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Literature / Special Circumstances

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“I’m tired of being looked at like a freak because I believe. Well, get this straight, you stupid suit bastards. Get with belief, now, fast, or this country, this nation, this continent and this world are doomed. Get that through your fat politician heads, for Freya’s sake. I don’t care if you believe in the White God or Odin or fricking Vishnu! Just get some faith, fast, or find somebody to do your job who has it!”
—Janea, Asatru priestess

Urban Fantasy focusing on a Christian housewife and mother, Barbara Everette, forced into dealing with supernatural villains, written by John Ringo. The Special Circumstances refers to an "under the radar" organization within the FBI specifically tasked with investigating supernatural crimes that more conventional, "mundane" methods are ill-prepared to handle.

In Princess of Wands, Barbara is an ordinary housewife who finds herself taking off on a vacation in Louisiana to get away from the every day grind. Following a whim, instead of continuing on to Baton Rouge (her intended destination) she takes the road less traveled, and because of it finds herself stuck in a back-woods bayou town where sinister plans are afoot, and an Eldritch Abomination threatens to be loosed from its long slumber.

Queen of Wands follows about a year after Princess, whose events have resulted in her joining the Special Circumstances unit, a group of people trained to handle supernatural hostiles. An attack on Janea when investigating unusual happenings in Tennessee leaves her in a special kind of coma, and it's up to Barbara and her friends to discover what happened, as well as rescue Janea's soul.

Ringo's primary motivation in this series is the defense of mainstream Christianity; Barbara is a pious-as-all-get-out churchgoer, a devoted Stay in the Kitchen housewife... and more than experienced in multiple methods of asskicking from all over the world at the urging of her father, a veteran US Air Force pilot who later became a Foreign Service Officer. She regularly visits the soapbox to state that the negatives that many have come to associate with religion are the domain of fanatics; fire-breathing preachers are jerks, nosy judgmental tattlers are jerks, etc. She doesn't fuss over her children and husband because she's an empty-headed slave, she does it because she loves them, warts and all (even her somewhat slovenly husband who'd rather host football with his buddies than indulge in his healthy lingerie-clad wife).

As of August 2012 there are two books to the series: Princess of Wands and Queen of Wands.

This work provide examples of:

  • Action Mom: Barbara Everette cares for a family of three children and a husband who doesn't seem much more than a child himself, is a martial artist, knows guns and shoots regularly, and on occasion battles supernatural beasts.
  • All Monks Know Kung-Fu: The few monks that are mentioned as being part of the Special Circumstances unit are not actually martial artists, being strictly pacifist.
  • Berserk Button: No matter how nice or accepting of other peoples beliefs Barbara might be do not diss Christianity in front of her
  • The Big Easy: Detective Kelly Lockhart, from the first part of Princess of Wands, works in the New Orleans Police Department
  • Bond Creatures: The cat revived in the last story of Princess of Wands becomes this, to the point of the husband commenting that the cat's acting like Barbara is creeping him out.
  • The Cameo: Queen Of Wands has a scene featuring Claudia and Artie from Warehouse 13, in reply to a copy of Ringo's Eye of the Storm being seen in a background bookcase in the series.
  • Christianity is Catholic: Averted. Several different denominations of Christianity are mentioned, but none have details conflated with one another.
  • Church Militant: While the Special Circumstances personnel do "kick ass for the Lord" (or whatever deity[ies] they worship), it's not done specifically in service to their religion. The one exception is the associated Roman Catholic Church group Opus Dei, which is treated as a SWAT team for the Church, and whose presence is noted to mean that there's some serious trouble ahead.
  • Clothing Damage: In Queen of Wands, Janea does this to her own costume during a sword dance for a competition.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: The demon summoned by David Krake in the second part of Princess of Wands uses the blood of some of his victims to continue the runes that his summoner wasn't able to finish after taking three arrows to the head.
  • Deal with the Devil:
    • Not the Devil, but David Krake does make a deal with a demon for the purpose of becoming a famous, good selling author, in Princess of Wands.
    • In the series in general, deals with demons and other supernatural nasties that involve letting the nasties loose on Earth keep the Special Circumstances teams quite busy.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: In particular, the "magic imbued" section of this trope applies, though there's also a discussion, at one point in Princess of Wands, of how normal, non-spiritual FBI agents could battle the supernatural, using "cold iron" bayonets for their rifles.
  • Dumb Blonde: Averted. Barbara, a strawberry blonde, is very much not an idiot.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • An Old One is Barbara Everette's introduction to the world of supernatural hostiles in Princess of Wands.
    • The second part of Queen of Wands involves one of the lesser known Old Ones and its spawned servants. Looking even at just some cellular material left behind on the ground by the passage of one of the servants is shown to induce Sanity Slippage in the observer, and even SC members have trouble with keeping their wits about them when looking onto it.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: The Special Circumstances members are from a wide range of religious or otherwise spiritual belief systems, and they all imbue their respective warriors with supernatural powers to help them fight the forces of Evil, which also come from a wide range of spiritual belief systems.
  • The Fundamentalist: Averted. The "alternative" priest who worships a dragon god fills this role, jealously controlling his "flock".
  • Foreshadowing: At the beginning of Princess, Barbara's martial arts sparing partner says, after watching her warm-up exercises, that he was gay. She calls him on it, the narration commenting that he's married and has five children from two different marriages, and that "[i]f he was gay, it was a very closet condition." Fast forward to the end of Queen, when it's revealed that her husband, with whom she's had three children is having a homosexual affair. [invoked]
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: Inverted. The more people who worship a deity (even by proxy), the stronger their mortal servants are.
  • Holier Than Thou: Soundly thrashed by Barbara. She goes out of her way to avoid such types.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: A warrior's "aspect". Most supernatural beasties can only be killed when a warrior calls on their beliefs while in combat with them.
  • Hollywood Atheist: The Medical Examiner in Queen of Wands.
  • Housewife: Barbara, although she's very seldom shown actually taking care of her children or home.
  • Human Sacrifice: The subject of the first story in Princess of Wands.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Barbara Everette regularly faces and defeats temptations great and small even when fighting Evil that would totally destroy your average person, aided by the unbreakable faith in God that makes her such an effective force for Good.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Barbara's weapon against the demon in the middle section of Princess of Wands, later seen (but not used) in the last part of the book. The sword gets more screentime in the sequel, used against Eldritch Abominations and occult Stepford Smilers.
  • The Load: Barbara's husband is depicted as a whiny, lazy slob whenever Barbara isn't present to steer him towards taking better care of things (including himself).
  • Magic Knight: all of Special Circumstances field agents are this.
  • Magical Negro: In Princess of Wands, a black mystical woman who tells fortunes points Detective Lockhart towards the swamps in search of a pimp to question about a murder, and along with warning him to watch out for danger tells him to keep an eye out for Barbara, who's only indirectly identified by the sign of a Tarot card, the Princess of Wands.
  • Military Brat: Barbara is second generation at least. Not only did she grow up on military bases world-wide, but her mother was a junior officer's wife with enough travel experience that she taught Barb to use Jim Beam as toothpaste in areas with bad plumbing.
  • Mission from God: The purpose of the Special Circumstances unit.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Janea looks good, and hasn't any problems with showing off her body.
  • My Eyes Are Up Here:
    • Throughout the series, Barbara often has to remind men that her bosom is not where to find her eyes.
    • In Queen of Wands, Janea, in the metaphorical version of DragonCon, has to remind Kelly Lockhart of where to find her eyes. His response, echoing his appearance in the first book: "I've made my decision."
  • Nay-Theist:
    • The head of the US and Europe branch of Special Circumstances, Augustus Germaine, is well aware of the existence of gods and demons — they are, after all, the very reason for the existence of Special Circumstances — but doesn't follow any of them. In an organization composed of followers of many different belief systems, he usually moderates disputes between different faiths, as a neutral party.
    • Special Agent Randall in Queen of Wands who has a much more God Is Evil attitude.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In the Convention story from Princess of Wands, several regular Baen fans and authors are killed, including the fictional stand-in for Ringo himself.
  • Odd Friendship: Barbara, an upright Christian woman, and Janea, a hedonistic exhibitionist who worships a pagan god.
  • Really Gets Around: Janea is quite comfortable with having many different sexual partners, without hard feelings towards any former lovers
  • Religion is Magic: The faith of members of the Special Circumstances group allows them to channel energies that have the same basic function as magic in other settings.
  • Religious Stereotype: If you've been around Pagans, you definitely notice this trope. All Wiccan characters are middle-aged hippies, all Asatruar act like they just got off a Viking ship, and you apparently cannot worship a fertility goddess without dressing/acting like a porn star 24/7. Justified in that only really hardcore faithful can slay demons - Special Circumstances scoured the Western world for talent, and was only able to locate a few dozen with enough devotion to kill an Eldritch Abomination. Bunny-Ears Demon Hunters!
  • Right Man in the Wrong Place: Barbara, in Princess of Wands, finds herself battling an Eldritch Abomination when on vacation in Louisiana, triumphing over it even though she's completely unaware of the supernatural world at the time due in part to her unwavering faith in God, and in part to her father insisting that she be able to take care of herself in any situation.
  • Shout-Out: Quite a few, many of the Take That! variety, in the sci-fi con story in Princess of Wands.
  • Shutting Up Now: Spoken word for word by Hjalmar to Sharice during their quest to rescue Janea, in Queen of Wands.
  • Straw Character: You did see "John Ringo" mentioned above, yes?
  • Title Drop: Barbara's T-shirt is prophesied by a voodoo priestess in the first book.
  • Warrior Monk: The spirituality of the Special Circumstances team is an essential part of their ability to kick supernatural ass. Insufficiently strong faith risks defeat.
  • You All Meet in an Inn: Invoked in Queen of Wands by Hjalmar.