Okay, I admit, when I first started I thought I had barely anything interesting to say. It was way before I joined any comms, and I thought, with all the thousands of people with journals here, what are the odds of people stumbling over mine? So I thought, eh, might as well post things I would to a real journal. Say my thoughts, or let out some steam; whether they are about family, media or stuff that irks me in general. The problem is, most of them are very unedited. So when people do comment on them...I admit, I'm all "Holy crap! They found all my shitty entries! *hides*"
So yeah, next goal...cleaning up my journal. I like this URL and I've used it for many years. Plus I already have another one to fill with some video game AAR(After Action Report)s, and plus I'd feel bad to clutter LJ with URLs that I won't use so much. So, I'm turning over a new leaf, so to speak.
So to start with, I got a fanfic I'd like to review about. It's been grabbing my attention for a while, and I feel I'd want to discuss it here and talk about the fine points of writing for a fandom.
Usually, I try to discuss how people can write an OC, even an OC romance, by still keeping the characters and the background universe canon. Many people look for a fanfic for different reasons; but often we look for a fanfic because we want to see a fellow fan's take on the people and world of the fandoms which we love and are often inspired by. You can find a couple done by other reviewers in the Mary Sue Report, who express that, yes, sometimes we look for PWP*; and sometimes we do look for OC romance. But some of us would love it if the fandom universe is written faithfully, so as to make the fantasy seem authentic and well, actually fun to read. You know the gleeful feeling when you're watching your favourite show, or book, or playing a game? If you're one of the new, aspiring fanfic writers to the internet and literature in general, stop and think about this one. An atmosphere, character, and plot can carry you away. A good game, book or movie has that effect. So you can write anything--you can write crossovers, AUs, anything, and if you keep a few elements of what makes the original fandom good or amazing to their fans; it makes the fans be just as effected, in a good way, to your fanfic.
For example, let's say you have a crush on a certain character. That's not bad at all, lots of people get the same feeling on other characters. So...what is it that you like about this character? How does he/she act in their world? Where do they stand in the world they live in? Like it or not, the world where the fandom takes place affects this character in a long run. And when you write a fanfic, people will expect to see the character kept the same, and therefore their world view and background story. Hell, I'm not saying you shouldn't drop said character in another world, or do a crossover where one character is stuck in a different fandom...but that doesn't mean you should radically change the character. I mean, you like him/her enough, and I'm sure it's much of it is because of their awesome personalities and interactions with their world.
So, let me give a better example, let's say I want to do a fanfic where Belle, from Disney's Beauty and the Beast, travels to China and meets Mulan. Okay, what are the first things that comes to your mind? Well first, it's Belle and Mulan, right? Just as you remembered from the movies. You don't go, "Oh right! I want to see how the author, from the very start and without reason, makes them into entirely different characters that don't match their canon selves at all! And I don't really care what they're doing in China, and why they met, and then again, I'm not even interested on how Belle sees and interacts in China, let alone China being described at all in the narrative of the story."
You have no idea how often I see this in fanfics. Even fanfics for fandoms that have highly interesting worlds, plotlines, and characters (that have an enormous group of fans, I must add).
For today's review, the fanfic I found comes from a fantastic world of the Vampire Masquerade: Bloodlines.
Have a neat pic, to apologize for my massive wall of text.
You can read the whole thing here if you're already curious. The rundown of this PC game is, it's based off the World of Darkness--a massive RPG universe that takes place in a grim modern world where the supernatural is more than real. This game focuses on the vampires that live in Santa Monica and Lost Angeles, all of them separate by different clans (which can affect who your character is, depending on which member of whichever clan gives you the 'Embrace'. It's kinda like the vampire 'syndrome' has different strains like a virus. When you are turned, you take on the characteristics of the clan member that turned you, and this can separate you from all the other clans. In fact, just check it out here where there's a full run-down of types of vampires you can play as. It's a little complicated).
Okay, so it sounds way too complex. But trust me, the game does grab you minutes within playing. I even noticed right off that the author I'm going to mention, his/her strength lies in setting the scene out. Okay, so the first chapter seemed a little brief...but the second chapter made up for it to such an extent, I was already settling in and wanting to read more.
So, let's start with what the fanfic's about. I'll give the quick rundown.
Title of Story: Tooth and Claw
Summary: A werewolf assigned the most difficult job in werewolf kind - which is also the highest honor. Can Luca May fulfill her task, or will a "complication" arise when confronted with her target, Prince Sebastian LaCroix? Rated M for later chapters
So, it's about a female werewolf (which is canon in the game) who plans to assassinate a vampire 'prince', one of the canon characters of the game. Let me say this; his canon character is like the posterboy of the Ventrue clan. He rules the Camarilla vampire clans as a figurehead, and to alot of discontented vampires--he's either a cold liar who thinks he's bigger than he really is, or a plain joke. Now, I like a good villain, and he fits that. He's like the asshole who we all love to hate. And there are pretty damn good fanfics where an OC character gets on his good side (with added, and well written chemistry between the two characters). Oh, did I mention in the game you CAN get on his side, rather than fighting against him? Alot of times I do love a what-if storyline, which is why I was looking for some Lacroix romances online.
So anyway, I digress to much. The character Luca May tries to find a way to infiltrate Lacroix's defenses and ultimately kill him. And I like how the author has her thinking it through as she explores the area and finds her contacts and allies. Which is really refreshing to see. In the story, Luca May realises that she needs to pretend she isn't a werewolf, and infiltrate the Lacroix industries as a 'friendly' face.
Unfortunately, the author...doesn't explain how. It went immediately with her being told from an ally to go and find out about him, and all of a sudden, the next chapter page reads:
"When I went to check my computer, I found an email from the prince himself. He wanted to see me."
Uuummmm. Okay. That was extremely sudden. What happened?? Luca goes on to explain how long it took to research about this guy...and then it goes onto her girlish fantasies over what he may have looked like.
And then she goes off to prepare to see him.
Author, you can't cut me off right there--hell, I was curious as to how she does it. It can't be THAT easy!
And seriously though, did she seriously mention Lacroix suddenly knowing her email address before she even approached him? Why isn't this werewolf going, "OH SHIT! ABORT MISSION! ABORT!!"? I know I would.
"He nodded before gesturing me to sit down in a chair opposite his own. I did so, and so did he. "I've heard of your recent... interest in me, Miss May, and I was curious as to what it was for.""
Okay. NOT a good sign. RUN. LUCA. RUN.
Oh, and before I mention anything, here's this guy that's always around him. The Sheriff.
Who looks about 8 feet tall, carries a massive sword, and can think of interesting ways to DESTROY YOU.
The author had at least the good sense to mention the Sheriff being in the same room as Lacroix and Luca, but he is quickly forgotten (which never happens in VM:B). This guy, the Sheriff, is only seen once away from Lacroix's side. But he is still a massive threat. He's there in this story, and if the Prince has already gotten the heads-up on who you are, and what you were doing in the city...the chances are pretty high if he'd know you're an assassin.
So as it turns out, the jig is up. Lacroix tells her he knows she isn't a vampire (why she's posing as one, I don't know) with Sheriff next to him, may I add, but it turns out he's mistaking her as a human. Okay, let's pretend that vampires don't have a heightened sense of smell...or can tell a difference between a human female and one that sprouts fur every month. Then again, I need to brush up in my World of Darkness trivia, so I may need a second opinion on this--the author can be right about this, or not. I alone find it incredulous.
So...this is how Luca saves her skin:
"When I was six, my family was slaughtered by what I thought was vampires. Ever since then, I've been hunting them. Revenge. But only just recently, I learned that it was not vampires, but werewolves."
NO, LUCA. BACKPEDAL, BACKPEDAL. In fact, run, right now. You did NOT just admit slaugthering vampires "until recently". We're talking about a guy SO nitpicky about upholding 'The Masquerade" and keeping humans from knowing, not to mention societal ORDER.
"His eyebrows raised and he sunk back into his chair, nodding thoughtfully. He seemed to consider what I had said. "And you wish to become more powerful to hunt them, then?" he asked, a tone of impressment in his question"
Or not, turns out he agrees to let her become a personal assistant so she could 'learn' how to hunt werewolves.
I wish I was joking.
So she winds up working for this guy for say...oh, one year. But then it turns out Lacroix beats her for the first months on the job. Seriously?? We don't get to see a scene of that happening? We just accept that, over time, he only scolds her and softens up?
Listen, I can take Lacroix snapping. In fact, you can search for 'endings' of the game on youtube, where even as you steadily work against him, and defy him again and again and AGAIN...he still doesn't hit you. Seriously, I think his style is more 'psychically dominate you and then let his minions kill you". In fact, let me direct you people to the fanfic "His Ghoul Friday"-- where he is written very faithfully and isn't depicted 'casually' when he loses his patience. And let me say it once, being beaten by somebody is WRONG. And being so nonchalant about it is WORSE, especially if we're to expect the girl to shrug it off, and think, "Awww, but I still LIKE him!".
Much less a werewolf who was supposed to kill him.
And then...we find out what's even more wrong with this fanfic.
I was walking into his office, swaying gently to a song that was in my head. I had a fancy glass with some blood in it for him, just because I was being nice. Aren't I the best assistant in the world? I smiled, and started humming the tune to Rihanna's 'Disturbia'. "Bum bum be dum bum bum be dum bum," I said as I approached his desk.
There was a pause, and I wasn't sure he was going to complete his thought. His crystal blue eyes bore into my brown ones, and I began to feel something... odd in the pit of my stomach. I shifted uncomfortably under his gaze. Finally, he answered, "What was that tune? The one you were humming just now?"
I was a little taken aback by his request. When had he ever taken an interest in what I was doing? Especially the kind of music I sang? Slowly, I tried to explain the song. "Disturbia, sir. By Rihanna, one of the more modern singers."
He nodded slowly. "Ah. Could you... sing it for me, please?"
Okay that...that says a little too much of 'look how amazing my OC is in singing'. I mean, I'll give the author credit, she does show the character being shocked, and really hesitant about the idea. But I can't seem to shake it off that...it's getting too close to applauding the OC there. And I really can't imagine Lacroix suddenly caring to hear a girl sing to him.
The prince seemed pleased when I'd finished, but the blood in my cheeks was apparent.
"A fitting song for this life, is it not?" the prince said weakly, slumping into his chair. I noticed how unfamiliar his movements were and I wondered if something was bothering him.
So without further comment, another year passes (without much stuff to say besides his gradual change towards her).
Another thing that struck me odd over the past year was his interest in my musical preferences. Ever since the 'Disturbia' incident, he often asked me to sing a song to him. He requested one of my favorites, but by now I was running out of good songs - or at least ones I remembered the lyrics to. I started searching songs and learning the words so I wouldn't be caught empty handed next time he asked. I knew it was strange and a bit desperate to please, but I liked how happy he was with me when I finished.
I...I still can't imagine Lacroix doing this. When I do, my mind blocks up. I...author, I still need some serious convincing here.
And suddenly, one day, Luca May gets asked by Lacroix for a song again and crap! She has no song ready! Oh wait, false alarm, she's got Leona Lewis's 'Keep Bleeding Love'.
So she starts saying out the lyrics...and begins to start thinking how the words meant SO much to her and her situation.
Me? All I can think was the time when the 16 girls living with near me in my university hall? They latched onto that one song and wouldn't stop singing it off-key. For weeks.
"I waited, but he never turned to face me. The silence began to make me feel uneasy, and I shifted uncomfortably. Slowly, I cleared me throat. "Sir?" I almost whispered, silently begging him to say something. Maybe he had noticed the emotion behind the song. The nerves and fear that came with that thought hit me like a train. I began to panic. "Prince? Mr. LaCroix?" I forced myself to calm down, but the feeling was brought to the surface again when he didn't respond."
So then she tries to say his first name and he
jizzed in his pants hitches his breath in surprise. But he is still in a catatonic trance where she, worried and a little disturbed, decides to leave him alone. That is until he stops her from going and then this happens.
The silence loomed still, until he breathed into speak. "Why did you choose that song?" he asked me.</i>
That's what I want to ask the author.
I shook my head. I wasn't strong enough to handle this. But I was foolish enough to. "I don't know," I breathed out. "I felt it was the right song to sing. I... I don't even like it all that much."
The faintest smile I had ever seen twitched at his lips, and I was suddenly entranced at how they moved. Another silence fell between us as his smile faded, but it wasn't uncomfortable. In once swift movement, he wrapped his arms around my waist and crushed his lips against mine. My eyes widened in surprise, but the sensation of the prince's mouth on my own brought me down and I returned the kiss.
Shall I point out that there has been no past scenes between our two lovebirds showing any chemistry? All we have for evidence is Luca May's own personal take on her 'budding' relationship with the cold and bureaucratic prince.
But then Luca May breaks off the kiss and...well, has to tell him this immediately:
I shook my head sadly. Was it really this difficult for him to believe I'm a werewolf? Did he really think so low of my kind? "I'm a lycan, Sebastian."
And I need to take a break. Because when I went for the next chapter? It got even more bizarre.
Still, moral of this post? Don't replace your characters' chemistry with offhanded comments and singing. Unless it's a written musical.
Normally, sloppy writing and bitchy Power Sues make me seethe and grumpy when having to describe and gripe about them, but even though the writing's not even bad (actually quite a smooth and soothing read in its descriptions), for some reason I actually miss the Sues of times gone by. Sure, I kinda like some goth sues and even tough street-rat sues; though I really dislike emo, self-insert sues, Harry Potter sues, LOTR sues, and "Funny" sues. But it's the classic sues that seem to be the best flavors of them all *licks lips evily*.
Sporking's in italics, enjoy.
<b>Story Or Series Title:</b> Dracula's Love (Mmm, I do love me some old-man/baby-kidnapping/baby-eating vampire love)
<b>Fandom:</b> The film, Van Helsing
<b><STRIKE>Culprit</STRIKE> Author's Name:</b>Alison de Gentille
<b>Full Name (plus titles if any):</b> Alison de Gentille (Why, just like the author's username!*gasp*)
<b>Full Species(es):</b> The painfully pure, white, teenage example of goodliness and innocence. At least on the flesh.
<b>Hair Color (include adjectives):</b> Curly Auburn hair.
<b>Eye Color (include adjectives):</b> Ice blue .
<b>Unusual Markings/Colorations:</b> Has "Ceeks" that are rosy. Oh, and has cuts on her forearm because HER MIND DOESN'T FUNCTION LIKE THE OTHERS! Seriously, it's SO hard to feel so confused and tired all the time and feel like my (Genius IQ) mind can't keep up with my thoughts! No reallyyy~~!
<b>Special Possessions (if any):</b> Gotta give the author credit, she's got an AWESOME wardrobe.
<b>Annoying Origin:</b> Unbelievably, from a farm in Indiana.
<b>Annoying Connections To Canon Characters:</b> Meets Van Helsing while travelling to distant Romania to study History apparently. For a farm girl, of course, and orphaned~she's pretty loaded. Also, she was watched for AGES by Dracula in his mind's eye and that means she's totally his soulmate. Never mind that any person would be freaked out over being watched over for every second and even having their minds read from millions of miles away.
<b>Annoying Special Abilities:</b> GEENIYUS IQ!!
Also, Ability to shrug off parents' recent and untimely death as it never pops up in her thoughts or storyline, she really seems perfectly okay with it. Ability to sing beautifully and powerfully (and it was her MUTHERZZ amazing voice~~) which she often had to hold back while singing mass because it causes 'unnecessary attention'.
<b>Other Annoying Traits:</b> Being able to have spontaneous relationship of Second-base passion with Helsing in a matter of hours. Also to cause the total puppy-love-obsession/angry jealous douchebag behaviour from Dracula. Also, this part makes me laugh:
"She is intelligent, very intelligent, and funny. She is a sweet, innocent virgin who goes to church every sunday, and is kind natured. She may seem ditsy, but she has a genius level IQ. She can get almost anything she wants with her voluptuous figure and pretty face, but don't underestimate her..."
Yeah, okay; but so far she's done nothing but act as an open-mouthed bystander as she's lifted up and grabbed by either of the two guys every now and then. Not to mention, how'd anyone be honestly sweet and naive when she is described as a cocktease by that description?
Sadly, near the end of this incomplete fanfic, it kinda starts to read as a gospel for women to be virgins (for surely non-virgin men to feel that their girls are more special).
<B>Please include a small sample of the worst of this story:</B> (Do NOT post more than half of a chapter, whole chapters, or whole stories, regardless of how short they are)
Dracula's POV as he first realizes that Alison is near his vicinity, after a long huge blurb over how absolutely beautiful and perfect she is:
"All he had to do was find out where she was and go get her. They would be married and she would produce vampire/mortal babies.(After 400 years of doing just about all he wants, he's THAT ready to settle down and put a teenaged girl directly straight into such a cute pet project in popping out Daywalkers) Not the dead ones that his other brides bore.(Rantrant Bitchbitch!) He could have children, a real wife, a real family, and a true love. He already truly loved her. More than anything in the world. He was also able to read her thoughts, and he could tell that she was very intelligent. Equal, if not more so with him, and he was over 400 years older than her! She was sweet, funny, kind, and a virgin. (Yes Ladies and Gents, the hymen is THAT awesome.) She wasn't contaminated. (Like syphilis, herpes, the works. But I'd be willing to bet a sheltered victorian girl would at least already have lead poisoning?)She was his soul mate. He couldn't stop smiling. "
Naturally, the Brides (who might once have been awesome courtesans, noblewomen or even tough peasants from deep, and fascinating backgrounds) weren't too happy:
"Who is she? A replacement already? Do we mean that little to you?" they cried.
"No.... she's not a replacement. She's taking over.(*facepalm*) Once she and I are married, I will have no use for you two." he said with an evil smirk.(Okay, granted, they're probably referring to the third that got killed earlier in the film, (this was hinted to be post-film in plot--with Dracula and the rest of the brides still alive...inexplicably).
After kidnapping Alison from the arms of her 'protector', Dracula discovers her cut-marks (in which, we are treated to a totally tiresome and insipid view of self-harm):
"But why? You seem so perfect.... you ARE perfect."
"I know... that's the problem! Everyone thinks I'm just Alison. Perfect little Alison with no problems. But it's not true! My mind doesn't function like others. I feel confused and tired most of the time. I feel like my mind can't keep up with my thoughts. And this... this horrible habit! Is ruining my life. My health is deteriorating." She said looking down at the floor. Her auburn lashes brushing her rosy cheek. (Dracula: Oh, CRY me a river.)
Van Helsing rescues Alison, takes her to a safer room and making out ENSUES!
""I'm... so sorry. I... I'm still a virgin. I don't know if I'm ready."(Oh, no it doesn't then?) she said rolling onto her back and looking up at the ceiling. A single tear rolled down her cheek. (*sob* SUCH SAD BEAUTY) He couldn't say that he was happy, but he understood, and he would wait for her. He wiped the tear from her cheek and smiled sweetly at her. "
AND DRACULA EASILY BREAKS IN AND SCOOPS HER UP AND FLIES OFF!
""So... little slut! You actually thought you you could sleep with Van Helsing and I would stand for it." He said holding her high above his head. (He's DREAAAAMYYY)
"No...." she choked out."I didn't...I didn't sleep with him..." she said with a now reddened face.
"I don;t believe you." he said letting her drop to the ground.
"I promise..." she said holding her throat. "I'm still a virgin. We just kissed." she cried. Tears streaming down her face.
"Can you back that up?" he said evilly. When she looked at him questionably, he grabbed her and forced her onto his bed. He lifted up the skirt of her chemise and looked menacingly at her. (DUNDUNDUUUUN)"
Dracula checks her hymen, and it's still there so that means he spares her a probably horrifying and humiliating death.
""So you WERE telling the truth. That bastard didn't deflower you. He still left that wonderful task to me." he said coldly. (Virgin sex! Totally awesome indeed! Dracula doesn't care if you're fascinating or tough enough to take care of the whole vampire coven, let alone smart enough for his years of wisdom and hard survival--having awkward cherry sex is totally BETTER!!) Tears were now coming constantly.
"I.... I was waiting for marriage." she said innocently.
"Well... I can arrange that!" As he said this, a man in a priest's outfit entered the room and smiled at Alison. She had a bad feeling about this." And apparently priests make house calls to vampires, who knew?
Look, you are one of the reasons why I like to read stuff from 'male' authors. Your original fic is thoughful and very well-written, striving to be a kick-ass story of fantasy and lore, involving a hero who's a half-orc. The story is sharp, imaginative, and hard-boiled. But just a few paragraphs down your first chapter, I'm suddenly snatched right out of your story. The reason WHY?
( The sex scenes with the princessCollapse )
So I was pretty new to this whole Steampunk thing. My ex used to harp about it when I was trying to become the salt-of-the-earth sort of gal with a fashion sense of a jean-straggling hippie. I didn't really understand him buying top hats and waistcoats, even though I found it neat to dress formally. But since my excessive studies on the victorian era, a lot of the mention of the time period leaves a bad taste to my mouth.
Plus, steam punk is a lot of taking a bit of the century and leaving out the other less savory bits. Seriously, I believe that if you take a part of the time period, do it with a cynical smirk. That's why I don't want to dress like a saloon girl and pretend that I'm an upper-class Londoner with radioactive blunderbuss (modified with a grenade launcher). If I were to go that far, I'd be somebody else. Make up a personality that is different than everybody else. 'Cause that's what people do even in Halloween, right? They take on the guise of somebody they like, and make DAMN sure they look different than anyone else!
Otherwise, the party wouldn't be so fun if everyone dressed the same. For reals.
So when the House of the Golden Lotus showed itself once more to newcastle announcing a Steampunk themed night for its burlesque performances, not only did I feel a twinge of my past guilt for not going to one of their shows last year, but my (steampunk maniac) friend Jamie told me that he'd drag me there if he had to.
So! Me and Beb got some advance tickets and saved up to create an image for ourselves. I figured out that I'd have to be a gypsy. Since my way of life was pretty nomadic, and steam punk boot-clad gypsy seems more genial than what a lot of people put on. But--I didn't really know how it would turn out. My hair was frickin' long and almost unmanageable--and I hadn't had make up on for 3 weeks.
So I ran to the hair salon and had my hair cut. Which turned out to be INCREDIBLE in results! Reminding me once more that making a visit to a pro now and then doesn't hurt.
So after that and a few later classes, I ran back home and started getting ready with my friend. The liquid eyeliner helped enormously and the lipstick was great. It was red, but when it fades or is rubbed off it melds with your natural lip color.
I also shoulda used blusher more since it had helped so much for me.
But anyways! The hair made the costume so fit. It fitted with my scarf around my hair and my arabic filigree earrings. It all turned out really neat!
Remember my long hair? Now it haz form!
Um, myself being a broody gypsy.
There's the full costume! (photos courtesy of dear Bebs!)
Look at her! She's like a fairy! (without the all-important wings)
Bebs, Decks, Vicki and me! (Jamie's taking a picture)
AAAAND There's Jamie! (Look at his awesome armor--which he made himself!)
So it was an all-for all free-for-all get-together in creativity and fun. Even though the music was loud as hell so gabbing with the amigos was difficult--but later as the excitement kicked in the loudness felt great! The people were all nice and dressed awesomely, (there was even a predator on a leash--led by a corsetted madame). The burlesque actresses were incredible with their dancing, they went from sparkly-heeled pretty retro girls to gothic lolitas doing a dance that speaks of a Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde theme (under heavy metal music!); a nazi dominatrix with boa constrictors curling over her curves, not to mention a blood-spattered blondie doing a danse macabre over a body bag. And did I mention we even had a crooner to enchant us with her sweet music? AWESOME.
We also had a magician to make us squirm and cross our legs simultaneously. I won't give away his tactics, but it's certainly more of showing off a high pain threshold (and a Prince Albert) than coin and handcuff tricks. After the show Jamie got us to see their freak tents and had fun taking pictures with them. I even got to speak with Johnny Dee Hellfire the ringleader himself. Great guy!
House of the Golden Lotus is Definitely a must-see. They're good people and great at revving up the crowd and addressing them. And alot of them had great talent and an eye for detail. Even though it's not a big show like Cirque de Soleil (sp?), it's definitely a must to go with a crowd of friends and enjoy.
So yeah, I had a fantastic friday. I felt good, the night felt good, and Beb felt great after that (which is great as she was feeling a little poorly all week). We both needed to get out and get some fresh air; so it was a great blossoming time for us. X)
Well, I gotta go and write. I'm gonna have to enjoy my moments of freedom as my mother may find the pictures on facebook and start scolding me for going to a place of ill repute and let people take pictures of me there at all. Ignoring all facts that her career was in the disco when she was my age.
Mistress of the Sun King.
Y'know, the King Louis XIV of France?
THAT king of France?
Excuse me while I just sit here looking a little bit stunned.
Okay, I'm alright now. I just spent hours reading the book, therefore not as shocking as it hit me since I first saw it in the market.
At first I was glad when I saw the over-the-top 90's cover and an author's name that I've yet to know. Most of the store's stock was Cassie Edwards (avoid), Connie Mason (AVOID) and a lot of Nora Roberts (Not my style). There's also a lot of regency and western novels, which are all unfortunately samey. I've stopped reading westerns since I was 16, and I find that the word 'western' basically give an 'ok' sign for all the women to stuff their manuscripts with senseless 'humor' and 'cuteness'. I'm a dry-humoured person and I like my comedy black like my coffee. I don't often go 'aw', and I hate it when my red hot romance turns into something out of Stuart Little or Oliver Twist.
Regency, though, often involve the cinderella routine, which gets UBER tiresome in a long run. You have a whole timeline of exciting changes in society, rebellions, wars and pioneering discoveries, and almost all novels written based on the era are focused on 'make-believe' places somewhere in the middle of England where inbred nobility with Angelina Jolie lips meet muscled men of their social status (or higher) and nothing else.
Sure, we have a few exceptions, but that is like finding Buster Keaton in HMV.
Anyways, seeing the novel here was a shock. First off, it's a rare 17th c. story. Secondly, holy christ, it's a fanfic for a historical figure. A historical figure who is notoriously short, fat, avaricious, overeats, and FILTHY. He was known for being the architect and sponsor to the building of the palace of Versaille, a luxury that most people in France will never see. Not to mention his antics in buying expensive clothing while peasants starved in masse.
Did I mention that he also left the world having dropped bits all over its gardens (yuck gangrene)?
Seriously, the chosen couple for the book had been so shocking that even “Shappy69” Shapcott swivelled around when I mentioned my granny-porn of the day. It shocked him so much he snatched it out of my hands and rifled through the summary! This coming from the guy who prefers to spend his time shooting things in Halo after studying Zoology.
So the chosen concept absolutely amused me from the very beginning. Deep down, I like reading about silk and satin when it's done well. AND IT WAS DONE WELL. (joys!)
Our heroine Françoise-Athénaïs de Montespan, was a spoilt and fire-spirited young madame who's already got ambition by the balls even when just being prepared to become a mere lady-of-waiting to the queen. Though in this instance her view to the sun king was more like a girlish crush, which grew into an angry frustration of "GODAMMIT I deserve more than this grumble grumble..." in the next scene where years had passed--she hasn't caught the king's eye after all her efforts--the queen is still annoying and so is the king's mistress Louise de la Valliere. Plus, she had to get married to a guy she finds as an "Oaf." and birthed a son in which she had no maternal attachment for and couldn't care less about it.
This book is starting out AWESOMELY.
And so the rest of the book characters are introduced. The book then goes on to Francoise-Athenais's morning schedule and her snaking around the people's hearts. She hates Louise de la Valliere but pretends to be on her side, since the young girl is not only wasting away from the turbulent issues of Louis using her and the fact that she's commiting sin by being his mistress. Athenais just thinks she's being a weak dumbass.
Now, you can tell that you're reading the POV of what would have been the evil villain of the story. Only in this case the evil villain that not only wins in the end, but goes for it from such a smooth sailing. Louise de la Valliere seems like a very tragic figure to me--the evidence that you'd get ruined if you don't play your cards right in the court. Plus it's also surprising how a person gets emotionally/physically WASTED so fast despite being so young.
But Athenais was too experienced in courtly life to even pity a person like that. Life in the biggest 17th century clique--that's the way it is.
So Athenais worms her way through her position to get closer to the king now that he's getting tired of his wife and his mistress. She amuses him for not being obviously sycophantic and being lively and full of laughter (even by her cruel sense of humor). As usual, this novel doesn't show Louis XIV as short and paunchy and possibly hydrophobic--but as full of 'male beauty' and grace. His skirt-chasing is less what people would expect. I find it illustrated here more like "sauntering towards the nearest skirt because I can" kind of behaviour. Which is, in the slightest, a little more spot-on as a description.
As we should expect, Athenais soon gets wormed into the heart of Louis by playing the perfect mistress (with a slight dash of naughty opportunism to amuse him). She then uses her position to get all her relatives entitled and promoted, get more money, and go into a giggly girly fit jumping on her new giant sized beds and showering herself with new dresses and jewels. All the while for a time Queen Marie Therese treats Louise de la Valliere like utter tripe on the road believing that the king is still visiting her. And not Athenais.
We get a view here from the eyes of the king's court in wars and battles, and the whole relationship between Athenais and Louis was a massive dream sequence of joie de vivre (for obvious reasons--like, oh say, lust and greed with a mutual understanding with one another). Gradually Athenais then finds her downfall as Louis tires of her and changes in attitude. But as most long-term relationships do after break ups, the couple were forced to encounter each other and feel they had to make a compromise, and that's where the story ends.
The first thing I did after reading through half of it was sprinting to wikipedia with a mischievous glee. I wanted to know who were the real historical figures that featured in the story, and more importantly, did our wonderfully bitchy heroine get FAT?
Well, the best part of it is, she did. But not after she was shunned from court after a scandalous affair in court where a group of people (her included) were suspected of poisoning her young replacement. Turned out Mme. De Montespan was every bit an opportunistic bitch. And that is so very awesome.
Of course Louis XIV had to have his pickings with more women before he finally croaked. He might've slept with half of France and that doesn't surprise me, but what does surprise me was his actual devotion to queen-wifey and first cousin Marie Therese of Spain (her maternal aunt is his own mother--both mother in law and wife both got along RIDICULOUSLY well--not to mention almost look identical <Hey Freud!>).
Louise de la Valliere does prove herself as a tragic and sad figure. She may as well be what the Lord of Darkness be referring when he said "The Dreams of Youth Are The Regrets of Maturity."
She's gone through what all teenage girls dread and are crushed from, not to mention every mother's nightmare. As a child she may or may not have recieved any love from her family and her stepmother. She became a political pawn by being picked as a tool to become the decoy when Louis XIV was getting frisky with Charles II's sister Henrietta Anne of England (*facepalm* Oyyy...). So Louis was able to ravish Louise AND Henrietta. Louise was picked by many for her sweet and blondeness, never minding if she had a say in it at all.
So it was reported that Louise soon became madly in love with him, I mean, what would you expect when you're only 17 and a play-thing to a charismatic and most powerful playboy in the whole of France.
But Louis, of course, didn't take her seriously whatsoever, and probably also used her to make Marie Therese seethe and rant (as some guys like to do). Louise also went through secret hidden births and many pregnancies that resulted into stillbirths and children being taken away from her. In the end, Louise couldn't take it anymore and sought escape, finally doing it in the second time, by becoming a nun.
So after learning the facts from Wikipedia, I then read through the fictitious interactions unfold theatrically. It was amusing, though the end was anti climatic. Hence why I give this novel a B for being wonderfully gossipy, bitchy, and written in a unique perspective (and alternate reality).
- Current Music:RICH WOMAN--ROBERT PLANT & ALISON KRAUSS