So our hero has a drunk and amorous heroine on his hands who wants to go home with him. What a situation. What a conundrum. And down at the South Pole it’s just the two of them…
So, yeah, the usual drunken antics result. (Jiu Chen has to toss his hair out of the way, que sexy). And then Ling Xi wakes up the next morning in her underwear and has a combination panic attack and giggle fit. Well. That’s one possible reaction, sure.
Jiu Chen is at his desk writing something on a red scroll. It’s a marriage contract. He’s giving it to her ahead of time since she’s impatient. OK, fine, fine, since he’s impatient. Lol.
Back at the Phoenix Palace, Ling Xi is giggling over the marriage contract and then has to try to be the dignified Phoenix Queen when the people come in.
Meanwhile elsewhere (Fuyun Hall?) Si Ming is going over the wedding favors and etc. Everything’s ready for the wedding, and woah that’s a lot of gifts. But it’s been a long time since there’s been a wedding in Heaven. It’s going to be a big deal. OK, now I’m getting really scared again. Also, this series is almost over and that’s really sad.
Anyhow, the some old guy comes by to ask if the wedding is soon? He has two really good wines and offers a taste. I think this is the old earth deity guy. Or is it the old guy who guards the South Pole? He’s happy with the idea that there’s going to be a family living in the South Pole now! They both smile and are having a good time.
But! the Emperor and Jiu Chen’s Teacher are discussing the recent demon incursion from the Black Hole. Jiu Chen arrives. He’s got a preview of Ling Xi’s resignation/designation of a heir decree for the Emperor.
The Emperor says: Kid, she gave up being a queen for you. You better treat her well.
Jiu Chen wants, incidentally, some time off. He says: Thunder can handle my job in the meanwhile. Teacher gives the nod, and the Emperor agrees. But then they shoo him out to continue discussing things that are not Jiu Chen’s wedding.
But Jiu Chen is alert enough to wonder exactly what Teacher and the Emperor are spending so much time conferencing on.–and he thinks back to meeting Ling Xi at Teacher’s cave. And has a brainwave.
So back at the Black Hole Portal…he inspects.
Jingxiu spirit-poofs in to gloat/monolgue a bit. And yeah. He’s been demonized. And, it looks like someone with enormous power needs to be the one who goes down and closes black hole. So…either Jiu Chen, Teacher, or the Emperor. And it’s going to be a permanent thing….so why hasn’t one of them done it? He obviously has a choice to make: be a good soldier, a model citizen, a hero of Heaven…or be Ling Xi’s husband and live with her.
Think about it.
On Earth, Demonized Jingxiu says: it’s good to have a choice.
And Jiu Chen is freaking thinking about it what the heck you dumbass. He’s remembering when he was just a kid (an actual kid), swearing allegiance to Teacher. And he goes over to the Emperor to make an urgent report early in the day.
While he’s waiting, Thunder comes over to be bluff and hearty and also totally wrong about everything. But Jiu Chen gives him some advice…and then goes off to see the Emperor.
Meanwhile! Yun Feng’s statue is being repeatedly struck by lightning. And Jiu Chen is there, with some kind of seal thing…oh, they’re letting him out…?! So he materializes slowly. And panics, because 1000 years have passed and Qing Yao isn’t there. Jiu Chen says: I need your help.
OH HELL NO JIU CHEN HAS DECIDED TO MAKE THE SACRIFICE. GAH. Yun Feng says he should go instead, since he still needs to be punished. But Jiu Chen says: it needs to be me.
Yun Feng says: WHAT ABOUT LING XI? WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK SHE’S GOING TO DO?
Jiu Chen says: I need you to pretend to be me and crush her hopes so she doesn’t ever come back. OH MY GOD THIS IS THE WORST PLAN YOU HAVE HAD YET SO FAR JIU CHEN.
But he’s doing this knowingly a little, at least: the Phoenix Tribe will be the first hit if the demons do come out. Ling Xi will understand! If she ever finds out. Dude, you are the DUMBEST FUCKING MORON EVER.
Qing Yao, meanwhile, gives him a sedative that will work on a high god. It won’t hurt someone at his level for more than a few seconds, but it’ll knock out basically anyone else. What does he want it for…?
Ling Xi pops up and asks what he’s doing in Peach Blossom Forest? He lies. But lets her walk him out. She plans to announce her retirement just as soon as the most recent calamity has been handled. Jiu Chen is clowning around and then boops her and tells her to find someone who’ll treat her well if he dies. She doesn’t like this train of thought.
Man, jokey Jiu Chen is kind of creepy.
Ling Xi is already talking about how they’re going to redeorate the South Pole fortress, heh. She wants peach trees. And chickens. LOL.
Jiu Chen asks for his knot charm back, so he can have something to remember her by. (DUDE)
Anyhow, the next scene is him sitting alone among his wedding gifts, being miserable. (DUUUUUDE). But he comes to a decision. He goes to drink wine with Teacher…OH. OH DUDE. Teacher hasn’t drunk or eaten for years. He doesn’t even remember what wine tastes like. So they reminisce (Jiu Chen’s been his pupil for 160,000 years. Gah.)
Teacher says: eh, it ain’t all that great being me. He also apologizes for trying to stop Jiu Chen saving Ling Xi before. He really wanted Jiu Chen to survive and take over for him. Teacher was really strict with Lil’ Jiu Chen…and Jiu Chen appreciates it because it’s made him the man he is now. He thanks Teacher from the bottom of his liver.
Teacher (reeling a bit) says: Jiu Chen, what are you up to?!
Jiu Chen: throws some magic at him, FREEZE FRAME GAH THIS IS THE NEXT TO LAST EPISODE WHYYY OH MY GOSH.
“Thistle” by Larry Correia – 3/5. Owen and company rescue a little girl from monsters. The little girl has a rather different opinion…
This gets a low score because a) I dislike Owen as a narrator, and b) it, as unbelievably as this sounds, it stretches disbelief too much. Edward the tracker-orc can smell a little girl’s doll, but not that she’s a thistle-monster herself?
Correia is at his weakest when he’s writing Owen–there’s just too much smugness in his voice. He might deny that Owen is a self-insert, but it’s a weak and unconvincing denial given how OP and insufferable Owen is. Still, even the worst of the Correia’s popcorn stories is readable, even if it does make you absolutely swear off popcorn until the next book comes out.
“Small Problems” by Jim Butcher – 5/5. MHI meets NIMH.
In order for fanfic story to be good, it must match the original author’s tone. To be outstanding, it should also put an new (but fitting) perspective into play, adding shading and original colors to the picture while still staying inside the lines. Most fanfic authors are amateurs. JB is a pro. This is a really good story that is well written, matches the tone of the original, portrays known characters without disfigurement, and adds a cool new element to the world to boot.
NIMH rats will forever fight in Roman shieldwalls in my imagination. It’s excellent.
“Darkness Under The Mountain” by Mike Kupari – DNF. This story started off with more than five Kindle pages of driving in a jeep down an Afghanistan road, talking about zombies, and that’s where I left it. Kupari is just not a particularly good writer. Also, I despise zombies.
“A Knight Of The Enchanted Forest” by Jessica Day George – 5/5. Building a better mousetrap is a worthwhile career skill. This story didn’t have much action at all, as it stars a teenage girl and is set in the Enchanted Forest trailer park, but it is well-done and quite funny.
“The Manticore Sanction” by John C. Wright – 4/5. A James Bond-type spy is ordered to kill his nonhuman lover. Also featuring The Mummy, Grendel, The Creature From The Black Lagoon, and the underwater oxygen-burning gadget from Gojira. Wright is perhaps the best writer in this book; however, he has a couple of characteristic tropes that tend to negate this.
1) His characters will stop, mid-action, and moralize to each other. Generally, this is in-character, because he writes self-important, pompous twerps…but…I like action and don’t like to have it interrupted, especially by more freaking dialogue. It’s frustrating and annoying.
2) His action scenes are frustrating and annoying (and that’s after you wade through acres of quasi-Shakespearian dialogue to get to them), because he undercuts his protagonists at every turn. Sure, it’s thematic in this story (To make Ardath Bey look better), but this is a pattern I’ve noticed ever since Orphans of Chaos. (Trying to escape? Your powers get shut off and you get spanked.) Last Guardian of Everness: use the magic weapon you are destined to wield to defeat the villain? It breaks your arms and then he walks over you. Somewhither: Heroes charging a line of cowering spearmen? Heroes get stabbed from a distance with pointy sticks. It makes sense in Somewhither….not so much the others.
3) Would James Bond really be that dumb? He did get married once and he’s had enough experience with women to know that some of them can be really psycho bitches if you get them mad…
On the pro side: this is story written by a master of lyrical prose who knows well how to invoke a sense of wonder, seamlessly blends classic monsters and modern fantasy, and features a damsel who has more on her mind than being distressed.
“The Bride” by Brad R. Torgersen – 2/5. Dippel actually also created a female body, and Ben Franklin also cuts a deal with her. Also von Steuben is in on it. Eh, meh.
“She Bitch, Killer of Kits” (a Skinwalker Crossover Tale) by Faith Hunter – 2/5. This a crossover story starring Jane Yellowrock, a part-Native American panther-type shapeshifter biker babe bounty hunter with waist-length black hair who is tough and strong and has relationship troubles, and uses TWO machetes, how cool is that? Did we mention her hair is waist-length and shiny? The story does, twice.
She gets two stars for managing to rescue the kids before the werewolves eat them. People mock the Dresden Files–but those women at least have personalities and their personalities are different from each other.
“Mr. Natural” by Jody Lynn Nye – 3/5. A STFU team rescues hippies from a nature god who has taken over their commune. This story wasn’t nearly as funny as it could have or wanted to be.
“The Troll Factory” by Alex Shvartsman – 2/5. A computer geek hunter ends up in the Russian IT farm known as the troll factory…guess why. This onetries to do too much with too many concepts and ends up underusing each one of them. Trolls/spiders/demons: if your page time is limited, pick one and stick to it. I mean, internet trolls who are literal trolls is a hilarious concept and you could have even made something out of the new competition from the insidious Russian Bots threat…
“Keep Kaiju Weird” by Kim May – 3/5. A Japanese schoolgirl runs into some strange events…fortunately, she’s not an ordinary girl, and she knows some extraordinary people.
This story was almost really good. However, I have questions, like:
– Why does kitsune girl have Franks on speed-dial?
– I know people don’t like Grant, but even so, why did he lose so many IQ points?
– How come just Franks and Grant are responding with no team to back them up?
– How come Franks was on a mission with no team and yet is able to call in an airstrike within seconds?
– If kitsune girl had a special katana the whole time, why not just go ahead and take care of it herself?
– If the artist who drew the monsters was already so well-known, how come MCB hadn’t already shut him down with extreme prejudice?
– Am I going to finish the rest of this book?
The really annoying thing about the Monster Hunter International series is that, when you’re forced to read it, you’re forced to admit it’s pretty good.
Rated: Ain’t nobody forcing me.