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Literature / The Mime Order

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For are we not vastly superior to them, we unnaturals? For though we pick the bones of society, though we crawl in gutters and beg for our keep, we are living conduits to the world beyond. We are proof of an auxiliary existence. We are catalysts of the ultimate energy, the eternal æther. We harness Death itself. We unhorse the Reaper.
— An Obscure Writer, On the Merits of Unnaturalness

The Mime Order is the 2015 sequel to Samantha Shannon's The Bone Season, and the second book in a series of seven installments. Set in a Dystopian, Alternate History England, the story follows a young clairvoyant woman named Paige Mahoney. Since 1859, when the phenomenon of clairvoyance first became public knowledge, England has operated under an oppressive and strongly anti-voyant government called Scion. Paige belongs to a class of criminal voyants who use their contact with spirits and the spirit world (known as the æther) to make a living while avoiding the authorities. She is a rare kind of voyant known as a dreamwalker, capable of separating her spirit from her physical body and entering the æther in spirit form.

Paige has escaped from the penal colony of Sheol I and returned to London. She can't forget what she learned in Oxford: that Scion is a puppet government controlled by the Rephaim, a race of supernatural creatures whose aim is to colonize the human world. Her only hope is the syndicate, an organized underground society of clairvoyants presided over by the Unnatural Assembly. If she can rouse them out of their petty disputes and backstage murders, they could start to fight back against the empire that's been systematically destroying voyants for two hundred years.

But Paige is public enemy number one and the most-wanted person in the citadel. If she wants to stay alive and out of Scion's clutches, she'll have to seek the protection of her old mime-lord, Jaxon Hall — a man who has no intention of letting her act independently of his wishes.

If you're looking for one of the other books in the series, see the links below:

To return to the general page for the Bone Season series, click here.

For character-specific tropes, please go to the character page for this series.

This book contains examples of:

  • Accidental Pun: In the chandlery, after the Emite attack, Paige goes looking for a "bed-warmer" to help her sleep, meaning a heated mattress pad or something of the like. She finds Warden instead.
  • And Here He Comes Now: In her address to the Unnatural Assembly, Paige is just about to drop the bombshell that Scion is nothing more than a façade for Rephaite control when Warden and his allies show up out of nowhere, causing a shockwave of amazement and disbelief. It's unclear if the Ranthen's arrival just coincided with her speech or if they were listening the whole time, waiting for the perfect moment to make a dramatic entrance.
    Paige: Scion itself is the greatest lie in history. A two-hundred-year-old façade for the true government of England. The true inquisitors of clairvoyance.
    Voyant: Of whom do you speak, Underqueen?
    Warden: [without missing a beat] She speaks of us.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: The basis of the scrimmage. When choosing a new syndicate leader, all contenders must fight one another in a kind of arena called the Rose Ring, mêlée-style. Last one standing gets the crown.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Paige gets one after beating Jaxon Hall in a ferocious duel and becoming the youngest Underqueen in the history of London. To make it even more sensational, she follows this up by exposing the Rag and Bone Man's conspiracy, introducing the Ranthen to the syndicate and declaring war on Scion.
  • Badass Boast: Paige delivers one to Jaxon during the scrimmage, right before taking possession of his body and making him surrender on his knees.
    "I'm not your darling, or your lovely, or your honeybee. But I'm not going to kill you. I'm going to take your crown."
    • Later, Gomeisa Sargas makes an impressive speech to Paige in the Westminster Archon, talking about how powerful the Sargas family is, how their influence is as deeply rooted as an anchor in the earth. She responds with another Badass Boast of her own.
      "I'm a dreamwalker, Gomeisa. I recognize no anchor to this earth."
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: A particularly dramatic one when Paige throws herself into Jaxon's dreamscape in the scrimmage, fighting her way through his "specters" to get to the sunlit zone. She manages to take possession of his body and make it speak the words of surrender, but his spirit fights her for every inch, furiously howling about how ungrateful she is for betraying him and how she would be nothing without him.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Paige meets another Irish voyant in Jacob's Island and tells her, "Éire go Brách." This is a popular slogan that translates to Ireland forever.
  • Black Market: The voyants have one in Covent Garden, which sells everything from numa to forgeries to death-related bric-a-brac.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: When the Abbess tries to shoot Paige, the Ranthen shield her with their own bodies, protecting their new ally/investment/key human associate. They don't take any permanent damage, being made of stronger stuff than human flesh.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Paige and Jaxon banter while doing their level best to thrash each other in the Rose Ring. Their drama-hungry audience eats it up.
  • Change the Uncomfortable Subject: Played for Laughs when Warden remarks that although he was her consort for two hundred years, he and Nashira were never "formally joined."
    "So you never —"
    "Mated? No."
    "Right." Heat rose up my neck. There was a tincture of amusement in his look. Stop talking about sex, stop talking about sex. "I ... see you ditched the gloves."
  • Curse Cut Short: Nell gets halfway through telling Warden to go fuck himself when Nick interrupts her.
  • Defiant to the End: Lotte, just before being hanged in a public broadcast, breaks her bindings to scream a last defiant message into the camera.
  • Dwindling Party: Apart from the Seven Seals, twenty-two people made it onto the train from Sheol I. Many were killed by the Guard Extraordinary at the Tower of London. One of the survivors of that ambush got captured and tortured by the Archon; another is publicly hanged at the end of the book. All told, there are now just five human survivors of Bone Season XX: Ivy, Jos, Felix, Nell, and Paige herself ... six, if you count Michael.
  • Exact Words: After Terebell orders Warden to train Paige for the scrimmage, he remarks that she never specified the manner in which he was to train her. He turns the lesson into a dance, the closest thing to a formal romantic overture he has ever made where Paige is concerned.
  • Fictional Document: One of the major plot points of the book is The Rephaite Revelation, a penny dreadful written by the Bone Season survivors to spread knowledge of the Rephaim throughout London. Since no one will believe them if they claim to be telling the truth, Paige decides that the next best option is to pass it off as fiction; after all, fictional things — such as how to kill a vampire — can just as easily become common knowledge.
  • Gut Feeling: Nick tells Paige that he has a bad feeling about her plans for the scrimmage. Paige quips back that clairvoyants are supposed to have bad feelings about things.
    • Paige herself tries to pull this on Eliza, to ask her for help without giving away her own involvement with the penny dreadful. Eliza calls her out on it.
    Paige: I want to check up on the other fugitives. Something's wrong.
    Eliza: And you know this how?
    Paige: I just know.
    Eliza: Oh, come on. Even voyants don't get to say that sort of shit, Paige.
  • Human Trafficking: The Abbess and the Rag and Bone Man were selling voyants to Sheol I in a venture called "the gray market." Ivy, Cutmouth and Haymarket Hector were also complicit.
  • I Can Still Fight!: When Paige does battle with Jaxon in the Rose Ring, she fights until she literally can't stand anymore, bleeding everywhere and exhausted from all the jumps she's made out of her body. Even then, she keeps throwing herself at his dreamscape, knowing that it's all over if she doesn't win.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Paige at Chateline's diner, when she realizes she's going to have to seek Terebell's patronage for the publication of the penny dreadful.
  • If I Wanted X, I Would Y: When Paige tells the Ranthen that uniting the syndicate will require extensive funding, they start waxing lyrical about how greedy and obsessed with money humans are. She cuts them short, exasperated: "If I'd wanted lectures, I would have gone to the university."
  • Jerkass Has a Point: During one of their many disagreements about what to do about the Rephaite presence in London, Jaxon asks Paige why she suddenly wants to fight back against Scion after years of being happy to keep her head down, like him.
    "You've always known that Scion's doctrine is rooted in injustice. You've always known that their inquisition into unnaturalness is reprehensible. But only now do you think we should intervene. Were you too afraid to strike when their corruption was only human, my Paige?"
  • Killing in Self-Defense: When two of the Rag and Bone Man's underlings ambush Paige late at night, on orders to drag her off and cut her throat, she kills one with her spirit — a mechanical impulse of self-preservation that she couldn't have suppressed if she'd tried.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Paige and Alfred observe a woman absorbed in a penny dreadful, totally unaware of her surroundings.
    "Isn't it wonderful, how words and paper can embroil us so? We are witnessing a miracle, dear heart."
  • Literalist Snarking: Danica (who often stays cooped up in her room, working on various projects) does this when Nick asks her what she's even living on up there.
    "Nitrogen. Oxygen. I could go on."
  • Malicious Slander: Played for Drama. After the botched Bicentenary, Nashira spreads the word among her fellow Rephaim that her former consort "degrades himself with humans," an extremely serious offense in their society. Demeaning language aside, it's all true. Paige has to deny the charges to Terebell before they can start working together.
  • Meaningful Echo: After freeing Warden from the Camden catacombs, Paige leaves him a note that cheekily reprises one he left her back in Sheol I:
    Oh, and do me this honour: survive the night. I'm sure you'd rather not be rescued twice.
  • Murder Ballad: Jos sings one about Queen Victoria and her son, the Bloody King, who was blamed for the Ripper murders.
    Five ravens feasted on a summer's day
    On the White Keep's highest tower, so they say
    When the king fled from his throne.
    Every raven turned and flew away
    While the blood turned cold down Whitechapel-way
    "He was stained," they claimed, "by the Ripper's blade
    "He is our king no more."
  • Never Going Back to Prison: When two Rephaim ambush Paige near Seven Dials, she decides immediately that she will never return to the penal colony, no matter what.
    "If you're thinking of taking me to Sheol I, you can cut my throat first, Rephaite."
  • Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!: Jaxon tries to undermine Paige's claim to the crown in the Rose Ring by reminding the Unnatural Assembly that she's a murder suspect and a wanted fugitive. Then she calls him a coward, and his whole demeanor changes into one of Tranquil Fury. When she challenges him again, he accepts with poisonous gentility.
  • No One Should Survive That!: The Unnatural Assembly has this reaction when Paige is attacked by Nashira's poltergeist, one more powerful than anything they had ever seen, and gets off without a scratch. Particularly the Abbess, who mouths the word "Impossible." Afterward, some voyants start calling Paige a thaumaturge, seeing no other explanation for how she could have withstood such a terrible spirit.
  • No, You: When the Rephaim arrive on the scene, Didion Waite doesn't buy it right away.
    Didion: Clearly these are costumes, and this is an elaborate jest.
    Jimmy: You're an elaborate jest, Didion.
  • Out of the Frying Pan: The transition from Sheol I to Scion London turns out to be extremely perilous for the Bone Season survivors. First, they are greeted at the Tower of London by the Guard Extraordinary, who cut their numbers down by more than half; second, they are declared preternatural fugitives and made the focus of a citywide manhunt; third, the London syndicate not only won't shield them but actively hurts them. For those who don't have a mime-lord's protection or a support system to fall back on, London turns out to be just as dangerous as Oxford ever was. Paige herself remarks bitterly that she has taken them from one hell to another.
  • Post-Victory Collapse: An exhausted Paige passes out after winning the scrimmage, exposing the gray market and uniting the syndicate all in one go.
  • Safety in Indifference: Invoked by Chat when a frustrated Paige asks him why most voyants never even think about fighting back against Scion.
    "Apathy's a killer. The way most people see it, we can survive like this if we stay out of the way."
  • Symbolic Mutilation: According to Warden, the Sargas family's favoured form of execution in the corporeal world is decapitation, as it symbolizes the removal of the dreamscape.
  • Wham Line: When he wins the scrimmage, Jaxon stands basking in the adulation of the Unnatural Assembly for a while as they shower him with flowers and applause. Then the mistress of ceremonies asks if anyone knows of any reason he shouldn't be Underlord, and Paige says, "Actually, I do." Just like that, the jubilant mood evaporates and a dumbstruck silence falls on the room.
    • What she says next hammers it home: "I'm Black Moth. And I challenge you, White Binder."
  • We Will Meet Again: Jaxon says as much after the scrimmage.
    "Be warned: you have not seen the last of me."

"And words, my walker — well, words are everything. Words give wings even to those who have been stamped upon, broken beyond all hope of repair."
— Jaxon Hall