We’re still with Blair and Roswell.
After the fragrant shower of liquid sunshine we decided to rest where we were until the next morning (loc. 1889).
It’s fucking rain.
Blair wakes up first and watches Master Roswell sleep, the rise and fall of his bare bronze chest, “his ebony mane slithering over his rippling pectorals” (loc. 1891). She smells him, and he smells like burning lavender and cedar wood. Okay, Breeanna, I have a bone to pick with you. Why does this peasant girl know what burning lavender smells like? And why does a sweaty, rain-soaked werewolf smell like burning lavender?
Blair thinks about how much she wants to kiss him, but feels guilty because of Darian. She thinks about how she only thinks of Darian as a brother now. Eventually she lays her head on Roswell’s chest, which has changed from bronze to copper, and falls asleep. She’s abruptly awoke when Roswell jerks away and her head falls into his lap. She sits up, red-faced. Heyyoooo!
Blair asks if she can go hunting for food and Roswell agrees. We smash cut forward to them arriving in Dibujar, and finding a medicine man since Blair broke her arm while hunting. And I have to admit…that’s actually pretty funny. We learn through flashback that Blair was hunting a buffalo, and trips over a sycamore tree root and falls over a small cliff. Sycamores tend to grow near water, not on cliffs. But, ok.
Now we’re in the POV of Master Smith, the
guy woman Roswell came for. Roswell rolls in and asks for some weapons. Smith says something terrible will happen soon. Roswell explains he can’t go back to his clan because they’ve kicked him out due to Blair. Blah blah, they talk about what happens, Smith offers to make Blair full body armor, Roswell declines, eventually Smith says she’ll make Blair weapons.
Over to Darian, who is hallucinating something fierce about hating rain and needing to get to the city of Trabajadora.
Our love, Pretty little love Harly, We’s gonna build you a castle, a Kingdome to rule, because we’s love you Harly. Pretty baby Harly (loc. 1976).
Like I said: hallucinating.
Back to Blair. Roswell comes and picks her up…literally…and carries her through the town. Blair is surprised to hear that Master Smith is a woman.
Over to “Son Elder” which is a bit of an oxymoron. Apparently he’s of the Wulver Clan. He’s fighting the Gorgons, which are exactly what you’d expect, and tearing heads off and shit is getting real. Son Elder thinks about the prophets who spoke of the end of times, Roswell leaving (turns out Roswell is his brother), and keeps killing Gorgons. Then he hears a scream, and runs, and finds his beloved wife Lilly dead on the ground. The Gorgon who killed her is already gone.
No sooner did I feel a pair of vicious fangs in my neck, but I did not falter, nor did I fight back. I willingly allowed the gruesome Gorgon to devour me (loc. 2010).
I’m not a psychologist (although I do play one on TV) but you’d think that someone, after seeing his wife be brutally killed, would go all William Wallace on the people who killed her rather than just giving her up and letting himself be killed, but whatever.
Over to the POV of the All-Knowing. Blair is excited and bouncing around. Roswell tells her to calm down because if she isn’t disciplined in front of Master Smith she won’t make Blair the weapons and they need weapons capable of killing demons.
They get to Smith’s…smithy…and Smith takes some measurements and eventually starts debating the best type of weapon. She thinks about a Falcata (from the Iberian peninsula) or a Khopesh (from Egypt). Roswell suggest a Basket Hilted Claymore (from Scotland) which Smith dismisses because claymores are big very fucking heavy swords and not the type of weapon you’d give to a teenage girl, which makes Roswell an idiot. And yes, all those names of weapons are capitalized for no real reason. Eventually Smith settles on a Kris (from Indonesia) which looks a bit like this.
Blair agrees. Smith then asks Roswell what type of weapon he wants. Roswell wants a Katana, a Karambit, and two Kujangs. I don’t know why he has a fetish for weapons that begin with the letter K, but honestly, this setting-jumping is starting to really grate on me. Look: I’m fine if you want to pull from mythology, and if you want to bounce around a bit stealing things from different cultures. Sure, I’m not a fan, but there is more than one way to skin a cat. What I want is some goddamn consistently. Where, precisely, is this place set in time? Why does a random werewolf have an encyclopedia-like knowledge of obscure bits of weaponry from a dozen different cultures set over several thousand years of Earth history that begin with the letter K, most of which were long since abandoned for not being terribly practical at killing other people?
Smith says the weapons will be done tomorrow, which sounds awfully fast, but maybe she has magic. She asks Blair what her full name is. Blair says Harlow Grimm.
Over to the POV of Master Smith. Yes, she’s using magic and stuff. She makes swords. Then she finishes the swords. The next day she gives them to Blair and Roswell, along with some leather shoes, and tries to give Blair some clothes as well, but Blair refuses. I am not sure why, considering she was more than happy to accept the free dress she’s wearing, and free weapons, and free shoes…
We jump over to The All Knowing, who decides to summarize some stuff for us:
Time passed for our characters, nearly five Apogees since the story began, as Harlow and Roswell traveled falling deeper and deeper into a fit of romance that neither could explain or acknowledge (loc. 2096).
Darian is also getting in increasingly deeper shit, and evil is coming and getting into the world.
Back to Blair, her legs and ankles are swelling and she’s throwing up and HOLY SHIT everything comes together and she realizes that when Jafar raped her, she got pregnant.
Oh such a woe that I feel now more than ever. Why is it I deserve such a cruel fate such as this? I felt disgusted with myself and the thing that now fed off my life force; growing from the nutrition of my body. Yet somehow calm and somewhat satisfied with the knowledge. I felt an instinctual maternal love for this child (loc. 2108).
That’s it. Five sentences to go from horror and disgust at carrying a child from rape for maternal instinct to kick in and Blair to successfully rationalize it away.
Roswell comes in and holds her and she cries into his chest for a while. Roswell tells her not to worry, that he’ll take care of them both. After a bit Blair decides to leave the tent to get some air. And…there’s a picture!
Now in the All Knowing.
Harlow made pass across the frozen ground (loc. 2133).
That doesn’t make any fucking sense.
The ground is frozen and it hurts her feet but she doesn’t notice, until eventually she hears a rattle at her feet. It’s a Rattle snake. Actually, it’s one word: rattlesnake. Blair scoops it up, holding it’s mouth closed. When did she become a snake handler? Also, snakes are cold-blooded; you will not find them out slithering at night over frozen ground.
Blair coos at the snake and talks about how they’re both outcasts. Hey! That snake might have a loving family! She hears Roswell shouting in the background as he tries to find her. She lets go of the mouth and immediately the snake starts attacking her face, as she lets it. Roswell shows up right as Blair lets the snake go and starts shaking from the poison. He asks her why.
“I . . . I could n . . . nev . . . ver bare a child by that sick twisted man.” (loc. 2146)
Surprise! From horror and disgust to maternal instinct and then right back to abortion by rattlesnake. I swear Blair is bipolar.
Over to Roswell’s POV. Blair is screaming in agony and flailing about and suddenly….he feels a demonic presence. Then she dies. Roswell angsts, but then Blair begins to…change.
I peered into her eyes as they blackened. In her gaping mouth I could see as her jagged teeth shone like polished daggers. Her nails came to a sharp point as well, now digging deep into my flesh. Her beautiful copper hair turned black, each strand darkening from the scalp down as if black tar ran through it (loc. 2158)
The pinholes from the snake’s fangs closed, healing rapidly (loc. 2161).
Her ears. Then I knew. Her ears protruded from her now charcoal hair. One word circulated in my mind as the blood flowed from my arm down hers, her wails quieting.
Elf. (loc 2163)
What the fucking actual fuck.
Over to Harlow. She is filled with a new liveliness. She feels different. She asks Roswell, who stutters for a bit, then says that evidently she’s turned into an Elf. Which is only really possible if she’s half Elfish. Which seems unlikely, considering that we, through Jafar’s eyes, have already met HarBlair’s parents, and you’d think that if they had razor-sharp teeth and nails and giant pointy ears that he might have noticed. Or, you know, Blair might have noticed.
Blair asks Roswell how that could have happened and Roswell, like any good werewolf, knows the answer, because Master Smith gave him a book on human genetics years ago. In fact…get this!…he still carries the book around with him. Roswell whips it out with a flourish and explains how Elfish genes are basically a disease and the parents can only pass it on to a child of the same gender, which seems unlikely based on my admittedly limited understanding of genes, but then again, Elves and werewolves don’t exist, so what the fuck do I know?
Anyway, Roswell explains that her “Elfishism” was triggered by her near death experience, sort’ve like a survival mechanism, which doesn’t really make sense when you logically think about it, except Magic. Not to mention that there really hasn’t been any hints about Blair’s parentage up to this point so this whole thing reeks of Deus Ex Machina. (Incidentally, I did suspect Darian of having some odd parentage since the text specifically points out he was left on his adopted parents’ doorstep. Although…wait a second…what if Darian and Blair are actually siblings and they were BOTH adopted? Which would explain why Blair keeps thinking about loving him as a brother, not a lover?)
At any rate, it’s slightly better than having Blair turned into an Elf by a couple of naked tattooed Elven lesbian tarts dancing around to conjure up a mystical dragon-beast to turn her into a half-human-half-elf hybrid with a smooth hairless groin and ninja-like reflexes, but not much better. I’m sick of humans turning into Elves and leveling up.
We jump ahead into Roswell’s POV. Blair is still pregnant so her abortion scheme didn’t work. She yells for him and he comes running. She’s been yelling for him a lot recently. He opens the tent and stares at her hair.
“What do you think?” she touched the ends, brushing it back with her hand. “Is it sexy?” (loc. 2223)
Bow chicka bow wow!
Roswell says she looks beautiful. Blair thinks about how he’s a man, and gorgeous. Suddenly Roswell freezes, transforms into a wolf, and leaps out of the tent. Over the next few pages we rapidly flip back and forth between POVs which yes, it’s really fucking annoying. Roswell fights a feline demon. It’s kicking his ass. Then it bites his neck. He howls. Blair screams. Vision fades. Harlow – wait, why is she Harlow again instead of Blair – can only watch with tears streaming down her face, never mind that it’s been established that she has mad ninja skills and was recently given a sword WITH THE EXPRESS PURPOSE OF FIGHTING DEMONS AND IS A FUCKING ELF NOW. Then we skip back to Roswell’s POV…oh yeah, now Blair has leapt into action:
I heard Harlow screaming again. I cracked my open to see her beating the creature with my katana, impaling its heart (loc. 2248)
Okay. First of all, yes, the word “eyes” is missing. Second of all, you don’t “beat” things with a fucking katana, it’s not a truncheon. Third of all…I’ve ranted about this before…Breeanna, things happen more or less logically. Cause and effect. Action…reaction. You can’t have someone doing something on one page and then something else entirely on the next without something to have bridged that gap. Why would Harlow stand there self-narrating “all I could do is watch with tears streaming down my face” when she can do significantly MORE than that and then proceeds to DO more than that a moment later? It doesn’t make sense.
Now, you could argue – and in fact, the intention of this scene might even be – that Harlow stands there weeping, rooted in shock, and then suddenly, spurred by Roswell’s impending death, she gets her shit together, leaps into action, and goes on Kill Bill on the demon with Roswell’s katana…but that’s not the way this scene comes across. More importantly, if that is what the intention is, show us that. That is an interesting scene. Characters being motivated and taking action is interesting. Those are the type of scenes people want to read about. Don’t skip over your most interesting, full of character development sequences. That is bad writing.
Anyway. Roswell lies there, gushing blood. Blair is apparently Harlow now. Roswell asks her to tell him that she loves him. She does.
Then I realized something. I think I did love Roswell, and my life that has been torn apart will no longer have meaning (loc. 2263).
Saw that coming.
Then Roswell dies.
Did not see that coming.
I kinda like this development. No more kinky master/servant werewolf shit. Just a random, brutal death. I do reserve the right to rescind my appreciation of this development if Roswell comes back to life, or if he just died so Harlow could get back together with one of the other men lusting after her.