However, if you listen to Nickleback for more than three seconds, you'll notice their songs have two themes: Sex and violence, or teh dramas. I'm listening because the bass beat is cool and I want my ears to hate me in the morning, but the lyrics are either about having sex, wanting sex, sex workers of one form or another, lonliness, drunken bar fights, or someone dying of drug addiction. Laurel K. Hamilton's books are about sex, having sex, wanting sex, sex workers of some sort, lonliness, fights, or someone dying of whatever. In other words, they are exactly the same. Only without the bass beat which is the only justification for Nickleback's existence. I mean, at least with Nickleback you feel like getting into a fight of some sort. LKH just makes you contemplate razor blades and tall buildings, and I'm speaking as a major depressive with a moderate S/I problem.
That said, when she nails it, she nails. it.
There are no seconds in a seelie duel. Once one of the combatants can no longer continue, the fight ends. There is no second to pick up the weapon and avenge you. But you can choose who wields the blade that draws your blood for the oath.This is what we came to the dance for, kids. Blood-oathed combat to the fucking death. We had to wade through a book of basically nothing to get here, but we're finally here and we get to--
WE ARE NOT IN THE SEELIE COURT YOU STUPID IDIOT.
There are no seconds in a seelie duel.
Look, I was trying to give you a compliment. That's something I don't do often, which makes it very special. STOP FUCKING UP IN THE VERY FIRST LINE.
I'm fairly certain she meant sidhe duel, but that's not what she wrote. She wrote seelie, which has about as much to do with the price of tea in china as the DOW index ATM. Seelie court and Unseelie court rules are, according to this mythos, completely unrelated.
Laurel. THIS IS WHY YOUR NO-EDIT CLAUSE IS BAD. And I just hope to god that when they lowered the boom earlier this year (Which, apparently, they did) they managed to get you back under somebody's oversight.
Doyle had borrowed a ribbon to pull his hair back from his face.
I'm imagining Applebloom's little pink bow. Isn't it adorable.
He put the tip of his knife against my lower lip, the very point of his sharp knife against the soft skin of my mouth.YOU ARE SAYING THE SAME THING TWICE. STOP IT.
And then we get a really quick analysis of what "To the third blood" means. Those of us who are hoping it's the Merryverse equivlant of "to the pain" are sorely dissapointed. It simply means that you get cut three times and have to rub your bloodied bits on the other person's similarly bloodied bits. What makes that interesting is that it (somehow) dictates how much protection you can have during the fight. First blood is a cut on the lip, it means armor sans helmets. Second blood is a slice on the wrist, so armor sans helm and gauntlets.Third blood means a cut in the neck, and somehow this means you can't have any armor on at all.
It's a nice chunk of worldbuilding. Worldbuilding that makes no sense, but it's something that has nothing to do with Merry's vagina, so I'm enjoying it.
Of course, the bad part about the wounds is if your own blade-weilder does a shitty job on the cutting, the other guy's friends get to cut you.
I’d had Galen wield the knife once, and he’d been so squeamish about hurting me that two of the wounds had had to be redone. Cel’s friends had damn near slit my wrist.Is it just me, or is Merry finally developing a kind of attitude?
I fought the urge to lick my own lip as I felt the blood seep down my chin, but we were supposed to save that blood for each other.WHY? Seriously, this needs to be elaborated on. Why do you have to drink each other's blood for a duel? It works for Merry because it makes her opponants as mortal as she is, but if most Sidhe aren't mortal, why would they be swapping blood during a duel?
We stayed unmoving for a heartbeat or two, then she started forward, striding in her full skirt like a confident golden cloud. I walked to meet her. I had to be more careful, because the high heels I was wearing were not meant for striding over old stones.FOR. FUCK'S. SAKE. TAKE THE GODDAMNED STILETTOS OFF FOR YOUR DUEL TO THE DEATH BEFORE THEY GET YOU KILLED.
I am not bothered by how LKH's characters dress. I am bothered by how they dress when all logic to the contrary insists they dress differently. CASE IN FUCKING POINT RIGHT HERE. If Merry can't cross a level floor at a slow walk in the damn things then HOW THE FUCK does she expect to survive the duel in them? YOU CAN TAKE THEM OFF THEY ARE NOT A PART OF YOUR SUPERHERO CATSUIT.
Miniver makes eyes at Merry's bloody wounds. Merry realizes that--holy shit--the bloodthirsty Seelie warrior goddess who cut her way to the top of the unseelie court actually has bloodlust. She's probably the person who set up Andais to kill all her guards and friends! And that gives Merry something she can use.
So...basically, asexual lesbian makeout scene.
I. am. not. kidding.
I closed the distance between us, wading into that stiff gold cloth until I could feel her legs, her hips, against my body. She watched the blood at my throat, as if the rest of me were not there. I finally moved close enough that I had to put my hands around her waist to keep steady on my high heels.Yep.
That said, there's an interesting subtext in the Merry-Miniver byplay that actually works. This book, if it's about anything, is about total, paralyzing excess. Miniver is very repressed (as is a certain urban fantasy author we all know and love) and she's unable to act on her deepest desires. Merry notices this, marks it as bad, and decides to drag those urges to the surface to distract Miniver.
...It's worth noting that these urges are WANTON FUCKING MURDER. And that's where, as usual, LKH's attempts at making generalized morality bad falls apart. She doesn't understand why general morality is...well, generally negative. It's negative because of homophobia, transphobia, and generalized injustice, but she assumes its because of teh sex. If she were truely trying to show how repressed urges are wrong, Asher and Jean Claude (And their Merryverse clones, Frost and Doyle) would have fucked each other a long, long time ago. Instead, we get a very gender-specific, very heterosexual, extremely unhealthy sexual realtionship that is potentially lethal. LKH is trying to build a strawman out of repression and name it Miniver...but Miniver is repressing the urge to murder.
It'd also probably be cool if LKH were playing at the concept of non-human intelligances. But she's not. None of these people have needs apart from Merry. All things lead back to the Magic Vag of Holding. You cannot have a fully realized universe if the Main Character is the center of it. Nope, these Fae are human, in as much as they are allowed to be anything, and the theme here is not alien morality but rather sexual repression.
Anyway, Merry's entire tactical plan is to distract Miniver from using her long-distance hand of power--the one that would kill her ass--and to provoke her into using the hand that is up close and personal. Basically, Miniver has a magic gun, and Merry wants to make her use her brass knuckles instead.
She provokes Miniver into torturing her.
This is supposed to be a victory for the main character.
Merry then drains Miniver's blood using her Hand of Blood (...god that's repetative) and she explodes Miniver's throat.
With a thought.
So instantly it took me a second to find where it happened.
I stared at the gaping red mess that had been her throat, her spine shining wetly in the lights. I could see the bones of her clavicle just over her breasts. With all that damage, she was still struggling to kill me. She should have been dying by now. Why wasn’t she dying?
Because your author is trying to remove the only barrier between you and the throne. Also: Melodramatic horseshit hides the fact that she basically ended the climax fight so quickly I couldn't figure out where the fuck it happened for a minute or two.
- I shoved my power into her. I could feel it like a huge balled fist...
....As I said, asexual lesbian makeout scene.
Merry then explodes Miniver's chest. Because GOD FORBID we end a chapter without GRUESOME GORE AND MURDER.
And Miniver is still alive.
The Queen declares the duel over. Merry crawls out of the magic circle, then insists the Queen tell the court what Miniver and Nerys did. The Queen does. Then Merry feeds Nerys and Miniver to the Demi-Fey.
Please remember, the last time somebody got fed to the Demi-Fey, it was Galen, and the bit they ate was his crotch.
And then they throw the two women to the goblins, who begin literally tearing the two of them apart, but they don't die. So the Queen gives Merry--who can't fucking stand at this point--the Fair-killing sword and tells her that if she can't manage to kill somebody else when she can't fucking stand, the Queen will let the goblins and Demi-fey eat the two women alive. And it is heavily implied the goblins will rape them a whole lot first.
The Queen is not written to be the bad guy at this point.
Merry tries to be merciful and kill them. The Queen calls this weakness, so LKH has Merry try to be meaningful:
“I do not do it for their pleasure or their pain; I do it because it matters to me what I do, not what they do, not what anyone else does, only what I do.”
And the problem with this is why that ought to matter. It's the reason why we have laws preventing us from, say, lynching pedophiles and serial killers and rapists. What makes us different from monsters is what we, as individuals, do. But our actions don't take place in a vacuum. It does matter what "anyone else" does. It matters because we have to live with the decisions and choices of others. That's why the debate over capital punishment, abortion, and war isn't cut and dried. We have laws, not to punish the wrong-doers, but to prevent ourselves from becoming monsters. The question we have to ask ourselves, every day, is which would make us more monstrous: To act, or to do nothing?
Merry's choice here is ultimately selfish: She does whatever she can live with. The real choice here, given that she's a princess, is what is the best message to send to her future followers. What action on her part would best show the value of the individual life, the individual rights, in the face of ultimate wrong-doing? What can she do to show that despite everything, despite bad behavior and poor choices, the life before her still has value and should be honored to some degree?
Of course this is not the question that Merry ever asks herself. The tone of Miniver and Nerys death is not one of a leader setting the tone for the future, but rather that of a relatively sheltered child recoiling in disgust from all the nasty bloody stuff.
“At the rate you are healing, the goblins will most likely use you for sex before they begin to cut off pieces of you for food.”
Yes, Merry. Let's threaten our captives with rape and cannibalism. That's exactly what a leader ought to do.
Finally, Merry kills Nerys, mostly so Miniver can see what will happen to her if she insists on this whole "living" thing. Galen makes Merry take off those goddamn high heels. Merry's response?
I turned my head just enough to see his face, and managed a smile. “Smart you.”
WHAT IS THIS I DO NOT EVEN NO. NO. NO YOU DO NOT GET TO WRITE A FEMALE CHARACTER AS BEING SO GODDAMN CLUELESS SHE WOULD NOT TAKE HER OWN GODDAMN HIGH HEELS OFF THE SECOND THEY BECAME UNNECESSARY. I mean, LKH posts photos of her own "sexy" heels ALL THE GODDAMN TIME (none of which are four inch stilettos) so I would think she'd understand the principle of TAKING THEM OFF WHEN THEY BEGIN TO HURT. I saw photos of men in heels and socks several years ago and my reaction was not "TEE HEE FASHION FAUX PAS" but rather "OH MY GOD THAT IS SUCH A GOOD IDEA WHY CAN WOMEN NOT DO THIS THIS WOULD SAVE US SO MANY BLISTERS AND PAINFUL MOMENTS"
One of the smaller Red Caps was kneeling beside Miniver. His fingers were playing in the healing flesh of her chest. He traced and tickled her flesh , as if he were touching her genitalia. A touch here, a caress there, and it showed skill, but his fingers weren’t between her legs. His fingers were inside the meat of her chest. He was caressing the top of her heart as if that would finally bring her to orgasm.
And this is the moment Merry loses all credability as a leader. Because HOLY SHIT that is the most disturbing passage in this ENTIRE NOVEL. INTERNAL ORGAN RAPE. Congradulations, LKH, you finally managed to find something worse than all your other books put together.
Miniver tries to kill Merry one more time, so Merry lets them drag her off alive.
Meanwhile, Merry gets magic healing! End of chapter.
Next chapter: THE GREAT SUMMERY OF DOOM.
Which...is a gigantic orgy in the Queen's bed, where Merry comforts all her men and they divide the housework. Not kidding.
END OF BOOK.
SO. DISCUSS: Next book. Options are:
Your suggestions (Which you haven't offeret yet)
'Nother ANita book
'Nother Merry Book
The Elsie Dinsmore series.(Which makes Laurel K. Hamilton look fucking progressive in comparison)
An actual positive book! My current vote is Pride and Prejudice but it's your choice, my lovelies.