Friday, March 29, 2013

In the words of Monty Python...

And now, for something completely different, I thought I'd share a link to a fantastic and simple recipe for potato latkes I posted on another blog, Grandma's Recipe Books.

Around the Web

Far afield today, I find a book review at a site, The Soul is not a Smithy, I've never visited before. NSFW warning.

The Connoisseur's Guide to Sushi by Dave Lowry

This is probably the most comprehensive guide to the art of Sushi in existence today. It is filled with facts and stories and appears to be the result of many years of research (probably not onerous at all) on the subject, from a man who has also written a book about martial arts etiquette. He relates just how meticulous and particular a good Sushi chef must be, in order to properly present even the correct rice. I suspect the package I pick up in the grocery store doesn't meet these standards.

"Sushi rice has to be just glutinous enough to stick together, but with each grain retaining its own identity, kind of like kids at a junior high school dance...It should have a glowing luster (tsuya), a pleasant stickiness (nebari), and the correct taste (aji)."

Sushi has been around for about eight hundred years, give or take, in some form or another, but it's really taken off all around the world in the last twenty.

"The history of wrapped sushi rolls, or maki sushi, goes back to the vegetarian cookery that evolved in 13th-century Kyoto temples. Buddhist monks there lived lives of piety, austerity, and rigid discipline, but they were not averse to a decent meal. They created the technique of wrapping or rolling foods in sheets of dried nori seaweed."

I always run into little tidbits where my life experiences and reading cross each other in the oddest ways.  On the topic of Oshi Sushi (pressed sushi):

"The Portuguese arived in Osaka around 1545 in galleons, or bateira. Even though this method of sushi preparation existed for hundreds of years before the Portuguese ships appeared on the scene, that's where battera sushi gets its name. The molds used for making it look like the Portuguese galleons."

My wife and I have friends in Portugal, and spent time there a few years ago, so we've seen a few bateira.

Lowry has a wry humor. Wry is even part of his name:

"Several restaurants in that city (Kyoto) now claim to have been the original purveyors of the dish (battera sushi), or have the original recipe, or to be descendants of someone who was a really, really good friend of a dishwasher in the Imperial Palace, or some such."


"Much like an Andy Warhol print, commercially produced sheets of nori have two sides. Unlike the Warhol, it is possible to reliably distinguish one from the other."

I must confess, however, that I was unable to finish the entire book. I was really only looking for a guide that would help me as a sushi novice to order more confidently; I really didn't need the graduate level course. If you do, however, I highly recommend Lowry's masterpiece.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Witch World by Andre Norton

Simon Tregare is a professional soldier who has somehow gotten into trouble with some criminals, and expects to be killed very soon, so he is enjoying a last meal at leisure. He is approached at his table by a man he knows only by reputation, who claims he can extricate him permanently from the mess he's landed in, never to be tracked down by the thugs pursuing him. The key to this, of course, turns out to be a method by which he is transported to an entirely different world than ours, without any way to return. Seeing no other course of action available to him which will save his life, he consents, and is sent off to...The Witch World!
A venerable tradition in 50s and 60s science fiction, the mysterious transport to another world, it was used by Edgar Rice Burroughs in his novels of John Carter of Mars and Carson of Venus, and by John Norman in his Gor series (gotta review some of those one day), and by several others that I can recall. Sure saves on long space voyages, anyway.

Upon arrival, Simon is immediately greeted by a troop of soldiers chasing a pitiful girl dressed only in rags, across a blasted heath. What else is a classical hero to do but to defend and rescue the "princess"? He kills a couple of the men with his pistol (which amazingly still works in this world of magic), then helps the girl take refuge on a cliffside, where she demonstrates that she's not just some poor little servant wench, but has mystical powers of her own - she calls down a thunderstorm upon her pursuers. Drenched by the storm that does not pass quickly, Simon keeps her warm throughout the night with the heat of his own body. Naw, get your minds out of the gutter, this was written in the sixties, and heroes back then didn't get to have sex...ever. Well, maybe offstage after the end of the book.

Turns out the witch, whose name we don't find out until the final pages of the novel, we just call her Lady or "the witch", is one of the leaders of a nation, Estcarp, beset by enemies on all sides, and Simon will join her loyal underlings in defending his new home. The witches that rule Estcarp have special powers, to one degree or another, such as calling down storms, casting illusions, creating love potions, and possibly a few other things I've forgotten.

They only maintain their powers if they abstain from sexual activity (I told you this was the early sixties, before the sexual revolution), and one of the innovative ways their enemies neutralize them is to subject any captured witches to gang rape (again, mostly offstage and euphemistically). I'm not sure how all this actually is supposed to work. First, if they lose their powers when they have sex, how has the race survived? Did they nominate one witch in each generation to be the breeder and have lots of children? Second, I can kind of understand the bargain of giving up your magic powers as a trade for romantic love, your focus would no longer be on your magic, and the buildup of energies would be dissipated...fine. But to lose your powers as an unwilling participant? Well, maybe due to trauma, but in that case the voluntary act wouldn't or shouldn't be a disqualifier. Anyway, like much in SF and Fantasy at times, it doesn't have to make sense, it's only there so that Lady can be rescued from a "fate worse than death", anyway.

There's lots of battles and intrigue, but after decades of reading both good and bad fantasy, I'm afraid I no longer have as high an opinion of Norton's writing as I once did. There's far better stories out there, and this one just seems tired, fifty years later. I was going to re-read the whole series, but I think I'll pass now.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

Sometimes, it seems like Mercy can't go anywhere without getting into trouble. She and her mate, Adam's daughter, Jessie, decide to go out after Thanksgiving dinner for a little Black Friday shopping, and get more trouble than they bargained for. Mercy suffers a panic attack for no apparent reason (it comes to me later that it's triggered by her psychic tie with Adam), and when they have the tow truck driver drop her and Jessie at the garage, they find Gabriel and Ben have taken refuge there from a group of rogue Cantrip agents who have taken most of Adam's pack into custody.

The Cantrip deserters want Adam to assassinate for them a senator who does not agree with their agenda, and they need all the leverage they can get to force him to their will. It's obvious that there would be no better leverage than to capture Mercy and Jessie, so it is essential that they stay out of the agents' clutches. But Warren's partner, Kyle, is already being held hostage and interrogated to find out where the "girls" might hide, so Mercy sends Jessie and Gabriel off to stay with Gabriels family, and asks her half-fae friend, Tad (Zee's son) to watch over them, then she and Ben set off to free Kyle and interrogate the hostage takers. To help, she recruits the vampire, Stefan, and together they are more than a match for a handful of humans.

Mercy, who is in some strange metaphysical or metaphorical way the daughter of the Amerindian god, Coyote, gains some interesting new powers in this novel. Her mixture of using Indian magic with Christian symbols for banishing ghosts seems like a new thing in urban fantasy, unless you count Anita Blake mixing her crosses and necromantic powers, I suppose. So, the bad guys are poisoning the werewolves with silver to keep them weak, and Adam is using his alpha magic to absorb the silver into his own body. When Mercy spirit walks to be with Adam, she ends up "eating" a large quantity of silver, thereby taking it away from Adam and the pack, and giving her nothing more than an upset stomach and a few minor side effects, hardly debilitating.

When the rogue agents betray a band of mercenaries they hired to help kidnap the pack members, the mercenaries make it easy for Adam and his wolves to escape and take vengeance on their captors. But that's not the end of the story, as the money and power behind the Cantrip people belongs to a powerful vampire, who wants control of the entire country, and a return to the time when vampires were at the top of the food pyramid. So Mercy and her friends have to fight one last supernatural battle to decide the fate of America.

Good action, an interesting plot, and some neat new skills for Mercy.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Uncharted Stars by Andre Norton

Uncharted Stars is the somewhat uninspired sequel to The Zero Stone. Most of the exciting elements that were present in the first novel are missing here, and the only scene that contains a great deal of action is when Murdoc and Eet invade Waystar, the secret lair of the Guild built on a Forerunner space station in a dead sector of space. The rest of seems like Norton felt she had to finish the duo's story, but really wasn't all that excited about it.

Flush with the loot from their reward for turning over the zero stone ring to the Patrol, Murdoc and Eet have purchased a ship, and are trying to find a pilot. Somebody has blacklisted them, however, so they have to search the dregs of the spaceport to find a drug-addled delisted pilot, Rizk (risky?) to take them on the next stage of their treasure hunt. Murdoc's first trading venture doesn't go as well as he had hoped, when he is out-bargained by a more experienced trader, so he makes a quick change of plans to turn a profit after all.

But, when he returns to civilization with some beautiful and valuable greenstones, he finds out that his goods have been blacklisted as well, and he must once more turn to the seedy underside of the trade, using the knowledge of his father's Guild connections to find a less reputable buyer for his wares. While dispensing of the stones, Eet's telepathic powers alert them to a pirate raid that is about to take place on a Zacathan archaeological site on another world, so they rush off to try to warn the Zacathans, but arrive a bit too late for all except one survivor of the raid.

The thieves made off with several valuable Forerunner artifacts, including a bowl which is actually a star map containing clues to the location of the source of the zero stones and their unimaginable powers. Murdoc, Eet, Rizk and Zilwrich (the Zacathan) rush off in pursuit of the pirates and, quite improbably, are able to infiltrate Waystar and steal back the star map, so they can track down the zero stone home world.

The ending of the book contains a surprising twist, but the most surprising thing of all is that Eet and Murdoc never showed up again with further adventures. Norton must have decided to move on to newer things, though the interstellar cultures she uses as background here show up in many of her other novels.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Zero Stone by Andre Norton

I'm fairly certain that everything that possibly could be said about this book has already been said at one point in time or another, since it was written by one of the early lights of SF back in the sixties. I loved Norton's works when I was just beginning to read SF, and this book and its sequel were two of my favorites, and when I was looking for a quick light read the other night, I knew rereading them would be a treat.

So, what can I say except that The Zero Stone has it all. There are espers and mutants and alien races both current and ancient, with civilizations living and fallen. There is murder and betrayal and a birthright usurped, with thieves guilds and free traders and the Space Patrol thrown in. Blackouts at blastoff and crashes with castaways. No sex and drugs and rock and roll, but young adult novels back in those days were pretty tame, so we can't fault Norton for that.

Murdoc Jern is an apprentice to a master gem trader as the story begins. His father, whose past was somewhat shady, arranged this training for him so that he could take over the family pawn shop some day, perhaps. When an offplanet death cult selects his master for their sacrifice, he flees for his life, and after seeking sanctuary in the temple of another god, he manages to buy passage for himself offworld with a ship of Free Traders. He apparently contracts a virulent plague and is quarantined, but the traders decide to space him, instead of putting him off ship somewhere isolated, so he flees with an unlikely ally, a mutant named Eet.

After being marooned on a jungle  planet where their commandeered landing boat crashes, they encounter primitive and hungry aliens, whom they manage to evade. Then they are chased and captured by the Guild, who believe that Murdoc posseses (and indeed he does) an artifact made by the Forerunners which is the key to great power for those who unlock its secrets. Then a space patrolman lands to investigate Guild activities in the area, and is captured as well. Eet and Murdoc find a way to escape, and take the patrolman along, too.

All the way, just great out of the frying pan into the fire action. Not deep, not philosophical, just fun.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cold Magic by Kate Elliott

 I'm afraid I'm a bit late to the party here - this book has been on my to-read list for quite a while, and I just got it from the library last week. Kate Elliott has at least a dozen fantasy novels out, and this is the first I've read. One reason I mention this is that the book (and series) seems to be an alternate history historical fantasy, and I spent some time while reading it thinking about diversion points from our own history (aside from the whole magic thing) which I am sure have been thoroughly discussed on Ms. Elliot's fan sites already, so if you want the real scoop you may want to do a bit of looking around out there, but...

One thing that seems to be missing in this world is the entire back story of Judeo Christianity, as if the entire Jewish people were never a significant factor. One minor quibble with this thought is that Elliott appears to use the standard A.D. dating system when she identifies the time period when the stories take place, but there is no mention of Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church, or anything at all related in the story. The role of traders and merchants diasporically cast through the world is taken over by the Phoenicians, known to themselves as the Kena'ani, to a tribe of whom the heroine of the tale, Catherine "Cat" Hassi Barrahal, belongs.

In Elliott's own words, some of the back story:

"Two thousand years ago, the Romans and Phoenicians had battled to a standstill, and in the end the Romans kept their land empire and the Phoenicians kept their ports and traded across the seas without impediment. Over time, as the empire of the Romans weakened, the Celtic chiefs broke away one by one and restored their ancient principalities and lordships...retained many things Roman: roads, bridges, aqueducts, a calendar, laws, literacy, and the city ways and city speech of the Romans.

When, about four hundred years ago, the Persians swept across the north of Africa and conquered the trading city of Qart Hadast, many Kena'ani merchant families were forced to flee to other ports and cities...

About one hundred years after the Persian conquests, the salt plague broke out south of the Saharan Desert, when ghouls crawled up from the depths of the salt mines and in their invading hordes tore apart the empire of Mali...

A fleet from the crumbling Mali Empire sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, guided by Phoenician navigators. They reached the distant western continent, which was later named Amerike...there they met previously unknown human nations and...the venturesome trolls...

Twenty-five years ago, a young Iberian captain who called himself Camjiata rose from obscurity during one of the periodic wars between Iberia and Rome and decided that Europa would be better off if he ruled all of it...In the end the mage Houses combined with the Second Alliance to overthrow him...they imprisoned him on an island and left him to rot."

Into this maelstrom falls our heroine when she is "sold" to one of the mage Houses and married unwillingly to one of its powerful young mages, Andevai, who himself was adopted into the House when his mage powers were discovered at puberty, but who grew up a hunter in a village of peasants. She is whisked away from her family in the city Andurnam (somewhere in what we'd call Great Britain) in the midst of incipient uprisings by the workers in the area, who demand better conditions and more rights, such as Camjiata once promised them.

When she arrives at their destination, the mages discover that they have been deceived, and that Cat was offered up to them in lieu of the eldest daughter of the Barrahals, her cousin Beatrice "Bee". Beatrice is suspected to have prophetic powers, and the mages desire to bind her to themselves, so the head of the House tells Andevai he must kill Cat to dissolve the marriage and return to Andurnam to take Beatrice as his wife instead. Cat flees for her life, and encounters many interesting people and strange adventures along the route of her escape.

This is a big, complex book, which appears to merely be the beginning of a big, complex story arc of the Spiritwalker trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and will be picking up a copy of the next book at the library as soon as possible.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Dark Road Rising by P.N. Elrod

Dark Road Rising appears to be the final novel in the Vampire Files series by Elrod. There may be a novella or short story (seen on Goodreads) out there, but I'm guessing it will be a bit tough to locate. There are a number of loose ends from earlier books to be wrapped up in this novel, and for the most part they get taken care of by the end.

The New York mob thinks that Whitey Kroun is dead, killed in a car bomb attack. They send some of their top enforcers, who were friends with Kroun, down to Chicago to investigate and punish those responsible, whom they perceive to be Jack. Whitey, who survived due to the fact that he is also a vampire, would rather remain dead and get out of the mob the only way possible, but in order to save Jack's life, he has to reveal that he has survived the blast.

Jack wants to find out more from Whitey about "life" as a vampire, but we come to realize that Whitey has some serious gaps in his memory, and his knowledge of vampiric abilities is spotty, and he seems to have lost any recollection of how he became one. Whitey was a truly nasty piece of work when he was truly alive, but now as an undead he seems to be pretty decent, with a reluctance to kill in the unemotional way that made him a great mob enforcer. He drags Jack along as he tries to find out more about his past, and what he uncovers there is truly horrifying.

It seemed a little odd that Jack started out as a pretty decent guy, and remained much the same after his transformation, while Whitey began as a monster, but was much improved after death. Perhaps it had something to do with the bullet in his head which he never was able to get rid of, which also keeps him from vanishing like Jack does.

A pretty good story to close out the saga, while leaving the door open for further adventures with Jack & Bobbi in Hollywood someday.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Good Night, Mr. Holmes by Carole Nelson Douglas

I'm fairly certain that Fred Saberhagen was the first author to portray Count Dracula in a positive light, though he was soon followed by a host of others - a flood even - making vampires into sympathetic protagonists. The next may have been Susan Rice, actually, but I digress. I'm also certain that there have been many who have piggybacked upon the Sherlock Holmes mythos over the years, but Douglas may have been one of the first of the late twentieth century to do so, at least in novel form. She, at least, takes a road less traveled, yet similar to Saberhagen's in telling the tales from the point of view of Penelope Huxleigh, Irene Adler's closest confidante.

In Good Night, Mr. Holmes, we get the ladies' perspective on the tag end of the affair from A Study in Scarlet, and then the entirety of A Scandal in Bohemia, which turns out to be far less scandalous than Sir Doyle describes in his reportage. While Miss Adler does not have nearly the powers of observation we find in Mr. Holmes, she is possessed of an intellect and tenacity that serves her quite well in unraveling such small mysteries as she encounters in her travels, such as deducing the identity of the assassin who is slowly poisoning the King of Bohemia, with whose son she is carrying on a mostly innocent affair.

This tale never really rises to the level of intellectual puzzle we find in Doyle's tales, but it's an entertaining new set of eyes, exploring some lesser known figures of Holmes' times. Pick it up at your local library and enjoy an evening or two of innocent pleasure.

Monday, March 11, 2013

When Diplomacy Fails by Michael Z. Williamson

I'm sorry to say that When Diplomacy Fails is probably the least remarkable of all of Williamson's stories set in the Freehold universe. The only thing I can think of is that it's meant to be a transitional  book, getting things ready for some new, politically twisty and explosively good action in his next novel.

Shortly after successfully protecting Caron Prescot from multiple assassination attempts, earning her gratitude and, in Aramis' case a bit more, Ripple Creek gets an assignment to protect Bureau of State Minister Joy Highland as she goes on a diplomatic tour on a very troubled planet. A willful bureacrat used to getting her own way turns out to be just as challenging to protect as a headstrong young heiress, and given the sheer number of political and religious factions on Mtali there are plenty of folks who would be happy to see her dead, including some factions within the UN who see her as a threat to their candidate for the top spot in a coming election.

There are plenty of gun battles, a kidnapping, and Elke gets to blow stuff up a lot, so the action doesn't drag at all, once the stage is set. I just don't feel as if the characters were developed more thoroughly, the plot had no major twists, and I just felt as if it wasn't up to Williamson's usual standards.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Song in the Dark by P.N. Elrod

Jack has been suffering some serious ill effects from his torture by Hog Bristow, blinding headaches when he attempts to hypnotize someone, panic attacks, and other PTSD-type symptoms. He's also lost control of his feeding a couple of times (fortunately only on cattle) and has become aware of his nearly overwhelming desire to enjoy the pleasures of taking human blood instead of animals'. Charles, his best friend, and Bobbi, his girlfriend, are walking on eggshells around him, trying to help him when he won't even admit that he's got problems.

Into this situation, throw the additional complication of Gordy getting shot, and having to hide out while he recovers, putting Jack in charge of his criminal enterprise temporarily. New York has sent Whitey Kroun to Chicago to investigate the death of Hog Bristow at Jack's hands, and everyone is certain that Kroun will simply decide that Jack must "pay" for his transgression. But Jack forces himself nearly to the brink of disaster by using his hypnotic powers to convince Kroun to leave him in charge until Gordy gets well, that Hog got only what he had coming, and that he and Whitey are good friends.

The unexpected side effect of this is that Jack gains a sidekick, or so it seems, when Whitey hangs around and spends his time hanging out with Jack at his nightclub, Lady Crymsyn. Some of Gordy's henchmen aren't too thrilled with Jack's takeover, and when he steps in to stop the beating of a singer with big gambling debts, Alan Caine, he earns the enmity of the thug involved, Hoyle. Hoyle and his buddies retaliate against Jack, kidnapping him and taking him to the woods for a beating, but Jack turns the tables, and delivers his own style of beatdown, due to his vampire strength. Unfortunately, his squeamishness when it comes to killing causes him to leave the boys alive, and they continue to plague him throughout the rest of the book.

When Caine's strangled body turns up in his dressing room soon after, Jack and Whitey team up to keep the cops out of things, and to try to find out who really killed the man, who was not as popular with all the folks he owed money to as he was with the ladies, except for his ex-wife, who is on the short list of suspects, owing her many months of back-alimony.

Jack's fight against his demons, inner and outer, makes an interesting tale with a very surprising twist at the end.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Imager's Battalion by L.E. Modesitt

So, the thing this book reminds me of greatly is grinding out levels in MMOs. Quaeryt is now a subcommander in King  Bhayar's army, on the move towards the heart of Bovaria, where they will attempt to defeat the Kharst's forces. He continues to try to improve the skills of his small band of imagers along the way, and they fight in small skirmishes against ambushing forces, for the most part, until near the end of the campaign, when Quaryt and his band may be required to sacrifice everything for the sake of Telaryn.

Quaeryt's marriage to Bhayar's sister, Vaelora, continues happily along, despite their separation. She must remain behind in the capital city, Solis, with Bhayar's wife, Aelina, to keep the High Holders and Bhayar's ministers from building their own empires while the king is in the field with his armies. He and Vaelora keep in touch by letter, discussing obliquely all matters political, and not so obliquely their love for one another. The political gamesmanship goes on in the field as well, when the field marshall in charge of the army and his cronies try to put Quaeryt's battalion in harm's way as much as possible, hoping to rid themselves of one who has so much influence with Bhayar.

Not the most inspired novel in the series, but a necessary novel to get Quaeryt where Modesitt wants him, I suppose.

Monday, March 4, 2013

New Zealand's North Island by Lonely Planet

 So, it's a little difficult to review a travel guide. You really won't know how good it is until you're in the middle of your trip and find out how helpful it really was. I'll be able to supply some feedback on that in July sometime. As travel guides go, however, I think this one stacks up pretty well, though my favorites are usually Rick Steeves' guides to Europe.

Lonely Planet's guides seem to be written for a younger, hipper crowd than for a middle-aged fellow like myself. As my wife will tell you, though, I'm so that I really enjoy finding a guide that focuses on the lower end of the lodging scale, with lots of hostels, B&Bs and campgrounds listed, and not so many five star hotels. I probably won't feel bold enough to get into the radical adventure touring they feature at times, but a few excursions, like rappelling down into a cave and rafting through glow worm lit passages sounded intriguing.

The time of year we're going, winter in New Zealand, probably won't be ideal for tramping (hiking) or sunning ourselves on beaches or surfing the breaks, but we do love the coastline, and will probably spend plenty of time there, as well as visiting as many hot springs as possible. Plenty of winery tours are listed, so that should keep us occupied for a while.

One of the great things in all modern travel guides is the abundance of web sites listed, which I'm bookmarking like crazy. The only downside to this guide is that I found the maps to be a little short on detail - it really needs a larger map tucked into a pocket in back, for the big picture and overall itinerary development.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Cold Streets by P.N. Elrod

It all starts with a kidnapping. A group of thugs kidnap the mentally handicapped daughter of a society matron, so Escott and Jack ride to the rescue. Jack uses his ability to ride along unseen in the vehicle that picks up the ransom money to track the kidnappers' gang back to the farmhouse where they are holding he girl, incapacitates the men, then hauls them off to the police station, hypnotized into giving full confessions, and takes the girl home to her mother. Joy all the way around.

Except that the ringleader of the kidnappers is a sociopath, and there are two categories of people upon whom Jack's hypnotic talents fail to work - drunks and crazies. So with the help of some sleazy lawyers and loyal friends, the leader, Dugan, gets bailed out of jail and appears to be on the road to acquital. Jack and Escott won't tolerate this, so a good deal of the novel is spent trying to send Dugan to jail instead of letting him expose Jack as a vampire - he wasn't hypnotized, and he remembers everything he saw.

On the gangland side of things, the bosses in New York are a little worried about revenues being down in Chicago, so they send one of their more brutal bosses, Hog Bristol, down to find out why, and to take over the territory from Gordy if he doesn't get satisfactory answers. Of course, Hog's a jerk, and nothing Gordy says will stop him from taking over Chicago. When either Hog or one of his men guns Gordy down in the street, Jack ends up taking over Gordy's operation temporarily to keep a New York takeover at bay.

It all ends up in a brutal scene after Jack is caught unaware by Bristol and his men, while he's chatting with a now captive Dugan. Again, I ask how in the world a vampire whose hearing is so acute he can eavesdrop on conversations across the room, and hear the changes in the heart rate of a blackjack dealer can let three goons get the drop on him. In the end, to escape the slaughterhouse where Bristol takes Jack to be tortured, Jack has to slip over the edge into madness for a time. We'll see in the next book if he's able to ever recover from his ordeal and what he had to do to survive.