Sunday, November 23, 2008

Swallowing Darkness

Swallowing Darkness
(Merry Gentry Book 7)
Written by: Laurell K Hamilton
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Language: English
November 2008, $25.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy

I am Meredith, princess of faerie, wielder of the hands of Flesh and Blood, and at long last, I am with child–twins, fathered by my royal guard. Though my uncle, Taranis, King of Light and Illusion, claims that he is the true father since he abducted me from my home, betrayed, and defiled me. And now he has branded my guards as a threat to my unborn children.

Bearing an heir has placed me halfway to my aunt’s throne, that much closer to my reign over the Unseelie Court–and well ahead of her son, my cousin Cel, in this race. Now I must stay alive to see my children born and claim my place as queen.

But not all in faerie are pleased with the news, and conspirators from every court in the realm plot against me and mine. They seek to strip my guards, my lovers, from me by poisoned word or cold steel. But I still have supporters, and even friends, among the goblins and the sluagh, who will stand by me.

I am Meredith Nic Essus, and those who would defy and destroy me are destined to pay a terrible price–for I am truly my father’s daughter. To protect what is mine, I will sacrifice anything–even if it means waging a great battle against my darkest enemies and making the most momentous decision ever made as princess of faerie.


If you’ve read my earlier review on the Harlequin then you know how I feel about Hamilton’s Anita Blake series. And while the Merry Gentry series is not light on the smut either, it was in this volume and in subsequent volumes there has been a point to it. And that point was first to get pregnant not only gets to rule the Unseelie Court, but gets to keep their life. Some volumes are a bit better than others, but the thing I have loved the most about this series was the sidhe themselves. I love how Faerie is returning to life and I love reading about this new awakening. It’s magical and a joy to read, but then again I am a sucker for anything fey (same goes with zombies and vampires).

I saw a lot of bad reviews for this one and to be honest I am a bit surprised. Not that it is without flaws, because they are there, but it is one of the better volumes and if Hamilton decided to stop there I would be okay with it (she is not though and has said so on her blog). Although I will say when the title was first released I laughed out loud. ‘Swallowing Darkness?’ Really? Considering that the lead male character is called Darkness and the books have never been light on the smut. You can see why I laughed out loud, but could you really blame me?

But back to the book. A Lick of Frost, the previous volume, ended on bit of a downer. Despite Merry finally becoming pregnant (which we knew would eventually happen), Frost, my favorite character beyond Doyle, was sacrificed so that Merry could be Queen. Worse, Merry herself was raped by her Uncle, the King of the Seelie. Not a happy place to start Swallowing Darkness with. And it shouldn’t be. The loss of Frost is still raw and so are uncle’s doings. The rape is a bit glossed over and that is a flaw because Merry should have to deal with it psychologically at some point, but the gal has a lot to still deal with. Now that she is carrying twins everyone wants a piece of her. Some want her to rule the Seelie Court, some want to keep her as far away from either throne as they can. And even more still worry about the strength of her future kings. Getting pregnant was the first step, but it is all far from over.

The one thing I liked about Merry in this book was she finally started acting like a Queen. She was no longer a hesitant oh woe is me chickie. She became her father’s daughter, albeit a bit more ruthless and willing to do whatever it takes to protect the lives of the children she carries and the men she loves. There are many who don’t think she should have the throne with her human lineage, but the Goddess makes it quite clear that she is tired of the Sidhe not recognizing the gifts and boons she is giving them through Merry and perhaps it is time that magic came to the mortal world. I am glad this isn’t the end, because I think Hamilton could do a lot with this series if she wanted to. This is the beginning and things are finally on Merry’s terms.

As I said there are flaws though. Cel’s character did change a bit, but then again the man is a complete nutter and to be honest nothing would be surprise me although I was expecting a bit more of a fight and sadly it was a bit anti-climactic. Queen Andais wasn’t in it a lot, which is unfortunate because I love the beautiful and twisted sociopath. But I understood her at the end, madness at all. What wouldn’t you do when it really came down to your children? Is she contradictory, yeah. I got it though. Sure I missed some of the intrigue, the misdirection, but I know it will come back. The ending is a bit rushed, but as I said I know this is not the end.

More action that sexual antics, this was a great volume in my opinion though I think it may be one of those that you either love or hate. For me, it proved that the Laurell K Hamilton I fell in love with is still out there and that hope I spoke of in my Harlequin review just got a little bit bigger. It’s not tidy, its not perfect but it exceeded my expectations.

3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks


thebonebreaker said...

Nice Review!
[and that is pretty funny, regarding the title! :-)

SciFiGuy said...

Enjoyed your review. I agree that her recent books are showing some sign of her old form and that maybe not all is lost for both Merry and Anita.

Anonymous said...

just got blog back up and running. i posted a few pics from Halloween night & other oddites. check it out when you get some time
stay true~