Merry waits outside the throne room for her melodramatic entrance. We spend a few paragraphs describing the flowers. The bloodthirsty flowers Merry brought back to life with her own blood. Yeah, the whole Merry-as-Messiah thing is getting old.
Her group has goblins in it. Most of them get described in minute detail, including the two Merry promised to "bring over".
So they wait until somebody goes to the Queen to confirm that Merry's dead, and then Merry walks into the court, covered head to toe in blood. People scream. I think we're supposed to think it's screams of horror that the girl's still alive, but I'm thinking it's got more to do with the blood.
The Sluagh is behind the Queen. This happens:
Nightflyers like a cross among giant bats, tentacled horrors, and airborne manta rays clung to the stones at her back, going up and up like a living curtain of dark flesh.I think that sentence had a point in there, but it got lost in the discription. Also: Someone needs to take the word "flesh" away from Laurel because it stopped looking like a word six chapters ago.
Sholto gets described. Sholto has one major flaw: His chest is made of tenticles. Which is freaky and apparently LKH's attempt to include every fetish known to man in this series. Also:
Modern clothing was nearly unwearable without his magic to make everything lie smoothly.So...how does Glamour work in this universe? A lot of times during Sage's little adventure Merry repeated that his size was just an illusion, but there's a matter of physics here. If you can't get a shirt on over the things, how does the Glamour make them disappear? And why do they come back when the glamour is gone? Making something disappear is a hell of a lot harder than making something appear. You can, say, make a force-feild (I know, sci-fi in a fantasy) shaped like a man, that feels roughly like a man, and encapsulate a smaller thing--ie Sage--within that feild. But if you make a feild and you have bits outside of it, those bits get cut off. Is Sholto regenerating his tenticles every time he drops his glamour? Are they getting moved somewhere else? When you go out of your way to explain something like this, these questions come up.
There's a fae named Afagdu. Afagdu. I hope he's a deity because otherwise LKH mashed her fist into the keyboard a few times.
Merry's official title is now Princess of Flesh and Blood.
Kitto took his place at my feet, and all we needed was a jeweled collar to mimic Tyler at the queen’s.Yes, we're comparing the person who looks and acts like a twelve year old to Andais's sex toy.
We get a couple middling-good paragraphs about Red Caps--which are truely terrifying critters straight from Ireland--and a whole lot of really awful ones on the same subject. One of 'em greets Merry with this:
“I am Jonty, and Kurag, Goblin King, has ordered me to protect your white flesh.
Yes. Let's fully establish this: the most desired skin tone in either court is white. And in this court it's like, fishbelly, cave-thing white. So basically we've got a second class citizen specifying that one of the things that makes Merry valuable is the color of her skin.
Jonty licks the blood off her skin, because blood is important to goblins. And then Holly and Ash lick the blood off. And then the Demi Fey lick the blood off, and it just keeps going.
Finally one of the other Sidhe begin cat-calling Merry. Nice. Apparently he's king of shapeshifters, or something, so Doyle shows off for him. Hence that scene way back in the beginning of this book where he spontaneously shapeshifted.
Doyle says that Nerys smells like the spell that made the Queen try to kill everybody. Then he explains to everyone that
And then they really throw down the gauntlet:
“If this mortal becomes queen , then we are honor-bound to take blood oath from her, to bind us to her. To take blood oath, very much as we take on the dueling ground.” Miniver looked up at Andais, and there was something close to pleading on her face. “Don’t you see, my queen, if we take her blood into us and bind ourselves to her mortal peril, then we could lose our own immortality? We would cease to be sidhe.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute. So we have a far-reaching conspiracy to incapacitate the queen and assassinate Merry to avoid the very real chance that Merry will be the next Fairy queen, because there's a strong fear that Merry's mortality will infect all of the Unseelie court. That looks like plot. That looks like GOOD plot. Why the fuck did this not show up earlier in the book?
Miniver shook her head. “Your answer to everything is death and violence , Andais. It has led us to be childless and near powerless, but our immortality, you cannot have that.”
GODDAMN, girl. Miniver, I like you. Where have you been all this novel? Seriously, that lays out exactly what issues the court has with Merry becoming queen. These people have lost everything. Power, prestige, their status as deities, and their ability to have children. It's very much a decaying old order trying to cling to whatever privelage they have left, and the only thing they've got is immortality. It makes perfect sense that they'd try to kill Merry over this.
So Miniver challenges Merry to a duel. And this creates a catch 22 for Merry. See, the Fae have to exchange blood before a duel, and in the past, that's made Merry's opponents mortal. Which is why they believe that she is mortal. So if she wins and kills Miniver, she's proved that the mortality holds and that Miniver has a damn good point. If she loses, she's dead. Oops.
Seriously. WHY WAS THIS NOT THE BOOK. THIS is what I would have paid money to read. WHY IS THIS RELEGATED TO THE VERY FUCKING END?
Andais tries to refuse to let it go, and Nerys brings up that Andais never got in the way when Cel was trying to kill Merry. So Merry has to go and fight Miniver.
They choose magic, and Merry plans on using the cuts from the blood oath before the duel to kill Miniver, or at least incapacitate her .The chapter ends with Merry thinking "I've got her now."
And this, children, is why Laurel K. Hamilton is the most frustrating author I've ever read. WHY WAS THIS NOT THE ENTIRE NOVEL? WHY?