A Chaotic Series – All in all…

First up, a spoiler free summation.

I don’t pretend to be prophet for the high standards of the muses or anything (except for things that are objectively good & awesome, like Lord of the Rings), so my scores are more of a grading on how well the work in question aligned with my personal tastes.  Once you’ve figured out how close/far your own tastes match mine, then hopefully these scores help you make wise art consumption choices.

So, I’m giving the Children of Chaos… (what I’m calling all 3 books put together)

Why didn’t it rank a full five shells?

First I knocked off half a shell for some sexual content.  No there’s nothing explicit in here (it’s practically G-rated compared to most fan fiction).  It’s something that’s brought up as a part of life and plays roles in the plot (which is why it only counts for -1/2, gratuitousness would have been even more).  Why this bothers me at all… eh, don’t worry about it, if it doesn’t bother you, add half a shell.

The other half shell is lost for the ending.

Even though there’s nothing wrong with it.

Why?  Think again towards Lord of the Rings (major LotR spoilers approaching – but if you’re reading my blog, I assume you already know them from the books/movies).  Remember how large of an epilogue Tolkien had?  Dealing with the hobbits and shire, Aragorn’s coronation and marriage, the fate of the kingdoms, what Gandalf, Legolas, and Gimli did afterward, the fate of the elves, etc etc etc.  Not a lot of people like the excessive epilogue, but imagine a moment if Tolkien had taken just one of those endings and shown us only that (say the most important one: the scouring of the Shire).  Of course we can assume that Aragorn became king and married Arwen but… a lot of fans out there would be disappointed they didn’t get to see it.

In the same manner, the Children of Chaos (or Chaos Kids… though that sounds like a Saturday morning cartoon show), has a lot of endings it can go through.  A thorough epilogue would require a book half the size of the previous 3.  Instead, John wraps up the most pressing matter, a few other things, and ends there.  It all flows logically from the story, it’s all very appropriate to the plot, there’s nothing wrong with the ending as it is.  I just wanted… more.  There’s a lot of other questions I had, and while we can tease out some answers from the story as a whole… I would have liked to seen them.  That’s just me, I can see a lot of people being quite satisfied with the ending there is.

2 more observations:

To finish up my compare/contrast with Twilight… this trilogy also had a love triangle in it!  And I promise you that Team!Victor and Team!Colin are much more interesting and debate worthy than… those other two.

The covers are all wrong.  I mean, it’s almost comical how, if you line up the books 1-3 and then shift every cover to the right (so that book 1’s cover is on 2, 2 on 3, 3 on 1), they fit the story within more accurately than they do right now.

So yeah.  Get this series, read it, come back here and participate in the spoiler discussion.

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Seriously, don’t read the spoilers.  Once spoiled, you may as well skip book 1, and there’s a lot of great stuff in there.

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Look, I’ve ignored spoiler warnings before.  I get it.  I promise you, the book does earn it’s worth.  You won’t have to worry too much about bad endings, cheap shots, porn or gore.  The horrors and tensions within are very psychological in nature.  This does require some level of maturity to read.  And… some immaturity too.

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Ok, at least come back to this after you’ve read the first book.

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Since you didn’t listen to me.  I’m going to post my spoiler thoughts later.  Now go do your homework reading or there will be a spanking.

Here’s 1 free spoiler (the rest you’ll have to work for): If I had to sum up this series in one sentence, it would be…

“And C’thulhu’s heart grew three sizes that day.”

Now the rest of these spoilers are hidden.  And in no particular order…

–Returning first to the sex. So, the paradigms of the 4 chaos houses (which I’ll refer to by the kid names) line up delightfully well along mind/heart lines. Victor represents pure thought, Colin represents pure emotion. Quentin and Amelia represent different mixtures of the two. Fine, we can get a lot of fun essays out of it. However, that does lead to some fridge logic there at the end. Amelia’s and Victor’s interest in each other make sense when they’re still mostly human but by the end, they’ve all but obtained their true chaotic forms. Colin & Quentin I understand being interested in sex, but why Victor and Amelia? We’re told several times that the Amelia we “see” (the one who would be having sex) is just a tiny cross section of her total form. For her it must be like one of us trying to have intercourse with a tiny paper doll using our finger – it doesn’t seem like it’d work that well. Now Victor states he has the desire for procreation (though knowing Victor, this could just be his attempt to be romantic). Setting aside for a moment that I think he could easily reproduce asexually, why then Amelia? Especially considering their natures, I don’t think Victor will gain any progeny from being with Amelia. Of course, all this could just be a hint & sign of their feelings toward each other (and I am team!Victor anyway) but it seems like by story’s end, their methods of intimacy should be as alien and unlike ours as their true forms are.
–Speaking of which, I like Victor & Amelia being together, but how will that work when they get home? Will they be married (or whatever the chaotic version of it is)? Will that solidify the alliance between Victor’s & Amelia’s houses? Or will they be forced apart once they return home? This is part of the ending I really wanted to see.
–Other things I really wanted to see ending wise: We’re hinted at that Amelia will eventually go home. What then? Is when she goes home the end of the world? Is it sooner or later? Or does she go home and convince her people (and their allies) to leave the universe alone?
–A line from Colin at the end hints that the children being sent to earth might have been a xanatos gambit by the houses of Chaos all along. He says that [whatever] he does to undo the fate weapons of the gods, is something not capable by any of his paradigm unless they had also been imprisoned. So… it seems that by giving up the children, the houses of chaos have actually gained a way to defeat the gods’ ultimate weapon. It’s rather ingenious all around.
–What is Zeus’ thunderbolt, exactly? It’s apparently 1 of only 2 weapons that can ultimately hurt and/or kill the chaos beings (yes there is the whole paradigm thing, but I’m guessing that on the battlefield, the armies cover each other so well that the paradigm weapons aren’t allowed to take full effect), yet it must be more than just electricity. Part of me wonders if it’s something to do with fate, but all gods have that power. On the other hand, the only other weapon that holds such power over the chaos beings is Cupid’s bow (the power of love). So it seems that the thunderbolts of Zeus must be some kind of concept that can defeat chaos… I feel like if I knew my greek mythology better, I’d grasp this.
–Actually, I feel the need to reread this whole series with my myth encyclopedias beside me. Quite a few things I feel missing might be my own fault, not John’s. For instance, sometimes when it came to objects, I had trouble keeping track of their plot (then again, there’s a lot of plot to keep track of in these books). Like the ring of Gygax Gyges. I think I get what it does and how it works, but I lost track of why Colin was the one to wear it (other than, Victor couldn’t). While none of the 5 kids can be considered “the most powerful”, Vanity is by far their most useful member, so several times it seems like she should have been the one hidden by the ring. Likewise, the green stones throughout the series. I get what they do (I think), but forgot why they do that. What’s the source of their power?
–Some of Boreas’ rather lewd actions do make me wonder if he was sarcastically confessing there at the end. We know Hermes survived what everyone assumed was death, what makes us so sure Zeus didn’t?
–So did the north-west (or was it the north by northwest) wind and the siren get married at the end? Did Amelia officiate their wedding? I want to know!
–It comes off weird that 3 of the chaos houses appear uncaused, but Victor’s house apparently earned its way into the group? Whenever they bring up the 4 houses, Victor’s always seems like a “and zoidberg” kind of deal.
–If any more comes from this series, can we get a bit more from humans? It’s rather weird that they’re more abstract than the gods in this story except for the incident while caroling and the trucker (who rocks, btw). I do like that the gods apparently have a symbiotic relationship with humanity (I think in the gods need prayer badly trope) but exactly how could be fleshed out more. And part of me wonders: do the houses of chaos actually not care about humanity? Or just in a different way from the gods. There are some lines that could lead one to interpret that the chaos beings don’t want to destroy the world, just the gods and free humanity from their rule. Though this freedom might be in annihilation…
–Mega kudos to the writer for making every character 3 dimensional (or more, in some cases). Even Grendel, the most wretched and worst of the cast, you feel some sympathy and sorrow for at the end. Without a doubt, I’m labeling the antagonists of this series as the most well-rounded, complex, and terrifying villains I’ve seen in a long time.

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