[DWJ] Re: (now with minor^Wmajor spoilers for Dark Lord of Derkholm)

deborah.dwj at suberic.net deborah.dwj at suberic.net
Sat May 6 16:43:48 EDT 2006

On Sat, 6 May 2006, minnow at belfry.org.uk wrote:
>It's somewhat reassuring that so many of the list weren't even aware that
>someone may have been raped on page 14whatever -- or may have been badly
>jostled by a mob, and terribly frightened.

I guess I don't find it reassuring.  For me it was, without
question, a gang rape, and that's an extremely violent act to be
such a minor and unoticeable moment in the book.  Gang rape,
after all, is *not* a fantasyland trope, and when it does happen
(as in the Joel Rosenberg books, which are also somewhat
metatextual riffs on fantasyland), it's usually treated as a
major traumatic event.  So it's unepexcted, and is oddly
discordant, and yet is so ... missable!

>Is it ok for Don's injuries and trauma to get a "quick fix", but terribly
>wrong for Shona's to be similarly sorted out by a dragon?

In my opinion?  Yes.  Whether it's sensible or not, society tends
to treat sexual violence as a special and more devestating form
of violence.  Dark Lord does an excellent job of addressing the
trauma of Blade being forced to fight, and I think the fact that
the soldiers rape and kill is a rather clever riff on all the
violence that usually takes place in fantasyland which we tend to
ignore.  And yet I find it doesn't work for me when illustrating
the rape of an important secondary character -- violent gang rape
of a teenaged girl -- since, unlike violence, rape is *not* so much
the fantasyland trope.  Instead of the trivialisation of the scene
increasing the horror of the attack, or parodying a world in
which such attacks are ignored, it resulted in a rape scene which
many readers here didn't even *notice*! And people here are
skilled and observant readers.

>In terms of actual pain, there is simply no
>comparison between even a comparitively minor burn and rape; second-degree
>burning over 90% of the body... really not something easily brushed aside
>and forgotten.

Pain, maybe.  But let's not rank the vileness of various
acts people can do to each other.  People on this list have been
raped, and I wouldn't be surprised if people here have been the
victims of physical abuse and assault.  They are *all* heinous,
and both can ruin a life in the write context.  Both are also
things you can recover from, in the right context. 

>("Derk felt his skin begin to boil.  His lungs went from
>sore to agonising so quickly that he could only put up the feeblest of
>shields against the blast.... He fell to the ground, trying to breathe, and
>trying not to breathe because of the pain....  Derk was writhing about in
>the cinders of the grass, blue-purple in the face and hideous red in most
>other places.... The way most of his skin had gone into yellow streaks and
>blisters made Blade hurt too in sympathy....")

This is exactly my point -- that other violent acts *are* given
enough time to show the horror, but the rape is not.

Keep in mind that I adore Dark Lord, I've recommended it to
numerous people, and I understand it's a funny book, not a
treatise on assault.  My problem isn't that it isn't a serious
treatise on rape, but that, if there's going to be a rape, it
shouldn't be *missable*.

And my other problem, I guess, is that I don't mind when injuries
to the body are magically cured, but I do mind the magical
Prozac.  Character development, for me, is about characters
learning things and growing, not about somebody else speeding up
the process for them.

Kiss my ass, I bought a boat, and I'm going out to sea.  -Lyle Lovett

More information about the Dwj mailing list