Babylon Rising, Chapter 11, Part 1

And now for something completely different…

A likeable character.

Impossible in a LaHaye novel, you say?  Well, in the long term, sure.  And that’s what is so depressing.  But for right now, I find myself liking Isis Proserpina McDonald so much that I have created a new tag for my reviews:

Actually Not That Bad

Dinallo takes his time introducing us to Isis before she even starts interacting with Murphy.  She is a world-renowned philologist (language expert) who works at the fictitious private institution called the Parchments of Freedom Foundation.  Why are they parchments of freedom?  What is the purpose of the organization?  Damned if we know, but it doesn’t really matter.

Isis is tearing apart her office, looking for a misplaced paper.  It is a credit to Dinallo’s writing that this actually doesn’t read as “women are flighty and forgetful.”  It is just part of Isis that she gets so wrapped up in the intricacies of long-dead languages that she forgets where she put stuff.  Plus, her assistant (also female) is the one to figure out where the paper is.  And then we have an actual instance of human beings treating each other nicely, as Isis thanks the assistant for her help.  Awesome.  Really.

And then, oh.  Sigh.  Because she is wearing a tweed skirt and “shapeless fisherman’s sweater,” (again, awesome), “it was easy to miss the fact that Isis Proserpina McDonald was a stunningly beautiful woman.”

Dammit, Dinallo.  Dammit, dammit, dammit.

They’re setting her up to be with Murphy once Laura’s out of the picture.


Because remember, folks, it doesn’t matter if you’re the most brilliant philologist in the world, if you don’t have a big strong man to take care of you.  And you don’t get to be with a big strong man like Tim LaHaye Michael Murphy if you’re not stunningly beautiful.


However, this disappointment is somewhat mitigated by the fact that when Isis was described as a petite redhead with a fiery temper, I started to picture her as a young Joanna Whalley from Willow.  (I did this because I am a nerd.)

Could easily kick Michael Murphy's ass.


And on that note, back to the good part.

Isis flashes back to her childhood in the Scottish Highlands.  Her father not only named her after two goddesses, but instilled in her a love of mythology and the ancient world.  She has a collection of clay goddesses from around the world, given to her by her father, who was (of course) an eminent archeologist:

“For my own little goddess, worshipped and adored above all others,” he’d said when he’d presented her with the big, square cardboard box done up with ribbons.  To her thirteen-year-old eyes, the little figures, some missing an arm or a little hand, all grooved and pocked with dirt and dust of civilizations long disappeared, were better than any Barbie doll.

Okay.  Not sure about the ethics of gifting archeological finds to your kid, but you know what?  I’ll go with it.  It’s cool.

At the little Highland school it had been Issy or Posy, both of which she loathed.  Why couldn’t she be a Mary or Kate or Janet like the other girls?  In the museum, in the haven of her office, at least she was able to insist on Dr. McDonald.  But with friends it was a little trickier.  Which was perhaps one reason, she supposed, she really didn’t seem to have any.

Okay, Dinallo, I’m picking up what you’re putting down.  I like this whole set-up: Isis partly embracing her individuality, yet simultaneously wishing that she could just be like everyone else. 

It’s interesting.  It’s real character-building. 

It’s Michael-Murphy-free!

And get this!  When Murphy calls, she doesn’t want to talk to him!

I love Isis McDonald!

Professor Michael Murphy had seemed something of an oddball.  Very concerned with Biblical prophecies.  Babbling on about the Book of Daniel…

Okay, this is also kinda cool, seeing Murphy through someone else’s eyes (at least, someone who doesn’t worship him like poor little “research assistant” Shari).

And okay, I know this will be ruined.  I’ve listened to the rest of the series, and the transformation of Isis is as sad as it is inevitable (as it must be: this is a LaHaye series).

But for now, I’m just going to enjoy the first likeable character this book has to offer.

And you get all the credit, Dinallo. 

As for you, LaHaye: I’ve seen the portrayals of women in your other novels.  So you get nothing. 

Nada, zero, zilch, zip!

/Al from Quantum Leap

Go Team Isis!


Posted on February 25, 2010, in Actually Not That Bad, Babylon Rising, Books. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. …And in her very first appearance she passes The Bechdel Test. Wow.

  2. This actually seems to be an example of good writing.

    I’m…shocked is probably too mild a word.

  3. For this, I totally give her a pass for her name.

  4. As someone who spent the last summer doing Archaeology in the UK, where any bit of metal (even nails), coin, human bone, bit of original wood, or anything out of the ordinary was given a GPS coordinate and everything else (pot, brick, animal bone, glass, etc.) was carefully washed and put in a bag to be stored in a collection somewhere… the idea of someone bringing home statues for their kid, while sweet, makes something inside me do a very Vader-esque “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

    Just had to get that out of my system. I’m not sure how things work in other areas, every setting is different after all, but damn. Statues would have had our whole trench going bonkers. Very carefully bonkers, with photographing and delicate troweling and rushing off to the conservation specialist, but bonkers nonetheless.

  1. Pingback: Babylon Rising, Chapter 67 « Heathen Critique

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