Reviews for The Cowardice of Lions
Qoheleth chapter 1 . 10/6/2013
Dear Bird:

Well, I won't say that the impact was quite the same the second time around (it never is, is it?), or that a story with an actual plot is quite as effective a use for this idea as a series of unconnected vignettes. But, even so, you have such an eye for piquant details that I'm not sorry I visited your universe again. (I particularly like the business in the lunch line, and Marco and David's discussion of Ax. The latter made me think of "Out of the Silent Planet"; remember how Ransom kept feeling uncomfortable around the hrossa until he realized that you had to think of them as animals with the souls of men, not men trapped in the bodies of animals?)

Also, maybe this is egotistical of me, but, given the relative timing of my review to "The Shapes of Our Souls" and the posting of this story, I have to ask: Is the name of David's dæmon a reference to the name of my heroine in "The Garatron Chronicles"? Or is that just an elaborate coincidence?


P.S.: Oh, by the way, there's one other thing. "Diamanta was a corn snake coiled around my arm, because she's not a dick." I can't tell whether that was meant as a joke or not, but, if it wasn't, you may want to find some other word to end the sentence with. As it stands, the Freudian associations are too conspicuous to be ignored.
Nate The Ape chapter 5 . 9/17/2013
Always enjoyable to see Tobias and Rachel spending quality time together, which is something she and Abineng need more than ever right now. So uplifting how they all just enjoyed the thrill of tearing across the meadow together, as a way of celebrating. I wonder if Rachel could ride her daemon now when he runs?
"Abi's mane streamed out behind him. His muscles flexed beneath his dark coat. I wanted to catch up with him, but I knew he wouldn't let me. That was the point. His body was for running. Mine was for eating and writing. That was what they were shaped for." Gorgeous passage.
"I had killed a boy yesterday, and here I was, smiling. What kind of person could do that? "The kind of person who can go through something terrible and still be able to smile afterward, Abi said silently. We're a murderer now, but that doesn't mean we didn't come out with some scars. That we didn't suffer. "I don't want to be the kind of person who smiles after murdering people," I said." A great part. Agree with Tobias that it shows her fortitude.
The part where Rachel lets her family know the time came for her daemon was suitably exciting, heartwarming, and just well-written, even if Rachel's recent actions tainted it for her to some degree and she had to be dishonest. "She rushed forward and folded me into a crushing hug. Caedhren flew in a joyful little circle around Abi. "What's going on?" Sara demanded. "Rachel settled, you stupid!" Jordan said. "Oh my God, Abi!" Zyanya shrieked, turning into a wolf pup and running into his legs. "My baby's all grown up," Mom said tearfully into my shoulder. My face went hot and my belly went queasy. My family thought this was a great day. Normally, I'd agree with them. I do like the way Abi is. But it was a terrible day. It was the first day of the rest of my life as a murderer." SO many feels there, BOTH good and bad ones! Liked this line: "...but when you get older you'll find that some forms are comfier than others. And then you'll find the comfiest of all." Interesting that there's no real "magic moment" when you suddenly know your daemon has found it's best form.
Cassie's part was also well done, with an almost stabbingly painful description of her remorse and guilt at the beginning. "I splashed water on my face, breathing hard, thinking of the actor who played Lincoln in the video sitting slumped in his seat, fake blood flowing from the bullet wound in his head, his dæmon dissolving in a burst of cheesy special effects. There hadn't been any blood, when David died. But he'd gone slack in my arms, just the same way, as Kirianor melted into golden hrala that was all too real." Horrifying. Now I wonder what you had Lincoln's daemon be! It was so awesome the way you had Cassie's parents react to her settling, Quincy's settling, and teaching her about vampire bats. They were SO understanding and wise! "Bats are beautiful," he said. "All those delicate bones in their wings. I just want to see." :) I feel the same way. " "Whatever you think about vampire bats, put it aside. People say all the time that pigs are dirty, but you and I know that's not true. Adolf Hitler's dæmon was a goshawk, but that doesn't make the bird itself worth any less respect. So put it all aside. Can you do that for me, Cassie?" Not only was that such a superb way of telling their daughter to be content and comfortable with Quincy's form, but a great case of integrating both universes. I can easily imagine Hitler having "Ein Huhnerhabicht" for a daemon. Ha, I've heard about how vampire bats share blood with hungry roostmates too! And I just read about how H-W and especially W-W vampires will mimic chicks to feed from hens! "So I leaned against my mother and cried, not because I hated Quincy's form or because I was ashamed, but because the world demanded so much of me, and I could give back so little." :( I often feel this way too, and it only seems to get worse as time goes on. The ceremony Cassie's parents perform with/for her and Quincy at the bat roost was deeply moving and powerful. Well written too. "Finally, Quincy spoke. "Guide me to the hearts of my enemies." Dad nodded and smiled. That was the power I had, that he'd spoken about earlier. I wasn't sure yet if I could change the hearts of my enemies. But the least I could do was come to know them, before I had to destroy them." And so it seems that Cassie is at least halfway towards coming to grips with what she and Quincy have become, and what the bat form says about them. She'll come to deal with it.
So sad to read about Marco's nightmare and how even in death, the memory of David's violating touch still persecutes and torments them. Yet it was also deeply uplifting and warmed me to see that even at two in the morning, Jake, his truest friend, is ready to be there with needed support, to spend time with him at a moment's notice without thinking twice. :)
Finally, I enjoyed the conversation between Jake, Rachel, and Cassie over David's grave, with all three of them acknowledging that even if he didn't ask to be dragged into the matter and had his life torn apart by the Yeerks, David was still a bad egg who CHOSE to become rouge and abuse the gift of morphing. So it worked both ways.
I liked how Jake realized that Elfangor was extremely lucky that none of them had David's highly self-centered, go-it-alone nature when he gave them the morphing ability.
A wonderfully written last line. Even if it did get rather heavy and disturbingly grim at times, thanks for writing this intense, well-crafted crossover fic!
Nate The Ape chapter 4 . 9/15/2013
Another masterful chapter. You certainly don't flinch from the horror of what the Animorphs have just done to David, nor the fact that even if it was a case of doing what they had to do, this horror and the memory of it will still taint them, eat at them, for the rest of their lives-and some more than others. To quote Jake, "None of this is right."
It's really sweet to see how the Animorphs and their daemons all work to comfort and support each other in the warehouse as it all hits them.
"I wanted to kill him. I wanted it so badly, after he – what he did. But now that he's dead, I don't think – I didn't really want to kill him." Wow. That's grace. Despite all that he did, I'm grateful that the Animorphs chose to treat David in death not just with prudence, but with respect and dignity. It was interesting and haunting seeing Jake and Merlyse ponder over exactly WHY David's death, as a traitor, affected them more than that of a random Controller. "But Jake, said Merlyse, what if everyone we kill is just like us?" A profound line.
"The light went out, and glass shattered across the floor. Just another broken thing in the ruin of the warehouse." Another stark bit.
You do a very effective job at conveying the pain and hysteria Cassie feels over her heinous deed and Quincy's chosen form of vampire bat. Wonderful, detailed descriptions too. "Something wrong with being a parasite, Cassie?" Ha, yep, Aftran would say that! " "I just murdered a boy and now I'm settled! I've turned into a monster and this is proof!" :( :( "And if you weren't this way, you would use some other aspect of yourself as a weapon. That's what happens." Very insightful and bluntly honest.
I don't really know what to say about Marco's portion, except that these lines made a particularly big impact: ""No idea where he might be?"Nope, no idea, I thought. You see, I'm not sure if I believe in hell. "No. He just… talked. That's all." And: "Really, I thought, I owe Rachel. We all do. I'm not sure any of us could have done what she did. I'm not sure I would have made it quick. It was more than he deserved, Dia said. But it's not about him. It's about us. We're the survivors, after all." And finally: "She must wonder if this is a special form for psychos and murderers. I had the sudden impulse to tell Rachel that she wasn't a psycho." Damn, what a kick to the feels that was.
Speaking of which, great job with portraying the galaxy of self-loathing, horror, and other emotions whirling through Rachel's head as she tries to come to terms with directly killing David and what it has made her and Abineng into, with both girl and daemon agreeing that their mind and soul is a scary place to be-but there's no going back. "John Wilkes Booth seems like he was totally nuts, Abineng said. In my head, I laughed bitterly." You're right that a sable antelope daemon is going to make life as an Animorph rather more challenging. I'm impressed at just how well you've integrated daemons into a modern school system.
And so Rachel is walking the path toward accepting just what her settled form says about her, even if it forever brands her as a murderess. We'll see if a shaken, distressed Cassie can manage the same, no doubt.
"To stand over the grave of the boy we'd murdered." A darkly potent last line. Poor girls. :( And yes, poor David too. Now where's my cat again?
Nate The Ape chapter 3 . 9/15/2013
Holy cow, this was an incredibly emotionally intense chapter/alternate spin on the events in #22, for both the Animorphs and the reader. It was also every bit as disturbing and just plain fu*ked up too, to the point where I had to go hug my cat after re-reading this and Chapter 4.
Anyhow, on to the play-by-play.
First of all, part of me is in a way, pathetically grateful that you chose to cut out the unholy, revolting horror that is The Saddler Switch. No family should ever have to deal with that level of deception and false hope. Incredibly cruel.
Love the eerie significance of the song lyrics you chose as the header.
I enjoyed the facts about sable antelope that were included in here (many of which even I didn't know!), and it really does fit Rachel's personality to a T.
«Nice little sister you've got, Rach,» said the dog. «Her dæmon even played chase with me.» Oh s**t. I can just imagine the blood draining from Rachel's face.
The 3-way dialogue between a smug David, an oblivious Jordan, and Rachel was so amazingly well constructed and natural I have no words. Miles beyond anything I could ever churn out. Somehow it managed to be both creepy and amusing at the same time. I wonder just how big David's dog morph was?
«What's wrong, Rachel? Afraid I'll crap on your carpet?» «What's wrong, Rachel? Afraid I'll crap on your carpet?» Villain or no, I couldn't help but burst out laughing at those lines! "David bared his teeth, then licked Jordan's throat. «Use your imagination.» I stared at the shiny spot on Jordan's neck where David had licked it. I thought about his teeth so near her throat..." Jesus that was chilling.
A brilliant idea for both Cassie and Rachel to morph each other in the name of secrecy! "Maybe you made it about us and him instead of about the Yeerks. Maybe you saved us and our families from capture." OMG, I NEVER thought of it that way!
Wow. Cassie is scary brilliant and perceptive. And I do mean SCARY brilliant. I loved seeing her spit out no-nonsense, rapid-fire orders, normally the domain of her boyfriend. "But with Rachel, it's personal. She terrifies him, so he wants to terrify her. He wants to prove to himself that she doesn't really frighten him. That he can beat her." Ha, once more, I never thought of it that way!
Ah, always exciting to see Delia and Aftran again, even if it is for a terribly grim role this time. The conversation between Aftran and Cassie was so powerful and passionate and disturbing and yes, even heartwrenching that I really have nothing to say.
"Her voice broke into a ragged edge. But I don't want to live to see you become a torturer too. I cried. I pressed Quincy to my face and cried into his fur. I didn't even care that Delia the Chee was standing there watching me. I don't want to be a murderer, I thought over and over. I don't want to be worse than a murderer, Quincy replied." Oh Jesus. :( Good Jesus.
You know, it can be argued until the cows come home whether it would've been kinder to kill David outright as opposed to trapping him as a rat. "What I'm going to do – it's so terrible I can't stand it. But I think you stopped me from doing something worse." Right now at least, I think I can agree with Cassie. But goddamn, it sure sucks when both your options are equally nasty. "The next time I saw Aftran, I would be a murderer." Right in the feels, and certainly NOT in a good way.
Their plan to lead David to his own execution was sure well, uh, executed, with Ax's role being especially impressive. Liked the discussion between Rachel and Jake about just what he sees in her as a soldier. I'm glad he made sure to add the positives which set her apart and volunteer to do the the dark deed in her place.
"If I came back late from this, I wasn't going to be coming back at all. With that in mind, Abi gave my mom's dæmon, Caedhren, who was standing on the countertop, an affectionate nudge with his nose. The blue jay dæmon chirped at him." So many feels there! And I love that a blue jay is Naomi's adult formed daemon. What a perfect fit!
Dude, this plan of theirs is like a messed-up version of a Rube Goldberg machine, with nothing left out, right down to the smoke alarm and the banana slugs! That silent talk between Rachel and Abineng is haunting, and provides a whole new depth of insight into her character. "...Jake shouldn't have to feel this way. And we already do. We can handle it. God, it's fucked up, but we're the ones who can carry this weight." Nothing to say.
"Damn, but he was good at this." Yep. This entire part was so darkly fascinating to read really, sucking me in.
"This is an enemy, I told the hippo. Kill it." Even if David was an evil, rebellious, disloyal molesting prick, reading that final part still felt like being kicked in the gut. Truly horrifying and haunting, although I guess it was equally satisfying and compelling as well.
So yeah, this was a very powerful, inventive chapter and take on the solution of how to deal with David. A great job!
Nate The Ape chapter 2 . 9/12/2013
Wow. This chapter was every bit as intense and suspenseful as the events in canon.
I knocked on the door. "David, it's me, Jake. I know you're in there." Ah, if I had a quarter for every time I've heard my dad say something similar through my door as a teenager...
"I knew I was glowering because Merlyse was too, eyes flashing like shards of yellow glass." Wonderful description.
For cripes sake Jake, let the poor bas**rd sleep in a real bed for once! Hotel chains make obscene amounts of money anyway, and it's not like David and his daemon can't take care of themselves. That confrontation between her and Merlyse was gripping though.
As before, cool to see Ax's take on matters, his value of loyalty and disapproval of cowardice. The way you wrote David's relentless chase after our favorite Andalite and impending attack while Ax was utterly helpless in mid-morph, then his savage battle with Tobias-it all just had me on the edge of my seat with heart thumping! You made his fury and despair at the thought of Tobias being dead shine through strongly here.
"Get Rachel. David has done a terrible thing." Ah, those fateful, far-reaching words. I noticed by the way, that there's no confrontation between Jake and David at the latter's smashed-up house. "After what he had done, there was no chance of quarter. We were on a mission to kill him. To avenge my shorm's murder." Wow. This just got dark.
"Then, in a blur of liquid speed, David turned and attacked. He sank his teeth into the base of Ax's tail, half-severing it from his body. Ax gave a horrible cry of pain, then David closed his jaws around Ax's neck, his teeth poised to rend his head from his shoulders." That actually made me cry out "NO!" lol. Abineng is so hardcore.
" way we let this bastard walk away laughing." This part was deeply satisfying, and exactly what I thought when I read #22 for the first time.
You seem to have a knack here for making events in this fic steadily more intense and messed up as it goes on. Seeing Dia put her lessons from the daemon defense class to work against Kirianor sure was exciting and riveting. "While he was distracted, I slugged him in the face." I can't tell you how delightful this was to read, in large part because it's somehow empowering and gives you a feeling of pride to see one of the Animorphs dealing with an enemy out of morph, on his own, human, terms. But it was all for naught as David does the unthinkable. You did an amazing job of making us readers vicariously "feel" sensations and emotions of horror and disgust that no human being has actually ever felt. "...and it wouldn't be right again until he stopped touching her." Amazingly done. And of course, Marco and Diamanta clutching each other in the aftermath caused some serious feelings.
"I looked around me at all the kids shouting, giggling, running through the corridors. What kind of monsters might they become, if given the power? Why had it turned David bad, but not us? Could it corrupt one of us too? Turn us into amoral killing machines who loved nothing but violence?" A powerful, chilling segment.
You did a great job of conveying just how exhausted and shaken Rachel and the others are from the night's events...and through Abineng, her rage at Jake's distressing news.
And now a quick pause. Personally, I'm not exactly comfortable with the idea that what David did to Dia would qualify as the R word. To me, only direct, forced "contact" between two actual humans would fall under that designation.
I WILL agree though, that David's actions were extremely dangerous, totally inappropriate, and would have caused great emotional distress, to say nothing of being just plain messed up.
"It just confirmed everything Jake believed about me. That I was a bloodthirsty killer, a ravening beast that he could unleash on his enemies. But it was too late now." Another profound bit.
Epic take on the confrontation on the school lawn between Rachel and David! This part was especially bad-ass: "And there's one more thing I know that you don't. Abineng is a sable antelope. And sable antelope KILL lions." Oryx and eland also know a thing or two about that as well. Anyway, now it's officially ON!
"A tall blonde girl and her great dark antelope dæmon joined them. And none of them knew what that meant." An awesome, meaningful last line for this chapter.
Nate The Ape chapter 1 . 9/12/2013
And here, for better or worse, is the horrifying David trilogy. My thoughts: Always amusing to read something from Marco's POV. I laughed at T'Shondra's "You're a pig, Marco." Interesting to see how Dia is really tending towards snake forms.
"Grand Theft Blue Box didn't go so well." Another lol-worthy line. Interesting to see Marco having a "what might have been," monolouge. "-but from my perspective, it was super freaky to be clawed by a dæmon." I can imagine. "The Animorphs, brought low by a kid with a baseball bat. We are so lame." Just reading that again is making me LMAO!
I enjoyed seeing the debate over what to do with a newly rescued David from Ax's perspective. Quite touching how he felt here about being in the presence of something his brother had once owned.
And I deeply enjoyed seeing Peter/Mirazai interacting with his son and David here. The little details of his life, like a fondness for the X Files, develop him so well. Poor Kirianor. :( Through her you can see David's heartbreak and loneliness and helpless confusion all too clearly.
"Good thing I'm a light sleeper these days." Another great-and apt-line to me. Interesting tactic of using disheveled fur or feathers on Kirianor to display just how traumatized David truly is about his parents.
Enjoyed seeing Cassie and David interacting together at the Gardens, and their respective/cultural views on animals as he acquires the male lion. (The idea of someone being able to acquire a morph through their daemon is mind-blowing and inventive btw!) I must admit, if I had the ability to morph, I'd definitely acquire a lion as a battle morph too.
"There are many, many ways to be tired, and as an Animorph, I've come to learn them all.
There's the zombie kind of tired, where your brain shuts off but your body keeps on going. There's painful exhaustion, where the effort to keep going is so great that your entire body hurts and your head feels like it's on fire. There's apathetic tiredness, where your brain and body work but your emotions are burned out, and you can't feel anything anymore. Right now, I was giggly-tired. I was delirious with it." This. That is an amazing, well done piece of writing.
Sweet to see her looking after and trying to support him. Great to see that at least someone had the presence of mind to think of keeping him with the Chee.
"He was scared – he'd have been crazy not to be scared – but he faced down the scariest things he'd ever seen in his life, to protect you. The way his dæmon went after those Hork-Bajir – he'd do anything for you. And I bet if he knew you were fighting the Yeerks, he'd be proud. He'd be glad to know his son would do the same thing for him." Right. In. The. Feels. :(
"But under these circumstances, what choices will he make?" Such an ominous and tragic line.
A great first chapter!
Phoebe Sophia chapter 1 . 6/25/2013
This and all your other animorphs/his dark materials pieces (and everything else you write) are just so incredible and painfully perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. I love them, and you are such a wonderful writer. I just have no words to express how amazing these all are.
Bluefire Eternal chapter 3 . 12/16/2012
Why did this have only one review while the crappy self-inserts have so many? WHY!? I love how you gave the Animorphs' souls voices of their own and are completely changing their characters by forcing them to look again at their actions. Cassie was always my least favorite for taking a 'high' road that almost always made everything worse (like letting Tom get his hands on the morphing cube), but your Cassie... WOW!
Reader chapter 5 . 12/2/2012
Wow! I just read through your whole Dæmorphing series in one go and I still want more! This series was fantastic. I was initially hesitant because it seemed like a weird crossover but you have done an incredible job of blending the two realities. In previous stories, the parts where you integrated stories and perception of Dust in with the various alien species (especially the Hork-Bajir being able to actually see Dust) was a nice blend. I also love what you have done with everyone's daemons- including reflecting some of the ideas in His Dark Materials, such as idea that daemons will settle for something that reflects who a person really is, regardless of what they want their daemon to be.

The part of your stories which I found the best was how you treated the issues of morality particularly regarding necessary evil and the perceptions that the characters held regarding both war in general and their own action. I loved seeing the character transformation that Cassie underwent in both this story and "Seeing in Colour" as well as the alternative solution for Aftran. This story in particular did an excellent job in dealing with David and having the characters make an subsequently deal with the consequences of an adult choice.

Your stories have a great narrative structure similar in tone to the books and you have done an excellent job of keeping everyone in character.

In summary, please keep writing more installments to your Dæmorphing series!