Key point the first: It was OYSTERFEST this weekend. What? You don't know what OYSTERFEST is? Oysterfest is the big party one rich guy convinced the town to throw every year because the other party (Seafair) is too political. Which I can agree with, given that the people I wait on like to gossip and think that the waitress doesn't hear. So while Seafair consists of this band and that promotion and Who Gets To Do The Artwork This Year (do NOT get me started) Oysterfest consists of drinking beer, eating raw oysters, wandering around the swag tent and then going on a couple carnival rides. (hopefully in that order. I don't think any human being can eat a raw oyster sober, and going on the Zipper with THAT in your stomach would not be smart).
They have a two hour long parade. Which apparently MUST be watched from our parking lot whilst consuiming massive quantities of tomato juice and Vodka. At 10AM.
Key point the second: Spring. motherfucking. Break. HOW COULD I FORGET THIS?
We will make MONEY this week, my loyal lovely blog-readers. There will be MONEY. Meanwhile I'm editing Starbleached pt 3, no real title yet (Working title is "Dark and Pale" but I don't like it much. Am scouring text for better idea) and that looks to be right on track. ALSO: Artwork. Lots and lots of artwork.
...On to the book, then
Yep, Taranis's important secretary is calling on Merry yet. Again. We've had a murder, an escaped bodiless monster, a blood thirsty psychopathic queen with obvious-yet-unspecified complicating disorder, and a request for a fertility rite in a book that is supposed to be porn. What are we focusing on? DINNER INVITATIONS.
Also, eight o'clock is hideously early and nobody should be making calls at that time.
Yeah. I understand that people have issues with money and working that they can't help...but if you're able-bodied enough to pull half the crap Merry is pulling and you're having financial issues and you are working a 9-5 the way Merry is implied to? Eight AM is not early. Yeah, you might still be in bed at eight, but the human bio-rhythem WILL have you be awake and alert. So somebody in this story, author included, isn't really used to being awake and active before noon.
(Yeah. If I have one ugly part to my personality it is that I have NO patience for able-bodied and able-minded people who complain about having no money and yet don't work. I'm not quite at that "McDonalds is hiring" stage, only because I know having a bad job makes finding a good one even harder, but working when you are not broken and you need money isn't optional--and even if you are broken, sometimes having a job will keep you moving and alive. Physical and mental disabilities are different, but Merry isn't disabled. Merry Gentry needs money, Merry Gentry is literally magic, Merry Gentry should be working hard enough for 8 am to not feel early)
Merry is in bed with Nicca and Rhys. Nicca has ankle length hair that he doesn't bind up somehow before he goes to bed. LKH describes the results of this as "slightly tangled."
Guys, I have long hair. Mid-back. when I don't bind it up--which I forget to do a lot--I wake up with tangles that make Bob Marley's dreds look like the hair in a shampoo ad. I call bullshit.
They arrange themselves to be impressive modestly covered--because all those icky human mores have invaded the Seelie court--and answer the secretary of the King of the Faerie wearing nothing but bedsheets.
TAKE THE MAGIC TELEPHONE MIRROR OUT OF YOUR FUCKING BEDROOM BEFORE YOU EMBARRASS YOURSELF.
Important!Secretary invites Merry to a feast in her honor before Yule, thus getting that icky "I have to go to only one ball" stuff out of the way, and making it really obvious that Taranis wants to talk to Merry. So Merry does the first smart thing she's done all book: She asks to speak with Taranis directly.
Important!Secretary implies that Merry might want to get dressed before she talks to the King.
Merry takes offense at this:
“I think that I will present myself to the king as I see fit, Rosmerta.” I’d left off the Dame deliberately. She was a minor noblewoman, and I outranked her. That I gave her the courtesy of her title was just that, a courtesy. I didn’t have to do it.Yes. Isn't she the nicest person in the universe?
Rhys tells Merry about what a party boy Taranis was centuries ago, and then calls first dibs on the shower.
Like I said. RIVETING.
Merry and Nicca have sex...and then Maeve Reed and her husband Gordon show up on Merry's doorstep in chapter 34.
Gordon is still dying of Plot Disease.
I am going to assume that they have tried to heal him with magic and failed. I can't, however, assume they have tried IVF because, you know, it would work.
And she's wearing a fur coat, a scarf, shoes, a pair of sunglasses, and nothing else. Apparently we're doing the fertility ritual today.
They spend a few minutes bickering over Maeve's cigarettes. Given that the lady is chain smoking, I really have to know what she plans on doing if this ritual works out. Merry has to have the last word:
She actually pouted at me. I’d had enough. “When I come back inside heavy with magic, I want to find Conchenn, goddess of beauty and spring, not some spoiled star. No glamour either. I want to see those lightning-kissed eyes.”Yep. Let's dictate to the woman whose husband is dying. HER HUSBAND IS DYING, this ritual is her last chance to get something of him to keep forever, AND YOU ARE CALLING HER SPOILED BECAUSE SHE'S BEING NERVIOUS IN YOUR LIVING ROOM. Did it ever occur to you that maybe she's chain smoking and twitching because the alternative is to think about how her husband is dying right before her eyes?
Merry decides on Galen to be the male half of her fertility ritual. The good news is, he is now "the green man" and not "the green knight" (...my brain just went "so maybe LKH was trying to do some kind of play with Galen's impotence and the implied virginity of Gawain and most of the other knights, which is only implied if you're just reading the sanitized, Disney versions of the Authurian legands" and I realized that I'm probably reading too much into a book the AUTHOR can't be bothered to edit)
Also? I might be reading this wrong, but it looks like Merry will be doing this fertility ritual in somebody else's backyard.
Religious freedom is one thing, but you know what? I don't think there are a lot of people who would support two strangers fucking in their back yard, religion or no religion.
Chapter 35, Merry is getting ready for the ritual. We find out what the ritual needs (land with no pesticides or herbacides, wards that nothing short of deities could cross) (Also sex) and then she starts describing the yard. Apparently it's also a lemon grove. There are eucalyptus trees there too. I am pretty positive this has some kind of significance, but fuck if I know what it is.
And then LKH shows some truely basic ignorance of textiles:
A large cotton blanket lay on the ground, waiting. Maeve had offered to bring silk sheets, but all we needed was something of the earth, animal or vegetable.Silk is caterpillar spit. That's all it is. One long thread of caterpillar spit wound 'round and 'round and 'round. It's a natural fiber, and Maeve probably has the chops to get it with as little processing as possible (BTW raw silk has the most interesting smell in the world. Some people don't like it, as it's very musky and fishy, but I LOVE the smell of raw silk)
There are other reasons I'd exclude silk from a fertility ritual--namely, you have to kill the bugs to get the silk, often by boiling it--but excluding silk because it's not "of the earth" is like excluding dingos because they're not proper dogs. But Merry's excuse is that she couldn't feel the earth through the silk as she could through the cotton.
Right. Whatever. It's your ritual.
Galen shows up. LKH once again describes his genitals without actually using the word "Penis". You know, I get that penis is a funny word and it tends to break the romantic spell, but using "him" to describe said penis feels a bit to me like reducing the man down to his genitals. Like they're the only part of him that matters.
(Best description of a penis I have read so far: In Paladin of Souls, which you should all read now because it has a 40-something female protagonist and the best religious system in the history of written things--Lois McMaster Bujold describes a man from hair to feet, and when she gets to the lower parts, it reads thusly: "the hair...thickened at his crotch. The bird that nested there was fine and fair, and Ista smiled." THAT is how you describe a penis)
And then...I think LKH forgot what she was writing:
I think I stopped breathing for a second or two. I hadn’t really believed that he would come. I had grown tired of hoping. Now, here he was.
Uh...you agreed to have Galen as your partner before you left the apartment and went to some stranger's abandoned back yard. I don't see why you'd be so confuzzled by this.
The ritual doesn't commense, exactly, but they start playing with each others auras. Using an excercise I think I read in a Starhawk book (...don't ask, okay?) and thought "Gee, that'd be fun to do if I ever got bored, but I don't think things work that way". When they get tired of playing with auras, Galen starts playing with Merry's boobs. And apparently sex magic=warm feelings, because everything has "Warmth" attached to it. Warmth, warmth, warmth warmth warmth. Yep, it doesn't look like a word anymore.
The next runner up is "spilling". The wind is spilling over bodies, hair is spilling over shoulders, sensations are spilling into warmth, and I have to say whoever has to clean up all the spills is going to need industrial strength bleach.
Also...why do fantasy writers like "Dark light" when describing eyes and things? I mean, I'm pretty sure I've done it too, and it doesn't make any more sense in my own writing. Darkness is not a thing. It's an absense. No light=darkness. A "dark light" is something very very dim.
It's also really hilarious how the more intense the sex scene becomes the more punctuation LKH forgets to use. And apparently when they orgasm they have a literal out of body experiance and become trees and kites (I think?) and go flying around and then they become the earth, and then they become themselves again and there is magic. Somehow.
If this were true, what happens if you own a vibrator? Brings a whole new meaning to "magic wand". Would you have debates about ebony vs. steel and crystal vs. simulated flesh with vibrating and rotational action? And would recharable lithium batteries enter into the conversation? I'll bet sex shops in this universe hate dealing with returns:
"I came and it turned my boyfriend into a goldfish!"
"All of him?"
"Oh, not my entire boyfriend. Just his important part. You know. His penis. It turned his scrotum into a kitten. The rest of him is fine."
"Yeah, that's the Victory model. That should clear right up after the goldfish spawns. I don't suppose you have a spare tank? Because my brother owns this great aquarium supply shop. Totally unrelated. Could I interest him in a female goldfish?"
Anyway, Merry and Galen go back inside and give Maeve her fertility magic so she and Gordon can go make a baby.