melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
melannen ([personal profile] melannen) wrote2016-09-14 06:49 pm
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Rivers of London

So in other news, I have been reading all of the Rivers of London fic lately. (I am somewhere between step five and step eight, given the vagaries of fandom.)

(It started with giving in and reading Wizardry by Consent because I am so there for any pairing that is "effectively immortal, super competent person who is starting to lose their footing in the world / middle-aged vanilla mortal with a rock-solid certainty of who they are but still ready for a little wonder in their life." Unfortunately this is not quite the dynamic in canon but I guess it was close enough. Also I have already read all the Three/Brig and Joe/Methos in the world so it wasn't like I could go elsewhere.

Also! A story about police that is fundamentally critical of policing-as-practiced and is all about community policing and oversight and restorative justice sort of stuff! I have been unable to read in most of the classic buddy-cop fandoms lately because of discomfort with narrative glorification of the system that doesn't address its glaring problems, but this story worked.)

But, anyway, I moved on from that one and am now busy reading all the rest of the fanfic, but I ran out of novel-length ones already so I just got the first volume of canon out from the library. Before I started reading it, I thought I would try to summarize what I have learned via osmosis. For science.

Constable Peter Grant is ghost-hunting in London when a posh white guy tries to pick him up, after which it is revealed that he is not just looking for a slightly ethnic younger boyfriend, he is also with the police: Inspector Thomas Nightingale, head of the police division that handles the magical community, and also a traumatized WWII vet quasi-immortal who is the Last Official Wizard In Britain, aka The Nightingale.

They go ghost-hunting together and at some point it is agreed that Peter will become his wizard apprentice, because the magic is coming back after declining after the War. Peter will not call him "Master" but they do move in together and adopt a dog.

There is also a housekeeper named Molly who is great, does not talk, has pointy teeth and is indescribable. Most of the normal police don't like the magic police very much.

The ghost turns out to be a murderous revenant who is possessing people and killing them. At some point, it possesses Peter's co-worker Lesley and her faces gets melted off. And some point after that, Peter accidentally teaches her magic and she also become Thomas's apprentice. The ghosts kills a bunch more people, and attempts to cause or actually causes a riot at Covent Garden. Peter somehow gets trapped in an underground passage with the waters rising and has a vision where the revenant turns out to be Mr. Punch from Punch and Judy and he somehow traps it under the river at the founding of London.

Thomas rescues him and it's all very touching.

The Rivers of London, by the way, are personified as a family of British-West African women who may or may not be goddesses. Presumably they get involved in this somehow since the book was named after them? Also at some point Thomas and Peter get Mama Thames (who is in charge of the tidaol waters) and Father Thames (who is in charge of the upstream waters) talking to each other again for the first time in a v. long time. Possibly it happens in here somewhere, it felt early.

At some point Thomas also gets badly injured and it is all very h/c but I'm not sure where it all fits. Also at some point we reveal the backstory where the Nazi wizards were doing very nasty things in the 1940s and Thomas wanted to nuke the lab from orbit just to be sure but his superiors insisted on a ground assault which resulted in nearly all the English wizards getting killed and nearly all the others getting so traumatized that they quit so by the 60s it was just Thomas getting older and mourning all his friends and then he magically started aging backwards and doesn't know why and it's very whumpfic basically.

David Mellenby is important somehow. He was a wizard and was either evil or Thomas's boyfriend or doing science with magic or all three, but he died too. Unless he didn't and Thomas only thought he was dead.

Anyway the next two storylines are about jazz vampires and a tree spirit who lives on the green roof of a skyscraper. I think the jazz vampires come next but I could have them backwards.

These are ladies Thomas's age who suck the magic out of jazz musicians but are not actually evil, and I think they possibly target Peter's dad who is a famous jazz musician? They turn out to be mixed up somehow with this very scary Faceless Magician who at some point has a magician's duel with Peter and/or Thomas. The Faceless Magician also is mixed up with a group called the Little Crocodiles who learned magic at a dining club at Oxford. He also runs a sex club for furries with actual animal-people for rent and it's very awful.

Presumably this gets resolved somehow, but the Faceless One gets away, because he's also involved when someone is trying to knock down a skyscraper called Skygarden Towers that has some trees on it that are inhabited by a tree spirit who is friends with some of the river goddesses. At some point somebody hires a Russian lady named Varvara to assassinate the tree spirit but they stop her and she kind of hangs around for awhile. She turns out to be a former Night Witch who is also a mysteriously unaging vet of magic WWII. Anyway they are still trying to save the trees but I think they fail and the building implodes with Peter on it? Possibly fighting the faceless magician? Thomas saves him and it's all very h/c.

I think this is when Lesley betrays them and runs off to help the Evil Faceless dude. I don't think they ever catch them. There is also a river named Cecelia Tyburn who is politicking against Thomas behind the scenes, possibly this is when it comes to a head?

After this Thomas decides Peter needs a break and sends him off to stay with a retired wizard in the country, but it turns out one of the London Rivers, Beverly Brook, is also staying there. She and Peter start to have a sweet holiday romance in the country but then Peter somehow ends up in Fairyland and Beverly (not Thomas, surprisingly. even more surprisingly nobody has written the AU where it's Thomas) has to march in to claim him from the Fairy Queen.

After this it all gets much vaguer. I think that's four books worth of plot but I am pretty sure there are more than four books so either the fic writers got bored with canon at some point or I missed at least one book's worth of plot. Oh! There's a whole thing with a lost civilization of mole people who help with construction projects and make pottery and are disappearing/getting murdered? Maybe that plot has its own book? There is a girl called Abigail Kamara who appears at some point, starts to pick up some magic on her own, and becomes their spunky teenage sidekick. Also there is a doctor named Abdul Walid who is either Irish or Scottish, I forget.

I think the part where Peter and Thomas get married and have apprentices of their own is fanon but honestly at this point I am not sure. Peter likes architecture and Harry Potter. Thomas likes rugby and botany. They love each other very much. That part is canon. The end, except that there is a new book coming out soon.

And now I get to find out how wrong that all was! \o/
cyprinella: a red octopus on a white background with a red star above it (harry dresden)

[personal profile] cyprinella 2016-09-15 12:08 am (UTC)(link)
You're not too far off. The mole people are actually book 3, Skygarden is 4 (and that's the one you're furthest off on the plot of), and countryside adventure is 5. Lady Tyburn and the politicking is supposed to be the focus of still delayed Hanging Tree. Also there's comics in there which I haven't read yet because I'm waiting for trades.
thistleingrey: (Default)

[personal profile] thistleingrey 2016-09-15 03:13 am (UTC)(link)
Skygarden is most uneven relative to the others, I think, which may account for the guess gap.
gehayi: (happy wizard (gehayi))

[personal profile] gehayi 2016-09-15 08:59 pm (UTC)(link)
Also, there is "The Home Court Advantage" on Aaronovitch's website, a short story which involves a French wizard, crime, national disgrace, and Olympic basketball.
jjhunter: Watercolor sketch of sneaky corvid pulling phoenix tail feather from behind, phoenix rearing back in affronted surprise (corvid pulls phoenix tail)

[personal profile] jjhunter 2016-09-15 12:58 am (UTC)(link)
...this is making me want to go listen to all the audiobooks ALL OVER AGAIN.

(I love the audiobooks for this series so, so much. The narrator is just a fantastic match for Peter, and the author's voice / writing style more generally.)

ETA: also your acquiring a new fandom steps made me laugh. I had a distinct period of my fannish adolescence where I acquired new fandoms by first reading them as crossovers with Buffy the Vampire Slayer (sooooo much time on 'Twisting the Hellmouth') and then hunting down the canon. Now on AO3 it tends to be more 'so-and-so author I really like just wrote a fic in fandom I don't know!' as the gateway drug rather than crossovers per se. (Vathara has a particular talent for writing fic just enough divergent from whatever the actual canon is that tracking it down does not quite give me the same fix, dammit.)
Edited 2016-09-15 01:03 (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)

[personal profile] alatefeline 2016-09-15 03:58 am (UTC)(link)
>> Also! A story about police that is fundamentally critical of policing-as-practiced and is all about community policing and oversight and restorative justice sort of stuff! I have been unable to read in most of the classic buddy-cop fandoms lately because of discomfort with narrative glorification of the system that doesn't address its glaring problems, but this story worked.) <<

GLOMPH. Grab. *snuggles computer screen*
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)

[personal profile] staranise 2016-09-19 03:24 am (UTC)(link)
IDK, Peter in canon is just as much a geek about the principles of policing, and you also get his in-narrative cynicism about policing in the Good Old Days. ^_^
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)

[personal profile] alatefeline 2016-10-09 11:20 pm (UTC)(link)
The series definitely on my "mean to read" list. I read the first book and was moderately entertained, but I plan to give the full series a chance - maybe next time I'm at the library.
dhampyresa: (Default)

[personal profile] dhampyresa 2016-09-15 09:05 pm (UTC)(link)
I completely forgot Nightingale had a first name. /read only first book long tie ago
finch: (Default)

[personal profile] finch 2016-09-16 06:07 am (UTC)(link)
"effectively immortal, super competent person who is starting to lose their footing in the world / middle-aged vanilla mortal with a rock-solid certainty of who they are but still ready for a little wonder in their life."

I was unaware that this was a Thing I loved until you described it. Thanks for that! Recs would now be appreciated if you have any hand. ;) Though I could probably wade back into Highlander, it's been a long time.
finch: (Default)

[personal profile] finch 2016-09-16 06:29 pm (UTC)(link)

This is a treasure trove of places to look, thank you!

staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)

[personal profile] staranise 2016-09-19 03:25 am (UTC)(link)
*SHRIEKS WITH LAUGHTER*