Monthly Archives: May 2013
We are at the penultimate chapter, guys! After checking in with The Seven, we’ll move on to the final confrontation between Murphy and Talon. (It is just as exciting as you might imagine.)
Then we’ll have a bit of a palate-cleanser before hitting the second book of the Underground Zealot series, Silenced.
This palate-cleansing period will include my VERY FIRST GUEST CRITIQUE EVER!!!
But for now, let’s see what the Seven are up to.
Remember, they’ll stop at NOTHING…including skiing.
No doubt, EVIL skiing.
This being the penultimate chapter, Phillips reminds us what The Seven (TSAN!) are up to:
No one would guess that they were part of a conspiracy that aimed to destroy the word [sic] monetary system, the rule of law, the Christian church, and the military power of sovereign nations.
Kinda interesting that Phillips thinks we need this little reminder. But maybe he feels this way because the villains never actually DO anything. They just sit around and talk about how awesome it will be when their scheme comes to fruition. I’m not asking for much, Phillips—just show one of The Seven (TSAN!) influencing a vote in his own country, or using her power as a businesswoman to subtly influence the world market that she wants to destroy.
Also, gotta love how the bad guys only want to destroy the Christian church. Because they don’t need to waste their time destroying all those other fakey religions. After all, the adherents of those fakey religions know they’re not real, not like Christianity!
But no. They’re skiing.
General Li was quickly closing the distance between them [himself and John Bartholomew] with firm strides, closely followed by Mendez, red-faced and sweating but clearly determined not to be beaten by his much fitter fellow conspirator. Sir William Merton’s portly frame was unmistakable at the back of the group, gliding effortlessly over the snow as if by some diabolical magic.
A portly guy who’s also athletic??? Truly such a personage can only be the work of SATAN!!!
Bartholomew has brought them out skiing so he can have an “appropriate setting” in which to update them on Talon’s progress. Sure, he could have just conference-called them, but it wouldn’t have been as awesomely evil as SKIING.
Bartholomew fills them in on Talon’s progress, including the Sorcerer’s Stone of Harry Potter, and the “fact” that the entire team, including Murphy but not including Isis (who is “no threat to us“) is dead. Talon is supposed to rendezvous with the Romanian Seven Lady to deliver the plates.
Skiing was very important to this information.
This is the very last time we’ll have a chance to visit with lovely Noah and his soon-to-be-incestuous brood, so it’s only fitting that the chapter recounts Genesis 8 and 9, in which the Noah-ians find their way to dry land.
There is a nasty wind blowing about the ark, so strong that nobody can even open a window. Noah and his family fear they may have displeased God (as well they might, considering they have recently been given ample proof that God will drown babies in their cribs for the crime of displeasing him), so they all pray.
My NKJV Bible tells it this way:
Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided.
Gotta love that God remembers Noah.
“Oh, yeah! That Noah guy! The one family I allowed not to drown in my worldwide deluge! The folks who’ve been bobbing around in a gigantic, vomit-encrusted, dung-filled boat for the past five months! Maybe I should do something about that…”
And the thing he decides to do is confuse and scare the shit out of them.
What, was God busy or distracted or something? In the middle of an intense dungeon-crawl on WoW? Engrossed in a Boardwalk Empire marathon? What was so important that he forgot the only eight people on the planet?
Some omnipotent god.
So the waters recede (PHYSICS!) and the boat wedges itself into a mountain, and the Family Noah has to wait for another like, three months, before they get to leave.
This is when they do the whole send-out-the-birds thing, and God sends his pure sweet love on the wings of a snow white dove…
A song I wouldn’t know were it not for this episode of MST3K:
Finally, FINALLY, the damn bird stays gone (I love how everyone assumes the bird is just enjoying its new land-home, instead of imagining that the bird might have died), so they let the other animals go, too.
Only the sacrificial animals remained. Noah and his family stepped out onto the sweet-smelling earth and immediately built an altar. They thanked God that their ordeal was over at last and their new life could begin.
So, let me get this straight: God killed every single animal on the entire planet, except for the two-of-every-kind that he allowed to go on the ark. But then he let some extra animals get on the ark, just so they could wait another ten months to be ritually slaughtered? Is this for real?
Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma.
Ah. Well, I guess it’s real. IT’S IN THE BIBLE.
But, I just…
HOW DOES THAT EVEN MAKE SENSE?
God…dude, did you not just have the blood sacrifice to end all blood sacrifices? Can your bloodlust not be sated? WHAT THE FRICKETY-FRAK IS WRONG WITH YOU?
(Also, I cannot help but picture the bones of the bazillions of humans and other animals, strewn about the “sweet-smelling earth.”)
Then they see a rainbow. Nobody knows what it is except for Noah, which I guess means that God magically grafted knowledge of rainbows onto Noah’s brain.
“Father, should I bring the things from the chest?” asked Shem.
“No, son. Not yet. We must first see where we shall live. We need to explore the new country below. But we will return someday soon for the golden box of Tubal-cain and the bronze plates.”
“Good old Tubal-cain, giving us these invaluable tools. Too bad he drowned horribly! Hey, maybe those bones over there are some of his? Or his children’s! Heh, it’s fun to think about.”
Also, since Murphy & Co. found the plates on the ark, are we just to assume that Noah and everyone else forgot about them? Yeah, I can see how you could forget about indispensable tools in a world that has been wiped clean of every single vestige of civilization.
We leave the Noahites on the heartwarming (or something) note of Hagaba (I think she’s Japheth’s wife) announcing that she’s preggers.
And thus begins a long tradition of cousin-marriage. (Or, I suppose, brother-sister-marriage.) Hey, it’s not like these kids will have a lot of options!
It totally does. Take way too long. All you need to know is that Murphy and Isis leave Vern in the capable Bronze-Age care of Obi-Wan, and head back to that one town where they made the day trip, to find the guy who had the first (or is it last?) bronze plate with the secret of Harry Potter.
They find out that the would-be seller was murdered, and the last/first bronze plate stolen.
The only vaguely interesting part comes when they have a discussion with the dead guy’s cousin, who tells Murphy and Isis that his family has promised retribution on the killer.
Murphy thought he knew what kind of “family” the blonde man was referring to.
My, my, Murph…that’s awfully cynical for a good Christian man, eh?
So Murphy and the guy make a deal: Murphy and Isis will give a description of Talon to the guy, and if anyone in the family finds Talon first, they will hand him over to Murphy. And when and if Murphy gets to Talon, he must kill him.
This seems like a fairly crappy deal for the blonde guy and his family (or “family”), but Isis’s concerns are more spiritual:
Isis looked at [Murphy], wondering what he was going to say. She knew how powerful was the instinct for revenge when a loved one had been killed, but could he make such a promise as a Christian?
“I promise,” said Murphy.
I almost can’t believe it! An actual moral conflict!
I may have to sit down.
Wait…I am sitting down.
When we last left Stephanie, she was berating Michael Murphy at the grave of his “friend,” Hank Baines.
Now, she is enjoying a romantic evening with her boyfriend, Shane Barrington.
When she’d first agreed to become Barrington’s mistress…
Oh yeah. She’s his mistress. Even though she’s single.
How soon I forget.
We wouldn’t want to use words like boyfriend and girlfriend. They might remind us that Shane and Stephanie are people, not Evil Pre-Saved Lying Liars Who Lie.
…each took a mouthful of the vintage champagne.
I have to hand it to Phillips: he has the ability to make drinking an awesome drink sound really unappetizing.
Shane has gone all romantic on Stephanie—decorating the entire top floor of his building with flowers. And he gives her a special treat: the right to ask any questions of him.
I’d like to think Shane is doing this because he is coming to love and respect Stephanie more and more, and now considers her an equal partner—in his schemes, in his life.
I’d like to think so, anyway. I am so rooting for these two.
Stephanie thinks that Barrington has been doing EEEEVIL things, and asks him some very important questions.
About Michael Murphy.
Because if there is one important subject in the world, it’s Our Hero.
Shane actually tells Stephanie the truth. And, to his credit, he starts at the real beginning: not Michael Murphy, but The Seven (they’ll stop at nothing!). He fills in Stephanie on the events of the previous book (interesting, he leaves out the part about impliedly-gay Arthur), and then reveals how Murphy fits into this:
“You see, these people I work for, these people who own me, are hell-bent on establishing a one-world government. A one-world religion, too. And people like Murphy, they see it all coming, in the Bible. So they have to be stopped. Before they can persuade people to resist.”
Yeah, because Murphy is doing such a great job with that. I mean, I guess he and Bob dragooned Sherri into preaching to a random teenager, and childfree Murphy preached some parenting advice to Hank, but is that really persuading people to resist a one-world government and one-world religion?
Stephanie starts to panic at these revelations (EVIL!), then starts plotting her escape:
…she started to hear a voice at the back of her mind. A voice of hope. A little voice telling her that maybe this was her chance at redemption. Her chance to prove that she wasn’t all bad…
WAIT A SECOND
Two pages ago, we are told that Stephanie had done multiple investigative reports on “rapists and serial killers.” And now she thinks she is “all bad.” Poor Stephanie…
…maybe she could make a difference after all.
Because hard-hitting reports on rapists and serial killers make no difference at all.
So sad. My dreams of an Unholy Matrimony between Shane and Stephanie are being destroyed!
Taking a page from Murphy’s book, Isis opens her heart to her beloved at the specific time when he can’t hear her.
The only difference is that he wakes up at the end of her soliloquy. Because Murphy’s a Manly Man.
“…But something made me climb up here.” [Isis said to the unconscious Murphy]
Gee, Davey, do you think it was…God???
/Crow T. Robot
I wonder if there are Murphy/Isis shippers out there.
Isis looked at him as his chest gently rose and fell, and she brushed away a tear.
His tear or hers? (I’m just kidding. Being a Manly Man, I’m suprised enough that Murphy cried when his wife was dying. Then again, Greg Dinallo was co-writer on that book.)
“I’m so glad I did [come back towards the ark].”
“Me too.” [said Murphy, awake for the first time]
Isis manages to force-feed him a bit of the soup (apparently, it has “healing herbs” in it), and explains that Obi-Wan is off looking for survivors of the helicopter crash. We also learn that this cave is just Obi-Wan’s summer home, and he has a bigger cave down the mountain.
Gradually, through the night, the herbs did their work. By morning, Murphy felt as if he had a massive hangover and had gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson, but otherwise he felt remarkably good.
Ah. So other than the explodey-feeling head and the nausea and vomiting and the fatigue and the dizziness and the inability to concentrate and the pain and the achiness in every part of his body, Murphy feels just dandy!
When I was concussed, I doubt I could have walked across a room without fainting or puking. Guess I’m just not the Manly Man that Murphy is.
In fact, Murph feels so fine and dandy that he insists that they do TWO HOURS of “strenuous hiking” to get to the Main Cave.
Even though they’re not entirely certain where it is.
…Isis spotted a wide opening in the mountainside, thirty yeards or so above the trail.
“This has to be it,” she said.
Oh. Whew. I was worried there. For a second.
Obi-Wan’s Main Cave (which I guess is also his Man Cave) has a propane stove and pictures of the ark story on the walls, so you know that his cave is a home.
The cave also contains Vern, rescued from the Vietnam snowbank. (In a refreshing touch, Murphy actually thanks Obi-Wan for saving him.)
Vern relates his perspective of the helicopter crash:
“[Larry and I] were talking on the satellite phones, and something he said just didn’t seem right.”
Note: Larry probably means this:
“Good-bye, Vern, thanks for the ride.”
-Larry the Photo Guy, Chapter 45
I’d probably be suspicious, too.
“Then he took out some sort of control box and I guess my instincts just took over. I tried to take the chopper down into the gorge so an electronic signal wouldn’t reach it, but I figured it was going to be too late and I just jumped. His voice choked with emotion. “There wasn’t time to explain to [Token Turk and the Dick]. I was hoping they’d just follow me out, but I guess they…” He couldn’t go on.
“I guess they just looked at me like I was crazy as I threw myself out the door of my own helicopter. Go figure.”
Also, exactly how long does it take to scream “JUUUUUMMMPPP!!!!” Sure, they might not do it, but at least try, right? You can “explain” later.
Murphy’s jaw was clenched in anger. “[Larry the Photo Guy]. I was looking in the wrong place the whole time.
Murphy seems to be giving himself both too much and too little credit here. Like any hero of a mystery story, his thoughts tended towards the wrong person (a careful reading of Chapter 38 presents Murphy as slightly more suspicious of the Dick than of anybody else, but he still resolves to “watch everybody like a hawk.”) (Emphasis mine.) Still, it wasn’t like he thought Larry was completely cleared of suspicion, especially given Larry’s crush on Isis.
And now it’s Murphy’s turn to reveal that two of their guys died on the ark. (Still think splitting up the team was a good idea, Murph?)
Vern seems as confused as we are about the bad guys’ motives:
“And this Talon character—he wants to take over the world?”
Murphy looked grim. “I don’t know what motivates Talon, apart from a love of killing for the sake of it. But the people he works for, yes. … All I’m certain of is that they’re evil and they have to be stopped.”
Because they’ll Stop at Nothing!
Also, Murphy assumes that Larry was working for Talon, not the CIA. Why he thinks this is left as an exercise to the reader.
Changing the subject, Murphy asks for Obi-Wan’s story.
“It is right you should know. I am one of the guardians of the sacred ark. For centuries my family has been doing this. … I will watch the mountain for two years and then someone will replace me for a while. Then I will come back again.”
Ah. So, as some have suspected, Obi-Wan is basically this guy:
Isis has logical questions:
“Why did you tell us where the ark could be found? Why didn’t you just let us search like all the other explorers?”
To which Obi-Wan has the best answer of all:
[Obi-Wan] turned to Murphy. “There was something about you and your…sincerity. Your strength of purpose.”
Murphy is also sincerely and passionately angry at Talon, who has left the ark buried in the now forever and ever. (Um, so does this mean Obi-Wan and his family are off the hook for watching the ark now?)
He determines to head off on a quest to find Talon and re-secure the Secrets of Harry Potter’s Sorcerer’s Philosopher’s Stone, which Talon is carrying around in a backpack.
Amusingly, Murphy elects to simply leave his bestest pal Vern in the tender, Bronze-Age medical care of Obi-Wan.
And refreshingly, Isis exhibits some backbone and TELLS MURPHY SHE IS COMING WITH HIM TO HUNT DOWN TALON.
Not that any of us should get too excited. It’s not like she helps or anything.