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STEPH: Okay, lets get this shindig on the road and put us all out of our misery as soon as possible. Todayís book review is:


Blood and Gold : The Vampire Marius

OR


and the




By Anne Rice


STEPH: Okay, roll the first bit for us and letís get started.


MATER: Twenty Six Years with my Beloved Immortals ~ Blood and Gold

TBQ: Which sounds like a joke in and of itself, quite frankly.

STEPH: Like it could also read: Twenty-Six Years with my Beloved Immortals ~ Rock and Roll!

TBQ: Anne Rice: Behind the Music. By the way, wasn't Blood and Gold the name of Def Leopard's third album anyway?

STEPH: Note to self: need a midi file that plays Queen's Masters of the Universe

TBQ: I tell you right now that this book is NO kind of magic.

MATER: This novel is scheduled for publication in 2001. It's already written. It's finished.

STEPH: It's already written. It's finished. It's complete. I have ceased writing it. It is done. I am no longer in the process of writing this book. . . .

TBQ: I'm so glad that a novel scheduled for publication within the next 3 months is already written. It's those crucial details that help. Saves on Anne having to come to my house to finish off chapter 34.

MATER: I can not say much about it, except that the teller of the tale is Marius, and indeed, the tale itself is his life of 2000 years.

TBQ: I love when people say "I can't say much about it" then go on to blather on for a bit anyway. "I can't say much about it, except that it's about Marius and deals with his 2000 years and starts on a Tuesday...."

STEPH: "The teller of the tale" The Talking Gift, I take it. . . Anne hasn't quite gotten out of Thorne's voice yet, though I jump ahead of myself. For those of you playing at home, yes, there is a character named Thorne in this book. Weíll meet him shortly.

TBQ: I can't blame you for wishing we were done already.

STEPH: Christ, and weíre just at her little note at the beginning. Alright [deep breath] Lets. . . move on. . .

TBQ: [hands Steph a scotch]

STEPH: [slams the scotch] Thanks.

MATER: Once again, I returned to ancient Rome to make sure that Marius moved in a world of accurate detail and vibrant colour.

TBQ: As opposed to modern-day Phoenix, a world of vague detail and dull earth tones.

STEPH: I hear they shot the old Tide commercials in ancient Rome, because the colours were just so vibrant there.

TBQ: It's a little known fact that all things in ancient Rome were labeled, thus helping with the details. And she returned to ancient Rome? Does First Street have a time machine now?

STEPH: Apparently she stopped off in the UK first, as noted by her more colourful spellings.

MATER: But that is only the start of things. Marius makes a long journey to the present time,

STEPH: And how does she get to make these little junkets to ancient Rome and back when Marius has to make the long journey? Bitch.

TBQ: Well that explains why it is a journey to the present time, since most of us don't actually travel in the fourth dimension.

MATER: telling his side of events which have been described by others in whole or only in part,

TBQ: "Telling his side of events" - especially to clear up that rumor that started about him wearing dresses back in the 19th century.

MATER: and confiding much more of his own triumphs and tragedy.

STEPH: ďMarius! The Thrill of Triumph, the Agony of Defeat! Next on ABC Sports!

TBQ: Well the ancient Romans did invent skiing.

STEPH: Contrary to popular belief that they only crossed the Alps as a matter of war.

TBQ: But we'll get to that soon too.

STEPH: Onward. . .


BLOOD AND GOLD

B & G: The Listener

STEPH: What the hell is that?

B & G: Chapter 1

STEPH: He-Thorne Learns of Skelatorís Plot of Universal Conquest and Ponders Clouds



(He-Thone, by the Power of GreyClouds!)


B & G: His name was Thorne. In the ancient language of the runes, it had been longer - Thornevald. But when he became a blood drinker, his name had been changed to Thorne. And Thorne he remained now, centuries later, as he lay in his cave in the ice, dreaming.

TBQ: Then it became Bob. Then Steve. And for a short while Susan. Then back to Thorne.

STEPH: Of course now only the invisible snow fairies called him Thorne. They couldn't say Thornevald, so he had to shorten it for them.

TBQ: No it was the blood drinkers who shortened it, because believe me there's nothing more embarassing than trying to pronounce Thornvald with fangs - too much of a lisp.

STEPH: Were they a group of hippie vampires? Part of the Fang Gang, maybe? "Thornevald is too square, man! You gotta have a name that riiiiiides, ya know what I meeeean?"

TBQ: And because no MST/Review would be complete without me saying this: Diagram that sentence!

B & G: When he had first come to the frozen land, he had hoped he would sleep eternally.

STEPH: But then he thought, maybe just forever would suit him better.

TBQ: I swear there's something wrong with that sentence grammatically. I leave it to the editors and beta readers in the crowd to tell me if I'm wrong.

B & G: But now

TBQ: And I had hoped that this book wouldn't suck but... well actually I knew that it would

B & G: and then the thirst for blood awakened him, and using the Cloud Gift, he rose into the air, and went in search of the Snow Hunters.

TBQ: The Cloud Gift. [pause] I'm just - I'm just sitting here stunned. Give me a moment.

STEPH: Okay, Iím sorry, there's not much I can do more than laugh. . . The Cloud Gift. . . The Snow Hunters. . . Christ, Conan the Barbarian is less cliched and dramatic. Chris Rice is less cliched and dramatic.

TBQ: That doesn't even make sense in context! It's flying - how is that The Cloud Gift? I mean yeah I get that you go up to the height of the clouds but the clouds are not giving you this gift, nor are you doing anything with the clouds once you're there. I mean if you're going for the cheese factor why not something like "The Air Gift" or "The Bird Gift" which would at least vaguely connect with the concept? Or, you know, the Gift of Flight. I mean it's not like the Norse were sitting there thinking it was really odd that birds sometimes didn't touch the ground but never, ever once came up with a word for it.

STEPH: Thorne no make connections. Thorne just look up and see big fluffy clouds. Thorne want to be like clouds.

TBQ: Thorne has brain like clouds.

B & G: He fed off them, careful never to take too much blood from any one so that none died on account of him. And when he needed furs and boots he took them as well, and returned to his hiding place.

STEPH: Okay. . . so. . . Thorne, who doesn't want to kill these Snow Hunters, takes their furs and boots and leaves them in the snow. But then, we established Thorne's cloud-like brain.

TBQ: Thorne's cloud-like brain is going to be a leitmotif I'm thinking. And hey - those Snow Hunters knew what they were getting into when they decided to hunt innocent snow in the first place!

STEPH: There's that connection thing again. What the fuck are Snow Hunters? Are they like Storm Chasers?

TBQ: Next on Animal Planet: The Snow Hunter! "Oi! Crickey! This flake is as fat as mud!"

B & G: These Snow Hunters were not his people. They were dark of skin and had slanted eyes, and they spoke a different tongue, but he had known them in the olden times when he had travelled with his uncle into the land to the East for trading.

TBQ: ...and they wore different clothes, and their children went to a different school system although they shared buses with Thorne's kids sometimes....

STEPH: Some of them wanted to go to his kid's school. They wanted the same education with the same advantages. Thorne didn't like that, for it was change, and change scared him. At times like these, he thought of the clouds and what they would do. . .

B & G: He had not liked trading. He had preferred war. But he'd learnt many things on those adventures.

TBQ: Trading meant math. Math hard on cloud-like brain.

STEPH: Can I point out here that the kind, gentle, cloud-like Thorne, who couldn't ever kill a Snow Hunter, just leave them to die in subzero temperatures, prefers war to trading. Just needed to point that out. And hey, do you wonder what he learned on those adventures?

TBQ: My guess? That warriors score more Snow Hunter chicks than traders do.

B & G: In his sleep in the North, he dreamed. He could not help it. The Mind Gift let him hear the voices of other blood drinkers.

TBQ: Is Thorne dreaming? I can't tell. That hasn't been mentioned enough.

STEPH: I get this icky peeping Tom voyeuristic feel from Thorne.

TBQ: I get all kinds of icky feelings from Thorne. And how ironic that The Mind Gift [tm] didn't, you know, actually gift Thorne with a mind.

B & G: Unwillingly he saw through their eyes, and beheld the world as they beheld it. Sometimes he didn't mind. He liked it.

STEPH: See! Ew. . .

TBQ: As opposed to seeing through their eyes and beholding the world as the chipmunk next to them beheld it.

STEPH: Which would have made more sense for Thorne, actually.

B &G: Modern things amused him. He listened to far-away electric songs. With the Mind Gift he understood such things as steam engines and rail roads; he even understood computers and automobiles. He felt he knew the cities he had left behind though it had been centuries since he'd forsaken them.

TBQ: Can we get a timeline here? We start out with the world still in Me, Tarzan vocabulary and we jump to computers. So there was nothing in the intermediate years that Thorne found interesting.

STEPH: I like how the voice is so formal too. It's in his own head, you'd think after a couple of centuries he'd cut with the Walter Cronkite version of Captain Caveman.

B & G: An awareness had come over him that he wasn't going to die. Loneliness in itself could not destroy him. Neglect was insufficient. And so he slept.

STEPH: Or peeped in on others, as the case may be.

TBQ: And got up every five minutes to leave a Snow Hunter for dead.

B & G: Then a strange thing happened.

TBQ: Hang on gang - Anne's about to fire up her Ford Exposition and take it for a ride.

STEPH: Nah, I read ahead. It's more like exposition of the crappy Yugo variety.

TBQ: A strange thing happening would be a sign of the plot.

B & G: A catastrophe befell the world of the blood drinkers.

STEPH: Well, this is definately a stand alone book! Don't need the others to understand this one. Nope!

TBQ: I don't know. Don't all first time readers enjoy slogging through pages of clunky narrative?

STEPH: Not those with The Reading Gift.

TBQ: Or the Gift of Foresight

STEPH: Or the Gift of Good Taste.

TBQ: A gift that keeps on giving.

B & G: A young singer of sagas had come. His name was Lestat, and in his electric songs, Lestat broadcast old secrets, secrets which Thorne had never known.

TBQ: Just when you thought there couldn't be a more pretentious name than The Vampire Lestat, there comes Young Singer of Sagas!

STEPH: How did Thorne know they were secrets? Maybe everyone was just playing a joke on old Thorne.

TBQ: Well they were real secret, you see. Kind of like how that letter that comes after "D" is a secret to Thorne too.

B & G: Then a Queen had risen, an evil and ambitious being. She had claimed to have within her the Sacred Core of all blood drinkers, so that, should she die, all the race would perish with her.

STEPH: I believe that Maharet made that claim, not Akasha. No one quite knew for sure what would happen, it was just a theory that Maharet proved when she put a knife through Akasha's heart.

TBQ: The Sacred Core? Didn't Geordi have to dump that once in a season-two episode of Next Generation?

STEPH: Yeah, I think there was a Sacred Core breach in a couple of episodes. They were always having to jettison the Sacred Core into space. One wondered why they even had a Sacred Core on that ship to begin with.

TBQ: I'm sorry, captian but this exposition is to heavy and full of anvils! We're going to have to ditch the Sacred Core!

STEPH: It's a good thing this book has an self-destruct mechanism built in, or we'd be in BIG trouble.

TBQ: There's a self destruct? Cool! Where do I push?

STEPH: It's at the end, unfortunately. Then it implodes in on itself.

TBQ: Damn, that's cruel.

STEPH: Well, we only have to do this one chapter. Think of Wiebke. She's agreed to take one for the team.

TBQ: [sniff] Damn, brave fool.

STEPH: It never gets easy to send someone off on these missions, Number One. You'll understand some day when you're captain.

TBQ: Well... better her than me.

STEPH: That's what I say. Moving on. . .

B & G: Thorne had been amazed.

TBQ: Insert your own joke about Thorne being amazed by light and sound here.

STEPH: I think butter and lady bugs amaze Thorne. But most of all, the clouds.

B & G: He had never heard these myths of his own kind. He did not know that he believed this thing.

TBQ: He did not remember how to use contractions, though he'd been profiecient with them before.

STEPH: There's our Thorne, a fine skeptic in the tradition of David Hume and the Amazing Randy!

B & G: But as he slept, as he dreamt, as he watched, this Queen began, with the Fire Gift, to destroy blood drinkers everywhere throughout the world. Thorne heard their cries as they tried to escape; he saw their deaths in so far as others saw such things.

STEPH: Though rather than help, he sat back idlely and thought of the clouds.

TBQ: Is everything a Gift with Thorne? Is walking the Foot Gift? Talking the Sound Gift? Little figures by Hummel the Unnecessary Gift?

STEPH: So while the other vamps were out fighting the forces of death and evil, Thorne was inventing new names for specialized gifts. Battle on, Thorna. Battle on . . .
B & G: As she roamed the earth, this Queen came close to Thorne but she passed over him. He was secretive and quiet in his cave. Perhaps she didn't sense his presence. But he had sensed hers and never had he encountered such age or strength except from the blood drinker who had given him the Blood.

TBQ: Perhaps she sensed what a great sucking hole of energy he was and decided to move on.

STEPH: He's been a vampire for how long now? And he doesn't have another term aside from "blood drinker" yet? Maybe she thought him too stupid to be a threat.

TBQ: And wait - that makes no sense. If he hasn't seen any of his kind for however the fuck long this is, then he really wouldn't have "encountered such age" - it's impossible!

STEPH: Perhaps all these questions will be answered in the next chapter, where his name will be suddenly changed to Matthew or Michael or Biff, depending on Mater's whim.

TBQ: Or Blaze. Or Pyro. Or another name suitable for daytime television and/or American Gladiators.

STEPH: I like Rip.

B & G: And he found himself thinking of that one, the Maker, the red-haired witch with the bleeding eyes.

TBQ: Yeah, we've been trying to think of more interesting characters too.

STEPH: His Maker, the one that didn't leave her name or forwarding address. . .

B & G: The catastrophe among his kind grew worse. More were slain; and out of hiding there came blood drinkers as old as the Queen herself, and Thorne saw these beings.

STEPH: Yeah, old Thorne must have been real broken up about all that death and destruction going on. Way to lend a hand, Thornebird.

TBQ: Hey - Thorndike's chair wasn't warming itself you know! Somebody had to be at home making sure Punky Brewster stayed on the air!

STEPH: You know, I think those who had to sit around and listen to Maharet yammer on as Armageddon is happening, should just toast all the other vamps in hiding on principle.

TBQ: "Dear vampires - would have loved to join you but had important dental appointment. So sorry to miss out on the boring story, near end of life as we know it, and BBQ. Maybe next time - Thorne"

B & G: At last there came the red-haired one who had made him. He saw her as others saw her.

STEPH: Just to clarify again - not as the chipmunks.

TBQ: He made mental note to listen closely to see if this time he might catch her name.

STEPH: Maharet: Okay everyone, listen up. I've got this stalker. . .

TBQ: Jesse: You mean that creepy guy who keeps poking around in my brain?

STEPH: Maharet: No honey, that's just Marius.

B & G: And at first he could not believe that she still lived; it had been so long since he'd left her in the Far South that he hadn't dared to hope she was still alive. The eyes and ears of other blood drinkers gave him the infallible proof. And when he looked on her in his dreams, he was overwhelmed with a tender feeling and a rage.

TBQ: I hear the Far South is lovely this time of year.

STEPH: You know, I've often harbored tender feelings of rage. Like on how this got published and I'm still poor.

TBQ: I have tender feelings of rage for Thornebird's geography teacher.

B & G: She thrived, this creature who had given him the Blood, and she despised the Evil Queen and she wanted to stop her. Theirs was a hatred for each other which went back thousands of years.

TBQ: Can - can we just back away from the caps lock key? Is that so much to ask?

STEPH: You know, I bet in her next book the main character's name will be Blood. The Vampire Blood. The Vampire Thornbert and the Vampire Blood. That's my prediction.

TBQ: And that's the Blood. Not a Blood or even some Blood. The Blood. So the rest of us are SOL because Thornstein's got it all.

B & G: At last there was a coming together of these beings - old ones from the First Brood of blood drinkers, and others whom the blood drinker Lestat loved and whom the Evil Queen did not chose to destroy.

TBQ: Others who owed the blood drinker Lestat money, particularly Daniel who stiffed him five dollars when betting on a Leaf's game.

STEPH: Christ, why didn't she just make this first person and get it over with? Going with third, she had a freaken chance to get out of this inane monologue.

TBQ: "First Brood of blood drinkers" "blood drinker Lestat" - Pat, I'd like to buy a synonym?

B & G: Dimly, as he lay still in the ice,

STEPH: Finally! Acknowledgement on his lack of IQ.

B & G: Thorne heard their strange talk, as round a table they sat, like so many powerful Knights, except that in this council, the women were equal to the men.

STEPH: Oh. . . oh where to begin here. . . BQ?

TBQ: TBQ read, the strange sentence, while, sitting at, her desk, wondering, why there, were so many, commas.

STEPH: Okay, how round is round here? Last I heard it's always been 360 degrees. So what exactly does it mean to sit at a table "as round as the Knights. . ." What a fucking stupid simile.

TBQ: I love that Thorneson can pick up words like "computer" "steam engine" and "Knight" but has never once heard the word "Vampire". Especially since God knows Lestat never used that word when talking about himself.

STEPH: The comment about women seems completely out of place as well. They're a congregation of vampires, not senators.

TBQ: And in any other book we'd explore the interesting dynamics that Thorne's misogyny raises particularly as it relates to his relationship with Maharet. But here? Anne throws it in as a vague way of pretending she remembers women didn't always have the right to vote. Plus, as always, she gets it wrong. Granted, I don't have a complete collection of Norse history at my beck and call so I'll bow to someone with greater wisdom, but in the little research I've done it seems like women were considered just as independant and necessary for the tasks of life as the men were. No mention of women being unequal.

STEPH: No, BQ, you have to be wrong because Mater says she does a lot of research for all her books. So if she says so. . .

TBQ: How old is Thorne anyway?

STEPH: From my guesstimate, anywhere from 5000 to 200.

TBQ: Glad we narrowed that down to help with the research here.

STEPH: I think we should just trust Anne. She's a hard researcher.

TBQ: Just trust Anne?? Steph, get a grip - she's not Joss Whedon.

STEPH: Well, yeah, but in her little world, I'm sure all the facts fit perfectly.

TBQ: And as long as we're mentioning Joss, lemme be the first to point out the Angelus/Angel to Thornevald/Thorne comparison. Not that I'd suggest Anne lacks for original ideas.

STEPH: Never.

B & G: With the Queen they sought to reason, struggling to persuade her to end her reign of violence, to forsake her evil designs.

STEPH: But the dream of reason breeds monsters. . . Goya anyone?

TBQ: Can we pick a narrative style and stick with it? Since when did this become epic poetry?

STEPH: Hey, it's no Beowulf!

TBQ: It's no Green Eggs and Ham either.

B & G: He listened, but he could not really understand all that was said among these blood drinkers. He knew only that the Queen must be stopped.

STEPH: Why the hell couldn't he understand them? He's got computers down pat!

TBQ: And it's not like Maharet didn't repeat herself ad nauseum while practically using hand puppets. I'm starting to think it's not that Thorne never got her name, but that he never paid attention. "Blah blah blah Queen blah blah blah stopped blah blah blah - Oo! All My Children!" Which, to be fair, is how most of us reacted to Maharet.

B & G: The Queen loved the blood drinker, Lestat. But even he could not turn her from disasters, so reckless was her vision, so depraved her mind.

TBQ: So pointless her ideas.

STEPH: Woo-hoo! I think someone's got a hankering for Akasha. Seems she's the best thing going for him since the Snow Hunter chicks. He's hanging on her every thought and can't get a grip on what the rest are saying.

TBQ: Thorne and Akasha sitting in a tree, D-O-I-N-G N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

STEPH: Well if you were Akasha, would you waste your time with the cloud-hugging Thornetrap?

B & G: Did the Queen truly have the Sacred Core of all blood drinkers within herself? If so, how could she be destroyed?

STEPH: But more important, could he get her name and phone number?

TBQ: Hands up - how many first-time readers are still reading by now? Uh-huh, thought so. And how many people wouldn't have even made it this far if Steph and I weren't making fun of it? Yeah, thought so.

STEPH: Hell, Iím still wondering why the hell we're here. You still with us Wiebke?

TBQ: Well I'm here because you promised me great sex.

STEPH: Again, why are we here in the back of Anneís Ford Exposition when we could be cuddled up near a warm fire and comforting each other in this time of need.

B & G: Thorne wished the Mind Gift was stronger in him, or that he had used it more often. During his long centuries of sleep, his strength had grown, but now he felt his distance and that he was weak.

TBQ: And he had a fractured pancreas, and his back just hasn't been the same since he helped Phil move into his new apartment....

STEPH: The Thornanator just ainít what he used to be. . . . And Jesus, is this guy a willy_nilly or what? Jesse and Daniel are making their stand and theyíre freaken newborns!

TBQ: Props to Thorne for recognizing that his Mind Gift wasn't strong enough for, well, anything.

B & G: But as he watched, his eyes open, as though that might help him to see,

STEPH: So close, and yet, so far. . . .

TBQ: Or was it hear? Or taste? So many organs, so many possibilities....

B & G: there came into his vision another red-haired one, the twin sister of the woman who had loved him so long ago. It astonished him, as only a twin can do.

STEPH: Would she give him her name and number, unlike her bitch sister?

TBQ: "Wait - so you're on that side of me.... but you're also on the other side of me? Whoa - hang on, let me start over."

STEPH: Too bad Mekare wasn't around when Maharet was dating him. The jokes they could have played! Laughs on end, my friend.

B & G: And Thorne came to understand that the Maker he had loved so much had lost this twin thousands of years ago.

TBQ: Because this somehow matters to the plot. [pause] What is the plot?

STEPH: Oh Christ, will you please call her Maharet already? Please! You avoid the name to build a little mystery - there is no mystery. For those of us who read the books, we *know* it's Maharet, for those who haven't read the book yet it doesn't matter. They have nothing to be in suspense about because they don't know the characters yet. Dipshit.

TBQ: No, seriously - what is the plot? Is there a plot? Am I totally insane to think books are supposed to have one?

STEPH: Yeah, it's about the adventures of Marius, didn't you read the title?

TBQ: Yeah. Blood and Gold. Two things on any troll's shopping list, but what does that do for me in terms of a plot?

STEPH: You know the saying of judging a book by itís cover? Well on the cover for the UK release, it also says The Vampire Marius. But you know, fuck the US. All we get is the innuendo of the Bottecelli painting that makes no sense in relation to the awe-inspiring Thornehead intro.

TBQ: I... I just want it to make sense. Why won't it make sense, Steph? Why?

STEPH: You have to take my hand and follow me to fairyland first, BQ. Did someone forget their fairy dust today?

TBQ: Wiebke said she'd bring it.

STEPH: She better have a mine full of the shit. Okay, onward. . .

B & G: The Evil Queen was the mistress of this disaster.

STEPH: The Dominatrix of Doom, the Princess of Peril and the Countess of Cruelty, made up her court.

TBQ: "Okay buddy, you got a mistress for this disaster you got here?"

TBQ: The Evil Queen was the mistress of this disaster, the Red Haired Twin was the Master of Ceremonies.

STEPH: And performing tonight, that Young Singer of Sagas, let's give it up for the Blood Drinker Lestat!!!

TBQ: This continues the He-Man theme of the story - we now have Evil-Lyn. Next up: David as Man at Arms.


(Man at Arms and Evil-Lyn)

STEPH: With Jesse and Maharet as Teela and She-Ra. Lestat, of course, is Skelator.


(Lestat as Skelator)

B &G: She despised the red-haired twins. She had divided them. And the lost twin came now to fulfil an ancient curse she had laid on the Evil Queen.

STEPH: And Thornehaven blushed at the mention of "feminine" issues.

TBQ: A name. My kingdom for a name. How does he eavesdrop on all this and not hear a freaking name? Except for Lestat's, of course, because he wisely had that trademarked.

B & G: As she drew closer and closer to the Queen, the lost twin thought only of destruction. She did not sit at the council table. She did not know reason or restraint.

STEPH: She was just a frenzy of fun!

TBQ: Steph?

STEPH: Huh?

TBQ: I think this narrative is destroying my very soul. Should I be worried?

STEPH: The battle is a difficult one, my love, we knew this going into it. Just remember, only half a chapter left to go, then we toss it off to Wiebke.

TBQ: Thank God. [downs scotch]

STEPH: Good thing we had that scotch infused with electrolytes.

TBQ: Are you saying I have a drinking problem?

STEPH: No, I'm saying this book is sucking the very energy from our bodies. [slams another shot]

TBQ: Okay because - you know I can quit whenever I want, right?

STEPH: Dear, you know I hate to drink alone, so get that thought right out of your head! Quit. . . pshaw!

TBQ: Well... okay then.

B & G: "We shall all die," Thorne whispered

TBQ: Amazing grasp of proper English he's got there.

STEPH: Whoa, there! Were do you get off including yourself with the real Blood Drinkers, buddy? I think the others should your body as a battery ram to rescue Khayman whenever he accidently locks himself in the bathroom and forgets where he is.

B & G: Thorne whispered in his sleep, drowsy in the snow and ice, the eternal arctic night coldly enclosing him. He did not move to join his immortal companions. But he watched. He listened. He would do so until the last moment. He could do no less.

TBQ: As opposed to those warm nights the arctic is famous for. Well that last sentence is true at least.

STEPH: This is so unnecessarily purple. We go from "Me Thorne. Me drink Blood. Me like Clouds." to this pretentious laden work of prose, punctuated at the end with the painfully obvious. And to what end? Seriously. I mean, where's the freaken end of this chapter?

TBQ: People who read our MST/reviews need to start placing bets on how long it takes us to go from snarky commentary to blatant crying and begging for mercy.

B & G: Finally, the lost twin reached her destination. She rose against the Queen. The other blood drinkers around her looked on in horror. As the two female beings struggled, as they fought as two warriors upon a battlefield, a strange vision suddenly filled Thorne's mind utterly, as though he lay in the snow and he were looking at the heavens.

STEPH: My understanding of this is that Mekare pushed Akasha, who fell and decapitated herself on a nasty piece of glass, in what amounted to a glorified version of Queen of the Hill, and one of the most anticlimactic ending in the history of English literature.

TBQ: Why am I not surprised that what really gets Thornford's attention is the girl on girl wrestling action? "Two warriors upon a battlefield" or, alternatively, "Two really pissed-off women on Maharet's shag carpeting". Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to.

STEPH: In the end it's one big Par-tay!

TBQ: Right now Thornestone's imaging them doing it in the Gift of Jell-O.

STEPH: Is this not bad enough that you need to add to the scary stuff?

TBQ: Sorry.

STEPH: Okay then. . . . don't do it again.

TBQ: [mumbles] There's always room for the Gift of Jell-O.

B & G: What he saw was a great intricate web stretching out in all directions, and caught within it many pulsing points of light. At the very centre of this web was a single vibrant flame. He knew the flame was the Queen; and he knew that the other points of light were all the other blood drinkers.

TBQ: Anne? George Bush Sr. called, he'd like his cliche back.

B & G: He himself was one of those tiny points of light. The tale of the Sacred Core was true. He could see it with his own eyes. And now came the moment for all to surrender to darkness and silence. Now came the end.

STEPH: Oh thank GOD!!!!! [pauses to note the words continuing on the page] Hey, it's a lie. . . there's more here. .. it's not the end at all! How cruel!

TBQ: But I was all ready to surrender to darkness and silence! God, just a few pages with Anne and suddenly death loses its sting.

STEPH: I think weíre all longing for the release that death will bring now.

STEPH: On an unrelated note, do you think those flames are as vibrant as the ones in ancient Rome?

TBQ: No! Only ancient Rome had the Gift of Vibrant Colors!

STEPH: Colours, get it right!

TBQ: Oh well, 'scuse me all to Hell.

STEPH: It completlely losses its meaning without the "u"!

TBQ: "The tale of the Sacred Core was true"? Do you think that means Blood and Gold is actually going to keep continuity from Queen of the Damned?

STEPH: Hard to say. The Red Haired Twins might just turn out to be two Snow Hunter Sorority chicks out doing a Doublement commercial. So who knows?

B & G: Yet it was like Ragnarok for his old gods, when the great god, Heimdall, the World Brightener, would blow his horn summoning the gods of Aiser to their final battle.

TBQ: No one will be seated during the part of the narrative where Anne throws in enough vocabulary words to make you think she did some research.

STEPH: You know though, I think only the Norse mythology ends with a huge war between good and evil. It was so unique that way.

TBQ: "It was like Ragnarok for his old gods". Except for the lack of an axe-age, a sword-age and a wolf-age and a great winter preceding it. And, contrary to popular belief, Ragnarok isn't going to be two chicks wrestling on a shag carpet so much as it's going to be a war between Giants and Gods. Oh - and all humanity dies save two, the sun and the moon are eaten and the earth will sink into the sea. But beyond that exactly like it.

STEPH: You think Heimdall could blow his horn and end our pain?

TBQ: You think we can make Two Chicks on a Shag Carpet the official title for QotD?

STEPH: Okay. .. [looks at clock] onward. . .

B & G: "And we end with a war as well," Thorne whispered in his cave. But his thoughts did not end.

STEPH: NOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooo! They have to end, they just have to! There's nothing there anyway! Let it go man!

TBQ: Well his thoughts never really started so it kind of makes it hard for them to end except in that uniquely Norse-like Zen fashion.

STEPH: I have such a headache.

TBQ: Have more scotch.

B & G: It seemed the best thing that he live no more,

STEPH: See!? Even the narrator agrees!

TBQ: Don't get my hopes up. I've - I've been burned so many times before.

STEPH: I've got another case of scotch ready for just that emergency.

TBQ: [sniffle] Thank you.

B & G: until he thought of her, his red-haired one, his Maker. He wanted so badly to see her again.

STEPH: He wanted to call her on the phone and hang up, he wanted to send pizzas to her house that she didn't order, he wanted to ring her doorbell and then run, he wanted to send over the Scientologists for shits and giggles. . . All the things he never had the courage to do. . . until it was too late. . .

TBQ: He wanted to find out what her name was, and perhaps write it down on a piece of paper so he would not forget. For Thorneldo lacked the Gift of Romance.

B & G: Why had she never told him of her lost twin? Why had she never entrusted to him the myths of which the blood drinker Lestat sang?

STEPH: Why had she never entrusted to him her name?

TBQ: Why had she never called when she so clearly told him that they'd "do lunch"?

STEPH: Why did she obtain a restraining order against him? Why?

B & G: Surely she had known the secret of the Evil Queen with her Sacred Core.

STEPH: Proper ladies do not talk about their Sacred Core in mix company, mister!

TBQ: Mom, my Sacred Core has that... not so fresh feeling.

STEPH: Sacredex - for that powder fresh feeling, right down to the core!

TBQ: Okay now I'm really grossed out.

STEPH: Sorry.

TBQ: Oh it's not your fault. I just found out how much Anne got paid for writing this.

B & G: He shifted; he stirred in his sleep. The great sprawling web had faded from his vision. But with uncommon clarity he could see the red-haired twins, spectacular women.

TBQ: Huge. . . tracks of land.

B & G: They stood side by side, these comely creatures,

TBQ: these few, these happy few, these band of brothers.

STEPH: And Gentle!Thorne in Far South now abed, shall think himself accursed he was not here; And hold his manhood cheap, while any speaks, that fought with us upon Akashaís Day! Hey, Thornebutt, this means YOU!

TBQ: We band of buggered...

B & G: the one in rags, the other in splendour. And through the eyes of the other blood drinkers he came to know that the stranger twin had slain the Queen, and had taken the Sacred Core within herself.

TBQ: If you know what I mean, and I think you do.

STEPH: I could make a Dora joke here, but it might gross you out again.

B & G: "Behold, the Queen of the Damned," said the Maker twin as she presented to the others her long-lost sister. Thorne understood her. Thorne saw the suffering in her face. But the face of the stranger twin, the Queen of the Damned, was blank.

STEPH: A reflection of Thornegardís own mind.

TBQ: I think I'm going to shed actual tears if we don't get proper names soon.

B & G: In the nights that followed the survivors of the catastrophe remained together. They told their tales to one another. And their stories filled the air like so many songs from the bards of old, sung in the mead hall. And Lestat, leaving his electric instruments for music, became once more the chronicler, making a story of the battle that would pass effortlessly into the mortal world.

TBQ: "leaving his electric instruments for music" - nice backhanded insult of Stat's ability to play there.

STEPH: Iím trying to think of a way to make a gif of the diagram that sentence would make.

TBQ: "Became once more the chronicler"? Sweetie - that all took place in the span of a few days in 1984. It's not like Stat gave up writing for a fifty-year music career. In fact his music supplimented his book. I want to introduce you to a word: "continuity". Now I know it's got a few syllables in it but I know you can handle it.

B & G: Soon the red-haired sisters moved away, seeking a hiding place where Thorne's distant eye could not find them.

TBQ: So that'd be right in front of Thorne, then.

STEPH: I don't think Thornewald is getting the hint, do you? "Leave us alone, you creep! We've already got a dead beat loser following us, do you think we need you? What? Oh, sorry Mael..."

B & G: Be still, he told himself.

STEPH: Because if there is one thing old Thornemartin is known for, it's his constant movement and activity.

TBQ: Be quiet, the readers told him. Thorneian, buddy! Sit down for God's sake! Have a glass of water! Catch your breath!

B & G: Forget the things that you have seen. There is no reason for you to rise from the ice, any more than there ever was. Sleep is your friend. Dreams are your unwelcome guests.

STEPH: Think of clouds. Clouds are good. Clouds live in the happy place. . .

TBQ: Fantasies those door to door salesmen who won't leave even after you swear you've already got a subscription to Life.

B & G: Lie quiet and you will lapse back into peace again. Be like the god Heimdall before the battle call, so still that you can hear the wool grow on the backs of sheep, and the grass grow far away in the land where the snow melts.

STEPH: Oh my God.

TBQ: Don't you mean "Oh my God Heimdall"?

STEPH: No, actually 'omigod' after Meredith in A Density of Souls.

TBQ: Land where the snow melts? Is that the Far South?

STEPH: No, I think it's actually the Near West.

TBQ: Next year I plan to visit the moderately-distanced East.

STEPH: Is that near the dead-center North, or the just-a-hop-skip-and-a-jump South West?

TBQ: No, it's near the land where the snow stays like flakes for most of the year, then just vanishes.

STEPH: Hey, count me in for that trip!

B & G: But more visions came to him.

STEPH: Is this his punishment, or ours?

TBQ: I've lost the ability to judge.

B & G: The blood drinker Lestat brought about some new and confusing tumult in the mortal world. It was a marvellous secret from the Christian past that he bore, which he entrusted to a mortal girl.

TBQ: Blah blah blah complete redefinition of God and the universe as we know it blah blah blah blah... Which, again to be fair, was also how many of us read Memnoch

STEPH: I'm sorry. . . I just want to cry right now. It hurts. . . it hurts so bad. . .

TBQ: I'm here for you.

STEPH: [cuddles with BQ] Okay. .. I'm gonna try to go on now. . .

B & G: There would never be any peace for this one called Lestat. He was like one of Thorne's people, like one of the warriors of Thorne's time.

TBQ: Thorne's people? Is that like Jerry's Kids? For just seven cents a day you can help one of Thorne's People.

STEPH: Is he trying to say that his sorry "be still" ass is even remotely like Lestat? Whoa, someone is living vicariously, isn't he?

TBQ: If the warriors of Thorne's time were anything like Thorne, it's no wonder they're not currently ruling the world. "Yeah, well we would have fought in that battle except Ator here had the Gift of Nachos and we figured somebody should eat them."

B & G: Thorne watched as once again, his red_haired one appeared, his lovely Maker, her eyes red with mortal blood as always, and finely glad and full of authority and power, and this time come to bind the unhappy blood drinker Lestat in chains.

TBQ: "Finely glad"? As opposed to broadly glad? Anne, honey, you've got to put the adverbs down.

STEPH: Maybe "Maker" is just a misspelling of Mekare. I think we can make a good argument that Maharet wouldn't have given him her own name, and since sis wasn't around. . .

TBQ: And Stat's name just keeps getting longer and longer, doesn't it? First it was all "the blood drinker Lestat" now it's "the unhappy blood drinker Lestat". What next? "the unhappy blond-haired Republican blood drinker Lestat"?

B & G: Chains that could bind such a powerful one?

STEPH: Well, don't that beat all, huh Thornemaker?

TBQ: Thornegold now plays the part of the readers by asking this question, but with one crucial difference: the readers have since moved on with their lives.

B & G: Thorne pondered it.

STEPH: I have no comment, I think this stands on it's own.

TBQ: "Hmm, chains. I wonder how - look! A bunny!"

B & G: What chains could accomplish this, he wondered. It seemed that he had to know the answer to this question. And he saw his red-haired one sitting patiently by while the blood drinker Lestat, bound and helpless, fought and raved but could not get free.

TBQ: It - it's just Lestat! God! Is Anne getting paid by the word or something?

STEPH: Actually, I think the last line may have been swiped from Ethan Hawks' character in Dead Poets Society.

TBQ: And why would he have to ponder the answer to this question? He's watching the whole damn thing! That's like sitting down to watch a rerun of Cheers only to ask at the end of the half hour where the pictures were coming from!

B & G: What were they made of, these seemingly soft shaped links that held such a being? The question left Thorne no peace. And why did his red-haired Maker love Lestat and allow him to live? Why was she so quiet as the young one raved? What was it like to be bound in her chains, and close to her?

STEPH: But why didn't Thornefeld, so curious and stupid at the same time, not get off his ass and go see for himself?

TBQ: I love how entire empires have risen and fallen, plagues and natural disasters have swept the land, there were two world wars, atomic bombs, the industrial revolution, the rapid increase of technology, men landing on the moon and the one thing that's got Thornehook's attention is the chains.

STEPH: Which are, again, laid out there right in front of him.

B & G: Memories came back to Thorne; troubling visions of his Maker when he, a mortal warrior, had first come upon her in a cave in the north land that had been his home. It had been night and he had seen her with her distaff and her spindle and her bleeding eyes.

STEPH: Guess Maharet wasn't using the ole radar that day.

TBQ: The Brothers Grimm called, they'd like five of their fairy tales back.

TBQ: Um - if Lestat is canonically as powerful as Akasha was and Maharet apparently always had the Gift of Hair That's As Strong As Aquanet, then why was fighting with Akasha even an issue? Why didn't they just tie her up?

STEPH: Well, if we're gonna make a frontal attack on the lack of logic being used here - if Thornecraven saw her making the chains, and it was, in fact, his first goddanmed impression of her, what's with this inability to comprehend the chains? "Oh! I remember now! The hair! Yeah, that's right. . . " Great to see Mater is still creating these new characters that add up to little more than a fucking waste of space.

TBQ: Yeah in the past she just settled for changing the old characters so much their names were meaningless. But now she's raised the bar and actually created a new character that's literally no different than putting in - actual blank pieces of paper in the book. Although the resemblance to Homer Simpson is amazing. "Can't fight, sleeping. Mmmm, chains....."

B & G: It had been a bitter winter, and the fire behind her seemed magical in its brightness as he stood in the snow watching her as she spun the thread as he had seen a hundred mortal women do. " / A witch," he had said aloud. / From his mind he banished this memory.

TBQ: So why'd he bring it up?

STEPH: As we try to banish this chapter from our own memory.

TBQ: Anne, sweetie? It's called the "delete" key. Computers actually allow you to do that. It's okay.

B & G: He saw her now as she guarded Lestat who had become strong like her. He saw the strange chains that bound Lestat who no longer struggled.

STEPH: Not even Lestat could fight the horror of Anne's writing any longer. Alas, all hope was lost.

TBQ: "Get me - out of - this mother-fucking - SERIES!"

STEPH: See, my theory about Daniel and the model cities is that it's a front. Yeah. Itís just a massive front to justify all the epoxy he ordered on Armandís credit card so he can glue all the books shut and save the characters some face. Armand, of course, opposes this because heís still pissed at Marius for Benji and Sybelle.

TBQ: I thought it was so he could glue Anne's fingers together along with her mouth shut.

STEPH: Well, that too. But it's a big project and Blood and Gold, as Anne informed us, is already complete and ready for release, though some may argue. He's gotta get all those copies before they get shipped out.

B & G: At last Lestat had been released.

TBQ: Having used one of those chains to strangle himself. And hands up - how many of you think Anne had this explanation when she wrote Memnoch? Uh-huh. And how many of you think she pulled it out of her ass after the five billionth "HE'S TOO STRONG FOR THAT, DIPSHIT" letter? Yeah, me too.

B & G: Gathering up the magical chains, his red_haired Maker had abandoned him and his companions. / The others were visible but she had slipped out of their visions, and slipping out from their visions, she slipped from the visions of Thorne.
:
STEPH: . . . and then slipped on a banana peel. Thorne laughed and laughed. . .

TBQ: "Served the bitch right" Thorne thought.

B & G: Once again, he vowed to continue his slumber. He opened his mind to sleep. But the nights passed one by one in his icy cave. The noise of the world was deafening and formless.

STEPH: "Words. . . WORDS. .. "

TBQ: Thorne is just seriously commited to his naptime. Ragnaroks may come and go, but Thorne will still be sleeping.

B & G: And as time passed he could not forget the sight of his long-lost one; he could not forget that she was as vital beautiful as she had ever been, and old thoughts came back to him with bitter sharpness.

STEPH: "Ouch," he thought, but still, he would not move.

TBQ: Time passed? Old thoughts? It's been what? A week?

B & G: Why had they quarrelled? Had she really ever turned her back on him? Why had he hated so much her other companions? Why had he begrudged her the wanderer blood drinkers who, discovering her and her company, adored her as all talked together of their journeys in the Blood.

TBQ: My guess about why they quarrelled? He kept screaming the wrong woman's name in bed. Just a theory.

STEPH: Journey's of the Blood? Is she really serious?

TBQ: I'm still cracking up over "adored her as all talked" because Odinn knows if Maharet's good at anything, it's shutting up every once in a while and letting someone get a word in edgewise.

STEPH: This is the same person that wrote Interview? Seriously, it's Chris, isn't it? He wrote MerriQue too, he just had to have.

TBQ: Well that would certainly explain why Thornsill never got out of the cave.

B & G: And the myths - of the Queen and the Sacred Core - would they have mattered to him? He didn't know. He had had no hunger for myths. It confused him. And he could not banish from his mind the picture of Lestat bound in those mysterious chains.

TBQ: Ladies and gentlemen of the audience - I'm just a caveman. Your myths and Cores frighten and confuse me.

STEPH: Someone kick the book, it's skipping.

TBQ: I was going to kick the book on general principle.

B & G: Memory wouldn't leave him alone.

TBQ: He was reasonably certain he'd left the oven on back in 1633.

STEPH: And until Memory learns how to behave, Thornmeister isn't gonna leave anyone else alone either!

TBQ: "Mooooom! Memory's making faces at me!"

B & G: It was the middle of winter when the sun doesn't shine at all

STEPH: When Maharet told him to stick it where the sun don't shine, Thornepacker took it rather literally.

TBQ: Well now we know where to tell Anne to stick the book.

B & G: over the ice, when he realised that sleep had left him. And he would have no further peace.

TBQ: Thornegild realized that he might actually have to stand up. Maybe even go to the bathroom.

B & G: And so he rose from the cave, and began his long walk South through the snow, taking his time as he listened to the electric voices of the world below, not certain of where he would enter it again.

STEPH: He wrote his name in the snow, and then went in search of a Snow Hunter. . .

TBQ: "The world below"? All this time Thornekern was sleeping on top of a shopping mall?

B & G: The wind blew his long thick red hair; he pulled up his fur_lined collar over his mouth, and he wiped the ice from his eyebrows. His boots were soon wet, and so he stretched out his arms, summoning the Cloud Gift without words, and began his ascent so that he might travel low over the land, listening for others of his kind, hoping to find an old one like himself, someone who might welcome him.

TBQ: Someone who might point out all the tree branches he was about to run into by flying at that height.

STEPH: It's a small coven, Thornemacher, Iím sure Maharet's warned the rest by now.

TBQ: Summoning the Cloud Gift without words - as opposed to all those other times when vampires fly by saying "Flame on!"

STEPH: What's a vampire, BQ?

TBQ: Sorry, sorry - blood drinker. You know, I just love that Thornsland here managed to learn the English language but still never once got the words "vampire" or "flying".

STEPH: Alright everyone, letís brace ourselves for that last line of pure blood and gold - Get ready!

B & G: Weary of the Mind Gift and its random messages, he wanted to hear spoken words.

TBQ: He's going to listen to Henry Rollins?

STEPH: Weary of Thorne and his Maunder Gift, Stephanie and Brat Queen escape from hell and burn the trail behind them.

TBQ: [sniff] It's over! It's finally lover! Thank you Lord!

STEPH: Now, we have one thing left for those of you that are still reading. I'm sure many of you are confused, as are we, on what this has to do with The Vampire Marius. Predictions, BQ?

TBQ: Thornwad is going to meet up with Marius, beg Marius for the story of his life, and sit there wondering how Marius uses the Ass Gift to sit on a chair, while Daniel pretends to play with model buildings in order to avoid the both of them.

STEPH: That's prety much how I see it. I'd thrown in a good ounce of the Bullshit Gift from Marius as well. And Daniel, of course, is feigning mad obsession with model cities as a matter of avoidance. I also predict that Thornebirch attempts to come between the pair and that Daniel still doesn't care.

TBQ: And somehow that will tie in with Botticelli slash.

STEPH: Well, that was a given. Any betting that Lestat will be in this book?

TBQ: Oo - tough call. The storyline begs no, but why obsess over him so much in the first chapter if he isn't? Then again, I'm acting like this book was written by a qualified author.

STEPH: Too true on both counts. I have the feeling that all we'll see from Lestat will be from Marius' perspective. Interesting potential, but given the author, not a lot of promise.

TBQ: Any last thoughts?

STEPH: I. . . I think my will to live has been sucked out.

TBQ: I know, honey, I know. Just think of poor Wiebke.

STEPH: Dear God, woman! Save yourself! We've sacrificed ourselves as a warning, for God's sake RUN!

TBQ: We love you, Wiebke!

STEPH: We'll send a care package to the trenches. Hang in there!

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