Now for Bruno!
No, not that one, the one. We’re getting a chapter from the point of view of Verlaine’s mentor figure, the one who has done squat up until now. He’s looking for Verlaine, and how does he know something’s up? Because his motorcycle’s been abandoned!
He’d discovered his Ducati abandoned near the Seine, and Bruno knew instantly that this strange evening was only going to get stranger. Something was going on with Verlaine, that much was obvious. He loved his Ducati and was rarely without it.
I knew he liked his Ducati, but I never knew he liked it that much. I mean, our first scene in the book (outside of the prologue) was Verlaine without it. And the motorcycle isn’t brought up in the book a lot, unless I’ve forgotten something.
Also—why are you looking for him, precisely? Let me try to look at the events as I see them right now: Bruno and Verlaine find a dead body by the Eiffel Tower, and then Verlaine just wanders off. I assumed that they were just going home when Verlaine got pulled into the Plot, but the fact that Bruno is looking for him seems to indicate that Verlaine wasn’t supposed to go off on his own.
So… why did Bruno wait this long to find Verlaine?
Remove the supernatural elements for a minute. Two cops investigate a dead body. They come to a conclusion. They say that’s what they’re going with. Then one of them leaves without saying where he’s going. The other doesn’t start asking where he went until about an hour later.
It’s pretty weird, isn’t it? Does Bruno not keep track of his co-workers in a city that is crawling with forces hostile to his secret society?
The whole damn neighborhood was full of Nephilim. After his time in New York, he thought he’d seen the worst of it. But the area between the Bon Marché and the Eiffel Tower had proved to be the most concentrated collection of old-world Nephilim families in the world.
I don’t know what the deal is with Paris in this book! Is it packed with Nephilim or with angelologists? I don’t know! The book doesn’t know! It changes depends on who is our viewpoint character, but there’s little evidence to back up either statement. If there’s a secret gang war going on in Paris, Verlaine and Bruno should be going around in groups, making sure they don’t get jumped in an alley or something.
Second, how would you not know that there’s a bunch of old Nephilim families in Paris before being stationed there? The society of angelologists should have this sort of intell—it’s basic information of where your enemies are stationed. So this opens up two possibilities: one, that they didn’t know that there was a high concentration of enemy families in Paris until Bruno arrived; or two, they knew and didn’t inform Bruno and it isn’t widely known information within the society itself, so if an angelologist found him or herself in Paris by happenstance, they’d be unaware and just be jumped by Nephilim for going to the wrong restaurant or something.
The hunters in Supernatural are more organized than this, and they’re not even a society; they’re just people who kill evil things! The angelologists are the worst secret society in history!
Maybe they’re helped by the fact that Nephilim are stupid.
…he had watched the Nephilim grow more and more reckless…. Among the new generations of angels there was a tendency toward exhibitionism. Reports, confessions, photographs, and videos were everywhere.
The idea being conveyed is that angels pop up now like Bigfoot or UFOs. But here’s the thing: they don’t. Yeah, there are still reports of angelic visions and the like, but it’s never “oh, I saw a guy with wings.” Most modern angelic sightings don’t really match up to this book’s angels. People talk about hearing an angelic voice or meeting a guardian angel; as far as I know, people don’t talk about seeing evil angels, or seeing people with wings on the street so much1. They’re almost always spiritual apparitions, rather than physical ones.
I suppose this is a different world than ours, and the author can do whatever she likes with it, but it doesn’t really add up the same way.
Bruno also goes on for a paragraph or three about how amazing of an angel hunter that Verlaine is. No really.
…a young man with the potential to become a great leader. Sure, Verlaine was still struggling to find his place in their organization, but he was talented.
He’d seen something unique in him, a rare balance of intelligence and intuition. And, sure enough, once he had entered training, Verlaine exemplified all the elements of an angel hunter
Now he was one of Bruno’s best.
He mastered every method of identifying angels
OMG GUYZ, VERLAINE IS LIKE A BOSS AT ANGEL HUNTING, TAKE MY WORD FOR IT
I read these passages over and over again, and you know what I thought about? A crappy Sci-Fi Channel original movie.
No wait, hear me out.
In the beginning scene of this movie, Legend of Grendel , Beowulf has been asked to destroy a monster by some people. He goes into a cave alone, and the people watching are all like, “Oh, he’s never coming back.”
Finn, Beowulf’s lackey in this movie, shakes his head and grins. “He always comes back.”
In the cave, an obviously CGI snake thing rears behind Beowulf, and he easily whips around and cuts it down. He comes back out of the cave with the creature’s head, and Finn is all like, “Told you so.” And then the movie gets to the plot proper.
Do you see my point? No? Okay, it’s this: in Trussoni’s book, we see Verlaine as an angel hunter, but don’t really see him doing anything much related to that job to indicate that he’s any good at it. We have to be told that he’s an amazing angel hunter and that he’s got all these skills, skills that the book doesn’t really take any effort to display.
The crappy Sci-Fi movie? Right off the bat we have an idea of who Beowulf is, what he does (kill monsters), that he’s done it tons of times (enough to build a reputation), and that he’s damn good at it (“He always comes back.”). The character is quickly established.
In this book, there is no indication that Verlaine is any good at angel hunting. Yes, characters tell us he’s good at it, but I can’t say there’s a scene that shows us that he’s particularly gifted, especially early on.
To be fair, Bruno does note that there’s something holding him back (which we know to be Evangeline), but it doesn’t change the fact that Verlaine’s described to be such an intellectual angel-hunting badass when we’re shown nothing of the sort. Angel hunters aren’t even that badass to begin with.
Within the various departments of the society, angel hunters were the most covert, well funded, and selective. As director of their Paris bureau, Bruno handpicked his team, training each member personally. It was a painstaking process, as delicate and refined as the education of a samurai warrior.
Here’s the thing, guys: I’ve actually met a samurai. Well, not quite, but I did take a class on Japanese swordsmanship for a semester and the guy who taught it knew more martial arts than Batman, many of which he learned in Japan. He made a point to emphasize that while we were learning in his class, if we went up against someone legitimately trained to wield a sword in a dojo, we would lose, because it takes months of training to perfect the basic sword strikes, much less a full fighting style. He had stories about old masters who could kick all of us college students into next week.
However long it took you to train these guys, Bruno, I guarantee you it’s not as long as a samurai trains.
Also! You’re the director of the Paris bureau? Man, get your shit together! The place is crawling with Nephilim! You suck at this job!
There’s one more thing I want to point out and discuss before we carry on.
[Verlaine] understood the physiology of the Nephilim and demonstrated a clear ability to differentiate between human and angelic anatomy. He could detect the small distinguishing physical markings of the Nephilim—the large eyes and the scintillating quality of the skin, the way it shimmered as if dusted with tiny crystals. He understood that Nephil body was designed for flight, with thin, hollow bones that rendered their skeletons light and agile as birds’.
Blah, blah, you get the idea. Here’s the thing: Verlaine wasn’t a scientist in the last book. He was into business, art, and art history. Percival Grigori hired him to do research, more or less. I’m not saying that he can’t learn all this important anatomical stuff, but… why? If I was running a secret society and someone with Verlaine’s background joined, I wouldn’t be sticking him on the front lines, I’d be having him as an archivist or researcher3 or something—what he’s shown himself to be good at. Why risk training him as an angel hunter?
I’m glad he was able to be useful in the field they pulled him into, but it doesn’t make sense that they’d put him there. It’s like if you made Mycroft Holmes go and fight crime on the streets. It could happen, maybe, but it’s not where you’d put him based on his skill set.
You’ve taken a character with certain traits, skills and interests, and in the next book you drop all of those for a new set. Guys, Trussoni more or less could have introduced a new character for all it mattered.
Right, so while looking for Verlaine, “Something in the distance caught his eye.” Turns out Bruno sees Eno flying and about to attack something. She (still at a distance, because it never mentions that he’s gotten closer) apparently holds still long enough for him to have “snapped a series of photographs” with his smartphone and sends it to the society’s super angel computer, and immediately gets a bunch of profiles of different angels that might be the one he photographed.
Yes, that’s incredible technology for someone to have in 2010, and I think it’s kind of awesome. Unfortunately, this level of competency is never seen again.
Because he has to move the plot along, Bruno immediately goes to Eno’s file and finds her info, which mostly consists of basic stuff: name, species (Emim), hair color (black), eye color (black), domain (unknown, but mostly unconfirmed sightings in St. Petersburg), and height (200 cm).
Wait, hang on…
[starts doing math]
Eno is six and a half feet tall. That is over a foot taller than your average human woman, according to Google.
I guess it fits with the Biblical giant thing that’s been going around , I just… you’d think someone would have mentioned that Eno was tall before this point. I mean, wouldn’t that be a really distinguishing feature of the character—she’s taller than most people around her?
But wait! There’s more!
First documented angelological encounter occurred in 1889, during the Paris World’s Fair, and resulted in the death of an agent.
Despite her having worked as a mercenary for years, the first time they knew she existed at all was the Paris World’s Fair. That one that made Eno hate all humans? The one where she was cornered and attacked by a guy with a knife?
Let me put this in plain terms: an agent tried to kill Eno, despite never having met her and knowing nothing about her. That was their first encounter. It wasn’t as if that guy was using lethal force on a known hostile. He was planning to stab her by virtue of her not being human.
Anything else in this file I can get pissed off about?
Eno is characterized by outbursts of extreme violence, especially sexual violence enacted upon human males she has seduced (see autopsy reports).
Well maybe if angelologists would stop trying to rape her they wouldn’t end up dead in a river with their dicks chopped off!5
Okay, so there’s no reason for Bruno to actually figure out that the Emim in front of him is Eno other than the Plot. She’s not known for usually hanging around Paris, and intelligence states she’s not there, and he’s standing too far away to see her face. But Bruno knows it’s her because he “recognized Eno’s signature in the brutality of the slaughter, the great skill and strength of the killer, the peculiar way the body had been mutilated”.
I don’t know how the body was mutilated, other than what you’ve told me. Which is this:
-It was burned in the way characteristic of an Emim attack.
-It was chucked off a monument, which wouldn’t be unusual for a creature with wings.
Basically, as far as I can tell, any Emim angel could have done it. There’s not especially brutal that tips off who did it. Even if there was, it’s not like Emim left a calling card. She’s not exactly the Joker.
One of the murdered agents cited in Eno’s profile had suffered third-degree burns over his chest, indicative of electro-induction shock, and the body had been found with rope burns to the neck, wrists and ankles, signifying that he’d been tied up and tortured. Lacerations to the face, torso, buttocks and back confirmed this. He had been castrated and dumped in the Seine.
Told you I wasn’t joking.
See, if that had been the condition in which you found the body earlier in the book, I’d buy that you leapt to the conclusion it was Eno. That just reeks of personal vendetta. The body from earlier? Not so much.
But really? This feels so much like the author’s trying really hard to be edgy. “See? My villain tortures and castrates men! Isn’t she horrifying?” Given that angelologists apparently have a track record of trying to rape her, I’m not really that horrified.
Despite all this, Bruno has “come under Eno’s spell.” Yeah, he’s also obsessed with her. Why? I don’t know. The book specifies that it isn’t because she’s attractive (uh-huh), but it’s “one that made all rational thought impossible.”
I’m telling you, every man who comes across Eno (except for maybe Verlaine) is attracted to her. Bruno has apparently become obsessed with her for no reason: it’s not like she killed his best friend or his dog or something. He just is because reasons.
She made him feel alive even as she planned to kill him.
Well, she actually isn’t planning to kill him. I’m sure she doesn’t give two fudges about what happens to him unless he gets in her way.
And with that we end chapter six. Join me next time, as we dive into chapter seven, the final chapter before we go onto part two of the book.
1 Though if you’ve got any links that can tell me otherwise, please let me know.
2 As far as crappy Sci-Fi movies go, it’s not bad. I mean, it’s not exactly Shakespeare by any means, but if you want to see Beowulf blow things up with an exploding crossbow, it’s a decent enough movie.
…I’m not that harsh of a movie critic, in case you hadn’t noticed.
3 Which the angelologists do have—we meet one of them later in the book.
4 According to Bible Study Magazine , how tall the giant Goliath was seems to vary from around Eno’s height to being nine feet tall. Goliath was mentioned as a Nephil in the last book.
5 I’m not joking.