So who wants an abrupt flashback to the villain’s childhood? No? Well too bad, because we’re getting one!
Charles (Augustus Milverton), who we now know to be the brains behind the hostage crisis, was born in England near the border with Scotland. As ever when Walsh tries to write from a viewpoint he isn’t familiar with, Charles’ description of this doesn’t come across as particularly well informed. To put it mildly.
The Borders, with the heathen Scots just a stone’s throw away.
“Quick, what do I know about England? They’ve got, like, two different kinds of Christianity over there, and they…. fight over it? England and Scotland fight over it? Wait am I thinking of Northern ireland? Well fuck it they’re basically the same”
Although sometimes, standing here, near Hadrian’s Wall, he could feel himself as one with the Romans and their Anglo-Saxon successors, nervously eyeing the Picts to the north, spears and shields at the ready.
“Okay okay, don’t panic. Let’s think back to history. There were, like, Romans and shit in England. And… something about a wall? Okay good we’ll go with that”
The only son, the eldest child, with one sister, so beautiful, so weak, so helpless in the face of Fate.
Yes, Charles has a Tragic Little Sister.
We later discover she died in agony of a ruptured appendix due to their father’s negligence. Between this and Devlin’s borderline-creepy hero worship of his mother, we sure are putting a lot of women on pedestals in this book (it gets worse).
After this Charles has a big racist rant about how Islam is conquering Europe and there are mosques in Newcastle and Leeds and the civilized white men have been forced out of Africa, good heavens. Now, you may think that putting these views in the mouth of his villain is Walsh trying to repudiate them in some way, but just wait until later in the book. I think he’s playing a shell game with us here.
It must also be said that the opinions Charles expresses are not cartoonish, villainous parodies of modern white supremacist rhetoric but are in fact 100% authentic white supremacist rhetoric, possibly as though they were written by someone intimately familiar with white supremacist rhetoric. Contrast this with opinions we know for a fact Walsh disagrees with, all of which are twisted into laughable strawmen. It kind of makes you wonder why Walsh can’t or won’t present a pro-choice or anti-gun or pacifist viewpoint accurately, but is 100% factual with the talking points of European racists.
And that was the flaw in his father’s belief: that he could stand there, watching the oncoming blue-painted Picts and Celts, bones in their noses and the flesh of their enemies between their teeth, with equanimity, and see souls to be saved.
Anyone remember Robbie’s “cannibals and missionaries” game from a while back? Seems mighty similar, doesn’t it?
The actual point of all of this is that Charles joined the SAS to fight “England’s enemies” (who as far as I can tell consist of basically everyone), then grew disillusioned after a botched operation against the IRA and went into the private sector. The private racist mercenary sector, which as we all know is a booming market. He’s heading up the terrorist attack as part of an elaborate anti-Muslim scheme that will be more fully explained later, tricking the terrorists into thinking he’s a double agent on their side when in reality he’s a triple agent working for…. he’s screwing over the terrorists, let’s just leave it at that for now.
Remember last post, when poor innocent Emma was being molested by that dirty, filthy Muslim (but Charles is the racist no really)? Well, Charles overhears her screaming and decides to risk breaking his cover to save her, because he can’t abide a young girl in peril. Because of his sister. His younger sister who died tragically from an illness. Just in case you couldn’t tell, I better point that out. That’s his character motivation. His sister died. And now he wants to protect Emma. Because of his sister. Wait let me make a diagram:
Charles manages to pull the dirty, ugly, filthy Muslim off of the pure virginal white American girl (but he’s the real racist no honest), just as Hope arrives with her maternal superpowers.
With her children in danger, Hope Gardner was Superwoman.
Yeah, you thought I was joking about that, didn’t you.
The man carrying Emma was wearing a suit. He wasn’t one of them.
Yeah! Those filthy, backward Muslims don’t wear suits! But remember, Charles is the racist one here.
Anyway Charles finds Hope skulking around and shoves her into the gym.
In the next chapter we shift back over to the techno-porn masturbation fantasy that Devlin is inhabiting. There’s lots of descriptions of the type of sniper rifle that Devlin is using, which I’ll skip over because I’m assuming no one cares.
Even at that distance, the target’s head would atomize,
I think you might be engaging in a slight amount of hyperbole there. Walsh seems to like the word “atomize” by the way, as it comes up in several spots, all of them nonsensical.
While Devlin is lining up his sniper shot the President makes some public remarks about how America is a pluralistic society and he welcomes inter-faith dialogue, which obviously means he’s a craven cheese-eating surrender monkey. Grace and Rory come out with Drusovic, Grace wired with explosives, and Devlin hesitates despite his team’s urging to fire.
“But the rest live. I make that trade any day.” The memories were raging in his head. Of a little boy having to watch his mother die.
You see, Devlin watched his mother being murdered, so he doesn’t want to take the shot, because then Rory will see his mother being murdered (well actually he’ll probably be dead because he’s standing right next to a live bomb), which makes him hesitate. Because of the mothers. His mother, and also Rory’s mother, you see, the situation is analogous, because, wait let me get out another diagram:
Okay now that everyone is on the same page, Rory uses his newly awakened masculinity to attack Drusovic. Miraculously this works, and Devlin and his team spring into action.
“I am the Angel of Death,” he muttered, and fired.
Yes, really. “I am the Angel of Death”. Incidentally Devlin’s sniper rifle appears to possess supernatural abilities:
It was immediately followed by Devlin’s second shot, which bisected the terrorist at the computer in the gym, obliterated the machine, punched through the rear wall of the school, demolished the windshield of a parked car, ricocheted, and killed a cow a half-mile away.
Sniper rifles are powerful, but they’re not that powerful.
Devlin shoots down Charles’ departing escape helicopter only to realize he’s not on board and it was all a setup; the school explodes just as all the parents and reporters are rushing into it, but Devlin manages to save Rory by hiding in a metal dumpster.
But forget the possibly dead kids (about which more in later chapters), Devlin’s been made! His identity is out, and Seelye will be coming for him now! For some reason! He has to go on the run and go rogue! I think? I’ve read the whole book and I still don’t really get why Devlin reacts so badly; in the next chapter he jets off to meet the president without much worry.
I’m basically going to skip over chapter 22; it doesn’t consist of a whole lot apart from good ol’ President Jeb flipping out and doing damage control, and Devlin sends a message being pissy. General Seelye also insists that the operation was a complete success because they managed to take out the bad guys and rescue most of the kids; the fact that the school subsequently exploded and the fate of some of the hostages is in doubt (Hope’s husband, who ran into the building just before the bombs went off, is confirmed to be dead) is apparently not all that relevant. Tyler is once again painted as a buffoon for not agreeing with this, even though Seelye’s reasoning seems extremely shaky to me. Now, yes, Tyler’s priorities are still shallow and selfish, but he’s got a fair point all the same.
Chapter 23 is another Skorzeny one, with out favourite European villain feeling hard done by because the woman he met in Paris in his previous appearance (Amanda Harrington) departed quickly. Most of the chapter is a lot of vague conversations where Skorzeny and his lacky allude to their sinister plot and the Edwardsville hostage crisis without ever giving any substantial details on either. We also learn that Skorzeny is another one of those evil Muslim-hating racists:
The great cathedrals of France are mere tourist attractions now. Soon enough, they’ll be nothing but tributes to the nihilistic abyss of infinity. Or mosques.”
It sure is a good thing Charles and Skorzeny are here to show us all what real racism looks like!