by Billie Doux
"Like the flashbacks on Lost, Eric's Viking memories had broken into the flow of the current story."
[Although I don't reveal whodunit, this review contains many spoilers.]
The weres and shifters reveal their existence to the world, just as the vampires did a few years ago. Jason's estranged wife Crystal is found murdered and crucified in the Merlotte's parking lot, and Sam's mother is shot by his stepfather, but survives. With Sam away, Sookie runs Merlotte's. Arlene's involvement with the Fellowship of the Sun reaches a critical point when she helps them target Sookie for a copycat crucifixion murder. Two FBI agents arrive in Bon Temps to investigate Sookie's telepathic rescue activities in Rhodes, and get distracted by the hate crime crucifixions.
After discovering that the King of Nevada plans to take Sookie to Vegas permanently and use her as a human lie detector, Eric marries Sookie in a vampire ceremony in order to keep her in Louisiana. Eric shares details about his past with Sookie, and they become lovers again. Or finally.
Sookie gets caught between factions in a fae war (does this sound familiar, or what) and she and Tray Dawson are captured by her great-grandfather Niall's enemies and tortured nearly to death. After rescue by Niall and Bill, Sookie is partially healed by Eric before a final confrontation with the evil fae where a pregnant Claudine, Tray Dawson, and Clancy the bartender are killed.
Definitely one of the best books in the series, and that's in spite of how far it went. Or maybe it was because of how far it went.
This installment is pretty much the culmination of eight books' worth of emotional Sookie/Eric foreplay. The long scene where Sookie, upset about Crystal's murder, goes to Eric and he tells her about his human life, his wife and children, and how he was sexually victimized by his maker after he was turned is my favorite scene in the series (at least so far, and I'm up to book eleven). He also tells her what the witch's curse in book four actually was -- that he would be close to his heart's desire without realizing it.
Deliberately or unintentionally, Eric has become a lot more accessible, and made himself much easier for Sookie to love. I got the feeling that Sookie finally committed to Eric because she was molested as a child and he was sexually victimized as well. Sookie doesn't even stay mad that he tricked her into a vampire marriage, and she starts telling people that she and Eric are married as if she's happy about it.
Fairies are mean, nasty creatures, and the fae war is a lot more vicious than the previous vampire, witch and werewolf conflicts. The fairy goons who torture Sookie and Dawson are so massively evil that Sookie learns they were also responsible for murdering her parents. One of them bites Bill with silver-capped teeth, and at the end of the book, Bill is near death. It's a touching quid pro quo that Bill rescues Sookie, since she once rescued Bill from a similar situation at the hands of Lorena. Bill has been something of an afterthought for several books now, but he absolutely kept his word to Sookie that he would watch over her, and I rather like him again.
Sookie wonders why she never mind-read anything about her fairy grandfather from Adele. Good question, left unanswered. And here are two more. Why did Bill and Niall come to rescue Sookie, but not Eric, when he was the one who must have sensed every moment of her fear and pain? And Niall's final words to Sookie before he leaves to close the entrance to Faery is, "The vampire is not a bad man, and he loves you." Did he mean Bill or Eric?
I hated losing Claudine, and the fact that she was pregnant made it worse. Interesting that with Crystal killed at the beginning and Claudine at the end, two pregnant women were killed in this book. And they were both related, legally or by blood, to Sookie.
Bits and pieces:
-- It has been two and a half months since the Vegas takeover in the previous book, which would probably make it mid-January.
-- Loved the opener about vampire reality shows a la What Not to Wear. Very funny. I also loved Sookie in a mall food court with Claudine and Claude.
-- Jason had an airtight alibi for when Crystal was murdered, or he would almost certainly have gone down for it.
-- Jason has a new best friend, Mel Hart, a werepanther exile from Hotshot.
-- Sookie's great uncle Dermot the half-fairy looks almost exactly like Jason. Dermot was set up as a bad guy, but we never actually spend any time with him.
-- Calvin and Tanya have become a couple. Tara and JB are going to have a baby.
-- Octavia reconnects with her old boyfriend and moves out of Sookie's house and back to New Orleans.
-- Sam is really, really unhappy about Sookie's marriage to Eric.
-- Sookie refers to sex with Eric as "gourmet sex". The love scenes certainly make it sound like it is.
-- Eric's human wife a thousand years ago was named Aude. I wonder if that was a small tribute to Buffy?
-- "Caucasian vampires should never wear white," the announcer intoned.
-- Various churches were thrashing out their policy on weres. "We don't know what to think," a Vatican official confessed. "They're alive, they're among us, they must have souls. Even some priests are wereanimals." The fundamentalists were equally stymied. "We were worried about Adam and Steve," a Baptist minister said. "Should we have been more worried about Rover and Fluffy?"
-- "I added to my mental list of the odd things I'd done that day. I'd entertained the police, sunbathed, visited at a mall with some fairies, weeded, and killed someone. Now it was powdered corpse removal time. And the day wasn't over yet."
Television series notes
Season three of the television series True Blood featured quite a bit about Eric's human past, but the only similarity to the books is that his father was indeed a chief, and his maker, Appius Livius Ocella, was Roman. I thought it made sense in the television series for Eric's maker to be Godric and for their relationship to be such a positive one, but I much prefer Eric's past in the book series. It humanized him in a big way.
My next book review will be posted in two to three weeks.
Again, important notice! After eleven books and four seasons of the series, I have no idea what kind of spoiler limitations to put on the comments section under these circumstances -- so I'm not going to put any. It's a spoiler free for all! If you're new to the books and haven't seen all of the television series True Blood, reading the comments may, and probably will, spoil you. Read on at your own risk!