The main conceit of the novel is that the protagonist, Crusader, is "numb." Early on, we are told:
He didn't know pain. He wasn't hindered by emotions.
This is tricky to pull off; I'm not sure an emotionless character would be an entertaining protagonist, at least not a film.
But how "numb" is Crusader, really? I'd argue that even in the first chapter, Crusader isn't an unfeeling robot--he's not what I'd expect from someone who isn't hindered by emotions.
In the first chapter, Crusader:
- "Hated" having a partner on a job
- Made an effort not to be distracted by his thoughts
- Felt a void and guilt inside him
- Felt two tingles and a tickle when wounded on several different occasions
- Wished he could know something
Throughout the novel, he reads to me more like a cold, trained assassin with superhuman endurance and perhaps some sort of pain-deadening nerve block, than someone who I'd think of as "numb." I guess the key word in the description above may be "hindered"--he might feel emotions, but they don't hinder him.
Of course, as the story develops, Crusader does start to feel more. But my question is, was he always the way we see him in Chapter 1? Ostensibly "numb" but still with longings, concerns, preferences, distractions, that he doesn't let take a foothold? Or did he already start his journey of change before he met Isolda?
I'm guessing the guilt plagued him throughout his time as a Ministrix agent. But I wonder if some of the other feelings may have been more recent developments. I think the revelations later in the book don't disprove the idea that his "change" started maybe even before we met him. And for me, I'd expected a dramatic transformation upon meeting Isolda, not the gradual transformation we see. But if he'd already started to feel on his own, then her introduction was just one stop--albeit probably the pivotal one--in his journey.
(That said, I might argue that Balaam was more "numb" than Crusader ever was in the book. Maybe more numb than the other members of the Ministrix.
Or, maybe I'm mixing up the word "numb" with "hypocritical". Or "of a jerk." :) )
Here are the other participants on the tour!
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Rachel Starr Thomson
*In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book.