Chapter 22 of Annihilation is one of the fun chapters. Chapter 23 has one laugh-out-loud moment, but really it’s notable because it’s from Satan’s POV, and he’s an intriguing character to write.
As usual, there may be spoilers below, so if you’re reading along with the free chapters at MindFlights, don’t read this until you’ve read the chapter.
The bit with the trumpet is fun, when you have three different angels playing the same instrument three different ways. Also, the banter about being fanatical makes me laugh (“That’s obsessive-compulsive with a hyphen.”) But what makes this chapter fun is the scene at the gate.
The Maskim have all assembled, and they want Camael back. Satan does two things in this scene that make me laugh lout loud. The first is his sheer broken-recordness. “I want my lieutenant.” No matter how the angels try to engage him, he keeps going back to that.
And the other is something that happens every time Satan and Michael meet on official business during the entire run of this series: Satan looks right past him and says, “Is anyone in charge here?” I’m not sure whether he’s doing that to call attention to Michael’s lower nature (he’s only an Archangel, from the 8th order) or whether he simply doesn’t recognize Michael’s authority. Regardless, it’s funny.
In this chapter, you also see Satan caught off-guard by Michael’s request to see the room where Gabriel died. He’s so unsentimental about using people that whenever someone loses an opportunity for self-advancement for emotional reasons (as we saw when Mephistopheles was so despondent) it surprises him. Michael could have asked for anything, but instead he asks for something Satan considers useless.
Satan also considers Cherub/Seraph bonds to be nothing but irritating, as we see in chapter 23. He’s openly disgusted by being able to feel Mephistopheles and Beelzebub interacting through their bond, and as an outsider, most readers find his revulsion kind of funny. Overall, though, it’s just another aspect of how he feels about anything that could weaken him. The same way he tried to burn off any of Gabriel’s spiritual residue from himself, he wouldn’t want to be emotionally hitched to a Cherub, or to anyone, really. It makes him strong and weak at the same time.
Why God liked to do things in pairs Lucifer would never understand. Angels functioned perfectly fine alone, but these inexorable pairings simultaneously increased and decreased their usefulness. Split Irin, depressed Cherubim, defensive Seraphim…it was too bad he hadn’t convinced any Thrones to join him. They were reclusive, and if he could have brought onboard even one of them, he could have fired the rest of the Maskim.
The pairing he doesn’t mention here is a guardian/charge pairing, but you haven’t seen much of that in this book.
And if you have read it already, one of the moments I love most is when you realize what Remiel told Camael to do. 😉
Overall, these two chapters are pretty demon-intensive, but they’ve got a certain spark to them that makes it interesting without glamorizing evil. They were fun to write, and a good wind-up for the showdown to come in the final chapters.