I don’t actually want to cover chapter sixteen; there’s really not that much to it. I’m sure I can pull it apart for a long essay, but that’d be boring for all of us, so let’s just cut to the chase: Evangeline’s being experimented on/tortured by Godwin, who apparently knew from looking at her DNA as a child that she was special. He makes some comments implying that Luca Cacciatore isn’t Evangeline’s biological father, and the chapter ends.1

That’s it. It easily could have been put together with one of the other torture chapters because these really aren’t very complicated. It’s kind of like if Trussoni was waving a flag in our face to remind us that these characters exist, as if we’d forget them otherwise.

On to chapter seventeen!

Back with the angelologists, Nadia decides to provide exposition. But she can’t be direct, because then Trussoni wouldn’t be able to show us all of the research she’s done!

Bruno is our kind-of viewpoint character for this scene, and he’s observing how everyone else is doing with this situation. He finds that Verlaine, much like myself, wants us to get to the point.

Verlaine could hardly contain his impatience with the situation, while Vera remained aloof, pretending that Nadia was some minor player.

…that’s because she is. I forgot that she was in this book. She’s that irrelevant. She’s just there for exposition.

So remember that obviously plot-relevant book I mentioned last time? Well Nadia points at a thing inside the cover, which you’d think she’d have done when she first opens the book. There is some writing that says “To Our Friend” from OTMA. Nadia explains while pulling out a photograph of “OTMA”; that is to say, the four Romanov grand duchesses in the order they were born: Olga, Tatiana, Marie and Anastasia.

So no, no historical inaccuracies there. I can’t find anything wrong with this part—

All four of the girls struck Bruno as remarkably beautiful, with their wide expressive eyes and white linen dresses, their pale complexions and curled hair. What a crime it was to have murdered such lovely creatures.

…I….okay…this makes me uncomfortable.

First, because the value to these young women? Is placed on how they look. It’s a tragedy for them to have been killed because they’re just sooooooo pretty, rather than because killing people is in itself a bad thing to do. But there’s something more about this that bugs me. Because beauty in this book is almost always something at least somewhat sexual, and Bruno’s whole thing with Eno, who he also knows from only photographs… this just seems pretty creepy. Especially given Anastasia was only seventeen when she died.

So maybe it’s just supposed to Bruno sad about young people being killed before their prime, but what it kind of comes across as is, “What a shame, ‘cause they were pretty hot.”

Moving right along, Nadia says that the “Our Friend” bit is harder to work out, but it’s really not. As she explains (once again, somewhat historically accurately), it’s a nickname that the royal family had for the court mystic and longtime acolyte of the Ogdru Jahad, Grigori Rasputin.

I only wish this book was that awesome.

Rather, it was a name that Alexandra used for her spiritual advisers, but of course this one is Rasputin because it’s more interesting when you use famous people (unlike Philippe Anthelme Nizier, who is also mentioned briefly). But it was a nickname for basically any mystic in the court of the imperial family who served a specific function. Vera compares him to Doctor John Dee and his relationship with Queen Elizabeth I of England. Which makes me wonder if Court Wizard was actually a thing that existed, and where I should go to train for the position. Like, is there a special college, like Winterhold, or—

Bruno held Vera’s eye for a moment, impressed. John Dee was an obscure angelologist who had conducted some of the first angel summoning on record. He was starting to like Vera.

You were doing so well, Trussoni.

John Dee is not an obscure angelologist. Not in the slightest. Now it’s entirely possible you can ask random peoples on the street and they’ll have no idea who the English doctor is, but in angelology? No. Any story dealing with the occult in Western society has about a sixty percent chance of at least mentioning him. Shakespeare scholars commonly mention that Prospero may have been based off of him. Off the top of my head, I can think of like half a dozen pieces of fiction about the occult in which John Dee is featured/mentioned/referenced:

- SupernaturalAssassin’s CreedChronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica by James A. Owen – Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher – The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott – Traitor to the Crown by C.C. Finlay – Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

That’s just off the top of my head; you can find more if you just look at his Wikipedia page. So in terms of obscure historical figures involved in the occult… no, John Dee doesn’t fit the bill. His studies of angels and his invention of “Enochian” are talked about a butt-ton in fiction. But if you’re not in the know, his vastly simplified story goes something like this:

John Dee and his maybe psychic assistant Edward Kelley (a man who may or may not have been a charlatan and fraud) claimed they found a way to contact angels and that they had been told the language of angels (Enochian or Angelical, which was obviously made up). Kelley then claimed that the angel Uriel told them to share all their stuff with each other, including their wives (!!!), which Dee didn’t take well. Soon after Dee broke it off with his partner and they parted ways.

Enochian is mentioned in fiction a lot, and we’ll get to that later in the book. John Dee is often referenced as an occultist and often outright demonic figure, despite the fact that he was also a noted spy and scientist, and the more sketchy parts of his research in spirituality were also partly Edward Kelley’s fault (who is noticeably more absent in fiction). So yeah, in a story about conspiracies dealing with angels, John Dee was bound to be mentioned sooner or later. But he’s sure as hell not obscure in that area. Maybe to your average Joe, he’s a nobody, but someone in the field of angelology? That’d be in Angelology 101. Bruno being impressed by the reference doesn’t make any sense. Especially when you consider that Vera’s an archivist; unlike Bruno, who does field work, her entire career is built on research.

Let me give you a comparison: it’d be as if a literature scholar was impressed that his colleague who specialized in Spanish literature displayed passing knowledge of who Miguel de Cervantes was in conversation.

So…yeah. Vera’s still not very impressive for just mentioning Dee. I know Trussoni likes to have characters tell the audience that these people are intelligent badasses, but there’s not really any evidence to back it up.

Nadia goes on for about a page and a half about how the Romanovs were Nephilim, except Nikolai wasn’t “pure” and had a tiny, unimpressive dic—I mean pair of wings.2 But his wife had impressive wings, being more “pure” or whatever, and “dominated” her husband because of his small pen—I mean wings. They wanted to have a male heir but they kept having daughters who couldn’t inherit. Also Nadia knows all this because her mother was a governess in the household, and apparently she often saw Alexandra Romanov grooming her wings and teaching her daughters how to fly. You’d think if something like that happened in the last two hundred years, it’d be more hushed up, but nope! The hired help can all see it and no one cares. It’s not like they’d tell any newspapers or take pictures or anything.

Tell me, how is this secret world of angels still secret?

Anyway, Alexandra eventually had a son, Rasputin was able to heal his hemophilia (also historical).

Also, Rasputin was head of a creepy sex cult for money according to Nadia/Trussoni. While rumors of this kind of thing are out there for those who want to look, and if you ask me he was into some pretty sketchy stuff, Rasputin’s actual daughter claimed that most of the unconventional/scandalous rumors about his life were slander produced by political enemies. While she’s certainly biased, I think it’s something to interesting consider. Sadly fiction writers hardly ever do anything with it.

Anyhow, all that is lead up to basically say that this occult book of alchemy and plot-relevance belonged to Rasputin, and that perhaps his healing of hemophilia was less magic and more his knowledge of alchemy and Nephilim biology.

Now here’s the passage from Rasputin’s book in last chapter again, just in case you forgot:

And we explained to Noah all the medicines of their diseases, together with their seductions, how he might heal them with herbs of the earth. And Noah wrote down all things in a book as we instructed him concerning every kind of medicine. Thus the evil spirits were precluded from harming the sons of Noah.

Got it? No? Okay, so Nadia, through her research and the help of other angelologists, believe that this book contains oodles of recipes from around the time of Noah for medicines and poisons that would be able to heal or kill Nephilim. Basically, it’s a book of biological weapons.

No seriously. That’s a dangerous weapon. Yeah, maybe it could end the war with the Nephilim quickly, but in the wrong hands, the Nephilim could become even more powerful or take over the world or something. Or maybe it has some poisons that are harmful to humans too. We don’t know!

But sadly, that discussion doesn’t come up so we can talk about more backstory. And I’m sorry if there’s not a lot of blockquotes in this sporking right now, but seriously, it’s just Nadia expositing and Vera asking occasional questions while Bruno expresses doubt at things, because that’s all he’s freaking good for.

They speculate that maybe Rasputin was trying to kill the Nephilim, which makes no freaking sense given that they were his ticket to power and wealth. Then again, Nadia hates the Nephilim despite them giving her parents stable jobs and status. Or maybe Rasputin was Nephilim, because get this—*“Rasputin’s physical strength, the hypnotic power of his blue eyes, as well as his reputed sexual domination of female devotees”* were all traits that are common with Nephilim.

I know it’s not really a new thing in the books, but how the hell does that make any sense? I know I’ve gone into the blue eyes thing, but why would sexual prowess be an angelic trait? Does God particularly need his heavenly messengers to be sexually active?

Whatever. The plot moves along, and Vera decides that they can take this plot somewhere else and says she’ll call up her friend Dr. Hristo Azov, a guy who lives on the coast of the Black Sea in Bulgaria. Basically, Trussoni’s bored of St. Petersburg and wants to take the story somewhere else. Vera takes the book and leaves, and that’s the end of the chapter.

Next chapter: fight!

Actually the fight takes place minutes after this chapter ends, but for whatever reason there’s no lead up to it here. We ended with Bruno watching Vera run across the street, and then the next chapter starts with Verlaine getting punched in the face.

But who cares? We’re finally getting some action! Something interesting!

1 There’s some science talk about how mitochondrial DNA is identical to the mother, which a quick Google search didn’t really contradict (though it might be vastly simplified in the book). Basically, if it’s wrong, I don’t care enough to research the subject more in-depth, and the book doesn’t dwell on it.

2 Seriously, the fixation with the size and magnificence of wings in these books is about as Freudian as it sounds. Possibly more so.

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Comment

  1. The Smith of Lie on 7 February 2015, 03:43 said:

    Actually the fight takes place minutes after this chapter ends, but for whatever reason there’s no lead up to it here. We ended with Bruno watching Vera run across the street, and then the next chapter starts with Verlaine getting punched in the face.

    At this point any of the so called protagonists getting punched in the face is a vast improvement, so good for you Trussoni.

    Also, I’d like to hear a clarification of the point about Kelley, namely the “he may or may have not been fraud”. I assume we’re talking about alternatives of a) he was a fraud and b) he was delusional and not c) he was real psychic. Right?

  2. Juracan on 7 February 2015, 08:48 said:

    Also, I’d like to hear a clarification of the point about Kelley, namely the “he may or may have not been fraud”. I assume we’re talking about alternatives of a) he was a fraud and b) he was delusional and not c) he was real psychic. Right?

    Sorry. What I probably should have said is that it’s said by some accounts that he’d gotten in trouble with the law already at this point for fraud or counterfeiting.

  3. The Smith of Lie on 7 February 2015, 18:10 said:

    Sorry. What I probably should have said is that it’s said by some accounts that he’d gotten in trouble with the law already at this point for fraud or counterfeiting.

    Ah. Makes much more sense.

  4. Lurker on 9 February 2015, 17:42 said:

    Surprisingly, the book’s not wrong, you get your mitochondrial DNA from your mother. Well, I believe some species sometimes can get paternal mitochondria, and I think there is some debate over whether paternal mitochondrial DNA transmission is possible in humans, but simplified, yeah, your mtDNA is the same as your mom’s.

    Speaking of DNA, I’v been following a LP of Parasite Eve, and I was thinking about even though that has terrible pseudo-science (it involves evil mitochondria that make mutant monsters!), but I’m willing to give it a pass because the story and characters aren’t garbage, unlike this book.

  5. Juracan on 9 February 2015, 23:24 said:

    Surprisingly, the book’s not wrong, you get your mitochondrial DNA from your mother. Well, I believe some species sometimes can get paternal mitochondria, and I think there is some debate over whether paternal mitochondrial DNA transmission is possible in humans, but simplified, yeah, your mtDNA is the same as your mom’s.

    ^Yeah. It wasn’t a topic I knew as much about as the history and mythology, so I did a quick Google search before I finished the sporking to double-check. A quick look seemed to confirm it, so I decided I wouldn’t go too deeply into an analysis of the subject.

    Speaking of DNA, I’v been following a LP of Parasite Eve, and I was thinking about even though that has terrible pseudo-science (it involves evil mitochondria that make mutant monsters!), but I’m willing to give it a pass because the story and characters aren’t garbage, unlike this book.

    And that pretty much sums up my issues with this book. I can deal with a lot of crap in a book or movie if I’m entertained. But this novel just keeps throwing junk at me: inconsistent characters, telling instead of showing, badly-incorporated mythology and history, and world-building that contradictory and makes no sense. There’s nothing good or exciting for me to latch on to. So… yeah. It sucks.

  6. The Smith of Lie on 10 February 2015, 08:52 said:

    Speaking of DNA, I’v been following a LP of Parasite Eve, and I was thinking about even though that has terrible pseudo-science (it involves evil mitochondria that make mutant monsters!), but I’m willing to give it a pass because the story and characters aren’t garbage, unlike this book.

    AND

    And that pretty much sums up my issues with this book. I can deal with a lot of crap in a book or movie if I’m entertained. But this novel just keeps throwing junk at me: inconsistent characters, telling instead of showing, badly-incorporated mythology and history, and world-building that contradictory and makes no sense. There’s nothing good or exciting for me to latch on to. So… yeah. It sucks.

    I think it is all in the tone. Some works get away with all kinds of unrealistic stuff because it is what they are going for. Physics defying stunts and bad biology can work if the title is of ‘style over substance’ variety. Then the willing suspension of disbelief kicks in.

    Even the works that treat themselves seriously can get away with lots of Artistic License on science, as long as they do their thing well. It goes beyond interesting characters and plot making sense. Sometimes even a pretty stupid ideas can work as long as they are consistent.

    In one essey I’ve read it was referred to as an ‘unified lie’. The concept is often used in good sci-fi (say Honor Harrington or Mass Effect), where author decides on one big lie about the science and than builds upon it. The effect is world that seems realistic, because with single exception it works like ours.

    I think Trussoni went for similar approach, the one big lie being existance of Nephilim. And it could have worked. But that lie is shoddy and trying to work through the consequences fails. Especially given that it is internally inconsistent.

    If the historical conspiracy theory stuff got trimmed not to overburden suspension of disbelief and Nephilim themselves weren’t so bland it’d have potential.

  7. swenson on 10 February 2015, 12:02 said:

    Aw, man, somebody did an article on this, and I can’t remember who… was it Limyaael? Something on TVTropes?

    Anyway, the gist of what this person was talking about is that when you’re dealing with a novel that is in some sense an alternate history—it’s just like the real world BUT with magic or whatever—your audience is going to assume that until explicitly told otherwise, everything happened exactly the same way as in the real world. Just with magic. So World War II still happened, and all the battles still took place on the same days, with the same people… the kings and queens of England were all still the same people who did all of the same things… the Aztec Triple Alliance still had the same vassals who paid them the same tributes… you see what I mean.

    So it seems that you either can be upfront about how everything is potentially different, in which case just about anything can be explained away as “it happened differently in this timeline” (like in a true alternate history story, like Pastwatch or 1632, where there’s a specific point after which things split off in a new direction), or you have a story where things are pretty much exactly like in the real world, and then you’ve got to be explicit about where things are different (most urban fantasy novels— Kitty Norville, Dresden Files, even Twilight does okay with this). Because otherwise, the audience is just going to assume that history went the same way.

    So maybe in the Angelology universe, the reason what we’re told doesn’t line up with the real world (about the Romanovs and history in general, I mean) is quite deliberate, because Trussoni is trying to imply that history went very differently with Nephilim around.

    But because that’s never made explicit, and there’s no real reason to think this other than “well, it doesn’t make any sense, so maybe it makes no sense on purpose???”, it doesn’t work as an excuse.

  8. The Smith of Lie on 11 February 2015, 06:08 said:

    So maybe in the Angelology universe, the reason what we’re told doesn’t line up with the real world (about the Romanovs and history in general, I mean) is quite deliberate, because Trussoni is trying to imply that history went very differently with Nephilim around.

    As you point out, in that case it is still a failure. Wholesale alternate history approach falls flat, because the world is not different enough to make it evident and explore the scenario of a split. The “same unless told otherwise” approach fails cause we are not told otherwise with a good timing. Thus the premise falls apart.

    It seems to me like Trussoni more than different history went for secret history. Except that secret does not hold up. Which is sad, since the conspiracy is neither cohesive enough to be convincing or incohesive enough to go full on Illuminatus! route.

  9. Juracan on 11 February 2015, 17:10 said:

    Aw, man, somebody did an article on this, and I can’t remember who… was it Limyaael? Something on TVTropes?

    Anyway, the gist of what this person was talking about is that when you’re dealing with a novel that is in some sense an alternate history—it’s just like the real world BUT with magic or whatever—your audience is going to assume that until explicitly told otherwise, everything happened exactly the same way as in the real world. Just with magic. So World War II still happened, and all the battles still took place on the same days, with the same people… the kings and queens of England were all still the same people who did all of the same things… the Aztec Triple Alliance still had the same vassals who paid them the same tributes… you see what I mean.

    So it seems that you either can be upfront about how everything is potentially different, in which case just about anything can be explained away as “it happened differently in this timeline” (like in a true alternate history story, like Pastwatch or 1632, where there’s a specific point after which things split off in a new direction), or you have a story where things are pretty much exactly like in the real world, and then you’ve got to be explicit about where things are different (most urban fantasy novels— Kitty Norville, Dresden Files, even Twilight does okay with this). Because otherwise, the audience is just going to assume that history went the same way.

    So maybe in the Angelology universe, the reason what we’re told doesn’t line up with the real world (about the Romanovs and history in general, I mean) is quite deliberate, because Trussoni is trying to imply that history went very differently with Nephilim around.

    But because that’s never made explicit, and there’s no real reason to think this other than “well, it doesn’t make any sense, so maybe it makes no sense on purpose???”, it doesn’t work as an excuse.

    It sounds like something that would make it into a Limyaael rant, but I can’t find any trace of it on her list of rants. It might also be this , mayhaps?

    But yeah, I see the point. I think it does skew, as Smith points out, more towards “secret history” rather than “alternate history” though there are some rather huge deviations that don’t really make that much sense if everything was supposed to be secret. The monarchs of Europe being Nephilim, for instance, doesn’t make a lot of sense given that there’s a lot of them that were dark-haired and not particularly long-lived. There’s a few other instances that really don’t add up either; the last book had a footnote explaining that the event that inspired the medieval chilvaric poem The Song of Roland was actually a battle between archangels and Nephilim, which doesn’t make any sense no matter how you slice it.

    Basically, I think that Trussoni was trying to make a ‘secret history’ type story, but didn’t put enough thought and research into it to make seem somewhat plausible. I’d be a lot more forgiving of this if she just kept things consistent and gave me sympathetic characters.

    Take Sleepy Hollow (the television series): in season one (and I’m sticking to the first season for the purposes of this discussion), we’re told there’s a secret history behind the American Revolution and the world, and upon critical examination none of it is logical, because the show’s recounting of the events and mythology are completely anachronistic, idealistic, or outright wrong. But it still keeps it’s internal mythology mostly consistent and we like the characters we come across.

    Angelopolis doesn’t have that. It doesn’t have anywhere close to that dynamic or intrigue. It’s just a dull book with characters acting in a manner to pull the conspiracy further and provide exposition about the secret alternate history.