Welcome all dreamers, fantasists, bibliophiles, and romantics. Join me Mondays and Fridays for speculation about other worlds, exploration of the human heart and soul in fiction and fact, sojourns in history and science, advice and tidbits in the realms of story, and thoughts on everything in between...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey: Reading Part 9

Today is the second to last part of our reading of Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey. To catch up or refresh your memory, check Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, and Part 8.



Chapter 17

The godmother’s servant finally gets back with Bella about the possibility of encouraging Sebastian’s werewolf curse to go from being destructive to a protective beast. The godmother’s servant explains that there are no examples of humans transforming into animals that are tied to protective legends with which The Tradition might make use. However, if Sebastian could channel all his passion into a counter curse at the point when he transforms into the wolf, he might be able to alter the curse so that he’s able to keep his mind and control himself. The feat would be very difficult but probably their best chance.

Reader Comments: I love what Lackey invents with magic here. She goes into some detail about the difference between curses and spells and how women and men affect them differently. This whole altering the curse thing is also super cool. I love the inventiveness of it.

Writer Comments: This inventiveness is exactly what makes the story fresh and interesting. When I began this book, I never would have imagined this turn of events, yet so far, I find it quite satisfying.

Bella rushes to dinner to tell Sebastian of the hopeful news, but Eric is already there and sharing disturbing news of potential war. Sebastian authorizes Eric as his representative to court to learn more and gives him access to as much money as he needs for bribes and other such essentials. As such, Bella waits until she and Sebastian are in his workroom before she shares the possibility of altering the curse. Sebastian overhears and responds with a flicker of displeasure that surprises Bella.

Reader Comments: See! He has villain written all over him. Okay, I’ll sit down and stop pointing. At least Bella is starting to get a little suspicious.

Writer Comments: In this scene, Eric appears in a place where he has never been seen or associated with before. He also becomes associated with a world far different than he’s dwelt in during this book, the world of the aristocrat or noble, the refined. Eric discussing wardrobes and hiring servants so he has the ability to entertain needed guests is not what I would have expected from him even just a few chapters ago. All this strangeness and destabilizing of the norm sets an important tone here. Eric overhearing Sebastian and Bella’s conversation is significant, and by disrupting the norm, Lackey highlights that importance while also adding a subtle layer of tension from the discomfort of the disruption.

Chapter 18

Late into the night, Bella helps Sebastian work out the logistics of a spell to turn the land at border of the aggressing nation to mush by bringing a thaw early, and after they finish, Sebastian kisses her, leaving her a bit dizzy and satisfied enough to tell him that she will definitely marry him. But when he returns to her room that night, she hears the howl of Sebastian the wolf. Only, it’s not a full moon. Sebastian breaks into her room, and Bella, just in time and full of fear, hurls magic at him, demanding he remember himself with the words that she loves him. It works. Sebastian’s wild eyes turn human, but Eric burst through the door and shoots Sebastian with a silver tipped quarrel.

Reader’s Comments: This totally took me by surprise. I mean, I expected Eric, or whoever the curser was, to do something, but not until later.

Writer Comments: This all happens very fast and is full of tension. That’s exactly what you want at the climax.

Eric’s shot takes Sebastian in the leg. Sebastian bolts away, and Bella chases after him. But the werewolf is too fast, and she loses him even before he leaves the manor. With the Spirit Elementals’ help, however, she eventually manages to find him before Eric, but by then, Sebastian is the wild, vicious wolf again. Bella takes all her magic, all her love, and all her fear for Sebastian and hurls it at him to bring him to his senses again. But some great barrier exists that resists the magic, so she simultaneously throws her arms around his neck, barely escaping begging torn to shreds in the process. At last her efforts work, and Sebastian collapses. Then Eric shows up again. He gives a very Traditional monologue about his right to have the dukedom, how he can do magic too, and how he’d been trying to get rid of Bella and Sebastian all along. After all, it was he who let Sebastian out the night Bella was bitten in hopes that she would die. At this, Sebastian charges Eric, and the two get ready to tear each other to pieces. The godmother shows up and a magical battle ensues, complete with the Spirit Elementals throwing snowballs. But Bella saves everyone by luckily shooting her crossbow straight through Eric’s left eye. And upon Eric’s death, the Spirit Elementals appear in human form. Sapphire reveals that they were the loyal servants that Eric cast a spell upon, and only when Sebastian had summoned help, were they able to return in some form. But no amount of dissolved magic can fully free Sebastian from his wolf form, for curses do not dissolve upon the death of their makers.

Reader Comments: This was an awesome resolution to the primary conflict. Need I say more?

Writer Comments: In all the swift events of this resolution, Lackey does something very important: She makes Bella the essential figure. While everyone else in this scene is more powerful than her, more skilled, or gifted with invisibility, no happy ending could have occurred without Bella’s love, determination, and shooting of that crossbow. Bella is the one who twice counter-curses Eric’s curse, which provides Sebastian with the means to defend both of them, and Bella is the one who thinks to bring a mundane weapon, the thing that ultimately frees them all from Eric’s evil magic. Because Bella is the protagonist of this story, it is important that her decisions and actions resolve the plot. My only regret is that Sebastian, as the love interest, did not accomplish a little more.

Next Monday, we’ll finish Beauty and the Werewolf. Until then, I hope to see you back on Wednesday and Friday for more forays into the speculative and life.

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