I kind of saw it that way too. The guide reveals she was sort of a bodyguard to a ‘princess’ of her tribe, but even before the Guide I kind of got the sense that she was a warrior type. Maybe it’s the offensive nature of her gift or something, but I would agree that she’s kind of got some of the same vibes as Jasper. She’s sort of the protector of the group. Sometimes fics make Eleazar this experienced warrior but that wasn’t his gig, he was more of a scout for the Volturi, looking for talents. Kate was a bodyguard, she’s the one with ‘battle’ experience. Unlike Jane, she has to get up close and personal with the targets of her gift, so she’s got to have some fight skills.
SM says the Denali girls are from what is now Slovakia, but she also a) gave them Russian names (other than Kate) and b) mentions that Tanya has a slight Russian accent in MS. At the time the Denali girls were born, Slovakia was under the rule of the kingdom of Hungary, and the Slovak language more closely resembles Polish than Russian. But let’s talk about their names and the cool Russian style of nicknames. I like to think the sisters use these kind of nicknames for each other.
IRINA is the Russian form of Irene, meaning ‘peace.’ Possible diminutives included Ira, Irochka, Irishka. In Slovak it’s Irena, with diminutives like Irenka and Irchka.
TANYA is not a full name—it’s the common first level diminutive of Tatiana. So likely Tanya’s ‘real’ name was/is Tatiana. Tanya is the nickname. A further, more affectionate nickname might be something like Tanechka or Tanyushka. In Slovak, it might be Tana or Tanichka.
KATE is obviously not a Russian/Slovak name, and neither is Katrina. That’s Dutch/German actually. I think SM was going for Ekaterina, which is the Russian form of Catherine. The first level nickname is generally Katya, and further diminutives might be Katyushka or Katenka. In Slovak, it’s Katerina, with nicknames like Katka, Kachka, Kachenka,
SASHA is a nickname of Alexandra/Aleksandra, which was probably her real name. A more intimate nickname would be something like Sashenka. Sasha is also the Slovak nickname for Alexandra.
Male names have common nicknames too. Sasha’s immortal child was named VASILII, his nickname would likely be Vasya, and further endearments would be Vaska, Vasenka, or Vasyok. In Slovak, it would have probably been more like Vasil.
Keeping Up With the Cullens - Episode 2, pt 4 - Denali
SM addressed this a bit on her website:
”Bella has a very private mind. She can’t be touched there. What Edward and Aro do is clearly a mental thing; Jane, also, works inside the head (Jane doesn’t actually inflict pain on anyone’s body, she just puts the illusion of pain inside her victim’s head. It’s a very effective form of torture). Conversely, what Jasper does is no illusion. He affects the physical body, slowing the pulse and upping the endorphin levels to calm someone, for example, or raising the pulse and pumping out the adrenalin to excite them.”
Now, that’s the official explanation. That Bella is immune only to mental gifts (because of her private mind that becomes a mental shield when she is turned) and that since Jasper’s talent is physical, it still works.
I do have a few questions about this though. Because Bella is also immune to Kate and Alec, and their gifts are given a physical dimension—not just in the movie (which I would understand was necessary for a visual medium), but also in the book! In the movie Alec’s mist is a very noticeable black, but in the book it was STILL a mist, it was just see-through. How is a mist a mental power and not a physical power? A mist is a physical thing in the world, right? Not an illusion? Likewise Kate’s current on her skin. A current is a real thing, not a mental illusion. I’m not sure what SM’s explanations are here.
And re: Jasper, I get how his gift works… on humans. But how is he able to use it on vampires, who don’t have a pulse or a circulatory system to push endorphins and adrenalin around the body? I feel like there is something lacking in this explanation, or at least in our knowledge of vampire anatomy. Does venom serve the purpose of blood in this regard? But if the vampires don’t have a heartbeat (and they don’t), how is the venom circulated? How can Jasper raise or calm a pulse that doesn’t exist?
One major thing in the Guide which was different than what I was expecting was how the Cullens and the Denali met. Because in 2008, SM gave an interview to Italian Twilighters and talked a little about the Denali clan:
Carlisle ran into the three main sisters earlier on, but they were just sort of looking into the vegetarian thing. They didn’t start out that way, for years and years they were the reason behind the myths about the succubus.
They really like human men, but those humans were meals after all. After awhile they started to develop a conscience, it didn’t seem right to have them as food, so they sort of evolved into vegetarian, whereas Carlisle was always that way.
From this, it sounded like Carlisle met them before he had a family, and maybe helped them on their path to vegetarianism, since he met them when they were “just looking into it.”
But the Guide tells a different story, in which Tanya discovered vegetarianism herself, totally independent of Carlisle’s discovery, and they didn’t meet at all until the 1930s and the Denali were already experts at vegetarianism when they met.
I have to say I like the first version better. The idea of innocent, pious Carlisle hanging out with a trio of highly-sexualized succubi really amuses me.
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BD2 Commentary - Mental Powers
I agree with him here—there really wasn’t any way NOT to do it, otherwise it would end up looking really ridiculous with all these physics just staring at each other intensely to convey using their ~powers. But it does take away a bit from the idea that Bella’s shield only protects from mental attacks. There really was no good way to go about it.