The Warrior Monk is part of a series of short stories accompanying the Seventeen series, and this particular story is best read after the second book: King's Crusade. In fact, I wouldn't start these short stories without having read the main series.
It focuses on the events that led to Alexa and Yonten meeting each other. While it provides some new insights into the background of the story, it was also a little bit repetitive with the story in the main series. It was also rather short (even for a short story), but nice to read nevertheless.
Dreams, magic terrors, spells of mighty power, Witches, and ghosts who rove at midnight hour.
It's said this was written by a 19/20 yr old and within 10 weeks, which if true, is amazing. The format of having a main character, Ambrosio (the monk), and then having secondary characters branch off from him and tangentially going astray and telling their stories, only to have them all come together in the end, was extremely compelling. I was expecting more creepiness, it takes until the 50% mark for a ghost to appear:
At length the Clock struck two. The Apparition rose from her seat, and approached the side of the bed. She grasped with her icy fingers my hand which hung lifeless upon the Coverture, and pressing her cold lips to mine, again repeated, "Raymond! Raymond! Thou art mine! Raymond! Raymond! I am thine! &c.----" She then dropped my hand, quitted the chamber with slow steps, and the Door closed after her. Till that moment the faculties of my body had been all suspended; Those of my mind had alone been waking. The charm now ceased to operate: The blood which had been frozen in my veins rushed back to my heart with violence: I uttered a deep groan, and sank lifeless upon my pillow.
Until the last 30-20% the story is really about love, lust, and jealousy. As an atheist I don't hold religious individuals, rather they be in high ranking positions in the church, to a higher regard. I don't think it is any more crazy that a monk would give into his lust than an average non-religious male. (Not talking about Ambrosio's later desire to rape Antonia; he wants her and she doesn't want him. This is a different issue than him being turned on by Mathilda who willing wants to sleep with him) Religious individuals might find this story more, I don't know, worrisome because of the themes of non-infallibility regarding sin; no one is safe from the devil.
I did really enjoy how the author played around with the themes of religious doctrine and the hypocrisy/corruption of its supposed devout leaders, men putting the blame on women for their failings, jealousy, and power. If you read this looking for a Gothic, I think you'd hit the gold mine with it's verbiage and tone. Like I mentioned, the more creepy scenes didn't have a strong presence until the ending with the Devil making a strong appearance:
He appeared in all that ugliness which since his fall from heaven had been his portion: His blasted limbs still bore marks of the Almighty's thunder: A swarthy darkness spread itself over his gigantic form: His hands and feet were armed with long Talons: Fury glared in his eyes, which might have struck the bravest heart with terror: Over his huge shoulders waved two enormous sable wings; and his hair was supplied by living snakes, which twined themselves round his brows with frightful hissings. In one hand He held a roll of parchment, and in the other an iron pen. Still the lightning flashed around him, and the Thunder with repeated bursts, seemed to announce the dissolution of Nature.
This story had some twists and turns with characters having some pretty intriguing life stories. I didn't find it as outlandish as some reviews led me to believe it was going to be (a lot mention how Ambrosio lusts and rapes his sister. He didn't know it was his sister during his obsession, so calling him incestuous seems a bit unfair). I read a small amount of horror stories and watch a ton of horror movies so maybe my creep/crazy bar is set too high but I did notice two movies were made about this and Netflix has the 2011 on DVD so I'll be adding it to the queue.
Man was born for society. However little He may be attached to the World, He never can wholly forget it, or bear to be wholly forgotten by it.
This is a very artful and polite rejection:
'Forgive me, Segnora,' I answered, 'if what necessity forces from me should seem harsh and ungrateful: To encourage you in an error, which, however it may flatter myself, must prove to you the source of disappointment, would make me appear criminal in every eye. Honour obliges me to inform you that you have mistaken for the solicitude of Love what was only the attention of Friendship. The latter sentiment is that which I wished to excite in your bosom: To entertain a warmer, respect for you forbids me, and gratitude for the Baron's generous treatment. Perhaps these reasons would not be sufficient to shield me from your attractions, were it not that my affections are already bestowed upon another. You have charms, Segnora, which might captivate the most insensible; No heart unoccupied could resist them. Happy is it for me that mine is no longer in my possession; or I should have to reproach myself for ever with having violated the Laws of Hospitality. Recollect yourself, noble Lady; Recollect what is owed by you to honour, by me to the Baron, and replace by esteem and friendship those sentiments which I never can return.'
This is the longest and most eloquent F*ck You! I might have ever read:
Then casting upon the Abbot a frantic look, 'Hear me!' She continued; 'Man of an hard heart! Hear me, Proud, Stern, and Cruel! You could have saved me; you could have restored me to happiness and virtue, but would not! You are the destroyer of my Soul; You are my Murderer, and on you fall the curse of my death and my unborn Infants! Insolent in your yet-unshaken virtue, you disdained the prayers of a Penitent; But God will show mercy, though you show none. And where is the merit of your boasted virtue? What temptations have you vanquished? Coward! you have fled from it, not opposed seduction. But the day of Trial will arrive! Oh! then when you yield to Impetuous passions! when you feel that Man is weak, and born to err; When shuddering you look back upon your crimes, and solicit with terror the mercy of your God, Oh! in that fearful moment think upon me! Think upon your Cruelty! Think upon Agnes, and despair of pardon!
My new pick-up line:
I look upon you as a Saint; Prove to me that you are no more than Man, and I quit you with disgust.
You've got yourself a stage 5 clinger there, Father,
'Father, I will never quit these Walls alive!'
'Hold! Hold, Matilda What would you do?'
'You are determined, so am I: The Moment that you leave me, I plunge this Steel in my heart.'