Thursday, June 28, 2012

Psycho-sexual Ravenloft: Vampire of the Mists III



Things are starting to get a bit bizarre in general at this point in the book. Strahd and Jander play what seems like the weirdest board game two vampires could play with each other: “The Doe has reached the warren. According to the rules that gives me five more Kittens to introduce into play.” Oooookay. (Also, Strahd gets royally pissed off when Trina the werewolf messes with his pieces.) Characters are also starting to behave in ways that defy any pretense of characterization. Jander, despite having made a promise of honor to never enter into a particular room in Strahd's castle, declares that he had his fingers crossed the whole time and breaks in while Strahd is away. And what does he find in there? A centuries-old wedding cake. Yeah, Strahd is Ravenloft's Miss Havisham.

Speaking of Strahd, did you think we were going to get out of this novel with him playing his “organ” again? SUCKER! “One afternoon, he sough distraction by playing the organ. The diversion worked for a while, wrapping him up in its reverberating music that sang to his soul/ His fingers flew over the keys, coaxing chords that echoed his torment yet brought release from it.” So, Strahd gets bored, his “fingers flew” over his organ, and “coaxed” something out of it that 'brought release,” huh? Seriously, Golden? So much to answer for.

While Strahd is masturbating furiously, Jander continues to be a shit-heel. Jander asks Sasha to help him fight against Strahd, but Sasha replies that he has real responsibilities—like to the community he serves as a spiritual leader and as a husband-to-be. Jander, predictably, flies into a rage: “Jander's silver eyes flashed with anger. 'I don't want to hear about your responsibilities. I don't care about your fiancee.” Those are real quotes. He says these things in his out-loud voice instead of keeping them part of his inner dickhead monolog. Basically, he's a sociopath. Which makes you wonder, why doesn't he just mentally dominate Sasha into going along for the ride? Oh wait, that's right, because Sasha's a man and Jander only bends women to his will.

In a move that will surprise no one, it turns out that Strahd is the one responsible for driving Jander's dear Anna (the mentally ill woman he was ballin') into madness. In a convoluted “twist” that no reader could possibly give a fuck about, Anna is revealed to be a piece of Tatyana's soul that was transported from Barovia to the Forgotten Realms at the moment she jumped from the towers of Castle Ravenloft. That Strahd is the big villain all along was obvious; he's the only bad guy the novel ever mentions so it was clear he would end up being the Big Bad. What is a mystery for Jander was never a mystery for the reader. Golden is clearly no Agatha Christie.

Of course, the revelation of Strahd as the central villain comes about through an avalanche of back-story and flashback sequences. The only thing I really gleaned from it was this piece of advice I wish I could travel to Ravenloft and give to Strahd personally: Dear Strahd, if the girl you're obsessed with keeps calling you "Old One," either her name is Anna Nicole Smith and she's just being honest or she just isn't that into you.

Eventually Jander & co. confront Strahd in the crypts, and Strahd is driven off but not killed. For a climatic scene, it's utterly empty of any tension or real feeling of threat. Strahd buggers off to heal up so he can play with his organ some more, Jander realizes that Ravenloft has just been funnin' with him this entire time, and Sasha has to go into hiding. The best part about the end is that Jander dies. I just wish that had happened on page 2 of the novel and not page 239.

Cole did this and he wants you to know it is based on an actual picture of Jander.

Oh, and because we can't have nice things and because Ravenloft truly is a world that hates us, Jander is retconned back into unlife in some god-forsaked supplement.  There is no justice, none at all.