Angel Heartbreak

Revolution3Now that we’ve reached the third volume of the Secret World Chronicle, we respectfully claim the right to bitch about certain reoccurring characters and subplots. After nearly 1,400 pages, we’ve put in our time.

Don’t get us wrong. Mercedes Lackey and her crew have done a fine job of creating a huge interlocking superhero universe. And they’ve concocted an elaborate Earth-shaking alien invasion to keep everyone busy. Up to this point, we’ve (mostly) enjoyed the ride—the first book of the series (Invasion) even made it onto our year-end Top 5 list back in 2011.

We actually like most of the cast. Two of our favorites include Bill, the Mountain (soon to return, we hope), and Red Djinni, a shape-shifter who likes to baffle adversaries (and delight girlfriends) by rearranging his face to look like George Clooney, Daniel Day-Lewis, and/or Brad Pitt. Our favorite character, however, remains Natalya Shostakovich, the Russian superhero expatriate who is helping the U.S. defeat the Nazi space invaders. She’s a bit cartoony, but her humor (intentional or otherwise) and unwavering commitment to old-school communism makes us laugh every time she shows up. She is restless and irrepressible—like a wolf cub that needs a chew toy.

But the series definitely has a gaggle of characters we dislike. And when these cast members show up, as they do frequently in this novel, our enthusiasm for the Secret World Chronicle wanes considerably. So be it. Everybody has his or her preferences and we have ours. For us, this is definitely the weakest book in the series.

Our main problem centers around a character named Seraphym. She’s an angel (correction: an “instrument of the Infinite”) who pops up regularly to dispense heavenly counsel. She could easily defeat the Thulian invasion with her celestial power. But instead, she is maddeningly obtuse and ineffectual. “The love of the seraphim,” says the authors, “was more and yet somehow less.” Whatever that means.

Anything to do with this angel makes us grind our teeth. For example, over the course of the series she has developed a friendship with a rogue super soldier named John Murdock—another gloomy character. Sporadically these two wet blankets convene on rooftops to engage in heart-to-heart philosophical and spiritual conversations. These gabfests are tortured and tedious with lots of vague references to “The Heart of All Time.” All this chitchat is just twiddle-twaddle to us.

In a not unexpected decision, the authors have finally allowed Seraphym and her mortal boyfriend to consummate their love for each other. In a way, this union represents the climax of the series so far (no pun intended). But their sexual encounter is completely laughable. The angel enters Murdock’s bedroom “innocently unclothed as Eve.” But how can this be? Angels don’t get naked, do they? They’re all fiery and ethereal like a Sulamith Wülfing painting. Most likely they simply “banish the thought of clothing” and get down to business.

To be fair, all authors struggle when writing sex scenes. And it’s especially tricky business when Biblical creatures lie down with horny superheroes. After an appropriate amount of pages dedicated to foreplay, Seraphym and Murdock “join in fire and joy” and the book ends with a big surprising postcoital bang. Uh-oh, it looks like there’s going to be an angel crying in her pillow tonight.

[Revolution: Book Three of the Secret World Chronicle / By Mercedes Lackey, Cody Martin, Dennis Lee, and Veronica Giguere / First Printing: January 2014 / ISBN: 9781451639322]

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