Mordor She Wrote

November 7, 2010 in Character & Plot Analysis, Dead in the Family - Book 10, Dead Reckoning - Book 11, Guest Posts

A LESSON IN VAMPIRE POLITICS – PART II

To review, we learned previously that Sookie should avoid Texas like the plague, Wright is wrong, Fredya might be a key member in the Alliance, and the Ewoks’ empire toppling services won’t be available this go round.


Indeed.

Picking up where I left off last time, I suggested war is the only option for Eric and friends in their attempt to pry the fingers of the Nevada regime from Louisiana. With that in mind, let us examine on a more technical scale the machinations of the vampire political system from the material we have encountered thus far and what drastic measures could be incorporated into the future plot.

How does this Vampocracy thing work from the top down? So far as it can be discerned, the natural order of rule by title of position inside the kingdom goes like this:

Kings and Queens – Russell Edgington, Felipe De Castro, Freyda
Royal Deputies – Victor Madden, Andre
Area Representatives – Sandy Sechrest
Sheriffs – Eric
Lieutenants – Pam
“Investigators” – Bill
Vassals – Thalia

The Kings and Queens are the absolute sovereigns of their domain and are also sometimes the Sheriff of the area they inhabit, ie. Sophie-Anne was the Sheriff of Area 1 in addition to being Queen of the entire state of Louisiana.

The Royal Deputies hold position over the Sheriffs, but do not decide policy independent of their sovereigns unless ordered to do so.**

**I mention this because I want to point out that Victor Madden has not been given the title of King, but rather is stuck as a Royal Deputy.. which I believe is a crucial fact, in so much as we should remember that Felipe De Castro is King of Louisiana and Arkansas (and Nevada).

The Sheriffs answer to the King or Queen, and their Lieutenants act on their behalf with other Sheriffs.

Investigators seduce pretty young girls and maintain databases. High proficiency in stalker skills required. K, investigators probably do something if they actually exist but beyond Bill’s penis envy and need to look more impressive in front of Sookie, they are irrelevant to the plot at this point.

And Vassals, well.. they probably grovel most of the time.


NOT ALL VAMPIRES ARE CREATED EQUAL

How does one become a King or Queen? It’s unlikely that there is a vote amongst the bloodsucker population, but it can’t be ruled out. As is the case with most aspects of vampire culture, the rule of order appears to be based on fear and power. And to a lesser extent, money.

But are money and influence all that is required to rise to the ranks of royalty? Perhaps not. Aside from the obvious trappings of the powerful, we also know that Sophie-Anne had unique abilities that permitted her to keep her children around, as well as communicate with them telepathically. The “vampire elite” must have some advantage over a tween vassal – whether it is age alone is questionable, and it remains to be seen if Felipe De Castro has some secret power up his sleeve that has allowed him to be so successful in expanding his power base. I’m curious to see what might be Queen Freyda’s deal as well.

But how are the Kings and Queens organized within the Clan-doms you wonder? Eric gives us a description the highest rule of law when discussing Felipe’s takeover of Louisiana:

Eric: “He took Louisana because he wasn’t frightened of SophieAnn as everyone else. He planned, and executed quickly and with precision after the governing… board… of Narayana Clan approved his plan.”

Sookie: “He had to present a plan before he moved on us?”

Eric: “That’s the way it’s done.”
(p 155)



GOVERNING…BOARD?

Consider this pause. Is Eric struggling to come up with the English equivalent of a phrase? Or is it an archaic term he doesn’t want to use in front of Sookie who may misinterpret and overreact? Or, does he not know how Narayana is run? I doubt that.

If Eric is describing a governing board as we would understand it, who is on it? All the Kings and Queens of the Clan? Or are Sheriffs involved too? Do they run on seniority of the members or just cronyism? Or is it run by special interest groups and members of the left wing media with soul corrupting agendas? Eric’s slight hesitation is a head-scratcher, it remains to be seen if there is something more here, but I think we can interpret it as Kings and Queens until proven wrong. For starters, its the simplest answer and for seconds, I do not see Kings and Queens giving up their any of their authority to elected officials, or otherwise.

In my opinion these royal vamps are royal snobs and will not give up an inch of sovereignty to anyone below them.

It’s how they roll.

Moving on, Eric tells us that the vampiric government was conceived in the Enlightenment period, paralleling the creation the US Constitution, which has to mean it bears some semblance of forward thinking logic… albeit with a huge helping of corruption and agism. Natch.

(And maybe they actually make laws instead of waiting around for the judicial system to pick up the slack? Oh snap!)

Anyway, Eric explains to Sookie and the readers that,

“At the first national meeting, about three hundred years ago, there were many disagreements.” (p 154).

He doesn’t elaborate on what those disagreements were about, but most likely they involved how the Clans would be organized and the natural order of vampire law. The allusion to that century makes me think that the Governing Board acts somewhat like a combination of the US Senate and the executive branch, while the King-Queen-Senators also act as governors of their own states. As for the Sheriffs, in relatable terms each appears to be like a US House Representative and dually a mayor of their Area.



HOWDY, SHEWIFF

With the example of Eric contacting Salome about her errant child Mickey in DD, it is evident that each Sheriff can contact another Sheriff directly and without needing to consult the head of state beforehand. Meaning, they are recognized as equals across state lines.

But how do the Sherriffs operate their affairs? Referrring once again to the information session of Chapter 7 from Dead In the Family, Sookie asks Eric for clarification on the nitty-gritty of vampire political activity.

“How does the business of – well, of Amun, say – get conducted between those biennial meetings?” There had to be stuff that came up.

“Message boards, mostly. If we have to have a face-to-face, committees of sheriffs meet, depending on the situation. If I had an argument with the vampire of another sheriff, I’d call that sheriff, and if he wasn’t ready to give me satisfaction, his lieutenant would meet with my lieutenant.” (158)

Lets take the first gem, the message boards. Isn’t that techno savvy of them?

Far be it for me to criticize the Sheriffs for using the internet as a means of communication, maybe Eric is a forum mod? The power to delete threads can be quite… tempting, heheh. But isn’t it strange that they’d use a form of communication that is hackable? Corruptible? With the prevalence of spying in the vampire political sector, some vampire computer geek must be watching those boards at all times.

Database my axe, Compton.

[Also interesting is the fact that Sam partakes in shifter business on message boards. Could this be a clue that Sam is involved behind the scenes in shifter politics? And there is also the incident in FDTW with Sandy Sechrest seeking Sam out specifically in Merlotte’s, in order to give him her business card. Why would a “nobody” shifter need that? Hmm? Churn, conspiracy theory brains! Churn!]

But back to the Sheriffs, and note this part in particular; “If we have to have a face-to-face, committees of sheriffs meet, depending on the situation.” Sheriff committees meet,… This would seem to be a different grouping to that of the ‘governing board.’ Sheriffs probably meet each other more often than not, as there is less of a chance for their communications to be intercepted.

I think we can deduce a few possibilities here. First, there are different Sheriff committees, probably allocated to specific functions (for example Budget, External Clan Policy, War Appropriations etc), and secondly, that Eric is on a committee or committees.

So where does this leave Eric in his attempts to barter within Amun for assistance with his annoying little political problem? It would seem that Eric can only appeal for aid at the committee level, if he is to get any help from Amun at all. Obviously, Eric can’t take it to the governing board – unless he wants to tip off Nevada since they are most likely represented at that level.

Besides, Eric must have loads more sheriff comrades then he does royal chums.


TO RIVENDELL, ANON!

So another thing noticed in Chapter 7 of Dead In The Family, which is quickly becoming known as the Chapter of DOOM, a summit lurks in the not so distant future - this time however without the pomp and ceremony experienced at Rhodes. Take it away, Sookie:


Sookie: “Um, okay. So the kings and queens of each state in a particular division get together to make decisions and bond – what, every two years?” …

Eric: “Yes,” he said. “Unless there’s some crisis that calls for an extra meeting.” (p 157)

And then continued a little later on:

Sookie: “And if that didn’t work?”

Eric: “We’d kick the dispute up the ladder, to the summit. In between meeting years, there’s an informal gathering, with no ceremony or celebration.” (p 158)

From this we can extrapolate the following: one, that emergency Amun meetings can be called in times of crisis and two, that there are informal summits in the off years, which means one will be popping up soon.

Say in the next six months.

ATD began at the end of September, and DITF took place in March – so around six months have passed since the last big summit in Rhodes. Based on Eric’s statement, we would therefore be looking at an informal summit in around six more months, give or take. Harris generally covers around one to two months in a novel – usually with time jumps in between books of anywhere between a few weeks to a couple of months, it’s probably reasonable to predict that we’ll see this summit come around in Book 12 or 13.

SVB or someone, please email Charlaine so she does not forget the summit is coming up on the schedule. (And no, that would not be obsessive and/or insane).

With this in mind, let us now depart into the wild area of speculation…

Uhhh I dunno, Philosoraptor. Thats why I’m asking you.


WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

If we may, let us jump to that conversation of the pretty vintage suit and the shirtless wonder in Chapter 3 of DITF, when Pam cautioned that to kill Victor without killing Felipe was too much of a gamble, while Eric on the other hand wanted to leave Felipe out of any plots if he could. Sookie reasoned that they couldn’t take the risk of NOT killing Felipe – that potential forecast is too dicey.

Unless plot developments change the current outlook, the king has to die too.



HOW TO KILL A KING

How does one decapitate or stake through the heart or burn to cinders or expose to sunlight a head of state? Especially when the obstacles are so stacked against Frodo Eric?

If they try to eliminate Nevada with the same tactics that Nevada used to overthrow Sophie-Anne’s Louisiana, Team Eric would fail. Outright fail. There is no way that Eric get enough ‘strike teams’ together no matter how much help he can receive from the outside. Mainly, in order to eliminate Felipe, Victor, and their minions they’d have to do so in three different states while still retaining the element of surprise. A typical invasion would be suicidal kamikaze tomfoolery – this regime is not weak.

But in my humble opinion, where there is a will there is a way.

So what particularly does Eric need to destroy Felipe De Castro and Victor Madden?



MONEY MONEY MONEY…MON-EY

Just how much green does Eric have? He has more than Sookie knows, I think. Combining Eric’s business acumen with what Katherine Boudreaux girlfriend Sallie said, he pays a crapload of taxes (p 241, DITF) and he should have recently inherited the remainder of Appius Livius Ocella’s estate if there was one. Connected to this, Sookie’s observation in Dead in the Family that Eric’s business was down – no reason was given though Pam once mentioned what a witch could do if they wanted to interrupt the flow of a business. Has Fangtasia been cursed? Or has the general attitude towards vamps changed in the local fangbanger populace? Or is it a great government conspiracy to keep the business repressed?

Doubtless, all of Eric’s money can’t be invested in Fangtasia. He must at least be stashing cash under the mattress or have offshore accounts some place that the US government is not able to tax. I think you can take it to the bank there is more dough…well, somewhere.



BUT WHAT TO BUY?

If money can’t buy you love, it can buy you guns. Hired guns. And pretty elven cloaks with +16 Damage Resistance.

Since vampires don’t need anything outside of themselves in order to kill we’ll leave out armor and ammunition, although some stakes and swords would be helpful. How much aid is Oklahoma willing to supply for free? How many soldiers does Freyda have? Can they sway any one else’s favor? More importantly Eric needs as much power as he can buy; bodyguards for protection from the Nevada vamps as well as assassins in order to kill them. The Britlingens cost a heap of money, can Eric afford them?

I’m quite sure this guy is available.

The shark desktop wallpaper just screams BAMF. Hey, Eric and Sookie will take any ally they can get at this point. The dude has a laser pointer, sick.



ALL HANDS ON DECK!

Oh why hello Niall, hello Eric’s Other Child. Heck, Red Rover Red Rover, send Bill Compton over!

But beyond gathering up friends and frenemies, they need a political powerhouse that will back them once they assassinate Victor Madden and Felipe De Castro. What is to prevent another hostile takeover by vamps seeking to take advantage of the chaos and the resulting leadership vacuum? In order maintain their own hold on Louisiana they need a rich ally, yes – but they need a respected and feared political ally too.

This is why Oklahoma is so important.

Compare it to the game Monopoly, (well.. with more dire consequences). If your enemy lands Park Place, you can’t let them take the other blue-property-I-can’t-remember-the-name-of. (Personally, this is why you bribe the banker to start the game, and or become the real estate agent in the first place. Yes, I play dirty – but I WIN). To hold the comparison, Eric can’t afford the blue piece on his own, but Oklahoma can help him with an under the table deal. Oklahoma can’t allow Nevada to purchase the entire board either, but if Oklahoma buys up that other blue piece, at least there won’t be a… monopoly. *shameface.* And then if Nevada trades Park Place to his friend Utah, Oklahoma will still have saved Eric from another.. illegal conglomerate.

Right, so a summary thus far of Eric’s needs: money, mercs and a political heavy weight. What else is left on the list?



A SITCH

Not the Situation,… a situation. A trap. A set of circumstances. Eric and company can’t ninja into the dragon’s den of Nevada to take out their enemies, not to mention the untold evil that sleeps there. On the other hand, Eric’s crew cannot set a trap easily themselves. Victor is not going to set foot in Fangtasia again without a small army alongside after the EPIC FAIL of Bruno Brazell, that much we can derive.

Oh Boromir. You slay me.

That’s right, you do not simply derive, drive, walk, wok, waltz, tap dance, fly, pogo-stick, rock, slip ‘n’ slide, teleport, or even take the train to Mordor.

You let Mordor come to you.

At a summit.

For Kings and Queens.

Of which Sauron Felipe De Castro is obligated to attend.

This informal summit, as we’ve already established, is on track for book 12 at the earliest. Where should this informal summit be held? The last summit was held at Rhodes, Michigan and in all likelihood they will not play host again, (unless Michigan is Amun Clan capital)? Which allies inside Amun will be in on this potential plot? Will Rasul have convinced the remaining Michigan vamps to come to Eric’s aid? What was the point of him spying there on those vamps, of all places?

I can hardly wait to learn how this all plays out. *bites on fingernails.*

This much is assured – if Felipe dies at the summit, it will send a message to other divisions not to mess with Amun.

AND if the other states so choose, they need not say who killed whom. “But no!” you say, “it would risk a Clan to Clan all out war!” Gadzooks! Possibly, but I doubt it; Narayana would only be losing a king, the state of Nevada would still be theirs to control and up for internal grabs. Hardly a reason to get their panties in a bunch, but we’ll see.



OH, AND ONE LAST NUGGET

My preemptive apologies for any waves of uncontrollable panic or fear-induced stomach lurching I may cause throughout the Sookieverse with my final thought – but really it could all be a well planned feint – what more convenient excuse could there be for Oklahoma’s Queen Freyda and her retinue to be present and accounted for at said summit, than her marriage to one of the members of the Amun Clan?

At first this seems counter intuitive, seeing as Oklahoma belongs to Zeus, not Amun. Their presence at the summit can’t be a penciled in marriage to Eric as that would send up obvious neon warning flags to Nevada. Oklahoma can be there officially on another matter though, leaving Freyda to take ‘marriage as payment’ after Felipe meets the final death.

It certainly seems plausible. Just sayin’.

Please don’t hurt me!

Well, thats all folks. I hope I’ve given everyone enough to tide them over for a while!

Until next time (if there is a next time!)…like if I’m not in the witness protection program first. Eeeeeek.


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