[sticky post] It's not you, it's me.


I'm locking down LJ for a while for a number of reasons. If you don't hear from me for a while, that's why. I haven't defriended/unfriended anybody, I'm not screening people, I'm just taking a little break from public writing. As always, feel free to drop me an email, and remember that I will continue to syndicate Niko-related posts on my dreamwidth.

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But I’m A Nice Guy!


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Rich, well-dressed, fancy-car-owning, connected, white-identifying virgin Elliot Rodger described himself as a nice guy and a gentleman, and was furious with women for “rejecting” him.

He left behind an online presence like a pustulant rash, documenting his interactions with women and how they made him cry simply by existing. He describes himself as a “nice guy” and a “gentleman” while insulting -and physically assaulting- women. At one point he, in a car, smiled at two women waiting to cross the street. When they didn’t smile back, perhaps not even seeing him, he circled around and threw his coffee at them, lamenting online that it wasn’t hot enough to burn them badly. That’s the action of a nice guy and gentleman, right?

In his many, many brain leavings online he does not talk about actually approaching women. All that rejection he faced? He never asked any question, he never put himself out there. He decided to punish women for not reading his mind, for not sensing his interest, for not flocking to him and being the sexual prizes he felt he deserved. He murdered women because women did not attach themselves to his dick, unasked.

He wrote many, many times and made many videos about how much he hated women, and Black men, and Asian men. He was deeply misogynist, and deeply racist as well. He described himself as “a nice guy” but nothing in his writings, nothing in his representations of himself, can be identified as actually NICE.

There’s an awful lot of guys who identify themselves as “nice guys” with nothing backing that up. And like Rodger, they lash out at women and try to punish them for any perceived failing. They call women sluts, all women, define them as such and deride them as such… then seek to punish them when those “sluts” exercise control over their sexuality and refuse to have sex with them. There’s a lot of comments -a LOT- supporting Rodger and claiming that if some woman, some sacrificial virgin, had just TAKEN ONE FOR THE TEAM, then Rodger wouldn’t have been forced to become a spree killer. There are comments literally saying that women need to pay for their lives with sex, that a woman who does not have sex with a man deserves to be murdered.

But rape culture doesn’t exist, right?

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A Few Things I’ve Learned


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  • Despite their claims to the contrary, flossing with floss works better than using an oral irrigator (waterpik etc). It cleans your teeth better, leaves your gums healthier.
  • At-home dental products that make claims about reducing tartar mean reducing tartar of the future. They can prevent it from getting worse. They can’t do anything about existing tartar.
  • If you go ten years between teeth cleanings it’ll take more than one visit to get your super gross teeth clean. Take some ibuprofen before going in.
  • Your head has a lot of empty space in it. Not YOUR head specifically. All heads. This can make infections hard to spot. So much empty space.
  • If you have an amazon.com gift card you cannot use it on amazon.ca.
  • You cannot buy an amazon.com gift card and sent it to someone to use on amazon.ca. They are totally separate entities.
  • Shipping to Canada from the USA is pretty expensive.
  • Shopping for a new television is dizzying and terrifying.
  • Pervasive motor sounds thrumming through your home at night are ominous and hard to track down. Is it a generator? Somebody’s AC condenser (switching on in 50* weather)? Attempted communication from Beyond The Veil? Hard to tell.
  • Sometimes kids get convinced squirrels are venomous and there’s really nothing you can do to convince them otherwise.

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White Feathers & Misandry

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I’ve seen, a few times now, MRAs explaining fervently that Misandry IS TOO A REAL THING and backing that up with WOMEN FORCE MEN TO GO TO WAR!!!! and REMEMBER THE WHITE FEATHERS!!!!!!!!!!

If you’re unfamiliar with “white feathers,” they were a social tool used in England previous to and at the time of World War I to shame men who didn’t join the military. Specifically, in WWI, they were used to target men who used their money and position to evade the draft and send lower class men in their place. Men who received white feathers from women often responded by slapping or punching the women, and getting applauded for it, recounting the times lovingly in their memoirs. Women who passed out white feathers in public were often ejected from those places. Receiving a white feather may have made a dude feel bad or hurt his feelings, but it didn’t MAKE him do anything, and as a movement it wasn’t very well supported.

Meanwhile, serving in the military (assuming you survived, of course) had a lot of benefits for a man– benefits denied to a woman. There was the prestige and glory, of course. There was the financial benefits… income, pension. There was the social benefit, the way it looked good on a resume, the way it added heft to a career and made one more eligible for certain positions, including political ones. These benefits were all denied to women.

Claiming that it was misandry that consigned so many men to war, and death, during WWI is one of the most laughable things I’ve ever heard, frankly. The argument is about as persuasive as a series of wet farts. Women in England didn’t even get the right to vote until the 1930s. They weren’t politicians. They weren’t making political decisions. They were absolutely not in any position at all to make enforceable decisions about war… what wars to fight or not fight, who should fight or not fight. They weren’t even allowed to fight themselves. The best a woman could hope for was to become a nurse or disguise herself as a man and enlist… the latter, if discovered, would most likely end in being stripped of any rank, medals, and pension.

And honesty, if your best “proof” that misandry IS TOTES REAL!!!!! is something that happened literally a century ago?

When people discuss misogyny, they are discussing things that are actually happening literally right now.

It is misogyny that women overall are paid less than men for the same job, for same hours worked, for the same skillset. It is misogyny that male politicians are doubling down on the idea that women DESERVE less pay than men for the same job, same hours worked, same skillset. It is misogyny that women politicians are discussed based on their physical appearance, that they’re accused of being “too old” when male politicians much older than them are considered viable candidates. It’s misogyny that many MANY men exclude women as potential employees solely on the basis that they’re women. It’s misogyny that doctors are less likely to prescribe pain medication for women patients than for men patients. It is misogyny that medications are tested on men but not women, that there is no information on what safe dosages are for women for most medications because no studies have been done. It’s misogyny that most doctors don’t recognize the signs of a heart attack in women, don’t know how to treat a woman’s heart attack. It’s misogyny that men are lauded for “daring” to state that women are less intelligent, less capable, less able then men… especially in traditionally male fields like math, science, computer science, astronomy, and other fields that women once dominated or helped found. It is misogyny that leads to “best of” book lists and award lists featuring only male authors, that leads to male teachers smugly announcing how gosh darn it, they just don’t LIKE any female author EVER so they only deign to teach male authors because women just can’t WRITE.

It is misogyny RIGHT NOW, existing in the world RIGHT NOW, that negatively impacts my life and the life of every single woman I know. It’s misogyny that prevents women from filing claims about domestic abuse and rape because most likely nobody will believe them… not the police, not the judge if the case even makes it before a judge). IF she can convince someone to do a rape kit, and IF she doesn’t have to pay for it herself (and even if she does), in all likelihood it will languish untested for a decade or more. SHE will be put on trial and called a gold digging whore or a slut or someone out to destroy a poor man’s reputation, regardless of the fact that false rape claims make up a tiny fraction of rape claims… at the same rate as false B&E claims, false mugging claims. It’s misogyny that holds girls, minors, responsible for the sexual attention adult men inflict upon them. It’s misogyny that puts extreme limits on the clothing girls and young women can wear to school without putting limits on the way their male classmates and teachers ogle their bodies, claiming that halter tops and shorts are so distracting that men cannot learn around them… and that a man’s right to learn undistracted by female bodies is more important than a woman’s right to learn wearing the clothing she feels comfortable in, unharassed by unwanted sexual attention.

MRAs are quick to point out individual, isolated examples of “misandry,” of things that happen to some men that they know that is totally unfair. But misandry isn’t actually a real thing, because it’s not a pervasive element of society and because the people (men) affected by it are in a position of power and not marginalization.

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A few weeks ago I felt a little weird in my face area before bed. I checked myself in the mirror and my face was blotchy and swollen. I generally felt unwell and had been battling a cold so assumed it was a sinus infection. I complained about it a lot, took ibuprofin, and drank a lot of water and it passed. In retrospect, though, I think it was hives.

Last Thursday I noticed a rash on my stomach. It was faint pink and vaguely itchy. I assumed it was dry skin or possibly that I’d gotten bleach cleaning spray on my skin through my shirt while cleaning the kitchen, but it got darker and itchier and spread. Also the backs of my knees really itched, but I assumed it was just eczema. Today, one week later, it’s covering my body from the tops of my thighs to my throat/neck, and snaking its way down my arms to the insides of my elbows.

I look kind of like a mottled pink and white cheetah or something, all blotches and roseates. My soft organic cotton t-shirts feel like fine grit sandpaper on my shoulders and back. I suddenly find myself scratching fervently at various places, scratching hard enough and long enough that while I haven’t broken the skin and am not bleeding, its moist and slightly weeping. I sit on my hands to keep from scratching myself raw, and suddenly find myself scratching my butt/hips/thighs. I fold my hands together, fingers twined, and suddenly realize I have welts on my wrists and am scratching them.

I’ve been taking benedryl, which does nothing much to alleviate the itching or hives.

My big fear is that I’ve developed an allergy to one of two things:

1) Some super common food that I eat all the time like eggs or butter or wheat or coffee that will be hard for me to avoid
or
2) zinc, which I take as a supplement to address a skin condition I have (hidradenitis suppurativa) that causes me to randomly and spontaneously break out in abscesses that take f o r e v e r to heal. The zinc doesn’t CURE the skin condition, mind you. It just puts it more or less into remission until you stop taking the zinc and then it gets as bad as ever.

I have an appointment with a doctor for Tuesday. I’d been meaning to make one for a while so I could get a physical and generally get checked out, but I wanted to get new glasses ($200-400) and get my teeth taken care of (god knows how much) first.

I’m pretty nervous about seeing the doctor because I’ve had some really horrific and abusive medical experiences in the past, and the fact that I’m fat does not help at all. We’ve had insurance in place for a while now… about a month?… but I’ve held off going in to get my asthma and PCOS evaluated– as well as starting documenting my skin condition for future disability claims*– because of the incredibly negative experiences I’ve had.

(* this skin condition never gets better. There’s no treatment for it that heals it, the best you can hope for is to keep it from getting worse. It’s very common for treatments that HAD been working to suddenly stop working. It’s intensely painful and can and does affect mobility. It’s one of (the?) only skin conditions one can get SSDI for, a process that’s intensely difficult to do. I fully expect to be in increasing pain from this and potentially require a number of surgeries that remove areas of skin and under lying tissue. The fact that I’m a stay at home parent and spend most of my day in yoga pants or pyjama pants is AMAZING for my skin, as clothing that causes friction also leads to increased instances of abscesses. Yet it’s very difficult to work a job where you’re in soft, unstructured clothing all day.)

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Being Fat In The World


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(content note: discussion of body hate, disordered eating, mental health issues, harassment, etc)

What is a microagression?

A microagression is a small, non-physical act that takes a negative, hostile, insulting, etc stance toward people of lower status. The term was originally used to refer to issues of race but is also sometimes used to describe similar actions with regards to gender and gender expression, class, ability status, etc.

On December 11th, Melissa McEwan started the hashtag #fatmicroaggressions on twitter “because I was having a moment of fedupedness with people pretending that fat people’s lived experiences are not spoken about, not known.”

I started college in 1997 when I was 18 and already pretty solidly in the grips of an eating disorder. If you’d asked me about it, I would have talked about diets and willpower and how unbelievably fat I was. At the time, I was still able to shop in “normal” clothing stores and wasn’t unbelievably fat. But adults had treated me, since childhood, as a massive disgusting fatbag one snack away from imploding from my own fatness. Didn’t I know how disgusting I was? Didn’t I know how cute I’d be if I’d only lose some weight? I look back at photos of myself as a kid, and sometimes I was a little chubby and sometimes I was skinny, but I wasn’t a fat kid. But adults around me were super quick to enforce the idea that I was a fat kid and fat kids were fundamentally worth less than non-fat kids. I think a lot of that was in reaction to the fact that my mom is fat… that they were trying to stage some sort of intervention to prevent me from going down the same (constantly dieting, constantly hungry, constantly hating herself) path she was on. And I internalized that. I took it as a given that I didn’t deserve clothing that fit properly or looked good, that I didn’t deserve to sit on the nice furniture for fear of breaking it, that I didn’t deserve people to treat me well, that I shouldn’t expect to ever find a husband or have kids (neither of which I was interested in at the time) unless I was willing to be strong and use my willpower to lose weight and get skinny. Because I was just lazy and indolent, that’s all, and all I needed to do was pay attention and count calories and measure things and work out and walk just a little bit and not so fucking much.

I stopped doing ballet (and tap and jazz) because my instructor told me I’d never be able to go en pointe, I was too fat. Too bad I don’t live in Russia or I could have joined Big Ballet, made up of dancers who weigh 220 lbs and up. I stopped doing tumbling/gymnastics because the instructor refused to help me get into positions she helped the other kids get into, and responded to my complaints of physical bullying (shoves, pokes, punches, and pinches of my little tummy) with an admonition to lose some weight (I was under ten years old). My pediatrician dismissed my mom’s concerns over my recurring ear infections, bronchitis (2-3x a year), and strep throat and advised her to put me on a diet. (When I turned 20 I got a new doctor who immediately had my tonsils removed. In the ensuing 14 years I’ve had bronchitis maybe 3 times total instead of 2-3 times a year. She also, worried about my weight, put me on an anti-depressant because it tended to suppress the appetite. She completely missed the part where I was incapacitated by Depression and Anxiety, but boy did she see my stomach and decide losing weight would do the trick. She missed the obvious signs of PCOS, too.)

By my senior year of high school, I was subsisting primarily on heavily caffeinated diet sodas. They were calorie free and filled me up sloshily and gave me energy which I needed because I was taking in so few calories. They also gave me horrible headaches thanks to the artificial sweeteners, but it was worth it, because no calories! I counted calories to the extreme, measuring out teaspoons of peanut butter for sandwiches and making hot cocoa with half the amount of the mix recommended. And when I was too hungry to keep doing it, when I’d been fasting for three or four days, I’d go on a binge and eat until I hurt while hating myself the entire time. I had excruciating nightmares for years about eating, would wake up racked with guilt from eating in dreams.

At some point in college I encountered the Venus of Willendorf and, possibly somehow through that, Marilyn Wann’s website Fat!So? which was a life changer. They both started me thinking in a very fundamentally different way about my body and my place in the world. I later discovered Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size (HAES) and Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose and other blogs from the fatosphere.

I’m a lot healthier– and a lot fatter– now than I used to be. I rarely have my blood sugar drop so low I get shakey and nearly pass out. I haven’t fasted or binged in a long time. Keeping a food log can trigger incredibly unhealthy mindsets and behavior in me, but I can keep one if I need to (for instance, to be sure I’m taking in enough calories in a day). I still deal with stress by losing any inclination to eat, and sometimes realize that it’s almost bedtime and I’ve literally eaten nothing that day. I still have deep rooted problems, physical and mental, from the way people have treated me and my body for daring to exist as a fat person.

And I encounter similar problems pretty much every single day, people pre-judging me and my worth based on my size.

When I was pregnant, my first OB-GYN did not have a scale that went above 250 lbs. In order to weigh in, I had to leave his office, walk into a different office of a different doctor, and ask to use THEIR scale. I’ve had doctors fret that I was too heavy for their exam tables (I’m not). I’ve had medical staff refuse to use a larger sized blood pressure cuff (which skews my BP reading, making it register as abnormally high) or insist on using a thigh cuff (which is too big, and also gives a false reading… this time of too low). I’ve had many medical staff offer me exam gowns that were ridiculously small, because they simply don’t stock plus size gowns. When I had just delivered my child via C-Section, which is major abdominal surgery, and was still unable to feel anything from my chest down, I was expected to self-transfer from a gurney to a bed because the nurses didn’t want to touch my fat body. When I accidentally soiled myself (again, just had major abdominal surgery, had no sensation below the chest) they refused to clean me up and I lay there caked in feces for over an hour. When they DID clean me, they did an incredibly poor job. The morning nurse assumed I was simply incontinent and had regular bowel leakage because that’s just how fat people are. Medications, including birth control, are not tested on people over a certain size, resulting in fat people routinely being given the wrong dose of medication.

Every day that I leave my house I know I am going to be judged harshly by people. They are going to pull faces if I sit near them on the bus or train. They are going to be extra angry if I’m too slow crossing the street. People who see me with my kid assume I’m his aunt or nanny and not his mom. I know for a fact that I’m statistically likely to receive inferior medical care, that if I need an EMT they might stand around mocking my size instead of assisting me, or might post photos of me and insults to twitter or facebook. If I go into a grocery store, someone would feel it well within their rights to take photos of me and post them online with insults. In fact, there’s websites devoted to mocking people my size. People feel it acceptable and normal to casually insult me simply for existing, to judge me and find me wanting based solely on what they see.

I’m not going to pull that ridiculous “last acceptable prejudice” card or claim that anti-fat bias is somehow unique in the world of hatred and -isms. I’m also aware that as a white woman who usually doesn’t look obviously disabled I don’t get slammed with as much bias as other fat people in the world.

But still.

Every day I wake up and go out into a world that’s full of assholes. Every day I wake up and brace myself for absolute strangers to attack and deride me. Every day that I post something online i wait for the “lol ur fat” responses to roll in– and they frequently do.

So Melissa McEwan started this hashtag and people started posting under it. And some of it’s petty little shit like cashiers side-eying their Halloween Candy purchases and some of it’s bigger stuff like being denied birth control or having eating disorders and other medical issues go undiagnosed/untreated. And some people responded with WELL THAT ISN’T REALLY MICRO NOW IS IT.

I have 2 responses to that.

1) When you deal with toxic bullshit every single day, what should be a huge instance of hate and bias kind of sinks into a background noise. Pretty much every very fat person I know has had their medical concerns dismissed because they’re fat and “they just need to lose weight.” So on the one hand, that is (or should be) a huge fucking issue. On the other hand, it’s incredibly common. Almost every fat person I know dreads having to find a new doctor (or A doctor if they haven’t got one) because it means you’re probably going to have to shop around extensively just to find a person who treats you like a human being and not a gross sack of lipids. So a lot of the things mentioned under the hashtag? Are super huge things and not micro at all. But you know what? Those things are so common, so ubiquitous, and so many people feel they are deserved, that they just… lie there. Accepted. Acceptable.

2) It’s rare for the voices of fat people to be centered, to be heard, to be granted legitimacy. So fat folks see these kind of thing, and on twitter there’s very little barrier to entry, and suddenly… they’re entered into a conversation with other people who have Been There, who have Experienced That, who have Survived That, who Know How It Is. And the dam breaks. And all this fear and resentment and anger comes pouring out. Yes, there’s a difference between that woman on the bus who got up huffily after you sat down because your thigh touched hers and she didn’t want your gross fat cooties and the time you went to the doctor and he dismissed your questions about MS and advised you to eat more kale and lose weight, but at the same time, those exist on a spectrum of hate that affects all fat people and both are equally acceptable ways to react to fat people: with disgust, with anger that they exist, with dismissal. Just go away and don’t come back until you’re skinny.

The trolls, of course, have come out.

It’s easy to lose weight, they say. You’re just making excuses, they say. One asshole, whose entire account seemed to have been created solely to seek out and harass people who’d participated in the hash tag, tried to dismiss some of my claims. MAYBE THEY JUST SECRETLY HATE YOU.

Look.

Darling.

Sweet troll.

Precious little one.

It’s not a fucking secret.

It is socially acceptable and valid to hate people, to treat them as less than human, to consider them both worth less than thinner humans and also to consider them worthless.

That’s not a secret at all.

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A Sherlock Holmes Fan Fiction… thing? IDEK


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So apparently at one point I commenced writing a Sherlock Holmes fan fiction. I found it in my google drive while looking for Secret Chicago stuff. I have no idea where I was going with this, but it’s a big of brotherly bickering between Sherlock Holmes and his eldest brother Sherringford. What was I leading up to? Why is Sherringford wearing dark glasses? What’s happening? What’s Mycroft doing? Is this before Watson (probably)? Was I… was I going to discuss their parents here? Is this even based on the BBC tv show? I can’t remember now.

“Sherry!”
“I’ve told you, SHIRLEY, don’t call me Sherry.”
“But your name’s so long and it saves so much time!”
“It’s disrespectful.”
“It’s a nickname. It’s done out of fondness and brotherly love. How can something so tender and respectful and loving be disrespectful?”
“Because I don’t like it and you know I don’t like it. I’ve asked you to stop calling me that and you are disregarding my wishes… disrespecting them, if you will. It’s disrespectful because you are purposely doing something I dislike. Ass.”
“But it’s respectful to call me an Ass?”
“I call them as I see them, Sherlock.”
Sherlock huffed and flopped onto Sherringford’s bed, sprawled on his back.
“If you dirty my coverlet with your muddy boots, I will flog you.”
“That is an empty threat.”
“Are you willing to test me?”
Sherlock sighed and inched downward a bit, resting his heels on the foot board of the bed. Sherringford shook his head and removed his dark glasses, polishing the lenses on his special glasses cleaning cloth.
“That isn’t much better. Where is Mycroft? I thought you were tagging about after him today.”
“He’s out. He wouldn’t say where he was going.”
“I imagine he’s with a girl, then.”

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown


“The Coldest Girl in Coldtown,” by Holly Black, is one of the most perfect Vampire books I’ve ever read, and I have read a lot of vampire books.

I’ve read other stuff by Holly Black and have liked it ok, and I follow her on Twitter and Pinterest and like what she posts, but I’ve never been BLOWN AWAY by her work until this book.

The book opens with Tana waking up shoeless in a bathtub after a bangin’ party with her high school peers. Vampires exist in her world, have for centuries (millennia?) but have been publicly recognized– and an epidemic-like threat– for only a few years. Humans do stupid things, and a popular thing among teenagers in Tana’s world is to have Sundown Parties in an isolated area. She and her friends were drinking heavily in a farm house, and Tana blacked out in the tub. As she gets up and gets her bearings, she realizes it’s really late and wonders if she’s the first one up or not.

And then she hits the living room and sees just how lucky she was to crash in the bathtub, hidden from sight.

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Mirrored from Thoughtful Consumption.

Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute


“Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute,” by Jonathan L. Howard, is the 3rd book in the Johannes Cabal series, and has finally been published in the USA.

I first encountered a Johannes Cabal story in an old issue of the H. P. Lovecraft magazine. I fell in love, found another short story online, and soon had ordered the first book. I was not disappointed. Howard is a deft and skillful writer, wry, with a very solid background in the necessary allusions and tropes. While Cabal (and his motivation) remains the same throughout the stories, the books have very divergent settings and themes. The first involves a Hellish Carnival; the second is a madcap romp through steam punk and political intrigue and detectiving; and the third takes us through Lovecraft’s Dreamlands.

One thing that invariably happens while reading a Johannes Cabal story is that I start really hugely missing table top gaming with a good DM. “The Fear Institute” was no exception to this, leaving me longing our old Call of Cthulluh game.

Howard captures very well the plight of a rational man moving through an irrational world, with people he doesn’t particularly like. He weaves a tight story including non-humans, mischievous gods, creeping horrors, irritating adventurers, time travel, poets, academic rivalry, snark, and necromancy. He juggles the different threads well, weaving together a story that’s a much greater whole than its parts.

I’m eagerly awaiting the next book.

Mirrored from Thoughtful Consumption.

The Republic of Thieves


“The Republic of Thieves,” by Scott Lynch, is the 3rd book in his Gentlemen Bastards series. From the time it was first scheduled to be published to the time it was actually published, I managed to conceive a child, birth him, and celebrate 4 birthdays. Was this book worth the wait… and the numerous times I pre-ordered it only to have the pre-order cancelled?

In a word, yes.

You may note the 5 star rating and assume that I’m just a Scott Lynch fan and I’m already primed to like this book, would give it 5 stars no matter what. Without going too deep into spoiler town, I’m going to justify the 5 star review with one sentence.

We get to meet Sabetha.

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Mirrored from Thoughtful Consumption.