Thursday, July 12, 2012

Psycho-sexual Ravenloft: Knight of the Black Rose II



Sadly, Lowder has as tin an ear as Golden does when it comes to writing dialog. “You have no idea how angry you've made me,” Soth sulks to Caradoc, his ghostly servant. Actually, Caradoc does have an idea of how angry Soth is, particularly as Soth has just crushed the skull of Caradoc's mortal remains under his boot and is currently throttling Caradoc with a mailed fist. (Yeah, Soth can strangle ghosts; don't think about that for too long.) Oddly, despite watching his child die in a fire, strangling a ghost is what gets Soth sucked into the mists of Ravenloft. Also, this nets us the weirdest description of the mists EVER: “It crept through the gaps in Soth's armor and rubbed against him like a monstrous cat. Tendrils of the milky stuff ventured into his ears and mouth and nose.” Like...a monstrous cat? Milky stuff going into his mouth? FUCKING RAVENLOFT!!!

And yet, it's neither Soth nor Strahd who turn out to be the creepiest character in the novel. Meet Andari, a gypsy youth who discovers his sister about to be raped by a boyar. Boy does that get him angry! Only he isn't angry at the rapist, he is mad that his sister's pleas of “No!” distracted him: “Look what you've done! Your screeching made me drop my violin!” The reason why Andari isn't angry about his sister's sexual assault is that he was the one to pimp her out in the first place; indeed, since his sister is putting up too much of a fight to be violated for money, he offers up some other members of his extended family for sexual defilement: “Or perhaps you would prefer the company of one of my cousins?” Yeah, that's right, gypsy pimps and prostitutes—it's like a Tiger Lillies song gone horribly wrong.

Even though we've just read Soth's back-story in that ridiculous opening prologue, we get it again when he visits the gypsy encampment. Soth doesn't like people looking in on his past (he likes to stay on the down low) so he flips out and burns the fortune teller's wagon down. If you recall how Soth treated his wife and child, this begins to look like a pattern of how Soth treats women: can't live with 'em, can definitely light them on fire. So where does Soth's rage toward women come from? Perhaps we can glean something from a description of Strahd reading Soth's mind: “Strahd ventured further, and a wave of seething hatred and impotent lust broke around him.” IMPOTENT LUST. Yeah, that kind of explains it. In fact, it explains why Soth smashes three tables, knocks down a bunch of doors, and squishes a bunch of Strahd's giant spiders—he is envious of anything that is hard. Soth not only needs Zoloft, he needs Viagra.

(Strahd keeps reading Soth's mind, by the way, because it fills him with “the perverse joy of a voyeur.” Fuck, Ravenloft is yucky.)