Okay, time to get this show on the road. Buckle up people, because this is going to be a rough ride.
To her credit, CC actually does appear to know what a prologue is, unlike some other inexplicably popular YA authors.
We start off well enough, with what sounds like an establishing shot of a building, encouraging my opinion that CC writes as if this were a tv show. Still, the description is sound enough, with the building being described as “like a glittering needle threading the sky.” We’re told that the building is fifty-seven stories tall, that it’s named the Metropol, and that it is “Manhattan’s most expensive new downtown condominium tower.”
Then we’re taken to the penthouse apartment, which CC helpfully informs us is on the top-most floor, the fifty-seventh. Given that penthouse apartments are always on the highest floor of an apartment building, and that we were just told how many floors the building has, I have to wonder what CC thinks of her audience if she feels the need to repeat this information.
We’re three sentences in, and already at our first count – Entirely Pointless. This is for any time CC writes something that serves no purpose whatsoever, save to inflate her word count.
Entirely Pointless: 1
CC then gets to one of the things she’s actually good at, when she actually bothers – describing settings. The Metropol’s penthouse is “a masterpiece of sleek black-and-white design” with marble floors that “[reflect] back the stars visible through the enormous floor-to-ceiling windows.” It’s not too much detail, but it’s enough.
Then she completely manages to fuck it all up with this:
The window glass was perfectly translucent, providing such a complete illusion that there was nothing between the viewer and the view that it had been known to induce vertigo in even in those unafraid of hights.
Not even a whole paragraph in, and we’re already at two counts, people. I’ve decided to re-christen CoB’s Weird Word Choice. Say hello to You Keep Using That Word.
You Keep Using That Word: 1
Yes, a translucent material does allow light to pass through it, but it’s not like clear glass. Frosted glass is translucent – you might be able to see shapes through it, but not clearly.
Regardless, we get a quick description of the view. It’s not terrible, aside from a few points. First, the East River is described as being “bracleted” by the bridges spanning it.
You Keep Using That Word: 2
and we’re told that, if the weather’s right, you can even see Liberty Island. But since it’s a foggy night, you couldn’t see it anyway, making this last bit
Entirely Pointless: 2
Three paragraphs in we finally get a character. It’s a random guy who will remain nameless until the very end of the prologue, despite his identity being pretty damn obvious. He’s staring out at the city and frowning, because he’s apparently a petulant little child. He asks someone else if they’re done yet, because he’s been waiting for a whole hour. And we’re told that he as “salt-white hair”.
No points for guessing early, people. For now, I’m just going to call him what he is.
Asshole is addressing a kid kneeling on the floor, who is actually described as petulant. Given how both characters act, though, I get the impression that CC doesn’t know what that word means.
You Keep Using That Word: 3
The kid informs the asshole why he’s taking so long to do whatever it is he’s doing:
“It’s the marble. It’s more solid than I thought. It’s making it hard to draw the pentagram.”
Wait, are you drawing a pentagram, or are you carving it into the floor? Because if it’s the former, how would the hardness of the floor effect you’re ability to draw something on it? Are you using a chisel? Why not a marker instead?
Whatever. I’m giving it another one of these
You Keep Using That Word: 4
So Asshole tells the kid to skip the pentagram, and we’re told that, despite having solid white hair, Asshole isn’t actually that old. In fact, “His hard face was severe but unlined, his eyes clear and steady.”
Again, no points for guessing early.
The kid, who we just now learn has bat wings (you’d think that would have been mentioned earlier) tells him reminds him that the pentagram is kind of important when summoning a demon, because otherwise they’ll be unprotected. Asshole says he already knows this.
Then why were you telling him to skip it? Why are you rushing him? It all sounds kind of critical to me.
And we have yet another count – Un-Logic. This is for those times when the characters act in a way that makes no logical sense. For example, since Asshole knows why the pentagram has to be there, it makes no sense for him to tell bat-boy to skip it.
Oh, and bat-boy now has a name – Elias.
Asshole goes on to tell Elias that he’s “known warlocks who could raise a demon, chat him up, and dispatch him back to hell in the time it’s taken [Elias] to draw half a five-pointed star.”
First, quick counts.
You Keep Using That Word: 5
Is he drawing a pentagram, or is he carving a pentagram? If the former, then it should not have taken him this damn long to do it.
We also yet another new count – Shoddy World Building. I think it’s fairly self-explanatory. In this case, we have a mention of sending a demon back to hell. Except we know (from Jace’s forced exposition in chapter 1 of CoB) that in this setting demons aren’t from Hell.
Shoddy World Building: 1
Moving on, this would be the point where a good writer would have Elias say something like, “Why didn’t you go to one of them then?” Or, “Do you want it done fast, or do you want it done right?” Or even better, “If you don’t like it, then you can do it yourself.” You know, really put this guy in his place, because so far all he’s done is whine that it’s taking too long. I think Asshole is cranky because he didn’t have his nap.
I’d mark Asshole using Elias for this as another example of Un-Logic, but it will make sense. Sort of.
Elias goes back at it “with renewed urgency” (apparently he was carving a pentagram into the floor – I’m sure no one will ever notice that) and soon finishes up. He starts to ask for his money, but Asshole tells him “You’ll get your money after I talk to Agramon, not before.”
And Elias just goes along with it.
Also, I can’t help but imagine that Asshole wants to summon up a character from Digimon.
Elias takes off his jacket for some reason, probably so Asshole can act all offended at the sight of them.
Again, no points for guessing who he is.
Also so CC can give a long, purple description of them. This information will be of no value whatsoever, for reasons you’ll all soon see.
Entirely Pointless: 3
Elias gets to summoning the Digi-demon, and we’re told twice in the same sentence that he’s circling the pentagram.
Entirely Pointless: 4
At this rate, we might hit double digits before chapter 1.
The ritual works – the pentagram bursts into flames, and a minute later something that I assume looks like a demon from Supernatural appears inside it.
Apparently Elias was chanting in Chthonian, which we’re told is the language of warlocks. Given that warlocks are human-demon hybrids, I’m not entirely sure that they would have enough of a culture to develop their own language, but given how we know jack-squat about pretty much all the major supernatural groups, I’ll let this one slide.
Asshole is all pleased, and starts fiddling with something in his pocket.
Not like that, you pervs. It’s “Something hard and cold and metallic”.
You people are really sick, you know that?
Agramon does the whole “who summoned me” bit, and Elias is the stereotypical arrogant wizard. The Big Bad Demon is unimpressed, but bat-boy points out that, what with him being trapped in a pentagram, Agramon is pretty much at Elias’s mercy.
And then something weird happens.
“Will I?” The smoke surged forward, forming and re-forming itself. A tendril took the shape of a human hand and stroked the edge of the burning pentagram that contained it. Then, with a surge, the smoke seethed past the edge of the star, poured over the border like a wave breaching a levee. The flames guttered and died as Elias, screaming, stumbled backward. He was chanting now, in Chthonian, spells of containment and banishment. Nothing happened; the black smoke-mass came on inexorably, and now it was starting to have something of a shape – a malformed, enormous, hideous shape, its glowing eyes altering, rounding to the size of saucers, spilling a dreadful light.
Well, guess that pentagram wasn’t all that useful after all. And while there is an explanation for this, it won’t actually make any real sense.
Anyway, the demon kills Elias, thus making all that lengthy description of him completely pointless. As far as the story goes, it doesn’t matter what he looked like, because he’s dead now, just like every POV character in the prologues in ASoIaF. Except GRRM would make the character at least somewhat interesting so their death might actually mean something.
Asshole, being an asshole, just watches all of this without reacting at all. I’m sure this is supposed to convince me that he’s he’s totally Evil TM , but honestly? I already thought he was an asshole, so this isn’t doing anything for me. He does however ask that Agramon not do anything to Elias’s remains, because he needs them for something.
Not that – he needs the kid’s blood.
Seriously, what is wrong with you people?
Asshole whips the thing out of his pocket (NOT THAT!) and we get another bit of description of him – namely, that he has “black Marks covering his skin”.
Alright, if you hadn’t figured out by now, Asshole is Valentine. But that will be revealed shortly, so why bother keeping up the pretense?
Anyway, Agrimon asks Valentine if he didn’t warn Elias about what he (Agrimon) could do, which Valentine admits he did. And Agrimon calls him “clever” for doing so. And of course, Valentine accepts the compliment.
All you just chose not to provide a very stupid kid with a piece of information that lead to his demise. Yeah, you’re not exactly Machiavelli, buddy. And spoiler – he’s going to continue to disappoint in the “evil scheming” department.
And because he has the Mortal Cup, this somehow means that Agrimon has to serve Valentine. No, I don’t know how that’s supposed to work. But I do know what it is.
Shoddy World Building: 2
Valentine finally admits who he is, and the prologue comes to a close.
As prologues go, I guess it’s not that bad.
There is one glaring issue, however: in the last book, it was established that Valentine was an uber-Shadowhunter. The Shadowhunters’ job is to kill demons. Valentine was so fanatically anti-demon that he actually tried to start a war between the Shadowhunter and the Downworlders just because the Downworlders are partly demonic. He did not strike me as an “ends justify the means” kind of villain.
So why in the Infinite Layers of the Abyss would he be teaming up with an actual demon?
And again, there is a reason for this – just not one that makes sense in-book. The reason is that Valentine is the evil. Demons are also, for some reason, all evil, despite merely being inter-dimensional beings. So it makes perfect sense for Valentine to summon up a demon, even though it contradicts his previously established motives and mind-set.
This goes beyond Un-Logic, people – this is Insane Troll Logic.
Yeah, this book is gonna hurt.
Finally, CC continues her trend of chapter names that don’t fit with the chapter itself – while I get how “smoke” fits with what happened, how do “diamonds” fit into this?
Entirely Pointless: 4
You Keep Using That Word: 5
Shoddy World Building: 2