|Choose Your Enemies Carefully|
Choose Your Enemies Carefully is a Shadowrun novel by Robert Charrette. (Secrets of Power)
- Secrets of Power Volume 2
When Magic Returns to the Earth
Its power calls Sam Verner. As Sam searches for his sister through the slick and scary streets of 2050, his quest leads him across the ocean to England, where druids rule the streets ... and the throne. But all is not what it seems, and Sam and his new shadow friends are plunged into a maze of madness on the trail of destruction.
Only when Sam accepts his destiny as a shaman can he embrace the power he needs. But what waits for him in the final confrontation of technology and human flesh is a secret much darker than anything he knew lay waiting in the shadows...
Warning: Spoiler Information Below
Based partially on Mason's 2000 review
|“||Pretty average as shadowrun novels go. Plot's a little murky, as are the motives of the antagonists. Rating: 3/5||„|
A clandestine society of druids makes a bid for control of the English monarchy, only to have their purposes subverted by an even darker and bloodier conspiracy of wendigo.
Detailed plot summary
- Part 1
- We All Wear Masks
Sam Verner is still frustrated in his attempts to locate or contact his sister, though he has traced her as far as the Yomi island internment center in the Philippines, to which the Japanese ship their metahuman "undesireables". While working shadowruns in an effort to amass enough operating capital to go after her, Sam and Dodger are hired for a series of personnel extractions funded by Amalgamated Technologies and Telecommunications.
The targets of these extractions are the intended victims of a blood magic ritual which will be performed by a society of druids in England, called the Hidden Circle. Discovering this, Sam takes steps to interfere with the druids' intentions, assisted by agents of Tir Tairngire (Estios, Teresa, Chatterjee) and Tir Na nOg (Katherine Hart). The blood ritual is interrupted not by their intervention, but through the machinations of one of Circle's own members, a toxic druid calling itself Hyde-White who wants to use them for his own purposes.
In the midst of these events, Sam's sister Janice, having contracted the wendigo virus on Yomi, is "rescued" by a man named Dan Shiroi. Shiroi (who is also Hyde-White) is a wendigo using his position as CEO of the GWN corporation to gather a loyal following of his metaspecies. He begins teaching Janice magic, and she becomes a wolf shaman.
- Part 2
- There Are Always Choices
Under Hyde-White's direction, the Hidden Circle begins a series of blood rituals in London Sprawl's East End. Dubbed the Bone Boy murders by the press, the killings are largely unopposed by the police because of the Hidden Circle's political and economic influence. Sam and his allies work against the Circle, but their limited resources and internal dissention hamper their effectiveness. Because of the level of magical opposition, Sam pushes hard to improve his own arcane capabilities.
Sam and Hart become romantically involved, until Hart's employer (Tir Na nOg's Lady Brane Deigh) commands her to kill him. Unwilling to do so, Hart instead betrays him into captivity.
- Part 3
- A New Twist In The Game
In Tir Na nOg's Seelie Court, Sam is imprisoned with another foreigner, a Catholic Priest of the Order of Saint Sylvester, Father Pietro Rinaldi. His conversations with Father Rinaldi allow Sam to integrate his Christian faith with his shamanic magical orientation.
Sam uses his magic as well as his neglected decking skills to escape from Tir Na nOg with Rinaldi. Hart, her life pledged as a guarantee of Sam's good behavior, is forced to follow.
Back in London, Sam and his colleagues pursue the Hidden Circle with renewed vigor. Sam discovers that his sister Janice is being manipulated against him by Hyde-White and engineers a multi-pronged assault against the Circle, centered on Hyde-White's sanctum. Most of the surviving members of the Circle are killed. Sam uses a city spirit to kill Hyde-White. Janice is allowed to escape.
In order of appearance:
- Janice Verner: female orc, later wendigo
- Hyde-White (Dan Shiroi, Doug Randall)*: wendigo, Hidden Circle druid (toxic), president/CEO of several large corporations (including GWN), under various identities.
- Sam Verner (Twist): shaman of the Dog, shadowrunner
- Jason Stone: amerindian razorguy, shadowrunner
- Fishface George: shadowrunner
- Grey Otter: shadowrunner
- Dodger: elf decker
- Raoul Sanchez*: Aztechnology technician, extraction target
- Estios: elf mage, paladin służący Sean Laverty
- Professor Sean Laverty: immortal elf mage, Prince of Tir Tairngire
- Chatterjee*: asian elf, paladin in service to Sean Laverty
- Teresa O'Connor: elf, paladin in service to Sean Laverty, romantic history with Dodger
- Andrew Glover*: Hidden Circle druid, VP of Amalgamated Technologies and Telecommunications
- Sally Tsung: mage, shadowrunner
- Ghost Who Walks Inside: amerindian street samurai
- Big Tom: sasquatch sound engineer at Club Penumbra
- Jim: bartender at Club Penumbra
- Harry Burke*: professional bodyguard, former SAS commando, working for Andrew Glover
- Jaime Garcia: wendigo, GWN executive in Aztlan
- René Corbeau*: Automattech HK employee, extraction target
- Norman, Cholly, Burt & Georgie: servants at the ATT retreat
- Sir Winston Neville*: first Archdruid of the hidden circle, landowner
- Barnett*: Hidden Circle druid, CEO of General Services (incl. security service)
- Edward Arthur Charles Gordon-Windsor*: rejected candidate for English crown, current heir
- Katherine Hart: elf mage, shadowrunner
- Bambatu: african elf, official of the seelie court
- Lady Brane Deigh: elf, ranking noble of Tir Na nOg
- David Neville*: Hidden Circle druid, son of Sir Winston
- Fitzgilbert*: druid
- Herzog*: gator shaman & initiate, lives in the London sewers
- Hanson (Han)*: wendigo, late addition to the Hidden Circle
- Willie Williams: female dwarf rigger
- Inspector Burnside: supposedly incorruptible London cop, extensive shadow connections
- Thomas Alfred Carstairs*: Hidden Circle druid, Lord Mayor of Birmingham industrial district.
- Dellett: East Side cop
- Rogers: East Side cop
- Father Pietro Rinaldi: Catholic priest of the Order of St. Sylvester, magical scholar
- Ashton: Hidden Circle druid, CEO of Miltech
- Wallace: Hidden Circle druid, the only female member
- Cog: fixer with international connections
* this character dies in the course of the novel.
- Philippines: Yomi island
- Seattle: Sea-Tac Int'l Airport, Club Penumbra
- Tir Tairngire: posiadłość Laverty-ego
- Aztlan: centrum korporacyjne GWN
- Hong Kong Free Enterprise Zone: korporacja Minh-Pao
- England: Black Down Hills ATT retreat, Stonehenge
- Tir Na nOg: the Seelie Court
- London: Brighton Centrum, ATT-Multifax complex, Hawthornwaite Tower
Notes and analysis
"Hyde-White" is a pretty obvious tag-name. "Hyde" because there's a monster lurking behind a human mask, "White" because said monster is a wendigo.
Hyde-White is able to mask his aura to appear human.
Orks infected with HMHVV (Human-Metahuman Vampiric Virus) express as wendigo. In addition to the physical transformation, the virus also makes its victims magically capable. All known wendigo are shamanic magicians. Prior to her goblinization into an ork, Janice Verner was tested for magical ability by the Hoboken Institute (p.59) and found to be mundane. After her transformation, she became a wolf shaman.
p. 101: The Seelie Court in Tir Na nOg is more a social distinction than a political one. It refers to the elven nobility and to the physical location of the Court itself. The latter encompasses an estate with every modern convenience, blanketed by multiple layers of magical illusion to provide the appearance of a sylvan paradise.
The metaplanes are depths of astral space accessible only to initiates, steeped in metaphor and mythological imagery and perceived largely according to the needs and expectations of the visiting magician. Apart from the requirement that the magician be an initiate, there is an obstacle to accessing the metaplanes called The Dweller on the Threshhold (The Grimoire: 15th Edition, 2053, p.93). The dweller appears to Sam as "The Man of Light", and is particularly effective in blocking Sam's progress, using his own skepticism against him. In accordance with Sam's adversarial encounters with wendigo, the Man Of Light adopts those characteristics. Sam eventually discovers that Hyde-White used sorcery to impair Sam's memory and skills, but it seems equally probable that the Dweller is simply taking advantage of Sam's growing suspicions and insecurities.
From Find Your Own Truth, p.217: "Once, the Dweller had been perverted by an evil wendigo and warped through some unknown magic to bar Sam from the totemic plane."
The Hidden Circle has nine members, two of whom survive the events of the novel:
- Sir Winston Neville, Archdruid (killed by Dodger)
- Andrew Glover, second Archdruid (killed by Hart)
- Hyde-White (killed by Sam)
- David Neville (killed by White's toxic spirit)
- Barnett (killed by Dodger)
- Fitzgilbert (killed by White's toxic spirit)
- Thomas Alfred Carstairs (killed by Willie's combat drone)
The Hidden Circle computer system uses a Camelot metaphor (p.194). In cracking that system, Dodger encounters the Renraku AI again. Intrigued by Dodger, the AI has been observing his activities in the Matrix. Pursuant to the host's Camelot metaphor, it assumes the guise of Morgan Le Fey. From this point forward, the Renraku AI exhibits female personality traits and uses the name Morgan.
- p.219: "Belief was the key to shamanic mindset. Belief also terrorized generations of urban children who had heard and believed that alligators dwelt in the sewers of their cities. Did that make Gator an urban totem? If that were the case, a totem was no more than a symbol, a way to place the mind in a receptive frame."
- p.250: "Since the Reunification, celibacy is no longer required of [Catholic] priests."
- p.251: "The Sylvestrines gather the cream of the Church's magical talent, but not all members are magically active and most of the rest are adepts or students."
Father Rinaldi has astral senses, but no other magical ability.
- p.252: "a person's aura showed only strength. While those with strong auras were often magically capable, it didn't show unless they were actively manipulating mana. Even then, the tradition they followed might not be clear unless the nature of the magic was strongly allied in the form of manipulation."
- p.286: the model name of the Narcoject Rifle (Street Samurai Catalog, p.62) is the Hypnos. In Greek mythology, Hypnos was the god of sleep (his brother was Thanatos, god of death). The palace of Hypnos was on the banks of the River Lethe -- Lethe
- p.296: Dodger traces Janice Verner on a GWN corporate flight from Hong Kong to Mexico City. But "Mexico City" has been Tenochtitlan since roughly 2015. So either Dodger is showing his age, the GWN system is unbelievably archaic, or the author (Charette) missed an edit.
None of the locations and few of the people described in this novel are mentioned in the London Sourcebook, which was published in the same year. In its history section, the sourcebook states that the current monarch, corporate favorite George Edward Richard Windsor-Hanover "won out over the candidate of the growing druidic interests." (London Sourcebook, p.19). The druidic candidate, Edward Arthur Charles Gordon-Windsor (named in the novel, not the sourcebook), appears in this novel as a puppet of the Hidden Circle.
- p.335: nice display of a decker's practical offensive capabilities. Dodger traps several corporate heavies in an elevator, disables the emergency brake, and sends it plummeting to the basement. Interesting design flaw -- one would expect the emergency
brakes on an elevator to be purely mechanical.
The dwarf rigger (Willie) gets some good print as well, via her manipulation of surveillance and combat drones and by subverting Hawthornwaite Tower's rigged security system (the first appearance of Closed Circuit Simsense security systems in a Shadowrun product -- they won't be detailed in a sourcebook for another four years, until Corporate Security Handbook in 1995).
Sam's climactic battle with the wendigo (Hyde-White) makes heavy use of conjuring, and features a nice contrast between healthy and toxic City domains
- German: Wähl deine Feinde mit Bedacht
- French: Choisis bien tes ennemis
- Hungarian: Jól Válaszd meg Ellenségeidet
- Polish: Wybieraj swych wrogów z rozwagą
- Portuguese(Brazil): Shadowrun Escolha Seus Inimigos