Babylon Rising, Chapter 53

This chapter is pretty short, as it only serves to establish that Isis will be going with Murphy to Saudi Arabia to try to retrieve the second piece of the Brazen Serpent.  As is usual for chapters involving Dr. Isis McDonald, this chapter, like the last, is Actually Not That Bad.  Isis argues her case quite well, and ends up winning the argument, though with reservations from Murphy.

But let’s just let that sink in, shall we?  Isis wins the argument with Michael Murphy.  And she wins it not through womanly wiles, or because she cries, or because he lets her win because she’s a gi-irl.  She wins because she’s right in everything she says.

Damn, this woman kicks ass and takes names. 

The name this week being Michael Murphy.

Mad props to Greg Dinallo.  He is, as I have pointed out in the past, the one uncommon factor that must be the reason we actually have a strong, intelligent, reasonable, brave woman, who does not automatically defer to any man in the room before making a decision or taking an action.  Quick–name any female character who can be so described in any other LaHaye book, including the entirety of the Left Behind series.   LaHaye and Jenkins had sixteen books to do it, and didn’t manage even one, and now Greg creates this awesome chick in one book.

Yes, Isis is turned into a simpering, wussy moron in the next three books, when Greg leaves and Bob Phillips takes over.  We can all cry about that later, but the important point right now is that we clearly have Greg to thank for Isis.

So, thank you, Greg.  No sarcasm, no snark, just honest thanks for creating a cool, strong female character that actually makes this book bearable.  If you’re ever in my neck of the woods, I’d love to buy you a beer.

Now, on to why this chapter is good:

Murphy tells Isis, “there’s no way you’re coming to Tar-Qasir.”  And Isis is fucking pissed.  And, wonder of wonders, this is not presented as a strike against her.  Of course she’s pissed.  If it wasn’t for her, Murphy wouldn’t have the piece of the Serpent he already has, let alone know where to go to find the next one.  This project is at least as much her baby as his.    

And Isis goes for the logic, not for girly whining or tears.  She points out (and she’s damned right, too!) that Murphy will need her to do any further translating if he just so happens to find the next piece of the Serpent.

Murphy is his usual asshattish self:

“You’ve walked me through the inscription on the tail.  I think I’ve got a feel for it now.  I’ll call you if I get stuck.”

Isis is a better woman than I am, because she doesn’t smack him here.

She snorted in derision.  “Hah!  You wouldn’t know where to start.  I don’t think you’d know this kind of cuneiform from a hole in the ground–which, considering that you’re an archeologist and I’m a philologist, makes a certain amount of sense, don’t you think?”

Murphy has no answer for this obvious logic, so he attacks her motives–gee, Isis, why are you making such a big thing of this?  It’s not like you should really care, right?  Hell, it’s not like this is one of the trickiest professional puzzles you’ve ever encountered, right?


Isis, though her emotions are “swirling,” stays on point because she rocks:

“I’m sure you’re trying to be chivalrous and all that nonsense, but I wish you would just admit that if you’re serious about finding all the pieces, you’re going to need me.”

Murphy stayed tight-lipped.


Then, something weird happens:

“Maybe I’ve decided to show the world my father wasn’t the only Dr. McDonald who was willing to take a few risks to get what he wanted.”

Murphy stopped himself from saying And look what happened to him.

Huh?  Okay, did I miss something?  I don’t think I did, but I’m going to have to go back and check.  Because I cannot recall any reference to the senior Dr. McDonald being killed in the line of duty, as it were.  Yes, he’s dead, but the only reference to the end of his life is when Isis remembers some of the affectionate, but rather nonsensical things he said “toward the end,” which seems to imply pretty clearly that he died of natural causes, perhaps hinting at some mild mental problems associated with aging.

I shall investigate this further.

In the meantime, Isis plays the trump card to beat all trump cards, ever: she has gotten the PFF to arrange funding and transportation for the expedition, provided that the Foundation gets to exhibit the entire Serpent once it’s found.

Bottom line: Murphy doesn’t have to let Levi Abrams beat him up!  HA, suck on that, Levi!

Murphy actually thanks Isis, though he calls her “out of line going for the funding before I agreed you were going.”

So, he’s still an asshat, but I think we all know who won this battle of wills.

Team Isis is triumphant once again!  And I think it’s time for the entire galaxy to celebrate!


Posted on July 25, 2010, in Actually Not That Bad, Babylon Rising, Books. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Schweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet.

    *thumbs up*

    Yeah, I can see why LaHaye told Dinallo to take a hike. Women who can actually marshal cogent arguments against men? SCARY WHAT ON EARTH NEW WORLD CAN THIS BE????!

    Makes me almost wonder if Murphy wasn’t purposely written as such an asshatty jerk so as to get verbally smacked down by Isis as an example of why being an asshat is a bad idea. 😛

  2. That’s certainly not something I expected to see in the LaHayeverse.

    It may well be that LaHaye didn’t actually see the book until after it was published – a lot of “collaborations” work that way, with one author roughing out the shape of the story and the other doing the work. Which would explain why this book got out but Dinallo didn’t get to write any more.

    • Since reading Writing for the Soul by Jerry Jenkins, I am thinking this might be the case. Jenkins said that for the Left Behind books, he was the writer and LaHaye was “theological expert and prophecy consultant and would not attempt to co-write.” (p. 3)

      So it does make sense that LaHaye didn’t have the opportunity to make Isis properly submissive and stupid, but got himself a new writer for the remaining books, to remedy this grievous error.

  3. I may have gaped with astonishment at her name, but, damn, she DESERVES to have the mojo wrapped up in the names of two goddesses! The double-goddessing seems almost like Dinallo’s own smack against LeHaye; I wonder at what point Dinallo said that he was going to subvert the book because LeHaye is a jerk?

    I’m going to miss her when she gets replaced by a Stepford Wife. ;_;

  4. By Lahaye standards, this really is wonderfully subversive.

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