The Annoying Antagonism in The Golem and the Jinni

The Golem and the Jinni, a novel by H. Wecker, achieved a fair bit of fame. I picked it up after getting recommendations from several different websites and people (though in the end, it was the marvelous cover that made me click the buy button); and I’m glad, because it’s a great book. It’s fresh both in terms of content and presentation. The wonderfully flawed lead characters and the devotion that develops between them out of kinship and mutual respect rather than some mindless instant attraction pressed all the right buttons. For the most part, I couldn’t put it down. But then, on a couple occasions, it annoyed me so severely I had to put it down and found it difficult to pick it up again.

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The Abomination Vault: A Summary

The Abomination Vault is the official Darksiders novel written by A. Marmell. My newest Darksiders fanfiction story, Death’s Blessing, picks up immediately after it and leans quite heavily on some details of its plot, so I made this summary to aid the readers who either never read the novel or don’t remember it well. Beware of spoilers!

The novel takes place long before the games of the main series (but long after Genesis), following five hundred years of Death’s unexplained absence. In it, he and War pursue an outcast angel, Hadrimon, and a rebellious maker, Belisatra, who teamed up to excavate and activate an arsenal of ancient Nephilim weapons called the Grand Abominations (GA). These weapons, conceived by Death ages ago, before he became one of the Horsemen, are part mechanical and part organic, made from the biological remains of the Ravaiim, the first race the Nephilim exterminated in their crusade against Creation. While the GA aren’t exactly sentient, they appear to posses a rudimentary, malevolent consciousness and some telepathic abilities that allow them to communicate among themselves and with their wielders. They are vastly more powerful than any other weapons in the Darksiders universe, but also evil, treacherous and full of hate. Too dangerous even for the Nephilim to use, they were locked up in a hidden pocket dimension – the Abomination Vault.

However, some were lost on ancient battlefields before the Vault was established, and Hadrimon managed to find at least one of them before the events of the novel: Black Mercy, a pistol with the power to kill with any shot that wounds the target. Once Death realizes the gravity of the threat, he informs the Council and the other Horsemen and is tasked with stopping Hadrimon and Belisatra from reaching the Vault. However, he vehemently refuses the help of his brethren, hoping to hide his own personal connection to the GA and the Abomination Vault, which can be accessed from a portal in his home. When Strife challenges this suspect decision, they almost come to blows. War chooses to follow Death regardless, and eventually joins him on the quest.

A special substance is needed to activate the full potential of the GA: Ravaiim blood. Hadrimon and Belisatra learn this directly from Death’s unguarded mind when he touches another GA, Mortis (which makes an appearance in Darksiders II). They travel to the Ravaiim homeworld and mount an impressive expedition to extract the blood from the grounds that soaked it millennia ago. Death and War, with the help of the angel Azrael, dismantle the operation. To make sure no one can ever make a similar attempt again, Death employs his necromantic magics to gather all the leftover Ravaiim blood from the entire world and put it in a jar that he plans to destroy. Afraid that the enemy will see through his plan, he also prepares two fake jars: one for Azrael and one for War – and tells everyone involved that War will be carrying the real one.

Hadrimon pursues War, kills him with Black Mercy and takes off with the fake jar: an outcome which Death fully expected. After disposing of the real jar, he manages to revive War by stabbing himself with the Chaoseater to empower its connection with War’s soul, which still clings to it. But he never admits that he lied.

They take some time off to rest and recuperate, and then proceed to confront the enemy in a battle waged at the very entrance to the Abomination Vault. In addition to Belisatra’s constructs and Azrael’s angels, a band of demon mercenaries led by Raciel, a fallen angel that used to be Hadrimon’s lover, joins the fray. Azrael uses illusion magics to take her appearance and distract Hadrimon, which results in his death. Belisatra is captured. In the end, Death seals the Vault again.

This is where my story, Death’s Blessing, begins. Continue reading it here, or return to AO3.

Strange Angels

By K. Koja

Image by Deanse

I got this book as a part of a strange fiction bundle, and like many books I buy in bundles, it’s been sitting on my e-book reader long enough for me to forget I had it, let alone why and even if, I wanted it. I picked it up this January, in a break I needed to take from The Golem and the Jinni by H. Wecker (a subject for another post), because the title resonated with my ongoing Darksiders obsession. But soon I discovered several more unexpected resonances.

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My 2021 in Books

Once more, I managed to reach my reading goal of 30 books in a year. I’m glad and I’m proud, but it still feels like far too few. I don’t know if it’s possible for me to read faster without sacrificing comprehension, but I might well devote more time to this. So, for 2022, I upped the goal to 36 books. That’s 3 a month and I’m already lagging behind, lol.

Another “new year resolution” regarding this is that I’ll try to write shorter but more frequent reviews. Leaving it all for one post, with up to a year since the actual reading, doesn’t work. I won’t even try this time. I’ll only leave a couple notes on things I liked (or disliked) more than the rest.

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From “What the Wind Knows”

By A. Harmon

The actual quote in the original form, with more text captured for context, can be found under the break. What follows here is a version I altered to make it more general and gender-neutral, because I was especially impressed and affected by the sentiments as they apply to my current obsession with War and Strife from Darksiders. I also cast one part as verse, because that’s how it sounded. Beautiful!

If all people loved their spouses as I love mine,
we would be a useless lot.
Or maybe… the world would know peace.
Maybe the wars would end and the strife would cease
as we centered our lives on loving,
and being loved.

I know the novelty will wear off, and life will intrude before long. But it is not the newness of love, the newness of us, that has captured me. It is the opposite! It is as if we always were and always will be, as though our love and our lives sprang from the same source and will return to that source in the end, intertwined and indistinguishable. We are ancient. Prehistoric! And predestined.

Image: Fractal flower by Luis-Bello

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