Unpicking the Tudors; S1 E3


Good morrow, costume fiends! Welcome to your insight into Henrican politics for the week!

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Wolsey, Wolsey, Wolsey!++++

The King asks Charles to escort his sister, Margaret, to her betrothed and promotes him to Duke of Suffolk. The envoys from the Holy Roman-Emperor meet with Cardinal Wolsey and determine how to cement the treaty between the two nations. Anne catches the King’s notice in a play. The Emperor is invited to the King’s court. It is learned that the King of France knows of the treaty talks- and the Cardinal is quick to find a scapegoat. We learn more of why Anne’s father and uncle want her to seduce the King.

As usual, the pace is really rattling on. Each episode covers a truly huge amount of events and many different plotlines. To be honest, it does work. It makes the Tudor court seem very vibrant, busy, and a potboiler of intrigue. It just means I have a lot of history to cover!

Begot by Butchers, But By Bishops Bred

Wolsey, you see, is evil.

After the French cardinals screwed him over, Wolsey has now entered into a secret treaty with the Holy Roman Empire. Wolsey, in real life. mediated between the Holy Roman Empire and France in 1519, but this treaty is clearly the Treaty of Bruges from 1521. This started to be debated during the Field of Cloth of Gold, and it’s often seen as Wolsey’s finest work in international politics. It joined Henry and Charles in a mutual treaty if France would not sign a peace treaty. Wolsey had ambitions of a peaceful Europe, with England acting as an arbitrator, and it was a masterstroke of international diplomacy.

However, in the show it’s evidence that Wolsey is EEEEEEVILLLLLLL.

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He’s taking money from the Emperor! He’s evil!

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He has an innocent man sent to death! He accuses this man of spying for the French but it’s actually…. Wolsey!

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Wolsey has a secret mistress! He’s EEEEEEVVVVILLLL. Evil! That’s his whole motivation!

Okay, I see your game, show. The show needs a Big Bad. It’s a easy system of protagonist-to-antagonist narrative brought in by the highly developed and arc system of story telling brought in by Buffy. Unfortunately, it does not work here. Creating a narrative out of Tudor history is a necessity of making a fictional television show about these events, but having Wolsey as an arch manipulator and secretly evil minister is based on some incredibly old historiography that has been mostly revised and dismissed by modern historians. Obviously, I’m a little biased as my adviser during university was a scholar and defender of Cardinal Wolsey, but the idea of Wolsey as manipulator and Henry VIII as puppet is incredibly old-fashioned and not really in-keeping with modern Tudor academia.

I’ll talk more about it as the seasons progress. But, needless to say, Wolsey as being this evil minister is old fashioned, lazy, and a waste of Sam Neil’s talents.

EUSTACCEEEEEEE

This treaty with Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, brings in one of my favourite figures of the period.

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Eustace Chapuys. This guy. This guy is one of my favourite people of the sixteenth century. He worked as Imperial Ambassador to the English Court from 1529 to 1545, and he’s notable for his wonderful legacy – incredibly detailed correspondence. He had a head for gossip and reported everything that he heard, and it’s such a goldmine of intrigue and whisperings and I love reading them and I love him.

We’ll ignore that he’s nine years early.

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To commemorate and sign the treaty, Charles V actually arrives in England to sign it himself, not through a proxy. It was pretty unusual for foreign royalty to visit England for things like this – being that England is pretty out of the way in Europe – but he actually visited England a number of times.

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This is contemporary artwork of Charles V visiting England in 1520. The events the show is depicting took place in 1522, however. Vague timelines of vagueness strike again, but I appreciate that the show made efforts to depict the Hapsburg jaw.

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This is Charles V in 1519. As you can see, he has a deformation of the jaw. The Hapsburg jaw is a pretty famous example of the effects of inbreeding on a family, and this is not even the worst example of it.

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As part of the treaty, Charles V is engaged to the Princess Mary. This also happened in real life; in 1522, the six year old Mary was engaged to the twenty two year old Charles. The two, while they never married, remained close for their entire lives.

Katherine is pleased with England aligning their interests with the Empire. Considering that she is fearful that Henry will divorce her, having her powerful nephew on side can only help her. And, in another element that is true, Katherine and Charles were very close and kept in constant contact.

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She swears to being a virgin whilst married to Arthur, the elder brother of Henry VIII who died in his teens (and whose death ensured that Henry would be king) and to her unwavering love and devotion to her husband and king. Maria Doyle Kennedy is pure class as Katherine. Her performance is excellent, sincerity and fire balanced with such a nuanced sadness. She acts Henners out of the water, every time.

A Historic Meeting

She’s right to be worried about her marriage as one particularly famous lady is ready to make her court debut.

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This is something else that both pleases and frustrates me. The masquerade of Chateau Vert was really where Anne Boleyn made her debut at the English court. It was really conducted to entertain the Imperial delegation for celebrating the Treaty of Bruges in 1522. However, it was not where Henry became interested in Anne. His romantic and sexual interest would not start for about another four years.

But it does make a suitably dramatic set-piece.

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There are also guns. I don’t know why. This guy just starts shooting a gun at the rehearsal, for reasons I can’t begin to fathom.

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Couldn’t say it better myself, Mister Master of the Revels. Who is wearing a ruff. In 1522.

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The theme of the masquerade is that noble virtues are held captive and must be rescued by brave gentlemen. The female participants actually did wear white satin dresses. However, I highly doubt that they really wore wispy things that exposed their nip nips and had stupid little ruffs that do not match the period at all. Those dresses are very inappropriate. Sure, they’re ‘sexy’ and ‘risque’ I guess, but they look awful.

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The men have Henry disguised amongst them. In real life, it’d be pretty easy to see which one was Henry. After all, he was red haired and, oh yeah, about a foot taller than everyone else. Here, Henners is actually one of the shorter men in the cast. And I think those tights are some really cheap costuming. I doubt polyester tights were available in the 1520s.

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That’s some accurate Tudor body glitter these ladies are wearing.

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And Henry and Anne lock eyes for the very first time. Very dramatic and breathtaking, but all I can think is that winged eyeliner is really not right. This moment is ruined by Anne’s incredibly fashion forward makeup choices.

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So Anne is flirty and sexy and keeps putting herself in the way of Henry throughout the episode. I find her use of face glitter perplexing, but I guess it’s the key to a early modern king’s heart.

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Henry has a dream sequence with Anne that is sort of French sixties dreamscape cinematography, but that I hate because in any form of fiction I really dislike OVERLY! SIGNIFICANT! AND MEANINGFUL! DREAM! SEQUENCES! I find them a really lazy means to continue and express plot points. I take it as a sign that the writer couldn’t think of a better way to get from point A to point B.

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My sheets are wet? But how…

A Sexy Plot

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Only Anne’s interactions with Henry aren’t natural. Her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, and her father are contriving Anne’s relationship with Henry. Why? For land? Jewels? The Earldom of Ormonde that Thomas Boleyn really, really wanted? Uh, no. It’s all to get red of Thomas Wolsey. Because he’s common and too powerful and clearly Anne can badger Henry into getting rid of Wolsey.

Yeah, no. Even if you buy into the ludicrous theory that the Boleyn affair was manipulated into happening by a family who wanted political power, the idea that Anne Boleyn could ‘trick’ Henry into getting rid of Thomas Wolsey doesn’t work. That’s not how one talked or worked with a sixteenth century monarch. They are not a modern politician to be manipulated and petitioned and debate with. A sixteenth century monarch is literally a figure of God – a person who is divinely ordained to be a ruler. You don’t manipulate or try to badger a person you literally believe was chosen by God to be in charge.

These Are Strange Castles

The show also has a weird problem with research of estates and homes.

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This is not Framlingham Castle.

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This is Framlingham.

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This is not Hever Castle.

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This is Hever Castle.

I appreciate that it was probably impossible and far too expensive to film at the actual locations. I get that and I’m not cross that they’re not filming a two minute scene at the actual location. But why go to the expense of creating CGI and then not actually CGI the correct building? Google, man. Google is your friend.

You Simply Must Meet Thomas

Thomas More has been quietly simmering away as a character, but now he’s getting a bit more prominence and it’s clear why; he’s the Thomas that isn’t EEEEEVVVVILLLLLLLL.

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He helps Henry edit Defence of the Seven Sacraments!

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Wolsey cuts him out of the negotiations with the Imperial court and look how hurt Thomas More is! Booooo Wolsey!

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Henry makes Thomas More gather up copies of Martin Luther’s works and burn them and it makes Thomas sad!

Yeah, let’s ignore how happy and willing Thomas More was to round up reformers and have them tortured and burned alive.

FYI, I do not like Thomas More. I’ll admit my bias straight out. I think he was a sanctimonious hypocrite and I’ve never liked him. I can appreciate how important he was as a statesman and architect of the English renaissance but I don’t like how he’s played as being Mister Goody-Goody.

There’s Something About Margaret

The last element of this week’s episode is Henry’s ongoing drama surrounding his sister, Margaret. You see, she’s due to be married to the old and ailing King of Portugal and she’s not happy about this.

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There are a lot of problems with this.

For a start, this plotline is based on Henry’s sister Mary. His sister Margaret was married off at the age of twelve to the King of Scotland many years previously, but she apparently does not exist for the purposes of the show. Mary was married in 1514 to the King of France, Louis XII, a man thirty years her senior, at the age of eighteen.

So, wrong sister, wrong king, wrong year, and I’m sorry to say, wrong choice of actress. The actress does a fine job, but she’s not an eighteen year old getting married for the first time.

She is to be sent to Portugal escorted by Charles Brandon, Henry’s friend. Margaret is very rude to him (despite Charles Brandon being a companion to the royal nursery since childhood) and Henry makes him Duke of Suffolk to make Brandon seem suitably grand. In actuality, he was made Duke of Suffolk around 1514 as part of a scheme to marry him to Margaret of Savoy.

I have read that the show writers decided to mix up Henry’s sisters because they felt that there were too many Marys and viewers may confuse the elder Princess Mary for Henry’s daughter, Mary. Generally, when I see a forty year old woman I don’t confuse her for a six year old. But I can’t speak for everyone.

It’s All About The Sleeves, Bout The Sleeves, They’re Not Right

The fashion of The Tudors this week seems to be focused on sleeves.

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The show seems to be obsessed with really weird sleeve fashions. Why are her sleeves just hanging there like that? Why are they so thin? Why are they like long cuffs for her arms?

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Anne is really deep into her scene phase RN. And that dress… it’s not only hideous, it’s just so wrong. The sleeves, the bodice, the shoulder thing, the weird puffed bits, the lack of petticoat – there is nothing right about this garment. Not a single thing.

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Margaret is continuing the weird off the shoulder puffed roll thing. I don’t like it. Ont the other hand, I like the slashes of purple on Charles’s doublet. Nice little nod to his imperial power.

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And, again, what’s with the off-the-shoulder with ties arm cuff thing? It’s ugly and a really weird design choice. The brown gown worn by the extra in the far left corner is actually one of the most accurate dresses I’ve seen on the show so far.

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It’s me, grandma, Anastasia

For reasons beyond me, Thomas Boleyn continues to be the only guy who appears period accurate. It really stands out amongst the guys, as they’re all dressed in weird 1580s/1590s clothes.

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When this came up, I actually shouted at my screen. That hat, that doublet, is so from the 1590s. He’s ready to start committing a plot to have Elizabeth I swapped for James of Scotland. The thinness of the doublet, the lack of slashing, the short cloaks, the tall hat – none of it is right for 1522.

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Did you wrap a bolster cushion around your head?

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It’s Katherine and her Elizabethan back-up dancers.

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This is a painting from 1600. You see her hair? The style of her dress? The way it falls around the waist, the largeness of her sleeves, the way the pearls fall around the bodice?

Yeah, those dresses for the extras would be great – for an Elizabethan costume drama! Those dresses are eighty years too fashion forward!

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They keep insisting on putting really weird shit on the front of Katherine of Aragon’s dresses, and I don’t get it.

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Does Mary Wotten, Lady Guildenford have a weird applique on the front of her dress? No. Because the colour and decoration comes from her sleeves and her petticoat. Katherine’s dresses are so ugly and I have no idea why.

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This is Katherine depicted in the BBC’s Wolf Hall. This is a beautiful costume, well-researched and accurate to the period. It’s elegant and beautiful, while also showing Katherine as an older woman as compared to, say, her daughter (who is stood next to her).

In The Tudors, Katherine basically wears a variety of sacks with weird headbands. I don’t get it.

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On the runway, your couture high was more of a bargain basin low. I’m sorry my dear, you are up for elimination.

And that concludes ‘Wolsey, Wolsey, Wolsey’. See you next week, nerds.

 

Unpicking the Tudors; S1 EP2


‘Simply Henry’

Welcome back costume and history fiends.

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Thanks for those blank staring eyes, Henners. No nightmares here.

‘Henry and his court look to sign the treaty with France, though tempers of both kings flare up at the summit. Meanwhile, Henry takes on a new mistress named Mary Boleyn, though he soon tires of her and Mary’s sister, Anne, is summoned to the court.’

There’s a lot that takes place in this episode. I mean, the stuff with Mary Boleyn could cover an episode in itself but the pace just rattles on through several really important things.

What The Heckaroonie is a Field of Cloth of Gold Anyway?

The Field of Cloth of Gold was a peace summit between Francis I of France and Henry VIII of England, Ireland, and France that took place between the 7th and 24th of June 1520. The really interesting thing about English foreign policy under Henry and Cardinal Wolsey is their interest in creating England as a peaceful arbiter of Europe – to live out Renaissance Humanist policies in real life political policy. The Field of Cloth of Gold was designed to increase the bond between the French and English monarchs after the 1514 Anglo-French treaty. It was also a chance to show off. Both Henry and Francis were incredibly young, flashy, Renaissance monarchs who wanted to strut their stuff.

There’s a lot about the summit that is actually pretty accurate. Someone did really care about getting some of the finer details right.

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This is a 1545 painting from Hampton Court depicting the Field of Cloth of Gold. You can see the English Palace of Illusion, a wine fountain, and Henry and Francis wrestling.

So, these parts are really quite accurate. What’s not so accurate is Henry turning around and throwing a massive temper tantrum.

You see, he lost a wrestling match. And as a perfectly logical thing for a twenty nine year old man to do, he’s having a temper tantrum that involves destroying all his belongings with an axe. The Tudors has gone for a very strange characterisation of Henry. They proclaim to be a new and interesting look at the young Henry, but this involves making him into a screaming, bawling brat with limited character depth.

Henners is also upset that Charles V of Spain, nephew to his wife, has become Holy Roman Emperor and pretty much the most powerful man in Europe. Only this happened in 1519, not 1520, so he’s having a bit of a delayed reaction.

‘Tis a Pity She’s A Whore

The next big thing in the episode is that Mary and Anne Boleyn are more formally introduced and start making things happen. Also they’re WHOOOOOOOOORRRESSSSS, sexy, sexy whores to add all this amazing sex appeal with their naughty sexy behaviour.

I hope I laid the sarcasm on thick enough. I generally find the portrayal of the Boleyn sisters to be pretty poor in anything, and I think Mary’s depiction is pretty degrading. (FYI, my family is descended from Mary Boleyn. Actually. So I tend to get very personally protective of her.)

Let’s compare the Tudors version of Mary and the real one.

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Mary is introduced in a brothel/bar/some place full of sex workers. Because she’s a WHOOORRRRREEEEEE. She’s some woman that Francis I sleeps with – his ‘English Mare’ – and she’s shown as a stupid, slutty woman that has no idea what she’s doing in life other than looking for dick.

It’s a very nuanced character, you see.

In real life, Mary was an accomplished courtier who had been educated in the usual manner of a Tudor gentry woman. You know, maths, reading and writing, grammar, two or three languages, dancing, embroidery, music, singing, gaming, falconry, riding, and hunting. Maybe she wasn’t an overwhelming genius of science or theology, but she was still a highly educated woman. And her education didn’t involve sucking dick.

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Suck my thumb. Do it. Show me your French wiles.

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Mary, it transpires, has been at the French court for two years. That makes this episode set in 1516, then. Mary Boleyn was sent to the French court in the retinue of Mary, Henry’s sister, when she was sent to marry Louis XII of France in 1514.

In real life, Mary and Henry did not meet until 1520 when she returned to the English court to be married. She may or may not have been a mistress to Francis I, but I would err on not. It’s very convenient for her to sleep around because it makes the family look bad, and I suspect it’s gossip that gets reported as fact. Henry and Mary did have an affair, but we don’t really know when or for how long. There’s actually very little evidence of their affair, other than Henry admitting it later when he needed to marry her sister, Anne.

Anyway, her dick sucking is not as good as advertised, and Henry tires of her.

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So the Howard and Boleyn families decide that Anne should step forward and seduce Henry. Because over the course of fifty minutes, where Mary was in two scenes with Henry in total, they were showered with such preference and wealth and prestige that they’re just going to throw Anne at Henners and see if it sticks.

I don’t especially like the whole ‘the Boleyns and Howards planned and maliciously duped Henry for their own power’ idea which pervades shitty historical fiction, and this makes no sense in time. It’s 1520 – or 1516, or 1518 – and Anne and Henry did not become  involved until 1525/1526. Anne wasn’t even in England until 1522. They’re throwing her at him about six years too early.

Also There’s Some Treason

Yeah, the Duke of Buckingham is still plotting away. But not for too long because he’s going to die.

He’s gathering up people loyal to him and he’s going to… do something. Either just outright murder Henners or launch full, open rebellion. In real life, Edward Stafford did no such thing. There’s accusations of him doing treasonous things, such as talking about the death of the King and his lack of children, but he was never outright going to just stab him.

He’s also dressed just like Henry.

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Literally just the same outfit. If you wanted to hire the guy as Henry, why didn’t you.

Anyway, Buckingham gets caught. Because he wasn’t exactly being subtle.

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How could this happen to me, I made a mistake…..

Then some real bullshit takes place with his execution.

This is a catalogue of wrong. Executions of the nobility were generally private affairs, not open to the common sorts of the public. He’s a peer – and even in death, he’s treated with honour. He would not be dragged to his place of execution and he would not sob and weep on the scaffold. Yes, it’s awful to be dying, but he’s a member of the nobility. He would conduct himself with dignity and grace as to not reflect badly on himself and his family.

And a friend of Henners would not be holding a man’s arms down for an execution. That’s just… good lord, it’s terrible. What a terrible, sensationalised depiction of an execution.

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Buckingham’s execution is secured by the Duke of Norfolk, uncle to Anne and Mary Boleyn. He’s blackmailed into this position by Charles Brandon, close friend to Henners, giving him his father’s ring. You see, the Duke of Norfolk’s father was executed by Henry VII.

There’s a lot of wrong in this short two minute scene.

For a start, Thomas Howard as not the Duke of Norfolk in 1520. His father would not die until 1524. Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, died of old age in his bed. He was not executed by Henry VII. That would certainly be a feat of time travel, seeing as Henners 7 had been dead for twenty five years at that point. You could say that they conflated the third and second dukes, sure. Only the first Duke of Norfolk was not executed by Henners 7 either. He died from an arrow to the face at the Battle of Bosworth. So, there’s nothing really right in this scene. Especially to have Charles Brandon threaten the frigging Duke of Norfolk in the street.

Also, the Duke of Buckingham was arrested and executed in 1521. This was a plotline that could have been allowed to develop for longer; as such, it feels like a rush of hot air that goes nowhere.

God, I Have a Son!

Henry’s mistress, despite finding out that she’s pregnant in the last episode, is already popping it out. Even though it’s Christmas 1520, and Henry Fitzroy was born the 15th of June 1519.

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Tudor women didn’t generally give birth lying in a bed. They used a birthing chair. If they were in a bed, it was the pallet bed that would be underneath the main bed. You don’t want to ruin your nice bed with blood and afterbirth. People have to sleep on that.

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Henners is so overjoyed at this arrival of an illegitimate son that he almost breaks his neck. Good job holding the baby. Guess we know why only one of your children with Katherine survived.

Sashay Shantay

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Collars and high necks are very in this episode. Shame they don’t really become fashionable in Europe until the 1530s. Francis was fashionable, but not this fashion forward. He needs to be wearing a low, square neckline.

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This is better. Square shoulders with undergarments showing. The hair is weird though. Too modern. Even him that nice chinlength bob Tudor men wore.

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Where are your undergarments, Francis??? Your doublet is silk. You know what ruins silk? Water! What is your sweat made of? Water! Keep your clothes fresh and non-stinky with your underwear!

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The collar on Henry’s outfit is far too high, and the doublet looks like it’s from the later half of the sixteenth century. It’s still far better than whatever this get up that Francis has on. Weird Swiss Guard/Fall of the Roman Empire runway look there, Francis. You brought a concept here, but it really doesn’t fit. At all.

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Henry is clearly the architect of the Puritan movement. For some reason. He’s a king. He needs to look it.

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Canadian beaver realness. To be honest, there is not enough fur on these costumes. I know that fur is not looked upon with favour these days, but he should be decked out in the finest of ermine and cheetah. Henry should look more kingly. More money, more power.

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Turns out the greatest hunt is man.

Thomas Boleyn is continuing his fight against bad costumes. His remain the most accurate. Bless you, you evil man. Bless your ongoing stance against high collars.

Curtain Realness

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The exposed shoulders are a bit iffy, as is the single colour for the gowns. Skirts had underskirts of a separate colour. The one colourness is a little cheap for two queens. And there are no trumpet sleeves.

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That nursemaid is straight out of the 1590s. That’s some impressive time travel.

How hard is it to make a bloody hood? Women did not have their hair uncovered in public. Women didn’t have uncovered hair in public until the fricking 1960s, and they certainly wouldn’t in the 1520s. I hate the jewelled headpieces, I hate the stupid headband thing, and I laughed at the strange Nefertiti inspired headpiece worn by the French queen because I have literally no idea what it’s supposed to be. I like her expression though.

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It’s the latest in Tudor maternity wear; pregnancy sack! With added useless shoulder cutouts! Because that’s what you want when you’re pregnant. Not easy access to a toilet, painkillers, and something loose to wear. Cold shoulders is what you really need.

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To prove that Mary Boleyn is a whore, they’ve literally dressed her as a Venetian prostitute.

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Why is your hair loose? Where are your trumpet sleeves? There is an incredibly famous picture of Katherine – use that! Use that as your basis for her clothing and design around that. We know how she dressed, and it was not like this.

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What the fuck is on your head.

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Bessie Blunt is wearing some Restoration gown. Look at those thin sleeves and cuffs – seventeenth century, ish. The hair net is fine, some women did wear them, but look at that woman on the right. That is a 1490s style hood there. Did you get it from your grandmother? That’s thirty years out of fashion, and it’s still not right. The front part of her head is out.

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That waiting woman is wearing a seventeenth century dress. They took that straight off the rack of an English civil war drama and thought ‘eh, it’ll do’. Her hood is Elizabethan as well.

In Other News

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The Pope’s dead. Sorry bout it.

A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Incubus Dreams’ chapter twenty four


We sent Gregory in his kitty-cat fur down to watch Damian.

WHY CAN’T YOU SPEAK LIKE AN ADULT

I don’t ask for much, but please talk to me like I’m a goddamn adult. You’re not writing a children’s book. You’re writing an adult erotic fantasy thriller. You shouldn’t be witting as if you’re trying to appeal to three year olds.

Anyway, Gregory is a shit because he can’t go stripping tonight because he has to stay in animal form for ‘six to eight hours’ and then spend ‘two to four hours’ passed out. This seems ridiculous and not mentioned before? I’m sure that this happened before but, eh, whatever. LKH doesn’t care so I don’t.

Clair, Richard’s girlfriend, is incredibly shocked by all of this.

I wasn’t sure why, unless her world was so protected that just being in the car with a stripper was a big deal. For her sanity’s sake, I hoped her world was bigger than that.

Of course, Clair is so sheltered in comparison to Anita. Clair is just so sexually naive, unlike Anita. Because all women are pieces of shit compared to Anita.

Clair asks Richard and Nathaniel about what it’s like when they pass out and shift – Richard doesn’t though, because he’s an Ulfric, and that means extra magic? – and Nathaniel reveals that he was turned when he was seventeen. Anita gets an O face as this means Gabriel turned Nathaniel into a wereleopard illegally.

Gabriel liked to rape and torture people for fun. I have no idea why Anita is horrified that he would do something else illegal.

“It’s illegal in most states to contaminate anyone willingly with a potential fatal disease, regardless of age,” Richard said.

I shook my head. “I guess I’m starting to treat lycanthropy the way the law treats vampirism. If you’re eighteen you can choose.”

“The law doesn’t treat it the same,” he said.

I knew that, but I’d spent so much time among the shapeshifters, that I just sort of forgot. Careless of me. “I guess I forgot.”

“And you a federal marshal,” he said.

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Anita is so professional that SHE DOESN’T KNOW THE FUCKING LAW SHE’S SUPPOSED TO BE ENFORCING.

jesus christ

Also, how come vampirism isn’t considered a ‘fatal disease’? Becoming a vampire literally involves dying. But the law is A-OK with that as it doesn’t involve spending time with those dirty wererats I suppose.

Dr Lillian announces that Richard could have lost his arm but his super-duper wolf powers prevented it. I want to know how he almost lost his arm, considering that Damian bit a chunk out of Richard’s chest. Maybe LKH just forgot. Clair and Richard talk a little about shifting, and Anita thinks that Clair is super young, like twenty five. Even though Anita is what, twenty eight? Eh, whatever.

Richard is worried about his job but Anita starts whining about how Clair has no control and she’s too young to be out in public and that Clair is probably going to go crazy and try and eat someone.

Like Damian? Or is she just under this much scrutiny because she has a vagina? Richard plans to shift to heal (???? if it knocks him unconscious then surely it’s bad for him?) and then more about that werewolf that went mad earlier. Richard came as the wereleopards were worried about Anita.

Fredo said, “All your leopards are very serious about your and Micah’s safety.”

I looked at him. “I wasn’t aware of that.”

You’re their fucking leader, Anita. Of course they’re going to be concerned about your safety.

Richard and Anita bicker over who’s going home, and then it’s revealed that Nathaniel is Anita’s love potato.

Nathaniel gives everyone coffee in matching mugs and gives Anita hers. It’s pale brown, which makes me howl with laughter. Anita goes on and on and on about being such a coffee snob, and she’s just proven that she really isn’t. True coffee aficionados have their coffee black, Anita. You’re just diluting the pure coffeeness of it all.

Richard complains that Nathaniel treats his home like it’s his home. Nathaniel supposedly has that apartment that Anita pays for, but he is never there and lives with Anita. I don’t get Richard’s problem. Lillian steps in to say they don’t know how to act around a love potato.

[Nathaniel] set the creamer and pitcher on a little tray, along with little tongs for the sugar cubes. Why sugar cubes? Because Nathaniel seemed to get a kick out of asking how many lumps people wanted. He was like a kid playing house. No, that wasn’t fair. He was like a new bride that had never had a house, or a kitchen of her own, and was really enjoying the hostess stuff. But it was like he didn’t know what real people did in a house, so her was taking it from movies, books, or magazines. I mean nobody serves cream and sugar anymore on a little tray with little tongs, right?

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No one gives a shit, LKH. NO BODY GIVES A SINGLE FUCK ABOUT THE SUGAR TONGS.

Nathaniel was wearing one of his favourite pairs of blue jeans, so faded that they were turning white in places. They fit his lower body like they were painted on, and it was a nice paint job.

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NO ONE GIVES A SHIT. THIS ADDS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO THE STORY. WHEN ARE WE GETTING BACK TO THE MURDER MYSTERY?

Anita goes on about how young Nathaniel looks which makes me want to hurl.

Richard complains some more about how Nathaniel is acting like this is his house. Golly gee why are we still on this issue? Richard calls him a ‘wife’, as this is a sexist nightmare, and he’s like but you aren’t fucking him why are you looking like you’re fucking him. So Anita is cruel about Clair and this is a black hole of despair.

On the upside, Nathaniel is making biscuits. Because the Stepford Wives is the ideal world to be living in.

Richard is annoyed because Nathaniel means something to Anita. Richard, why do you care? Anita is horrible to you. She cheated on you. She thinks you’re a piece of shit. Drop this shitshow, move to California, and forget all about it. Richard is whining about Anita is living with Micah and Nathaniel which is Bad because that means she is a slut or something.

“You’re always screw around when we aren’t dating,” I said.

Oh gosh Richard dates people other than Anita? Wow what a horrible person. It’s almost like they broke up AGES AGO because ANITA IS A HORRIBLE HORRIBLE PERSON.

You see, Richard is bitter because he thought Anita was cheating on him with Nathaniel.

Uh, LKH? You didn’t introduce Nathaniel until Burnt Offerings. Richard and Anita broke up in The Killing Dance. You know, the book BEFORE BURNT OFFERINGS. So, how exactly could Anita cheat with Nathaniel when she had no idea that he existed and had never interacted with him?

“Like I said, you broke up with me, Richard, not the other way around. You broke up with me, because, quote, you didn’t want to love someone who was more comfortable with the monsters than you were, unquote.”

No, it’s because you went to suck JC’s dick, Anita. It’s because you’re a cheat.

Richard whines some more about how Anita must have been cheating on him with a character that didn’t exist when their break up was being written, then Anita slutshames him for having a sex life that doesn’t involve her.

Richard admits he’s not in love with Clair, and Anita admits that she totally loves Nathaniel for all those wonderful personally traits that he has like…..

Nah, I got nothing either.

Nathaniel kisses her, as he’s a manipulative asshole. And then he says he wants intercourse.

How romantic.

Anita then faints. Because reasons.

Uh, when are we getting back to the plot? This long tangent into nothingness is not showing any signs of stopping.

A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Incubus Dreams’ chapter twenty three


This is a twenty page chapter so buckle up folks. I’m guessing this chapter will not be a return to the A plot, but a continued ramble of bullshit

Nathaniel’s attempt to make me laugh accomplished one thing; it made me feel better, though I have to admit the smell of freshly ground coffee helped lure me through the door. I couldn’t let one ex-fiance stand between me and my coffee, could I? Not and keep my self-respect, so in we went.

What the shit is going on. What time is this taking place. When. What. How.

Richard was sitting at the kitchen table on the side nearest the door. Dr Lillian was standing over the finishing the bandaging of his entire right shoulder and arm.

He was so injured that it barely stopped him from having sex and long conversations. Anyway, Anita is surprised that a medical professional acts like a medical professional. There’s a body guard lurking around because Marcus died (Marcus was a doctor? I don’t know who he is? What the fuck?) and he’s like dripping in knives. Even though he’s a were-animal and has like mad strength.

Anita freaks because she’s clearly going to die, as even though Fredo ‘was on our side, but he was definitely a bad guy’. Who the fuck is Fredo? The bodyguard? Have we met him before, at all? You can’t drop a character name and just expect us to know them because Anita does. NEWSFLASH: I am not Anita, and I’m glad for it. Character knowledge does not equal reader knowledge. Anita panics as her claustrophobia starts to kick in. I want to know how all these people got in the house without Anita’s knowledge. Damian starts to touch her but Anita starts to Hulk up as ‘I need to be angry right now, Damian, it’s all I’ve got’.

I have no idea what’s happening. Anita’s angry about something, but she’s always angry.

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Me too, Bruce, me too.

Dr Lillian demands that everyone give Anita space and some air as her claustrophobia is just sooooooooooo bad you guise, yeah this claustrophobia that she never had until a couple of books ago.

Anita heads out on the deck and flails about seeing colours and panicking and just generally being useless. You see, the tri force is now a five force, as she tied herself to Damian and Nathaniel. Yes, she is now permanently linked to those two wastes of ink.

Dr Lillian orgasms over how amazing Anita is.

“I know you are a constant amazement to the wererats. We never know what you’re going to do next.”

Whine, have sex, flail around, get injured, say disgusting things. That’s about it. Anita heads back inside and Fredo goes all ‘grrrr’.

The white roses that Jean-Claude sent every week framed Fredo’s darkness.

Oh, yeah, he’s a wererat, so he’s Latino. Just to point out how he’s all ‘dark’ and shit, and he’s all super dark against the whitey white roses. Just to prove that LKH puts no thought into her words whatsoever. Anita skulks around the kitchen, wary of the scary brown man.

The days when I would have picked a fight just to reassure myself I was still tough were long ago and far away.

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Being a girl, that phase had been shorter anyway. We are much more practical creatures than men, as a general rule.

Of course, men are just big helpless babies that have to be looked after by women. Because that’s a woman’s job. This sort of shit isn’t feminist fam.

Damien, who hasn’t been the centre of attention for five minutes, has decided to wedge himself between the cabinets.Basically, Damian couldn’t cope that Anita was out the room for two seconds. Ah, codependency. Romantic.

Anita touches him and then suddenly POW. DAMIAN IS SO BEAUTIFUL THEY MUST AVERT THEIR EYES. HE HAS MAGIC VAMPIRE HEALING POWERS THAT LIKE EVER VAMPIRE HAS BUT IT’S SUDDENLY A BIG DEAL BECAUSE BEAUTY.

Micah confirms that Damian is blindingly beautiful and that all of Damian’s flaws have now been fixed, like he’s had amazing beautifying plastic surgery.

I see. People’s flaws are horrible and disgusting. They must be gotten rid of. Because they cannot be loved while they have flaws.

LKH, you’ve got to pay attention to what you write. Because it’s awful and offensive and terribly written.

There’s a page of everyone confirming that Damian is indeed beautiful and then Richard telling Anita how she did it because the Belle vampire line have the powers to make people beautiful.

Wow. That’s such an important and necessary vampire power.

There’s two pages of people wondering how this happened and who did it. THIS IS NOT IMPORTANT. I DO NOT CARE WHY DAMIAN IS SUDDENLY SO BEAUTIFUL. IT’S NOT NECESSARY. CUT THIS SHIT OUT.

Anita calls JC and he says that BM vamps get prettier sometimes. Anita tells him what happened and because JC has the brain cells of a dead paramecium he thinks this is interesting. Damian and JC talk in German which, ha, jokes on them, as Anita sort of speaks German.

Grandma Blake had spoken German to me from the cradle up. I’d taken it in high school as my language, because I was lazy and wanted a leg up.

And you didn’t take Spanish? When there’s a large Spanish community in your area? And your mother’s family is Mexican, so presumably you speak some Spanish anyway? Gee, Anita, you’re kinda stupid. You already speak German, you don’t speak to Germans on a regular basis, you’re not in an area where German is needed, and you weren’t planing on taking an exchange class to Germany or Austria. Taking German was a fucking waste, because after all that, Anita can’t understand that they’re saying.

JC plies praise on Anita as she’s got some amazing vampire powers that no one else has. Of course she does. She has amazing power that no one else has ever had as she’s the most special little snowflake that has ever existed. JC then gives her shit because she doesn’t love him enough to let him walk around in daylight. It also maybe makes her immortal or something.

or something

JC is angry that Anita had sex, BLAH BLAH BLAH, Anita has to raise the dead sometime soon or her magic will just start fucking shit up.

JC then makes creepy statements about how he’ll now conduct all his business in Italian so Anita can’t do a thing about him and what he does.

I should have lied about speaking Italian, but hell, as good as I’d gotten at lying, my first reaction was still to tell the truth. I guess you can’t undo all your upbringing, no matter how hard you try.

Yeah, right, you’re not a liar. And I guess your parents brought you up to be a horrible human being with no empathy for any other living creature.

A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Incubus Dreams’chapter twenty two


When I finished having hysterics and everyone had rinsed enough blood off them to be presentable, or at least not make my neighbors call the police, I got dressed.

YOU LIVE IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. YOU HAVE NO NEIGHBORS. THAT’S WHY YOU GOT THIS HOUSE.

Micah had pointed out that we’d probably all be going to bed, so why bother getting dressed, but I needed clothes.

Then put on a t-shirt and a pair of PJ bottoms? Don’t you just have stuff for lounging around in? Casual clothes? Doesn’t Anita ever behave like a normal human being?

Black everything from the skin out, including the shoulder holster, Browning Hi-Power, and hidden under my hair the hilt of a really big knife.

SO EDGY. Ah, the reappearance of that stupid fucking knife that makes no sense whatsoever. But it’s cool and all sort of ninja-y so that’s okay I guess. *rolls eyes*

Micah tried to point out that I probably didn’t need that much weaponry to go into my own kitchen. I looked at him, and he stopped. No one else complained.

HA HA HA HA HA

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ISN’T SHE SO WITTY.

Anyway, Anita fusses about getting dressed because there’s SO MANY HAWT GUYS AROUND FOR LITTLE OLD HER and it’s too much for her delicate sensibilities.

Besides, Nathaniel promised he’d make coffee. I hated eating before ten o’clock, but coffee before ten was a necessity.

What time is this? When is this? Oh my god, this is all still the night/day after the wedding in the first few chapters. THERE HAS BEEN TWENTY CHAPTERS OF THIS NONSENSE.

LKH, you are not the genius you think you are. Your first draft is not gold. You have learnt nothing in your career as an author. If you knew a damn thing about the trade, you wouldn’t let this steaming turd be associated with your name.

Anita and Damian bicker back and forth for an entire page about his dressing gown. See, Anita doesn’t understand what a dressing gown is, even though a dressing gown is just the British term for a robe.

The editor should have just thrown this book in a shredder.

Anita comforts Damian that she’s not angry with him having no character but being a sex-mad rapist with sad puppy eyes. They try to sense each other’s feelings and Anita’s heart is broken because… I don’t know and I really don’t care. Maybe her breakfast (or dinner, because what time is this????) burrito was cold.

Micah came to stand in front of me. Once it had seemed odd to have such serious intelligence out of kitty-cat eyes. Now, they were just Micah’s eyes.

The phrase ‘kitty-cat eyes’ makes me want to punch things. It’s so ridiculously childish. Micah strokes her face and Anita wants to rub against it. She doesn’t and I have no idea why we have to hear about her thought process in minute detail. She then decides to rub against his hands. It seems nice and takes a half-page to do.

“I would spare you this, if you’d let me.”

Spare her what? What is even happening? The last TWELVE CHAPTERS have added absolutely nothing to the narrative. It does not form a substantive subplot and does not add to the main narrative – that hasn’t been mentioned for over a hundred pages.

Anita complains that men get weird after sex. That they get possessed or ‘just want a chance to do it again’. Well, the possessiveness comes from the fact that LKH decided to make all the love interests fucking awful abusers and rapists, and what’s wrong with wanting to have sex again? Is that considered weird? Isn’t that a sign that you’ve both had a good experience?

Nathaniel makes the decision for Anita that she won’t hide. I have no idea what she’s hiding from or why she can’t make a decision for herself.

Micah is upset that Anita is hurt. Presumably he’s angry that it was someone other than him did the hurting. I still have no idea what’s going on

Everyone makes jokes about coffee. This whole chapter should have been crossed out with an extremely large red pen.

A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Incubus Dreams’ chapter twenty one


I screamed, and Richard’s mouth was suddenly on mine. He kissed me, a gentle press of lips, Fear thrilled through me, all the way to my fingertips, as if terror were an electric current. I shoved him away from me.

But he really wants to have sex, so I guess that means all this is okay.

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Anita starts to panic (OH SO SEXY) and Richard starts looking ‘eager, anticipatory’. So I guess women cringing in fear gets him hard then. A+ for enforcement of rape culture. He starts sniffing Anita and his eyes turn wolfish. Damian starts to freak and he clings to Anita’s leg, sending an image of bodies being pinned down and held down and they both start to scream.

Richard’s response is to physically tear Anita away from Damian, tearing up her skin a little, and making everyone freaks. Still, it stops her from actually screaming so I guess that means all this strong rape imagery is okay?

No, not really.

Richard pulled on my arm, sharp, sudden. It threw me off balance, and he used that momentary stumble to swing me in against his body, my arm behind my back with his hand still on my wrist. I should have been more interested int he pain, but it was the sensation of being suddenly pressed against his naked body that overwhelmed me.

Well, I guess if a woman is sexually attracted at all to a man who intends to rape her, that means it’s not rape. All this physical violence, Richard throwing Anita around as if she were just an object to stick his dick in, ignoring her entirely… Ah, l’amour.

Anyway, all this romantic violence makes Moroven pull away… because she was possessing them I guess? Interested in what the fuck is happening because of reasons? We’re twenty one chapters in, and there’s been nothing more about this vampire serial killer that’s targeting exotic dancers. Like, this is meant to be a mystery novel and there’s just chapter after chapter after chapter of extraneous character bullshit.

We’d both thrown down out shields to help Jean-Claude raise the ardeur and save us, but shields protect you from so many things.

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Anita then bursts in tears. Understandable after all this bullshit, but nope, it’s not about Anita.

It was Damian who answered, and his voice let me know that he was close before his hand patted my shoulder. “Richard hates himself more than he loves anyone else.”

Who gives a shit about his man pain?

Gregory is upset that there’s no rape happening and Micah throws Gregory out. So he did one good thing in his entire life. Give him a sticker. Micah’s ‘beast’ comes awake and it’s like a big, friendly domestic cat. Anita and Micah’s ‘beasts’ rub against each other and she describes Micah’s ‘arms could be home’.

Look, I understand that. Being held by someone you love is incredibly comforting. But why does Anita love Micah? What do they have in common? What do they enjoy doing, beside boning? What do they do together? How do they comfort each other? How do they cheer each other up? How do they react when the other is ill? Why do they have a connection?

*crickets chirping*

Yeah, thought not. Connection, intimacy, and chemistry is built on a lot more than just a desire to bone each other.

Nathanavile kisses Anita and begs her to not be sad. He cries crocodile tears.

What is love? Sometimes it’s just letting yourself be who and what you are, and letting the person you’re supposed to love be who and what he is, too. Or maybe, what and who they are.

Yeah, but I don’t buy it. Not one of your characters demonstrate that you understand how to portray love in a meaningful or realistic sense. They don’t even fart in front of each other.

A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Incubus Dreams’ chapter twenty


noe anita

Just when you think Anita Blake has lost all power it has over you…

OK, I am coming back to sporking. I am back, dudes, dudettes, and dudexs. I’m hoping to be back to sporking on a part time basis – I really can’t do the every day schedule anymore! I am not a young sporker out the gates anymore. I’m going back to university in September to train as a teacher (!!!) and I’m in a relationship – so I can’t spend hours every day screaming at Anita.

I’m not going to reveal personal information about my boyfriend, but his name is so ironic. As in, he is my boyfriend. Have I told you about my boyfriend? As I was saying, my boyfriend, who is my boyfriend.

That should be enough clues. Gods, these books are entrenched in my life.

Right, everyone is nude and nothing is happening. That should sum up everything that happened so far. Look, there’s not really that much to catch up on. We’re 150 pages in and nothing memorable has happened.

JC is calling for Anita but she’s full of fear. Anita is slumped with Nathaniel and Damian ‘their hair mingling like bright and dark ribbons’. Gregory is kneeling in front of them all, all half-leopard up in their business.

Even under spotted fur and yellow kitty-cat eyes, the hunger showed through. Not lust, hunger.

You know, I generally can’t read the expressions on a cat’s face that well. They just sort of look like cats all the time? Plus, if you say hunger, I think hunger. If you say lust, I’d think lust. Words mean things.

Richard is also there and his unhappiness/anger/bullshitedness and this pulls everyone out of Damian’s Terrible Worst Memory Ever. Through the power of plot convenience! JC then starts talking again, letting Anita know that Moroven (you know, Damian’s personal Voldemort) can be defeated through the ardeur’s ‘clean lust, free of pain and terror’.

I don’t understand how a moist vag defeats evil but I’m not a vampire hunter. Guess I don’t have the right qualifications.

Richard is very angry because… he’s Richard, and Anita is hesitant to feed on him. After all, Richard doesn’t ever want to be fed on and there’s been that whole issue in the past about how she did it without his consent because Anita is a horrible person. It’s a moment where Anita has a single concern for another living creature – well, until Richard, gritting his teeth, is all YES I HAVE SAID IT’S OKAY.

Well, I guess forced/coerced consent is a kind of consent. Ish.

‘I cannot hold Moroven’s fear off forever, ma petite, you must act before my strength fails us all.’

Oh no they’d be… hurt or dead. I wouldn’t want that, I’m so emotionally invested in all of these richly developed and nuanced characters.

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‘Easy for you to say, it’s not your lily-white ass on the line.’

‘I am loosing against Moroven. I can feel her nightmare coming closer, and when it comes close enough, I will flee and save myself, in hopes that when darkness falls there will be something left to rescue.’

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Anyway, Anita has to have all the sex with Richard because…. um… it’d be super bad you guise you have no idea.

My heart was in my throat like I’d swallowed a fish.

LKH, I’ve missed your terrible primary school metaphors.

Gregory doesn’t help things by sniffing and saying how yummy everything is. Anita is surprised that Gregory, who is in a half-leopard form, has leopard teeth. He licks her face and Anita makes noises from fear.

Gregory growled next to my skin. “Hmm, do it again.”

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Gregory will only listen to Richard saying that this is bad and creepy and he should stop and then he laughs. Like a serial killer. He wants to ‘play’ and ‘torment’ her. Ah, rape imagery. I haven’t missed that.

Gregory only stops for reals when Micah (BOOOO) comes in with Clair, Richard’s girlfriend.

You didn’t usually hang on to someone like that unless they were your boyfriend. I realized there was an emotion I could feel through the fear – jealousy. What the hell was she doing hanging on to Micah?

  • She walked into a house and was greeted to a gross, bloody orgy.
  • A gross, bloody vampire lept at her and tried to eat her.
  • Said vampire bit a huge chunk of flesh from her boyfriend’s chest.
  • There is loads of fear floating around the place. Just hanging around.

So, yeah, Clair is scared. But, nope, EVIL SLOOOOOT.

Gregory senses that she’s weak and tries to apply his serial killer charms to Clair but Richard makes sure that Micah takes her out the room. This was pointless.

Richard and Gregory are afraid, blah blah, if Richard changes his clothes will be ruined, blah blah, where is the hot werewolf on werewolf orgy action I was promised, fear is floating around, blah blah.

It’s very riveting stuff, you can tell.

Gregory’s only answer was a low growl that made Nathaniel whimper again.

“God help me, she’s afraid to see me nude, and I fucking love it. I love that she’s afraid of me, and I hate myself for loving it. The ardeur will rise, but God alone knows what we’ll do before it does. With this much fear, with her, I don’t trust my control. And whatever happens I want clothes when it’s over, because I’m going to want to get the hell out of here.”

Okay, this is actually Richard speaking. Not that you can tell, because he’s not mentioned and Gregory’s actions are tagged alongside this little speech. Which is a totes realistic thing for someone to say. Richard then drops his pants.

He undid his belt with one hand and squeezed the top button of his pants. The button popped open and, still gripping the top of his pants, he made a rolling motion with his hand and the buttons snapped open in a long rolling line. The front of his pants spilled open, and he spilled out. Either he wasn’t wearing any underwear or it couldn’t keep him contained

Thanks for that laundry list of actions describing a man unbuttoning his trousers. Because I had no idea how one unbuttoned trousers, it being an action that I am entirely unfamiliar with. Plus, A+ word repetition. And I doubt that Richard’s penis is strong enough to burst through his boxers.

Anyway, Anita is turned on and afraid and angry and shit.

I put my hands over my eyes like a child.

Ah, there’s the strong, sexually liberated adult woman we all know and love. Because there’s nothing that gets me wetter than a sex scene where a woman calls herself a child.

There’s a page where Anita feels like she’s going to scream and Richard is actually a nice person – getting her to calm down, and being there for her, in the moment, and not being an asshole.

I started to nod, then Damian grabbed my leg, and the fear roared back, and the scream ripped out of my throat. It wasn’t just Moroven’s power, it was Damian’s fear of that power, and the fact that I couldn’t shield against it.

FEEEEEEEAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRR and more vague metaphysical magic that never really comes across as a threat because that requires like, suspense and shit.

It’s nice to be back.