I’m back!

I hold that I’d be a very fun supervillain.

Anyhow, this time we’re back with ‘The Eighth Circle: FRAUD.’ Yup, that’s right—the last part, ‘VIOLENCE’ was only two chapters, one of which was super short. Chapter 33 (which oddly doesn’t give us a setting, but it’s all happening in the angel prison in Siberia) gives us a viewpoint character we actually haven’t had in ages—Merlin Godwin! In case you’d forgotten, he was the mad scientist who was a traitor to the angelolololologists, secretly working for their enemies, the Grigoris. When it was revealed he was a traitor, they did not leave him in a ditch or cast him out, they put him in charge of a secret prison in Siberia with his own secret laboratory that no one else can observe, and he (un)surprisingly was able to continue working for the Grigoris. Their actual plan was that since he can’t leave the prison, it’s also a prison for him. But the higher ups in the society know he’s dirty, and all the angelologists in Russia have rumors that he’s corrupt, but no one’s bothered to go down there and make him stop his evil ways.

As I’ve said before, angelologists are stupid.

Each morning he entered the tunnel via the south entrance, walking the thirteen hundred feet leading from the exterior to the interior chamber, his briefcase in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. It was a dark and solitary commute. And while it lasted less than ten minutes, walking through the corridor gave him a few moments of total peace and isolation, allowing him to leave the normal world, where people lived without the slightest knowledge of the truth, and enter a place that seemed to him, even after twenty-five years, a place of nightmares.

STOP.

Backup.

So… doesn’t Godwin live in the Panopticon/angel prison/maybe Angelopolis? Like, that’s where he is. He can’t leave. That’s what Valko meant when he called him a “permanent resident” of the prison in Chapter 30.

So how does he leave behind the normal world every morning when he goes to work?

Godwin hasn’t been in the normal world for years. Since the 1980’s, I think. Unless he has? Evidently he has coffee wherever he is, which seems a bit of an oversight to me. And walks through really long tunnels. I guess they gave Magneto books to read and chess to play with when he was imprisoned in the X-Men movies, but they didn’t let him walk around too much.

But I forgot, I’m thinking as if someone in this book was using common sense.

[sigh]

So what’s the prison like?

It contained holding cells, examination rooms, laboratories, a complete medical center, and solitary confinement chambers for angelic life-forms and, when necessary, human beings who obstructed their work. There were facilities for intake procedures and facilities for disposing of dead creatures.

Guys, is it just me or does this all sound very Naz—

There was a crematorium.

I… I can’t, guys. I just… look at this! Look at this! The angelologists are Nazis! I don’t like invoking Godwin’s Law, even when it’s appropriate (like comparisons between Voldemort and Hitler), but… what else can be said? How else is this supposed to be taken? What other conclusion can I arrive at? The angelologists have set up a special facility so they can round up Nephilim, hold them up, perform gruesome experiments on them, and then dispose of them by burning the bodies.

We could all credit this to Godwin1, saying it would be much nicer if he wasn’t the one running the prison… but it’s all perfectly in line with what we’ve seen other angelologists talking about. It’s the natural conclusion to the way they work. Combine this with their obsession with different subspecies of Nephilim and how their genes apparently make some superior to others… it all paints a very ugly picture reminiscent of the Nazi party.

In short, the angelologists are all like,

I am baffled, because by all rights it seems as if the angelologists are supposed to be the good guys. We’ve spent almost the entire book from their point of view, and there aren’t many indications that we’re supposed to question their methods and their goal of eradicating an entire species. Like I said, I could be wrong, and Trussoni could have had them as Villain Protagonists the entire time and it just went over my head… but if that’s the case, she did a shitty job. There isn’t enough evidence to show us that the author disapproves of any of their actions, because the only character that does is Verlaine, and only for a little bit and it’s never brought up again.

So yeah.

What else is on the agenda to bitch about?

As the scientist in charge of this massive operation, every possible technological advantage for the containment of the enemy was at his disposal.

THIS MAN IS A TRAITOR. I cannot emphasize this enough. And yet the angelologists, in order to deal with his treachery, put him in a position of power. It’s not “Oh, we put him in some corner where we can watch him.” It’s “We put him in charge of an underground angel concentration camp with unlimited powers there, and give him a mad science laboratory, maybe he won’t misbehave.”

These people are stupid. So stupid it hurts me.

Wait, how the hell did they build this thing in the middle of Siberia in the first place? There is a mention that construction was started in the 1950’s, but how on Earth could they build in Russia like that without anyone noticing? How’d they get the money?

After two decades of fruitless attempts the society made a deal with the Kremlin to occupy the space directly below Russia’s largest nuclear facility in Chelyabinsk.

The Kremlin.

So basically, the Russian government was at one point aware of the angelologists, and sold them real estate.

Okay then.

[walks off]

[walks back in]

Wait, that’s not remotely okay! Is the Russian government still aware of the angelologists? Are any major governments? Does the White House? Or did the society approach the Kremlin as another group? I guess according to the books, the rich and powerful are—

Hang on, according to the books the Nephilim secretly control the world! So by that logic, world governments like Russia’s would be under their thumb. Why the flying fudgecopters would they be alright with someone building a giant angel concentration camp in Siberia? And if Russia’s not under the thumb of the Grigoris and other Nephilim… why not? The Russian Revolution was supposed to have kicked them out, but is Trussoni suggesting that the Nephilim just stayed out? Because the Grigoris are all over Russia in this book.

Trussoni, did you even try to do any worldbuilding when you wrote this novel?

The agreement was controversial among the angelologists—

HOW? Bruno’s comments seem to imply that he had no idea the place existed? Was it once common knowledge in the society? Why isn’t it now?

Also Godwin briefly mentions that there are death cam—I mean, angel prisons in the US and China as well, but this one’s the biggest. So yeah, in case you didn’t have enough trouble sleeping at night, the systematic extermination of the Nephilim is a worldwide phenomenon.

Trussoni describes the Panopticon in more detail than I actually care about, but I’m reminded that “Panopticon” is also the name of an episode of Person of Interest and I’d rather everyone was talking about that instead of this shitty book. Really, it’s not that it’s boring, but that it’s disturbing that the whole ‘make these angels think they’re under constant surveillance and torture them when they don’t obey and torture them when we feel like it’ is just so disturbing.

Like this:

There were no blankets, beds, or toilets, nothing more than what was absolutely necessary to sustain the creatures.

Recently captured creatures, the hope of release still burning in their eyes, stood whenever Godwin came into view. The gesture was so pointless, so pathetic, that Godwin had to stifle the urge to laugh.

So just so we’re clear—the Nephilim locked up here have no toilets or beds or even blankets, and the angelologists in charge do everything in their power to break their wills through years of torture and abuse. These are the protectors of humanity. No, Godwin’s not a perfect angelologist because he’s a traitor to the society, but the methods used here? The construction of the facility? None of that is his idea. He’s running the place, but he’s just continuing the angelologists’ methods.

But if he’s been running this place for twenty years or so, and he’s in the enemy’s pocket… wouldn’t Godwin have freed all the prisoners or something? The idea is that he’s supposed to be using it as a cover for his experiments, but are we seriously saying he has more resources at his disposal in a prison than anywhere else? Are the angelologists so inept that they put him in a position more powerful than kicking him to the curb and leaving him on the street?

…yes. The answer is probably yes.

So Godwin thinks about how he’s a traitor and the depths of his treachery and how much of an asshole he is.

No really.

He blamed the baser elements of human nature, of course. He was greedy, vain, and power hungry.

Alright, Trussoni, having your villain mention how much of an unlikable asshole he is doesn’t change the fact that he’s an unlikable asshole. There really isn’t anything to him other than that. He mentions that he once tried to please the angelologists, and how he might be subconsciously rebelling against his angelologist parents, but he doesn’t have any other motivation other than being an asshole, like all of Trussoni’s villains.

Listen, I don’t always ask for villains to be sympathetic. They don’t have to be. But I do like for them to be complex. And having a villain contemplate about how much of a douchebag he is on the way to work in the morning isn’t complex, it’s almost childishly simplistic. We had some discussion of this in the comments for Apep’s City of Ashes sporking I think. If the rest of the book had been better I wouldn’t be this hard on his characterization, but… this book doesn’t put me in the mood to be merciful.

Godwin talks about the angel virus and how he helped Angela Valko make it way back when, and only recently created a temporary treatment for it, though he still can’t cure it. And then we get this:

For several years he had been riding on the promise of his first and only triumph: The twins were an impressive feat of breeding, genetic manipulation, and luck. The successful cloning—twice over—of the late Percival Grigori—using frozen cells harvested from Percival during his lifetime—had bought him carte blanche with the Grigori money.

Remember how I said that Armigus and Axicore Grigori, the twin Nephilim villains, were pale imitations of the last book’s villain, Percival Grigori? Not only are they that, but they are literally clones. That’s right, Trussoni couldn’t come up with an original Nephilim villain, so not only did she bring in these cousins who had never before been mentioned, but they are cloned from the last book’s villain.

Wow.

This hasn’t been hinted at in the slightest before now. Yes, it said they looked a lot like Percival, but so did Angela, and Verlaine remarked that everyone in that family had a distinctive look. They’re family, so of course they’d look alike.

And this entire thing raises so many questions. Why did the Grigoris pay for Percival to be cloned? Why twice? How did they get the money to Godwin in the prison? What is Godwin going to do with the money, since he can’t leave the prison? Why did Percival not mention he had clones? Do the twins know they’re clones?

And this isn’t really brought up again. No really. This has no real part in the plot, other than that Godwin’s doing genetic experiments. So why is it here?

[shrugs] I dunno.

And so we end the chapter with this:

Godwin always felt an odd, phantasmagoric sensation when he traversed the moat of concrete surround the observation tower. Thousands of eyes trailed his movements, and he couldn’t help but feel the unnerving power of their gaze. Sometimes it seemed to him that their positions were reversed, and that he had become a prisoner, a spectacle paraded out for the pleasure of the Nephilim. Each day he had to remind himself that he was the master, and they, these beautiful beasts whose bodies were stronger than his own, were his prisoners.

Basically Godwin’s like this:

That’s how it sounds! Seriously, how else am I supposed to take “an odd phantasmagoric sensation” other than that he feels arousal at the power he holds over others? I can’t imagine anyone using the phrase “phantasmagoric sensation” to mean anything not sexual. It’s not just me, is it?

So yes, we get an extended look at our villain, and what did we learn? The good guys are incompetent Nazis, the traitor has freedom to do what he wants in a facility made by the organization he betrayed, and he gets hard-ons at having power over others.

That about sums it up.

Join me next time, as we team up again with Bruno, Verlaine and Yana, as they enter the Panopticon! Will anything well-written happen? Probably not.

1 I have no idea if the name is supposed to be connected to Godwin’s Law. Given what we’ve seen so far in this book, I think that gives Trussoni too much credit.

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Comment

  1. sidhefan on 14 January 2016, 06:12 said:

    Wait, how more chapters of this…this… blasphemy are there?

    Really, this book makes me side with Nephilim. I mean, look at this! Practically every major country has center for their extermination! Woman spoken as hero created virus to destroy everything winged, kissed on camera with her husband while she was torturing Percival, and raped ( it is rape, if one partner is not mentally mature to make valid consent) child-like angel who only ever saw one human before to get super angel for her purposes! And we are told she would be okay with vivisecting her own daughter!

    Another thing- wasn’t Angelopolis supposed to be built by nephilim? Why is it then name of prison where they are killed off?

    Sigh. Only thing that could save this book- given that it is fantasy set in Russia- would be to have Baba Yaga show up and get rid of all this idiots.

    On second thought, Trussoni would mess her up and I would have no choice but to kill her.

  2. Akkakieron on 14 January 2016, 07:45 said:

    Um…Uh…So, uh, I guess the angelologists went…full Godwin. laughs insanely before putting his face in his hands Seriously?! It’s like that terrible show Demons where the main characters want to kill every supernatural creature for merely existing and loath the idea of wanting peace with them. I mean, how else am I supposed to see people showed in cages and denied basic human fucking decency, to be experimented on in the name of genocide a good thing? Trussoni, what are you trying to go for?!

    And clones of a villain? Actually, I kinda like that idea, like a clone escaping from the facility and trying to find his way in a world where people try to kill him or want to use him. Especially if he decides to screw over both factions. That’s actually going to be my happy place for this book: the angelologists getting screwed over by their actions. closes his eyes and relishes the thought Beautiful.

  3. Juracan on 14 January 2016, 14:21 said:

    Wait, how more chapters of this…this… blasphemy are there?

    Five. And an epilogue.

    Really, this book makes me side with Nephilim. I mean, look at this! Practically every major country has center for their extermination! Woman spoken as hero created virus to destroy everything winged, kissed on camera with her husband while she was torturing Percival, and raped ( it is rape, if one partner is not mentally mature to make valid consent) child-like angel who only ever saw one human before to get super angel for her purposes! And we are told she would be okay with vivisecting her own daughter!

    Well… part of the problem is that the Nephilim are cartoonishly stupid too. You can go back through the spork for examples, but the villains of the series tend to do stupid crap like showing their wings in public, whining about being around humans, and that weird rapey/stabby scene from earlier.

    I’d like to think that the lower classes of Nephilim are actually alright, and we haven’t seen much evidence to the contrary. But sadly, no one seems to care about them, including the author.

    Another thing- wasn’t Angelopolis supposed to be built by nephilim? Why is it then name of prison where they are killed off?

    I really don’t know what to tell you, other than you’re right. The Angelopolis was mentioned before as being a sort of city just for angels where there aren’t any humans. But we find out it’s just Godwin’s secret lab, which is sort of the opposite? It doesn’t make much sense. I think the idea was supposed to be that the Grigoris are actually the ones running the place, given that they supposedly have Godwin on their payroll, but… as we see, that’s not entirely true. In any case, he’s still torturing and experimenting on Nephilim there.

    So the title of this book is just nonsense. It’s not too surprising, given that the place is mentioned and described in two back-to-back chapters, and promptly never mentioned again outside of the the setting line above the chapters. But it’s still frustrating that what you’d expect the book to be about… just isn’t really a thing. It’s yet another one of those really cool ideas Trussoni brings up and does absolutely nothing with.

    Sigh. Only thing that could save this book- given that it is fantasy set in Russia- would be to have Baba Yaga show up and get rid of all this idiots.

    Sadly, I can tell you that it doesn’t happen. But I too would like it.

    I mean, how else am I supposed to see people showed in cages and denied basic human fucking decency, to be experimented on in the name of genocide a good thing? Trussoni, what are you trying to go for?!

    Like I said, I’m not sure if we are, given this is all filtered through Godwin right now. But… it’s still the natural conclusion of the angelolololologist line of thinking. And like I’ve said, it’s not as if there is a third party character who steps in and says “No, this is wrong!” The Nephilim villains don’t even act as if this is particularly horrendous.

    And clones of a villain? Actually, I kinda like that idea, like a clone escaping from the facility and trying to find his way in a world where people try to kill him or want to use him. Especially if he decides to screw over both factions.

    There are sooooooooo many great ideas that could have been used for this book, and none of them are. It’s really disappointing and depressing the more you think about it.

    That’s actually going to be my happy place for this book: the angelologists getting screwed over by their actions. closes his eyes and relishes the thought Beautiful.

    Huh.

    Welp.

    Funny you should say that…

  4. The Smith of Lie on 14 January 2016, 17:11 said:

    I can stand behind a generic villain if he is fun. But a villain who, on his morning commute no less, thinks about how much of an asshole he is? That is cartoonish.

    Angelolgits (no, I did not make spelling mistakes) are evil, but at least they consider themselves heroes. Hell, I bet that even the one guy who is almost universally considered evil in the history, namely Adolf Hitler, considered himself the good guy and the atrocities commited as done in the name of greater good of German people.

    So when someone writes a guy who describes himself like Godwin here it is just such bad writing…

  5. sidhefan on 14 January 2016, 18:16 said:

    The Smith of Lie, correction- cartoonish villains are more interesting. And their writers don’t try to sound smarter than they are, acknowledging what they have written.

    Can I write spitefic of sort?

  6. The Smith of Lie on 15 January 2016, 02:50 said:

    The Smith of Lie, correction- cartoonish villains are more interesting. And their writers don’t try to sound smarter than they are, acknowledging what they have written.

    Well ok, I’ll give you that. There are cartoon (and cartoonish) villains who are complete cliche and who speak about how evil they are, but are so hammy and over the top at the same time that they are fun. Ming the Merciless anyone?

    Can I write spitefic of sort?

    I don’t think you need anyone’s permission. Just do it.

  7. sidhefan on 15 January 2016, 05:01 said:

    Oh, I remember him! And while not really cartoon, take look on Disney’s villains. They are often just pure evil, but so campy and hilarious that people love them. It’s ones that aren’t anything of this- like Cinderella’s stepmother Lady Tremaine, that are truly hated.

  8. swenson on 15 January 2016, 11:08 said:

    Well… part of the problem is that the Nephilim are cartoonishly stupid too.

    Good grief. This whole thing isn’t even Black and Gray Morality, it’s straight-up Black and Black Morality. With a heaping dose of Stupid Evil.

  9. Juracan on 16 January 2016, 14:30 said:

    Angelolgits (no, I did not make spelling mistakes) are evil, but at least they consider themselves heroes.

    I personally would have gone with “angelologits.” Another ‘o’ in there to make it roll of the tongue better.

    Can I write spitefic of sort?

    Shoot! I won’t stop you.

    Good grief. This whole thing isn’t even Black and Gray Morality, it’s straight-up Black and Black Morality. With a heaping dose of Stupid Evil.

    Now you understand what makes this book so difficult—there is no one to sympathize with. I suppose maybe Evangeline, but like I said, she’s benched for almost all of this book. So… there is no one.

  10. TMary on 7 January 2017, 21:04 said:

    There were no blankets, beds, or toilets, nothing more than what was absolutely necessary to sustain the creatures.

    OK, I feel a little….

    Recently captured creatures, the hope of release still burning in their eyes, stood whenever Godwin came into view. The gesture was so pointless, so pathetic, that Godwin had to stifle the urge to laugh.

    I mean a lot….

    he was the master, and they, these beautiful beasts whose bodies were stronger than his own, were his prisoners.

    I’m really freakin’ unnerved right now, y’all.

    I mean, that ought to be horrifying to anyone, but see…in this story I’m working on, I have these supernatural creatures, and an organization devoted (in part) to capturing and controlling them. Said organization behaves very much like this – I can even see the leader thinking in much the same terms as Godwin does here – but there’s a big difference.

    In my stories the people who act like that are the bad guys.

    I know that the “Nephilim” (I’m sorry, they’re just not anything remotely like what I thought Nephilim were supposed to be like) are supposedly a great danger to human beings, whereas my super-creatures are just trying to live their lives in peace, but that doesn’t matter. If you treat someone like this, it doesn’t matter what they’ve done, you are just as bad as they are.

    I know everything’s filtered through Godwin’s eyes right now and I…think…he’s supposed to be a bad guy here, but the angelologists all seem totally down with how he acts! The only part they object to is the fact that he’s working for their enemies! Which leads me to the only obvious conclusion, which is that all this is supposed to be okay, and it is very clearly not!

    I…I just keep mentally replacing these characters with mine, and I feel kind of sick.