Saturday, May 17, 2014

Vampire Diaries, Season 5, Episode 22: Home

Stefan’s dead, everyone is sad and his ghost is concerned since it’s in the Other Side which is all freaky and falling apart – he’s saved from the void by Lexi. Remember Lexi? She’s the earnest vampire who appears whenever Stefan needs to wean off his killing people addiction. Even in death she’s saving him. They wander around being all friendly, discussing Stefan and Caroline’s obvious chemistry and looking for Alaric because if there’s going to be some resurrecting, they might as well grab everyone

Stefan decides to lose his ever loving shit at Bonnie for not being able to pull off a miracle and save everyone. He even resorts to threats which is more than a little ridiculous given that a) the Anchor dying would probably screw over the Other Side and b) Bonnie has never cared about herself since season 1. But Enzo shows up while Damon is doing the big grief recitation (when Damon decided they needed to save people from the Other Side that apparently means “everyone who died, ever”) to let them know he’s found a Traveller if they have witches to cast the spell.

Speaking of, Liv and Luke are running out of town because of the whole attempted murder thing. And, for reasons unknown, when they see Elena in the road (the vampire they just tried to murder) they don’t just RUN HER OVER and drive for the horizon yelling “oh shit the vampires wanna eat me!” but they break. Of course they do. Luke and Liv point out that bringing Stefan back will mean 2 living dopplegangers which will mean witch magic goes away which means all dead vampires – including Stefan. Silly witches, using logic on The Vampire Diaries. Elena decides no they’re just going to kill the Travellers so it’s totally ok (despite them having failed to do so for so long) and Caroline break’s Luke’s neck to give Liv incentive (of course, their coven is going to kill them anyway).

Markos and Sherriff Liz have some exposition – the Travellers are moving the town sign to the radius of the anti-witch-magic spell. They had intended to cover the entire world, instead they got a tiny patch of Virginia. That’s right, the Travellers have changed their curse from “doomed to wander the world without forming a community” to “exiled to rural Virginia.” I will leave you to decide whether they’ve stepped up or not.

To prove how awesome their little town is, Markos throws Julian/Tyler over the boundary – the null zone kicks in and he dies – because a person who is de-vampired is a corpse.

Enzo and Bonnie snark over how ridiculously long the resurrection list is growing.

Amusingly, Jeremy plots the perimeter of the spell on a map by using his Hunter urge. Since he’s driven to kill vampires, he plotted the map based on how much he hated Damon. Damon wonderfully snarks everyone and everything as he lays out his mass murder plan. After all the “bring back the dead” spell requires a mass slaughter of Travellers. This being The Vampire Diaries absolutely no-one blinks at the moral quandary of this.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Glacial Eyes (Salt Lake After Dark #1) by J. K. Walker

Jazz wakes up in the hospital, woozy, confused, possibly victim of a terrible attack – and extremely hungry. She’s quickly dragged away from the hospital to face a trial for the death of a human

A human killed by a big cat.

On probation and ordered to learn, Jazz has to adapt quickly to being a wereleopard and learning about the larger world she is part of and extricating herself from the various political machinations she gets herself enmeshed in – or enmeshing herself further when it comes to a sexy Cajun dhampire.

Let’s hit on a lot of the good in this book – and there was a lot of good.

Firstly, the protagonist – Jazz. She’s definitely a confident, intelligent, fast thinking and generally fun woman. She’s not perfect, she’s not flawless but she’s not silly or foolish – her mistakes are human. She has a personality, she has good friends (female friends, actual female friends she doesn’t hate or look down on) who accept her and care for her. And she has a cat who is awesome. She also has hobbies and opinions beyond the supernatural. She has her own sense of style, her own tastes and she’s pretty secure about all of them - she was a rounded character. And a fun character. Of course, she’s also an orphan, but there are some tropes we just can’t escape and despite being an orphan she isn’t a character defined by tragedy and angst.

I also liked the world, what we’ve seen is quite broad but also with a good foundation. Even at this stage where there isn’t enough time to go into great depth, there’s a lot of detail that reassures me that the different creatures are more than just names. The magic has an actual concrete system and process to it, the Kitsune are more than just “werefoxes from Japan” and even the Snow Leopard has a distinctive history that sets it apart from just being various were animals that were bitten. There’s politics and rules and co-operation and a general sense that there’s a lot to explore here and it’s all pretty solid.

The book also had some pretty excellent pacing. The action kept happening, but it wasn’t so break neck that I couldn’t keep up or felt lost – which can easily be done in the first book of a new series – and nor did it derail into too many long info dumps (as also often happens – a number of first books that read like lecture notes). There were, perhaps, some side quests that didn’t belong and just confused and overwhelmed things a little much (I think the vampire politics angle could have been saved for later in exchange for more of Jazz just adapting to this new world).

I am definitely on board with following this series.

That all being said, some criticisms. This is a full world and it was a bit front loaded – we had a variety of weres and magic and vampires and dhampires and kitsune and magic lessons all there front and centre in the first book. It was all really well done, it was all realistically well done  and none of it was boring but that’s a lot for a first book and takes some of the focus off maybe developing a few more side characters a little more.

Revolution, Season 2, Episode 21: Memorial Day

To reiterate last episode, Neville is now monumentally pissed with the Patriots and wants to burn the whole thing down – and wants Monroe to join him. He also wants Miles to join, but Monroe points out Miles probably isn’t on board with the mass slaughter/wholesale destruction thing

Miles & co have found some level of co-operation from people Marion has talked to and one of them shows them the barrel of mustard gas the Patriots have brought to town. The barrel is the size of a tanker. Also Scanlon is with them but he misses Monroe.

Marion herself spies on Truman while bringing him lunch and playing the doting partner. She finds documents that seem to indicate a plan involving/targeting the President of Texas with Mustard Gas, tomorrow which probably involves, death, destruction and provoking Texas and California to go to war. The plan? Rachel is going to go find Aaron and Priscilla who have wandered off and are being creepy elsewhere (hey, maybe the Nano can eat Rachel?) while everyone else tries to steal the train.

Scanlon turns out to be a mole for Monroe and he and Neville are quite delighted at the possibilities presented by a huge tanker full of mustard gas.

Do you know what we need? More angst. Marion shows up with resistance helpers that don’t meet Miles way-too-picky-for-this-standard but it turns out this man and daughter combo are real gung-ho to kill Patriots because his son, her brother was killed by them. And by “killed by them” we mean brainwashed by the Patriots to kill the Texas President and then Miles killed him. ANNNGST. They don’t know Miles pulled the trigger. For some reason Miles think it’s a good idea to tell them this – albeit it not right now. And also he trusts them, not because he does trust them but because he thinks good guys should trust them. This is totally reasonable reasoning. Marion also has doubts about her ability to be a covert agent as well as the awfulness of it all; Gene is there to reassure her even if he is perhaps the least reassuring person ever. Hey he could appeal to moral authority! The hint of Mustard Gas and she’s out, Gene was happy to be a fun torture buddy for some time

They use their new friends to steal the train and it’s all going smoothly until the horrible bloody mess Charlie apparently left the sentry in attracts attention by raining blood on passers by. After a firefight they get their new friend Joe to get the train moving and drive away (though why I don’t know, between them they killed an almost comic number of Patriot guards). They make off with their train.

Scanlon is waiting with all the lye ready to neutralise the gas – with Monroe, Neville and Connor. Neville and Connor check the perimeter and Connor wants to know what’s happening between his dad and Miles. Neville: “Don’t ask don’t tell”. Of course they do. Connor comes to the conclusion that because of Monroe’s obsession with Miles he’ll never succeed in getting the Republic back while Miles is still around – this is his “you cool with murdering Miles?” not-so-subtle-question.

The train arrives and the Monroe gang steals it at gun point. We have another attempt from Monroe to recruit Miles and Neville points a gun at Charlie. He remembers the whole killing his son thing. Miles steps in the way, which hardly stops Neville but with Miles under threat, Monroe points a gun at Neville. Bteween them they hit Neville and knock him out – a stray bullet hitting the gas barrel

Which is empty.

In town Marion continues to play spy, but she’s nervous and her act is fraying around the edges as she pretends to still be in love with Truman. They go to a big community meeting – also attended by the President of Texas and the President of the Patriot US. Above them are many many many canisters of mustard gas ready to be piped into the room

At the train, Mile hears about the concert from Joe and realises it’s the real target and his team heads back, along with Monroe since, if the Patriots win this, all is lost. Connor elects to stay, not really wanting to go to a town that’s about to be gassed.

Race on The Vampire Diaries and The Originals

Way back in 2011 we made a post about Race in The Vampire Diaries; but a long time has passed since then. It’s now 2014, more than enough scope for things to change, right?

Sadly no, The Vampire Diaries and it’s spin-off show, The Originals continue to make the same problematic depictions. The old themes of death and servitude continue. About the only thing that has changed is that Caroline has diversified her palette.

Back when we wrote that post there were 2 living regular POC characters (Bonnie and Tyler) and now there are… 2 living regular POC characters (Bonnie and Tyler). Oh more have been introduced over the years - but they have all fallen to their inevitable deaths (or, if they’re lucky, fled Mystic Falls, never to return).

Yes, Mystic Falls is not a safe place - the death toll for anyone on this show is high, but the attrition rate for POC is quite ludicrous. In addition to the deaths we mentioned in that last post, we have since seen Bonnie’s father, Rudy; the hunter Connor, The Traveller Maria, Qetsiyah (Tessa), Jesse the vampire, Enzo’s lost love Maggie and a number of POC background snacks, spell fodder or otherwise sacrifices (such as Pam, a POC town member… who was introduced along with her quickly killed husband for the Traveller spell). Frankly, there’s not a lot of POC on the show - and when they appear I can hear a clock ticking down until their inevitable doom.

It’s not even just the death rate - which is huge - it’s the way those deaths were treated. Ok, some of them - several of them - were enemies and we were never meant to feel sad for, like Connor. But did Bonnie ever get to mourn her father? Truly mourn the loss of her dad? Or get to deal with the rapid disappearance of her mother? Did we get any real scenes with Bonnie being comforted for this loss? Or was she too busy trying to hide her own death from her friends? What about Jessie, the disposable experiment for the Ripper vampire? Caroline was so upset when he died… for an episode. Then everyone moved on, his death was just a tool to introduce the concept of the Ripper vampire. The same applies to Marie and Maggie, both deaths were tools - only these characters were fridged to make their men all ragey. Has the death of a single POC on this show been treated as something to mourn?

And The Originals? I can’t even count. Celeste/Sabine, Monique, Agnes, Papa Tunde, perhaps Sophie, innumerable witches whose names I can’t even remember but have been vampire chow forever. Marching bands of humans sacrificed en masse. Diego and numerous background vampires who were chowed on by Klaus or Guerrera werewolves. We had, technically, a number of background POC in both the supernatural groups - and they were the ultimate cannon fodder. There was, technically, a huge number of POC - but when the season ended Marcel and Francesca (an enemy so likely dead next season) were the only ones left standing.

There’s one death we have to look at as well - Bonnie’s. In our previous post we mentioned how much Bonnie existed to serve the White characters - especially Elena. But this season we took it a step further - Bonnie became a noble avatar of self-sacrifice.

First, she died to save Jeremy. Once she had martyred herself for him, her prime concern as a ghost wasn’t coming back to life or even grieving for her father - she was concerned that Elena and Caroline may be sad and kept her death a secret. When they finally discover it they have a beautiful funeral - in which Bonnie comforts her friends. At her own funeral, she was there to make them feel better (and her secret was only discovered because everyone was annoyed that Bonnie wasn’t on call when they needed her).

It’s not just that Bonnie continually exists to save others - she’s not allowed to save herself. Bonnie thinking about herself seems to be a great taboo. When she becomes the Anchor it’s not because she wants to be alive again - it’s because Jeremy wants her back (he even lies to force it on her), Elena needs her and Damon needs her for his plan. When the Other Side is under threat, she just gives up - it’s only when other people are in danger that Bonnie starts investigating a way to stop it disappearing. Bonnie isn’t allowed to say “I want to live. Save me”. She has to live for other people, her life has to be saved as a side effect of helping others.

Just as The Vampire Diaries has Bonnie as a source of so many problems, The Originals has Marcel

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Originals, Season 1, Episode 22: From Cradle to Grave

We begin with an artsy montage – Klaus and Hayley being cute together while Hayley writes a letter to her baby – before we see her dragged onto the altar by the witches and Klaus pinned by their magic.

Hayley gives birth to a baby girl – and then Monique slits Hayley’s throat and she breaks Klaus’s neck as they leave with his baby.

Elijah arrives to find Klaus cradling Hayley’s body – Klaus says she’s dead. The brothers grieve and Klaus realises Elijah has been bitten by a werewolf – and gives Elijah his blood. No debate, no negotiation or battling – just gives it to him. Klaus says he was “bested” which Elijah doesn’t take as a reasonable excuse – but they go searching for the baby, Elijah losing that remarkable emotional control. They go to the graveyward, but the witches have cast a spell making it infinitely big

Elijah has a beautiful emotional break about how he let Hayley in – when he never lets anyone in – and Klaus’s endless scheming and enemies have resulted in her death.

Davina sees the carnage caused by Francesca and the Guerrera werewolves and realises all the vampires needs Klaus’s blood to survive – she goes to the place Klaus fought Marcel to use magic to summon his blood from the pavement.

She takes it back to Marcel who says there’s only enough there for one. Davina cries that she can’t choose; Marcel tells her to save Josh because he’s one of his people and he will look after everyone else. Davina is still hallucinating Mikael and Marcel wants to get more blood from Klaus – so Camille takes him to Kieren’s stockpile of weapons, grabbing a Devil’s Star. 1 throw can make a thousand cuts.

In the church, Hayley has laid on the altar – but her wound is gone. She gasps and is alive. Wouldn’t a pregnant woman die with some of her baby’s blood in her system? And if said baby were a hybrid – a super special hybrid – would that make the mother a hybrid/vampire herself?

She remembers the witches took her baby and she does not look happy. She goes and joins Elijah and Klaus in the endless graveyard and they confirm that Hayley is in transition to hybrid-dom. But to be fully reborn she needs to drink the blood of her daughter.

Monique also doesn’t want Genevieve to kill the baby. Not because she has any compunction about baby slaughter – but because, with Genevieve dead, the last Harvest Girl (Cassie) can be restored.

Hayley leads the two men to her daughter using mystical hybrid-hunger senses. But Monique and other-harvest-girl-whose-name-I-can’t-remember-because-she-is-so-going-to-die channel their baby killing ancestors – in the graveyard where they’re super powerful – to hold them off, summoning thousands of ancestors to ghost in now and then with telekinesis.

Which ends when Klaus throws a metal fence rail through the other-harvest-girl-who-just-did-die. Really, Monique, you didn’t expect the vampires to throw shit? She runs to do the sacrifice herself – and Marcel throws the throwing star of a hundred cuts at her – and runs off with the baby.

Davina has her own ill thought out random plan, using items stolen from Camille’s stockpile, she casts a spell to bring Mikael back from the dead. Who then promptly goes to the all the injured, dying vampires and starts eating (Mikael only eats vampire blood).

Klaus follows Marcel to where he’s surrounded by his vampires – who are all dead, thanks to Mikael (well done Davina!) Klaus assumes the Guerrera werewolves came to finish the vampires off – and offers Marcel his blood. And Marcel accepts responsibility for everything for bringing Mikael to town a century ago (which is an awfully one sided version of events). Klaus tells Marcel they’ll hunt down their enemies – looks like they’re on the same team. Klaus holds his daughter and looks so very cute even with the blood stained mouth - watched by Mikael holding the white oak stake.

But he doesn’t get to murder Klaus – because Davina has cast a spell as part of the resurrection to control him. She now can control his every move, make him kneel – and drag him to her loft to use when she chooses.

Genevieve is chained up by Elijah and Hayley and she tells them about the ancestor’s decree – Esther’s decree. After all, Mummy Original tried to kill them all before. Genevieve warns them that the witches of New Orleans, led by the Ancestors, will continue to attack. Genevieve says she’s sorry as the Ancestors begin to kill her – and Hayley stabs her. She’s not sorry. Not one bit. Elijah seems quite perturbed by this.

Back in the house, Klaus sums up the problems – the witches will keep attacked because of Esther (are there any witches left!?) and the Guerrera wolves will keep attacking because Hayley and the baby are werewolf royalty and therefore a challenge to their authority. How can they keep her safe

Hayley has an amazing moment where she tells them how she promised her baby she wouldn’t grow up like she did – sent away and unloved – but on her first day granny wants to shank the child and her own mother needs to drink her blood to become a hybrid. She realises her parents were right – with so many people after the child, hunting the child, the only way to save her will be to send her away. While they stay behind and “clean up the mess they’ve made.” Klaus has a plan to ensure she isn’t hunted

Francesca holds a big press conference about the “gang violence” and making the city safe again by removing the undesirable element. i.e. vampires. Marcel takes the chance to talk to Oliver, one of Francesca’s lackies, to make a deal or he’ll set Klaus on him. Oliver doesn’t believe Klaus will side with Marcel over the wolfpack he created – but Marcel warns him he’ll tell Klaus that the wolves killed his kid: and shows Oliver a box. Whatever’s in that box horrifies Oliver and Marcel says to cremate it if they don’t want Klaus to smell it on them

Intangible (Piercing the Veil #1) by C. A. Gray

Peter is a highly intelligent 14 year old with a lot of theories and not the best social life. He is firmly grounded in reality and has little time or patience for stories, legends of mythology

Lilly has seen the supernatural since she was a child, fully aware of the invisible spirits and creatures that lurk everywhere and have their coils in everyone.

Lilly gets confirmation that she is not actually insane while Peter has his world view shattered when they both find themselves under attack by unknown forces – and the very centre of an an epic prophecy that dates back to Arthurian times – they may be the lynch pin in an invisible war for humanity that has been raging for centuries.

This book seems to be the first book in a series and I think it has fallen into the trap that many first books do – it’s far more concerned with introducing the world and the characters than it is with actually telling a story. A huge amount of this book is exposition, character development (though not so much of that) and world building (and world revelation) without any particular adherence to the story. There are times when the exposition is delivered in great big info dumps or long mental rambles that feel like lectures (well, in some cases, actually are lectures) more than actually telling a story. We have a few peaks of action but the rest is revelation and info reveal.

The world building is intriguing, the different magic system, the history, the Arthurian legend all comes together to be a fairly original world setting with really high potential. The invisible world, the different kind of spirits, what they can do, the underlying war and the hidden side community. I also like how it drew in scientific principles into its magic – it really is an excellent world and concept.

I do think there were some elements that could have been addressed more – like it’s said that people don’t invent things to make people’s gifts obsolete and that most people don’t push their gifts – that sounds like a recipe for a very very stagnant society.

But it doesn’t always hold together well. Like the hidden community has a rather utopian sharing of resources, everyone contributes to the whole and they don’t have currency – then they have a shop with a sale. Or there’s a point made on how Arthurian legends are true because so many cultures have the stories… but they don’t. Arthurian legends are a British and (later) French thing which have entered more wider popular culture, but you’d be hard pressed to point to even a Europe-wide collection of Arthurian legend, let alone world wide. This book is also set in England and generally does a decent job of that – but if you are English you are going to have moments of “huh? Oh, American author…” they’re not as jarring as several I’ve seen, but they’re still there.

From Dusk Till Dawn, Season 1, Episode 9: Boxman

It’s Dusk Till Dawn, let’s start with a flashback, how very novel! This time all the way back to Seth and Richie as kids getting out of the house because their dad fell asleep while smoking and set it on fire – Seth wanted to help their burning dad, but Richie dragged him out, seeming quite happy to see his dad become a much more gruesome version of the human torch.

It’s part of the flashbacks that comes with Richie turning into a vampire – and that includes Santanico morphing into Monica and stabbing out his eyes – as he stabbed out hers.

Richie grows fangs, he doesn’t need his glasses any more and all his wounds heal. Perhaps more remarkably, Santanico actually puts on an item of clothing (it’s a robe over the bikini – I mean, there are LIMITS to the impossible).

Meanwhile the living humans finally make their way to the surface – and outside. Where Richie is walking to the RV with Santanico. Seth insists on going after Richie, though Jacob warns him that Seth probably isn’t Seth any more (and gives him a stake) while Katie, Jacob and Sex Machine stay back to look for Scott.

Seth enters the RV and pretends Richie is normal, looking for Santanico. Richie bares his fangs, moves in on Seth – and then another Richie (without glasses) appears behind first Richie and bludgeons him in the head.


In the tunnels Katie and Jacob have a moment of understanding over Katie’s mother’s suicide and they run into Freddie. Who is STILL focused on killing Seth and Richie – that man is on a vengeance quest and he’s not letting a pesky thing like vampires get in the way. He tells them about Scott but Jacob and Katie insist on seeing for themselves, finally seeing innocents go into danger shakes the vengeance and he goes with them

In the RV, Seth would very much like Richie to explain these shenanigans. But while he doesn’t kill his brother, he refuses to listen and Seth charges out of the RV – into a giant empty hanger. Well, that’s unexpected. And Santanico (WEARING CLOTHES!!!) They’re in a labyrinth – a maze of the mind, put in place by the Lords of the Night, guarded by games and puzzles. It’s a prison – Santanico’s prison – and she’s been stuck in it for 500 years. And Seth can’t really say no to playing since there’s no other way out.

In addition to freeing Santanico, getting the centre of the Labyrinth (with games constructed from everyone’s memories which means yet more flashbacks) also means proving yourself worthy to the Lords of the Night. Worthy of what exactly remains to be seen. But first, Santanico has to leave or she would be cheating – she does, along with the RV.

The puzzle/game/flashback is a replica of the theft Seth tried that got him locked up – stealing from the vault of a Texan money launderer in a high class hotel he used as a front. We also find that Seth is carrying the money on him and Richie’s lack of injuries show he’s a vampire – he claims it was that or death and he’s not her slave, he’s still Seth’s brother.

Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 22: Stairway to Heaven

The angel war is heating up again, this time involving a little girl eating a banana split and, hopefully, catching the world’s most annoying parent in the crossfire.

Castiel calls the Winchesters telling them something is happening in Missouri, which completely gives Dean and excuse to wake Sam up with loud music (it’s a big brother’s prerogative). No Castiel doesn’t tell them why but hey, it’s Castiel and he’s weird and dorky. Of more concern is Dean carrying the First Blade which Sam would rather he leave at home – at very least reserve it for the big boss fights, not killing trash. Seeing how disturbed Sam is, Dean agrees.

I call shenanigans – Dean totally has the blade hidden in his bag, he never gives in that easily

To the crime scene where Castiel has already got them an in with the impersonating federal agents thing (one of these days that really has to come back and bite them), giving them the names Agent Spears and Agent Aguilera – because he’s noted that Sam and Dean use the names of popular musicians as aliases.

Heh Castiel.

6 humans and 1 angel died – which Castiel considers super abhorrent. Which I’m not sure I understand since the death toll is quite low compared to past conflicts.

Metatron, meanwhile, is trying on ankle length duster coats. You will NEVER look as cool as Cas, Metatron, don’t even try.

And he’s further frustrated by angels being so damn literal. Gadreel thinks they’re loosing and insists to Metatron he is loyal despite meeting with Castiel before. Metatron seems to have lost the whole master storyteller vibe and is now frustrated that all the angels are choosing Castiel over him; he has no idea why anyone would choose Cas (cute and charming) over him (positive traits that make even Gadreel give him a dubious look). Gadreel reminds Metatron that, for reasons no-one understands, he made Cas a leader of the opposition

The last independent faction is led by an angel called Tyrus and Metatron has to win him over.

Over to Castiel’s camp and Dean and Sam are freaked out by how organised Cas’s army is, (under second in command, Esther) by the fact they’re calling him commander and the fact they have a role call (“they like to hear me say their names.” Awww Castiel) – and an angel is missing. They assume that this angel, Josiah, is probably the mole. They track him down – but one of the angels also has a video of the ice cream parlour massacre – and angel came in and killed himself to kill another angel saying “I do this for Castiel”. Castiel is horrified, nauseated and Dean throws down some reality – Cas tries to be good but he has his own cult. He also throws out the reality that the last time Castiel was super powered he killed lots of people and lied about it

Sam insists they take it somewhere private and that Dean buries those particular issues for now. Dean wants Cas to hang back while they investigate, again, because it’s a cult and they can’t get honest answers with Cas around. Castiel refuses to do nothing so he plans to track Josiah – and Dean insists Sam goes with him “to help”, though Castiel thinks it’s because Dean doesn’t trust him

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Salem Season 1, Episode 4: Survivors

Someone’s finally doing something about poor Mercy (the girl who does horrible things like bite off her own finger and cough up nails), her dad decides to exorcise her. With what appears to be a Catholic exorcism no less, which may make him even less popular than the witches with the puritans. Part of this involves cutting her stomach – and a snake slithers out.

Again, I have to think any sensible person in Salem at this time has to be thinking “hey, Canada isn’t that cold, I’m going north.”

A stranger arrives in town to pick up a parcel from a boat – which has been quarantined because of a flu outbreak that has killed 5 – a quarantine ordered by George (meaning Mary, of course). Mary’s busy taunting her dear husband on the balcony about how she’s going to have Mercy declare the blacksmith a witch. This is before electricity you have to get your fun somehow

Anne and John have a little meeting in the graveyard (it’s a vehicle for John to be angsty. And someone get that man a cough sweet, the hoarse-throaty-I-wanna-be-wolverine voice needs to end) where discusses how her father is a wonderful man and totally not a witch who removed a cursed doll from her room, no, not at all! All of this quite possibly heard by Hale.

And John who is so outraged by the vicar deciding to kill people on the basis of superstition… decides to tell Cotton that Anne has been bespelled – and further implicates Hale. Cotton is sceptical, which is all kinds of wrongly amusing, and in between declaring how everyone has secrets and shame, he storms up and gets quite angry that Glorianna is getting up close and personal with the new man in town and is outraged at the idea the man may hire her for sex! (Only Cotton may do that). This could escalate but the man sees John (who looks stunned) and hurriedly and politely leaves. John denies knowing him. John is a dirty rotten liar.

Mercy’s dad takes her out for a little walk when they run into Mary who quickly puts some bad woo-woo on her. Despite all Mary tries, Mercy has a terrible fit but doesn’t accuse the Blacksmith (even when prompted by a passer by) – Mary tells Tituba that they’ve lost control of her.

The witches meet, Hale, as ever, ready to put the knife in Mary over losing Mercy, Tituba ready to defend Mary and snarl at Hale and Rose taking Mary’s reassurance that all is well to be a guaratee. Hale also warns them that if someone doesn’t deal with John’s suspicion he will himself – but Rose won’t back that, telling Hale to earn John’s trust but at the same time telling Mary she’s telling the other witches her plans will go ahead soon. Which sounds less like a vote of confidence and more like “they had BETTER go ahead soon!”

The Memory of Death (Death Works #4) by Trent Jamieson

Steve crawls to shore… apparently free from the Death of Water’s eternal hell. This is unexpected – but not as much as being greeted by men with guns… or finally getting home to find that Lisa and Tim think he’s a monster.

And they have 3 other copies of him lurking in the basement. Each of which thinks they’re the real one.

When I first came across this book I was sceptical. The Death Works series had ended – it had ended rather elegantly, if somewhat tragically, and I didn’t see how another book would come out of the series, especially one that still involved Steve de Selby. Or even the universe since everything seems neatly resolved. I admit, I rather cynically expected a poor book that had stretched out a done concept.

And I was wrong.

This book continues on with the same fascinating world and excellent characters and does manage to keep the story going. Steve is still very true to what he was – so well meaning, more than a little inept, but so determined to do what is right. He’s still a little whiney, his optimism still rather expecting things to work out even when nothing owes him a happy ending. Tim and Lisa are the hard edged professionals they’ve always been with some added insight into some of the other entities around him.

The time gap has added some interesting elements – like it confirmed that Tim and Lisa are actually way better at the job than Steve ever was. But also seeing the Hungry Death through Lisa’s eyes, perhaps, gives a better sense of just what Steve was facing as Hungry Death. I also like how Tim and Lisa have grieved to an extent, but are still angry about what Steve did without telling them at the end of The Business of Death. He doesn’t get to come back and have everything be twee and lovely and he can just step back into his old role, his old relationships as if nothing had happened and no time had passed. It’s not that neat

I think that’s one thing that really made me like this book – along with some nifty action and some great world revelations. It resisted the urge to be twee. These books have never been twee, there’s always been an edge of grittiness, a sense that the world isn’t fair and an idea that the “good guys” weren’t really all that good. Just good in comparison. It was one of the things that made Steve stand out as the good, rather na├»ve, but genuinely nice guy in a sea of sharks. When bringing a character back as happened in this book it is easy to get all saccharine about it. This doesn’t – it’s not sweet, it’s not neat, it’s still rough and painful and difficult and there’s no shiny “love conquers all” fluffy ending. Especially since Lisa is far far too professional to let sentiment cloud her professional judgement

In the Flesh, Season 2, Episode 2

Jem is still suffering horrendous nightmares, ongoing trauma from her time fighting the rabid PDS before the treatment was found – and her continuing struggles with fitting into normal life. Of course, normal life would probably be easier to fit into if your parents didn’t decide on a ridiculous French theme breakfast to say goodbye to Kieren before he goes to Paris – which he considers more accepting of PDS people.

Kieren’s father, Steve, still forgets and serves Kieren food. After which they have a touching goodbye and Steven heads off with his suitcase

At the cemetery, it’s the vicar’s funeral – and he has a metal grill bolted over his body; to protect against the second rising and he’s not the only one who believes it will happen.

To Amy who ominously keeps some objects in jars in her fridge – and draws off a liquid from them. It looks very… organic. She injects it into Simon’s back (is this the drug that stops him going rabid?) while he councils a young PDS. He repeats that those who rose in Roarton are special – and Amy wants to stop Kieren from leaving, partly because of that but also because Kieren’s her best friend.

Elsewhere, local comic relief Dean and Freddie have an upset because Freddie is washing windows without Dean for extra money (they have a window washing business together).

Meanwhile Maxine has promoted Phillip to Councillor (which apparently MPs can do here) and has pushed through a new policy from the national government – to mixed reception. Of course Phillip has just been promoted to chief dogsbody, bought by loyalty and she has him ensure that a list of people attend her “seminar”.

Amy meets Kieren as he heads to the station and tries to talk him into staying, first with jokes then with serious questions – how much cover-up make up is he wearing and just how far will he have to go before he doesn’t have to wear it? But when Kieren tries to buy a train ticket, the seller refuses because he’s PDS and tells him he has to wait. Phillip arrives to order them both to the seminar.

The happy dappy seminar has a DVD which basically forces PDS to become slaves in the “volunteer” sector which they have to do if they want to be considered British citizens. And Kieren can’t get a passport unless he completes the course. Maxine seems especially interest in Kieren – especially when he rose. When she goes back to the guest house, she circles his picture

At school Jem is invited to sit next to the PDS boy, Henry, who crushes on her desperately. And he brings up the HVF in class as an important part of history despite the teacher’s obvious discomfort with it; he’s trying to make Jem seem special to the class since she was a member. She gets up and is asked many many questions about her war days. It works – it makes Jem much more popular.

Of course, the people it makes her popular with are happy to use the word “Rotter” even while Jem isn’t. Jem dated Henry when they were both 14 before the rising and actually liked him – but his plan’s backfired since Jem’s new friends are extremely hostile to him. Henry joins is friends and one of them is all looking forward to the second rising. He also has a vial of something with a ULA label – probably Blue Oblivion.

Warehouse 13, Season 5, Episode 5: Cangku Shisi

Claudia is understandably upset about Claire’s disappearance and has choice words for the security staff (well actually with Artie in a nice little passive aggressive dig from both of them at the staff)

Wait… the Warehouse has staff? Since when did it have staff? And if it did have staff how are they all not dead several times over given the number of times the main cast has JUST escaped?

Anyway, using Artefacts the find the man responsible – Benedict Valda. Alternate world Benedict Valda. Who I am going to try REALLY hard not to call Crowley.

Valda fits Claire with the Artefacts Paracelsus used to create his mind controlled Borg soldiers, allowing him to control her.

The gang meets and figures all this out, including Alternate Valda, and that he has been hanging around in the Dead Agent Vault. Myka wants to go see but Pete is all confused about the “you love Myka” thing from last week, doesn’t want to be alone with her (remember, Pete has the emotional maturity of a… actually, small children have more emotional maturity than this man) and drags Steve with him (complete with “I’ll take off my shirt” quip because Steve’s sexuality must be a constant source of jokes). Pete continues to desperately try to avoid Myka, babbling and generally needing a good slap upside the head. When he finally makes some sense he worries about Valda replicating Artefacts (his thing with Paracelsus) and creating a telekinetic army – while Myka realises his key to his safety deposit box is missing

In the Regent’s Vault – where Valda kills its Regent keeper. Myka, Peter and Artie arrive to find the body – and a trap that freezes Artie.

Valda, meanwhile, uses the record player that kept Claire asleep to take down a whole park of people – claiming it will cause seizures in 30 minutes (since he’s not using the other Artefact they used on Claire). He describes the destructive capability in a sales pitch to someone about how the Artefacts can be used as tools and weapons to expand their empire, whoever they are. So long as the Warehouse is in their hands. He gives the hidden employer’s driver a Mason Square Artefact to put in a specified location for them to begin.

Pete, Steve and Myka do the Artefact thing to rescue Artie and get an update on Valda’s activities. While Steve looks after Artie, Myka and Pete hurry to save the unconscious people – which is extra complicated because Valda uses multiple Artefacts in crafty, dangerous ways. And more Pete panic over his feelings for Myka.

While that’s happening, Artie figures out Valda’s plan – he’s going to steal the Warehouse using the 3 Artefacts used to move the Warehouse from country to country (hence there being 12 previous Warehouses in different countries, the Regents moving the Warehouse to the dominant nation/power of the day).

So Steve and Artie lock down one of the Artefacts kept in the Warehouse (which transforms the whole Warehouse to energy for transportation)… except it’s missing, Valda has already moved it in position. Which is in the Warehouse. Somewhere.

While Pete, Myka and Claudia go to the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston to find another of the Artefacts (always hidden where the host nation was formed); there they find a dead Regent. Downstairs they find Claire and Valda – and Claire telekinetically holds a giant wall over Claudia, ready to crush her. Claudia tries to reach her and Claire cries – but Valda controls her – and locks them in the vault where he secured the Artefact (he doesn’t kill them because of Plot Armour).

They find their way out through the secret passage in the vault (it was, after all, a place where revolutionaries met so an escape route make sense). Oh Valda, you should have killed them but for the rules of TV

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Super Villain by Richard Roberts

Penny Ackk, daughter of super heroes Brian Akk and The Audit has been desperate for her super powers to finally kick in – and when they did they came in with a vengeance!

Of course, her dad thinks it’ll be years before they fully develop. So keeping them secret and then springing them on him as a surprise sounds likes a great idea. Until a little problem at the school science fair means she and her best friends kind of become Super Villains.


And trying to change sides just digs them deeper in the villain put. And maintaining a secret identity when your parents are super geniuses isn’t easy anyway

But one thing no-one expected was how good they’d be at supervillainy – or how much fun it is!

This book is so much fun! I can’t remember the last time I had so much amazing fun reading a book! I literally spent my entire time reading this book with a big, silly grim on my face, broken only when I had to laugh.

It’s campy, it’s a little silly, but it’s so incredibly fun! Super heroes and super villains duking it out in the street – oh not your dark and gritty super villains who have become so popular. Far less stylish than that! These are fun super villains and super heroes – with the super heroes (perhaps) taking things pretty seriously but recognising limits and the villains are just enjoying themselves immensely. Yes, sometimes a villain takes it too far – but then their fellow villains will quietly feed them to the more extreme heroes (and then they “accidentally don’t survive a fight”). I love this sense of everyone having fun so long as everyone knows the rules, kind of, even though no-one’s ever going to expressly state it.

But, hey, there are RULES. Like you totally don’t hit people’s families or their secret lairs. That would be cheating!

I love the fact that even though they are supervillains they cling to the hope they can change sides whenever they find a suitably dramatic moment. And yes, of course it has to be dramatic – how else are they going to make sure they have an awesome backstory? Switching sides from evil to good can make for an awesome origin story, they just need the right moment. Lucyfar changes sides on a completely random basis! (Perhaps best summed up with, when they betray some fellow villains they meet a response of “you kids are awesome!”)

Did I mention it was so much fun?

Continuum, Season 3, Episode 8: So Do Our Minutes Hasten

I know Continuum has a theme going with these episode titles – but they’re really really struggling now.

Flashback time – Kiera and her fellow fascist storm trooper protectors go into an “illegal political meeting” with big guns; the locals are committing the dastardly crime of trying to preserve a historic building. And Kiera’s mother is part of the group. Kiera tries to get her out before she’s arrested, but mother is awesome and so much better than her daughter – and protests that Kiera isn’t the only one who gets to take a stand for what she believes in.

Oh awesome mother, how did you produce Kiera? She tells Kiera there are other ways to rebel against her mother – and it’s ok to be wrong but eventually you’ve got to own up.

To the present with Curtis calling Kiera to taunt her with his escape for random reasons. And on television both Julian and Dillon being interviewed on television by Diana the sound bites reporter. Dillon tries to justify selling out the police to Piron and further how he cannot possibly show his budget to the public. Of course, there’s absolutely no real challenge to Dillon’s corruption and Dillon uses his reputation as police chief to silence Julian.

To the board room of Fermitas with a man making a big corporate speech to his fellows – and then gas coming through the vents. They try to leave but every door is sealed – they collapse, coughing then into unconsciousness.

At Piron, Alec has his own speech to sell a new product – Halo. Something you wear that constantly monitors your health and body and updates the information to Piron servers to help treat diseases as soon as they’re detectable (and, of course, cache all kinds of data about you). To prove his invention does what he claims, Alec has a doubting board member put it on and it diagnoses many basics and colon cancer which he had 2 years ago. Though he says he’s in remission – so Alec hopes. He leaves abruptly. Another board member proposes 2 months funding though Alec says 2 months is not nearly long enough.

After the meeting Dillon praises Alec for his performance – because it was a lie. Halo doesn’t work, Alec check the man’s insurance file to discover the man’s cancer.

To the crime scene, Dillon, Kiera and extras, Dillon is sure that the dead board room was caused by Liber8 but Kiera realises it doesn’t make sense – not with the good PR Liber8 has been working on. Carlos is on another case (a whistleblower case with Sonmanto) – it’s just Kiera and Dillon.

Speaking of that whistleblower case, Betty shows Carlos that his whistleblower was in touch with Julian. Betty’s also happy to show off her ankle tracker because she’s not even going to pretend to hide. Carlos decides the way to handle this is to go and try to arrest Julian for stealing Sonmanto property – huh, even Dillon was calling this a whistleblower case 5 minutes ago.

She tells Kiera and Dillon that Liber8 has released a statement denying all involvement with the Fermotas gas attack – and there has been no online planning of it that Betty could find at all. Kiera and Dillon still thinks the technological expertise to pull it off was Lucas so want her to be active in chat rooms in the hope Lucas will reach out to Betty again.

Kiera has her own task for Betty – use her contacts to try and find and track Curtis. Betty claims she first got involved with Liber8 because she was a hacker who got in over her head. She adds that doing the right thing matters to her which makes me laugh since it doesn’t matter all that much to Kiera and certainly not to Dillon.

Game of Thrones, Season 3, Episode 6: the Laws of Gods and Men


Stannis (he who is dour) and Davos (he who is grimm)  have travelled here to talk to the Iron Bank. Stannis insists he is the king, insists that Tommen isn’t, throws in claims of incest and illegitimacy – but the Bankers don’t really care. History, honour, bloodlines are less important than bank balances. And the balance of Stannis’s meagre forces, low resources and tiny fleet doesn’t look good. Davos tries to speak for Stannis (though how much the Braavosi are impressed by a smuggler is somewhat dubious). But he has some sense as well – when the 67 year old Tywin dies, then who leads the Seven Kingdoms? Tommen, a child? Cersei, a queen who is hated? Jaime, the Kingslayer?

Hah, shows how little he knows about Kings Landing – the Tyrells will rule!

While in Braavos, Davos meets up with Salladhor Saan (who is with naked prostitutes. Because Game of Thrones). He recruits him with cash (that suggests they got the loan) to Stannis’s war effort.

In the North – where everyone’s awful and we should be Team Nobody.

Yara Greyjoy – Theon’s sister and daughter of the Lord of the Iron Islands who still controls several men in the North, reads the letter her dad received from Ramsay Bolton (evil, creepy son of Roose Bolton who wants to take over the North now the Starks are dead/scattered/lacking the sense normally seen in cabbages) demanding they leave the North in brutal terms involving lots of flaying, complete with bits cut off Theon. While we watch Ramsay have sex with his torture buddy Myranda (we see her naked, him not so much. Because Game of Thrones) Yara gives a stirring speech to the grim Iron Men. She leads her men against the castle where Ramsay is – and demands to be taken to her brother

Who is kept in the kennels – and so broken he’s terrified of being rescued or called by his real name. Ramsay arrives, shirtless and covered in blood leading some of his men – and he’s loving the entertainment. He launches himself at the Iron Men – but Yara and her men are forced to run when Ramsay releases his hounds. She tells her men that Theon is dead.

As a reward, Ramsay gives Theon a bath, that really just emphasises what a pet Theon is to Ramsay. And is extra extra creepy – especially with Theon cringing at every move Ramsay makes. And for extra complexity – Ramsay wants Theon to pretend to be… well... Theon to help him claim the Moat Cailin (a strategic castle held by the Iron men) back.

Meereen Saviour Lady Holds Court

Daenerys is hearing supplicants and being a Queen – this includes a man she gives a wedge of cash because her dragon ate his goats, a noble who wants to bury his dad who she crucified (which she agrees to after learning that he actually opposed the whole mass slaughter of slaves).

Kings Landing back into the snake pit – but snakes are less venomous

The Small Council meets, including Oberyn who is very very amused by the whole affair. Tywin also has no time for flattery (from Mace Tyrell who Tywin treats like a servant). The agenda covers Sandor, the Hound (a bounty on his head), Varys summing up Daenerys’s forces in exacting detail (Jorah is also no longer their spy); Varys and Tywin both take the opportunity to tell Cersei how silly she was to sack Ser Barristan.

Afterwards Varys talks to Oberyn, questioning him about Oberyn’s many travels and being very suspicious of Oberyn knowing where he was from. Oberyn pries into Varys’s history and gets little-  but is surprised to realise that Varys is neither interested in men nor women – he finds desire quite destructive and distracting and prefers to focus on other things – and looks to the throne.

Jaime and the guards take Tyrion to his trial, Jaime looking all guilty and Tyrion making sure of the fact. He’s taken to the very full throne room. Tommen announces the judges and proceedings begin- Tyrion doesn’t take things very seriously. Evidence is produced – including Tyrion’s awesome slap of Joffrey (ah, such a sweet memory), Sansa’s poison necklace (that has made its way back from Littlefinger’s boat on Dontos’s floating corpse), Pycelle accusing Tyrion of stealing poisons and of course, Cersei. Even Varys is quick to throw Tyrion under the bus, must to Tyrion’s shock because Varys respected him.

Once Upon a Time, Season 3, Episode 21 & 22: Snow Drifts & There's No Place Like Home

It’s the season finale – and that episode 21 and 22 together in one, long double episode.

So with such an epic finale – we start 18 years ago in a Boston Group home with a young Emma. Once Upon a Time, I will judge you if you clutter your finale with pointless fillet for unnecessary tweeness. You have Mary Margaret, you are already way over your twee quota. But no, it’s for ANGST! Because Emma watches a little girl get to go to a new home while she cries because she doesn’t have one.

Back to the present away from such mopey reminiscences, and Emma’s baby brother still doesn’t have a name because, traditionally, a new royal baby should be properly announced in a coronation ceremony. This is a great chance for Emma to snark, and a chance for me to point out that, unless they get back to the Enchanted Forest he’s going to be Prince of a tiny piece of Maine (and the US government may object) but, hey, let’s run with Royals in Exile. Having finally gathered some level of self-awareness and that, maybe, everyone gathering round to worship the Charmings isn’t fun, they’re going for a Pot Luck at Grannies. To celebrate their family togetherness

Hear that Emma and your evil plans to go back to New York? Let’s rub some salt in that wound – with Henry dropping in with his apartment hunting.

Regina and Robin are being all cute and relationshippy. And Rumple hides his dagger; just in time for Belle to come in worried sick about all the power she has holding his (unknown to her) fake dagger. They talk weddings and how much Rumple has totally changed, honest.

To Grannies and everyone is partying and Henry is reading the fairy tale of how Snow White and Charming met (as Emma puts it, it was by armed robbery) and Hook is bemused by Charming would pick Snow White over the daughter of King Midas (so am I Hook, so am I). Hook snarks about Emma wanting to get away from it all, which Emma quickly tries to silence. But Regina is no fool and demands an explanation. With her cards on the table, Emma leaves, followed by Hook.

David tries to reassure Henry – and then they all see the light reaching the sky out the window. Zelena’s time portal is open. They rush to the gaol and find Zelena missing and Regina unerringly fixates on the culprit – Rumple. Though he protests his innocence and Belle backs him because, of course, she has his dagger. What Rumple didn’t think of was CCTV – but he quickly changes the video to make it look like suicide not murder. With Zelena dead, Regina expositions, her pendant’s magic was unbound so fulfilled her last wish.

Clearly everyone needs to avoid the portal because time travel is dangerous.

Hook confronts Emma with good sense and a book of fairy tales and scoffing at her idea of safety. And if Emma is, as she claims, looking for home why not make it in Storybrooke and Emma finally reveals the truth. All these stories that everyone else is a part of isn’t her life – she was never a princess or anything else form the stories, she has no fairytale history. She also adds insight informed by her past – she ran away a lot and decided home was somewhere you missed when you left – she hasn’t missed anything yet

Major character development is shelved by her seeing the time portal and rushing off towards it. Emma ignores Hook’s good sense (she doesn’t have magic, so how can she close it) and ends up pulled in, Hook is saved by his hook, but, alas, him always wearing the same leather all the time has left it weak (and probably really smelly) so Emma’s grip just tears his sleeve. Hook follows her (“one of these days I’m going to stop chasing this woman.” Heh, not likely).

They arrive back in the Enchanted Forest – back when Snow White was still a wanted fugitive and Regina was the Evil Queen – probably because that was the story Emma was focused on in the book (which they have) when they went through. Just to drive home the culture shock, Emma makes a Back to the Future reference that, of course, goes right over Hook’s head.

Penny Dreadful, Season 1, Episode 1: Nightwork

It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s the middle of the night and a young woman simply has to go to the bathroom. She makes her way from the bed she shares with her young daughter, through the dimly lit, cold house to the lavatory – and something super-fast snatches her through the window.

Really, you’d think even monsters would allow a truce for toilet breaks.

The little girl wakes up and goes to investigate her missing mother – whatever she sees in the lavatory makes her scream. Damn, that’s some heavy duty air freshener needed.

Opening credits – and a woman praying fervently in latin to a crucifix. She looks troubled – and is distracted and further troubled by a spider crawling over the cross – and then onto her hand. She seems to have some kind of fit or vision while an eerie voice says “soon my child.” And “I’m hungry”.

Well, that’s nicely ominous.

From there to a Wildwest show in London, 22nd September 1891. An American shows off his considerable prowess with firearms while spinning a tale about Custer and deadly Native Americans, much to the appreciation of all the crowd by one woman in black, who looks rather awesomely unimpressed.

He certainly impressed one lady sufficiently for her to show her private appreciation afterwards – having sex up against the wall of a cart. He has some excuses and really pretty words for why he can’t see her again which she doesn’t quite buy because he doesn’t even know her name (something which seems to almost amuse her).

He goes to the bar instead to stare at a pocket watch with an inscription to him (Ethan) from his dad (who I assume is dead by the pathos stare). Moping is interrupted by the Gloriously Unimpressed lady from the crowd (the woman who was praying earlier) who wants to tell him how inaccurate his story is. She wants to recruit him for some dangerous “nightwork” that may call upon his gun skills. She goes on to examine him and give a no-nonsense Sherlock-Holmes-style summation of his current state and past which is pretty awesome as well. He asks questions about the job which she responds to with further cold awesomeness, giving away nothing and thoroughly establishing Ethan’s mortality in the process. She does give him a time and place to meet him and leaves

He calls after her “Do you have a name?” To which she responds “Yes.” And she continues to leave. I think I like her.

That night he arrives at the meeting place and she leads him to an Opium Den, run by several Chinese people. There they meet an older man who is similarly uninformative; he only says they’re looking for someone, someone dear to him. The three of them go down to the basement, which is deserted, to meet 3 unhealthy, pale looking men. The older man argues with their leader in a different language while the other 2 circle ominously.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Queen of the Damned (The Vampire Chronicles #3) by Anne Rice

Lestat has rocked the vampire world with his music and his book revelations. But his voice has reached far more than he imagined – it has come to the ears of Akasha, the first vampire, the Queen of the Damned. For the first time in millennia, she has woken up

And she has plans – plans for Lestat, plans for the world of vampires and plans for all humanity.

It falls for a few ancient vampires to try and stop her as she unleashes carnage to realise her vision of what the world should be.

This book is 460 pages long. And like every Anne Rice books I’ve read to date it could easily be half that or less. I cannot even begin to describe the amount of redundancy and repetition there is in this book.

Usually when we get a character, the author will describe a bit about them, give some insight into their background and let the rest develop as the story progresses. Not Anne Rice. In these books we get a character and before they do anything even slightly relevant we have to have their life history. Not just their life history, but if we’re really lucky, we get their ancestry back 3 generations (at least) as well. It’s boring, it’s dull, it’s utterly irrelevant to anything resembling the plot.

I can’t even say there’s much in the way of coherent plot here anyway. A large part of the book involves recapping the last book. We have the dreams of the twins that just serve to be ominous foreshadowing – but are repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated over and over. I really can’t stress how repetitive this book is – this same dream is recounted not just from multiple sources but then multiple times from each source. And this is a theme throughout the books, we have multiple sources all thinking about Lestat and his music – but all thinking exactly the same thing about Lestat and his music. So we get the same thing over and over

And when people finally gather together their grand plan is EPIC EXPOSITION. Seriously, people being slaughtered, Askasha raging away and the gang gathers to have 2 solid nights of storytelling. The most long winded, repetitive story telling imaginable. Face the enemy with long winded folktales!

Then there’s the characters – all of who’s point of view we are treated to in ridiculous length – most of which are utterly irrelevant. At least Louis and Gabrielle and Armand have some history in the story and we don’t see too much from their POV, they’re recognised as being spectators. But the rest? What exactly was the point of Khayman? He just kind of sat in a corner and was ineffably sad. But we got pages and pages from his POV. Jesse? What did Jesse actually do? What was the point of her? What was the relevance of her Great Family? But she was there, her POV, her chapters worth of backstory was dragged up, we roped in the Talamasca for more pages of pointlessness – because none of it was relevant. None of it added to the overall plot. None of it added to the ending. None of her history or story was really relevant. And Daniel – another character inserted with a painfully long backstory and history with Armand who, like Louis and Gabrielle and Armand and Jesse, ended up being nothing more than a spectator for the – and I use the term loosely – action. These characters are not part of the story, they’re spectators, it’s like stopping a play in the middle so we can hear the biography of Mrs. Jones in the 3rd row of the theatre. It doesn’t matter, I have no reason to care, it’s pure padding

Da Vinci's Demons, Season 2, Episode 8: The Fall From Heaven

Riario and Leo are in a prison – the same cell we saw from the pilot – being all angsty and thoughtful. Riario recaps his past for us, brought up in a monastery and recruited by the pope to do terrible things – things that make him all sad and tortured.

Ima drops in to say she’s totally not loving it but they’re going to sacrifice Leo and Riario because then the gods will be happy and give them the Leafy Book (and maybe Leo’s mother) since there’s still puzzles left in the Indiana Jones Vault. But hey, she has some new bling for him while he gets sacrificed. Leo asks that Zoroaster and Nico be spared – but they weren’t up for sacrifice anyway; they get to spend their days serving (skinning carcasses) and Leo gives them a cryptic message  which Zoroaster interprets from their… colourful history as meaning to leave – without Leo.

Zoroaster begins his plan – and Nico gives him away. Zoroaster is shocked – what has Riario done to Nico. Then Nico kills the guard who grabbed Zoroaster (clearly not focusing on Nico) – Riario taught young Nico to survive. The rest of the coded message involves the big vats of, apparently fat, tat the camera focused on earlier. By setting them on fire, Zoroaster intends to create a diversion.

Leo and Riario are taken out to be sacrificed, a ritual happens in the background while Riario and Leo talk about fatalism and hearing Leo’s mother and things that are really really irrelevant when you’re about to be killed. As Riario is about to be sacrificed, Leo stabs his guard with his nifty knew bling and then grabs a sword from Ima (one of theirs) and holds it to the high priest’s throat. Leo makes a big speech (translated by Ima) about how they’ve survived the Vault and need to return or their gods will be vengeful (why they should believe Leo’s take on what will piss off their gods rather than Ima and the High Priest is a mystery).

Then the fat explodes. Leo and Riario runs, Leo grabbing his key/Lucrezia’s ring back off Ima. They meet up with Nico and Zoroaster and their plan is to flee up the mountain back into the Vault, of course.

They run through the Vault, chased by Ima and the guards. Leo locks the door behind them, crushing one of the Incan guards in the doorway. Leo leaves Zoroaster and Nico with plans to make parachutes (yes yes he does) and goes to find his mother. Leo geniuses open the Vault while Ima cries that the book belongs to her people who will die without its help.

Inside is a little golden bust which speaks with his mother’s recorded voice.



Ok, let’s just run with this, little gold robots with speakers, why not? Leo takes it out – wow that looks really cheap. You can virtually see the plastic. Riario is very upset by the lack of a Leafy Book, Leo is very upset by the lack of his mother (Leo, if your mother had been locked in a vault for several years, you wouldn’t want to see her).

The plastic toy-pretending-to-be-metal explains she had to move the book and the only way Leo can find the book is if he stops looking for her. Anything further is interrupted by an uncannily aimed arrow that breaks it. They run to the convenient huge drop off and Ima begs Leo not to take the book from her people – he tells her there was no book and they jump off the mountain.

They land in the rain forest and Riario breaks his leg – a compound fracture. Leo and Zoroaster don’t decide to leave him to his fate despite Zoroaster’s very sensible suggestion