasputin would have been sentenced to exile—even execution—if Alexei had died on his watch,” Vera said.

“You should remember Rasputin’s power over Alexei’s mother,” Valko said. “He was thought to have cast a spell over Alexandra. He was charged with every kind of evil practice imaginable—of holding black masses at the palace, of invoking demons to harm Alexandra’s enemies, of the sexual practices associated with the Khlysty sect. Maybe there was a kernel of truth to the rumors. But if he hadn’t come up with a cure, he would have lost all power over the imperial family.”

I’m not reading this wrong, am I? Because what it sounds like to me is Valko said, “No, Rasputin wouldn’t die because he has power in the imperial family, but then if he failed to heal Alexei, he would lose it all.”

I’m telling you, within the chapters themselves the angelologists can’t keep everything straight! None of this makes any sense! If you’re going to put Rasputin in as a major background character, can you at least give him some discernible motivation that makes sense??

Valko talks about how he wondered whether Alexei secretly survived, but Azov points out that his remains were found and confirmed “last month.” Which doesn’t work, because that find was confirmed in March of 2009, and this book explicitly takes place in 2010.

But moving beyond that… was it ordinary vanilla scientists who found and tested the remains? Because that also doesn’t add up. If they were ordinary scientists, then they’d quickly find out that the Romanov kid wasn’t human; we’ve established that the Russian Imperial family is more “pure” than most Nephilim, so there’d be more obvious signs in the physiology. Less so after the corpse has been exposed to the elements for a few years, but still things like wings (or at least hinges in the shoulders where wings would attach) would still be evident.

Azov, channeling Juracan, asks what any of this has to do with anything, and Valko says that Angela wanted to produce a “chemical wedding” to produce “the Alchemical Child.” A new element, if you will, that… look, Valko, for God’s sake, just tell us what the eff you’re talking about, please? He’s just going on and on for pages upon pages about stuff that we don’t care about. NONE OF THIS PERTAINS TO THE PLOT. SHUT UP VALKO

Valko shows them another of the missing Fabergé Eggs, goes on to explain every detail about it, then somehow gets to talking about the Philosopher’s Stone and the Elixier of Life. Valko gives a few different names for it, which I’m pretty sure Trussoni just copied from the Wikipedia page on the subject.

Guys, I use Wikipedia a lot when I do basic research in things I’m interested on, but I’m not writing conspiracy thrillers and passing it off as research. I feel like Trussoni’s doing this:

Valko goes on about how the Book of Flowers/Medicines/Whatever is supposed to represent the “apotheosis of alchemy,” and that it is “a paean to the chemical wedding.” And I’m so confused, because this is just Trussoni farting around. I know it’s gotten so confusing some of you guys have forgotten the Plot, but it’s apparently gotten so bad that the characters have too.

The reason Vera, Azov and Sveti came to Valko was because the last ingredient in the anti-Nephilim formula was Valkine, the element Valko discovered, so they went to him hoping that he’d give some to them or help them find it. Instead, they’re babbling about what Rasputin’s cookbook represents and how it was important to Angela Valko and the sexual and alchemical implications of it, and I don’t give a shit! Neither should these characters!

Imagine you went to the library to pick up a copy of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick for your literature class. And when you go to ask the librarian where to find it, she doesn’t tell you which bookshelf to search in, but instead goes on and on about how the book might actually be a re-telling of John Milton’s Paradise Lost and the whale represents the Wrath of God.2

You don’t care about that! You’re trying to go about your business! Well, that’s how the angelologists should act. They should by all rights be saying, “That’s nice, Dr. Valko, but can we get what we came for?” Instead, they’re strung along and fascinated by Valko taking an info-dump over their heads so that Trussoni can rant about inane alchemical theories and history that has fuck all to do with anything!

Something clicked in Vera’s mind. Just twenty-four hours earlier she herself had lectured Verlaine and Bruno on Angela’s Jungian approach to the society’s most revered text. “This Book of Flowers was her Jacob’s Ladder,” Vera said, reaching for the journal.

I don’t care if it’s her Holy Grail, what does this have to do with anything?! Where’s the frigging Valkine??

Look, I can barely keep it together for the rest of this chapter, because it’s more ranting to lead us to yet another exposition dump, but basically Valko hands them a file written by Angela’s mother/Evangeline’s grandmother, Gabriella, a report of her field work and the reveal that Angela’s real father was Percival Grigori III. Vera remarks that it should be an interesting read, and Valko confirms.

That’s it.

Okay, well there’s a quick explanation of a woman named Katya, who was the daughter of one of Rasputin’s teacher, and that’s also in the file, or maybe it’s supposed to be the file but it gets retconned into being Gabriella’s a page later because there’s no frigging continuity in this book what the hell?!?

That’s the end of the chapter.

What did we learn? Lots of cool stuff, I guess, but none of it actually deals with the Plot in a direct way, or moves it along. I’m pissed off by this whole thing, and it’s not even offensive, it’s just stupid that nothing happens!

What the hell is a chemical wedding? The Alchemical Child? Hell if I knew after reading this chapter. But I can assure you that it all boils down to what it always does when it comes to in Trussoni’s novel—sex.

See you next time, in which Verlaine gets captured.

1 I don’t exposition for everything, Trussoni, but you can’t just throw words like “Golobian” at me out of nowhere and expect to give a crap about what it means.

2 This is something my Milton professor actually told his class. I didn’t pull this out of my ass. Now if I said that the whale represents the Republic of Ireland…

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Comment

  1. The Smith of Lie on 16 July 2015, 01:56 said:

    What the hell is a chemical wedding?

    An end result of someone’s Chemical Romance?

    I’m not reading this wrong, am I? Because what it sounds like to me is Valko said, “No, Rasputin wouldn’t die because he has power in the imperial family, but then if he failed to heal Alexei, he would lose it all.”

    The only way I can make sense of Valko’s repsonse is that he disagrees on the scale of consequences for Rasputin. Loss of influence is less of a loss than getting killed. Other than that? It makes none.

  2. Akkakieron on 16 July 2015, 08:02 said:

    If I could rewrite the Nephilim and their connection to royalty, I would have the Nephilim rule over the human royal families from the shadows. They would have freedom and protection while the royal families can have some power. The mountains would be bases to hide from hunters.

    Like Written in Red with its chapters about the postal service, I have to say, if the alchemy talk is not important to the story, I don’t care. It feels like Trussoni just wanted to show off her knowledge about alchemy, but didn’t want to work it into the story so she just dumped it here. Really, this chapter should’ve been cut if nothing really happens.

  3. Juracan on 16 July 2015, 16:22 said:

    An end result of someone’s Chemical Romance?

    Maybe. I’m kind of bummed right now that I didn’t think of that one.

    The only way I can make sense of Valko’s repsonse is that he disagrees on the scale of consequences for Rasputin. Loss of influence is less of a loss than getting killed. Other than that? It makes none.

    I suppose. But one would think that after losing influence he’d get exiled or killed. At the very least, an editor should have looked at it and said, “Hey, re-phrase this; it doesn’t make sense.”

    If I could rewrite the Nephilim and their connection to royalty, I would have the Nephilim rule over the human royal families from the shadows. They would have freedom and protection while the royal families can have some power. The mountains would be bases to hide from hunters.

    Well yes, that makes sense. But unfortunately this book doesn’t. So as it is we’re told repeatedly that the royal families of Europe were Nephilim despite a good chunk of the historical figures in that equation not fitting the phenotype or having many of the traits that Trussoni tells us are common of Nephilim. I suppose Trussoni could argue that they aren’t as “pure” as the Grigori family, but then again… if the Grigori family were the top dogs, where were they this entire time of human history? The other major families apparently didn’t rule from the shadows, so why should they?

    Really, this chapter should’ve been cut if nothing really happens.

    It should. It leads to another chapter which is just the contents of the file, and another chapter which is after Vera has read it and they all decide to go off to the next Plot Point.

  4. Castor on 18 July 2015, 16:57 said:

    I think Trussoni just got caught up in all the cool worldbuilding details she came up with and decided to write them all in one place rather than spread out through the narrative (as well as think about it to make sure it makes sense…) I mean, I write stuff out like this when I’m planning things out, but that’s just so I have all of it in one place and written out so I remember it.

    This also doesn’t make much sense. If it was feasible for someone to come up with a formula to turn a Nephilim human, why hasn’t anyone brought it up? If turning your monstrous enemies human was in the playbook, why are they inhumanely torturing and killing all the angels they get their hands on? Hell, that might be torture for a Nephil, having been turned mortal. So it still might be fun for you guys.

    This make so much more sense for the angelologists! If your mortal enemy has a longer lifespan/crazy powers, and your order has a bunch of scientists in it, why aren’t they trying to come up with a way to do this, especially if later on it’s implied by the characters that this is possible! This makes me think that this book really needed a rewrite after the first draft, because all of the inconsistencies within this chapter alone probably means there wasn’t really a huge difference between the first draft and the finished novel…