Babylon Rising, Chapter 56

Talon has been summoned to see The Seven.  He is escorted into the main scary chamber by a blind footman.  Between the blind footman and the tongueless driver The Seven employ, it says either that they somehow incapacitate anyone unfortunate enough to work for them, so that the workers may never identify The Seven…or that they make a point to hire the disabled.

Talon immediately knows that Something Is Different, because he is allowed to see The Seven’s faces for the first time.  So he figures he has either earned their complete trust, or is about to be killed.

(Nice little line here, underlining Talon’s psychosis, as he wonders (in a very detached way) how he will be killed.  He suspected it would be efficient but also a little theatrical. … Could it be he was about to be flayed alive like St. Bartholomew, or broken on a spiked wheel like St. Catherine?  In fact, in a curious way, he almost looked forward to it.)

But, turns out Talon has gained their complete trust, and has proved himself most efficient and reliable.  Indispensable, even.

I must say that it is quite generous of them to forgive Talon for screwing the pooch by killing Laura.  But then, since Murphy is currently in Saudi Arabia with his replacement hot babe with expertise in ancient cultures, I suppose they figure no harm, no foul.

Talon turns over the tail of the Brazen Serpent to The Seven.  Then we get a sort of LaHaye Callback Moment:

Slowly Sir William Merton reached forward and pulled the foot-long piece of bronze from the bag.  As he held it to the light, Talon could see his plump hand was shaking.  Then a curious thing happened.  The air seemed to thicken, there was an audible crackle of electricity, and Merton’s hand steadied.  It must have been a trick of the light, Talon thought, but his eyes seemed to change color, from gray to a deep midnight blue.  And when he spoke, the English accent was gone, replaced by something deeper and harder to place.

“Soon you shall again be one.  As it was in the first days.  And sacrifice shall be yours once more.”  Then he closed his eyes and let out a long breath, and he seemed to deflate, becoming physically smaller.  When he opened his eyes, he looked once again like a portly English cleric.

Man, this sounds just like what happens in The Mark (Book #8 of the Left Behind series), when Leon Fortunato stands up, and, as if in a weird religious trance, spouts off a paraphrase of Revelation 13. 

As well, it certainly shows that LaHaye really does believe that the Serpent has magical powers.  It just strikes me as odd that RTCs believe in Really Real Magic and Spells That Work, but I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised.  I’ve read Jack Chick.

The Seven lay out their plan (as such) that is pretty obvious anyway, that they wait until Murphy has both of the other pieces, then they grab them.  (Duh.) 

Merton (I keep wanting to call him Metron, like he’s a giant robot or something) confirms what we already knew, that he is indeed that cleric who was friends with Isis’s dad, saying with a leer, “Dr. McDonald and I might have an opportunity to reminisce a little.”

Yeah, Isis could totally kick his ass.  With her brain.


Posted on August 12, 2010, in Babylon Rising, Books. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. >>>Yeah, Isis could totally kick his ass. *With her brain*.

    So… she’s both River Song *and* River Tam?

  2. I think the magic thing is both strange and interesting. I come to it from the perspective of a pragmatic magician (evidence takes primacy over theory) and as far as I can tell the RTC perception of miracles|magic is straight out of the same fantasy books they so despise: basically, it can do anything that’s convenient for the plot. The magic I know is a whole lot more consistent than that. But in spite of the RTC core beliefs (“if we do X, God will do Y” – classical alchemy in a light disguise) they don’t seem to think in practice that they can achieve these big things, perhaps necessarily since the big things are both desired and not happening…

    I strongly suspect that the real reason they ban fantasy books is that their members would spot too many parallels. Just as the Sc*entologists won’t take anyone who’s trained as a magician, because they’re too likely to spot the mind-warping techniques.

    • There is also the further irony that some portions of the RTC community do, in fact, engage in what’s popularly called ‘black magic,’ i.e. imprecatory prayer. The oft- and justly-maligned prayer of ‘Make his children orphans and make his wife a widow,’ or simply, ‘God please take this guy out of the world. It’s naturally couched in polite, mealy-sounding words and phrases, but it all boils down to prayers for someone to not merely die but to be killed by God. Apparently, for these people, it’s Not OK if you do the deed yourself, but it’s OK if you ask God to do it for you. They must have some interesting views of contract assassination.

      Actually, I’m surprised that LaHaye doesn’t have more of it in his books. (Maybe not so much Edge of Apocalypse.) The whole Rapture is, at heart, a supernatural event (they would hate that word, even though it’s really accurate.) It seems to me like the whole mental separation of ‘magic/supernatural’ from ‘What God Just Does’ is not unlike the separation between ‘religion’ and ‘Personal Relationship With God Through Jesus Christ.’ (It also brings to mind the Mythbusters saying, ‘I reject your reality and substitute my own!’ but that’s just the early-morning snark talking.)

      For additional irony, consider that most forms of magic developed by humanity prior to the 18th Century — and a goodly chunk afterwords — have had some religious elements inherent in them. Then again, this might be why RTCs are so desperately eager to divorce their religion from anything remotely resembling magic. (Which is both a shame and a good thing, I suppose.)

      • Consumer Unit 5012

        I don’t know about these guys specifically, but I do know that at least some Fundamentalists think that Black Magic is real and works.

        It’s powered by Satan, of course. (See: Jack Chick, that guy who blessed Sarah Palin.)

  3. Yeah, Isis could totally kick his ass. With her brain.

    Tied behind her back moreover. He’d never survive the dissertation. THESIS MAGNIFICO!

    Sigh. I’m gonna miss Isis. T_T But in some alternate universe of which fanfic should be made, I’m sure Isis is still Not A Pod Person and is still kicking literary butt and taking academic names.

    Ahem. Anyway, interesting. I wouldn’t call this chapter ‘Actually Not Bad’ but there doesn’t seem to be much opportunity for LaHaye to screw the pooch here, so it’s at least sort of interesting. It’s the Illuminati (‘A secret society, they DO exist!’) meeting with their subcontracted assassin/bomber/spy/thief/vandal/falconer. And one of the Illuminati — an Anglican priest, it seems — has some touch with magic.

    I seem to be getting much of this confused with Edge of Apocalypse. In particular, Talon seems to be blurring with the Algerian, to the point where I thought, “Wait, if he’s meeting them in Europe, how did he get out of the US so quickly with the pilfered passport? Doesn’t he loathe his bosses for keeping him on a leash? Wait, what? Wait, these are two separate books! Argh!”

    • Isis would be Cal’s or Karen’s totally awesome thesis adviser. Hell, the team of Karen and Isis would make the likes of Murphy tremble in fear! XD

      Cal would be in awe, whispering over the phone to Deborah, “Deb! Listen. Karen’s thesis adviser? Oh my God. She just ripped this guy a new one at the Q&A after he presented a talk on a dig somewhere in Siberia. I wish I could have Dr. McDonald meet Dad. That debate would be worth seeing!”

      “If wishes were horses, Cal… anyway, look, now’s not a great time. We’re going on maneuvers in like twenty minutes and I’ve gotta polish my boots and move out. Talk later?”

      “Yeah. Good luck, sis.”

  4. Speaking of Supreme Commander Leon. Do they have anyone as innocently buffoonish as him in these books? Murphy doesn’t count because he actively works to be an asshat to the point of penile-substitute one-up contests with Isis.

    • To which I can’t help but hear, in Isis’ cynical but still musical voice, “Hey, Murphy. Dick-waving contests are all very well. But I don’t have one and it’s still bigger than yours.”

  5. it says either that they somehow incapacitate anyone unfortunate enough to work for them, so that the workers may never identify The Seven…or that they make a point to hire the disabled.

    I love this snark so much I have to riff on it a bit…

    Talon approached the Seven, bowed his head briefly, and spoke:
    “I am impressed with your displays of ruthlessness. Blinding your servant, and the other rendered mute, shows a harsh willingness to do what must be done.”

    There was a quiet, disapproving murmur from the Seven, before one spoke up.
    “You think we blinded the footman? That we cut out our driver’s tounge?” The confusion and disguist were plain on his face. “First of all, voluntary glossectomy is an elective procedure; there’s no way our health plan would cover that, and we didn’t become overlords of evil without practicing basic cost-containment!”

    “We have a very open-minded hiring policy based, one which I wouls strongly suggest you acquant yourself with unless you want to run afoul of HR. Ablism is not tolerated in this workplace. Mario is very good at his job, and his hearing impairment does not make him any less a person. If you want a future with us, you’ll need to be more careful with what you say…”

  6. So, despite the fact that Talon A: isn’t Christian, and B: a psycho-freak in general, the only brutal deaths he thinks of happen to be those of Christian martyrs.

    Why, if I didn’t know any better I’d think the authors thought (or were trying to make it look like) Christians have some kind of monopoly on getting executed in brutal and messy fashions.

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