A Stroke of Midnight Chapter 21: A man so sexy you’ll claw your eyes out

Chapter 21 begins with Merry asking Hafwyn to start healing her men. One of the prisoners take exception to this, arguing that they are higher on the sidhe food chain than lowly guards, and thus should be healed first. Because obviously they totally realize that Merry cares about all that.

Merry tells them to pound sand, she doesn’t give a shit. They tell her that they have powerful families who would be bad to oppose, and say that since they didn’t attack Merry outright, they have not yet proven to be her enemies.

Merry finally allows Hafwyn to look at all the wounded, not just her men. Then, one of Merry’s guards, Adair, and Kieran sort of start… complimenting each other? On their magic? And armor? What?

Anyway, this leads them to start discussing “human magic”, meaning science and guns and technology. They then talk for a while about how Kieran and the others don’t believe they’ll be punished at all for their attack, since Andais still needs allies, despite, you know, being the one who STARTED all this clan warfare. It’s really boring and not even worth summarizing even more.

Then Frost gets a call on his magical knife. Rhys starts yelling at them for forgetting about the cops they invited in. Yeah, no one gives a shit about the cops unless it’s convenient. Merry finally agrees that she’ll come as soon as she’s able. Then, Hafwyn asks to start healing Aisling’s wounds.

Aisling… I can’t remember if he’s been brought up yet or not. Aisling is one of the sidhe men who may or may not be one of Merry’s guards? Can’t remember and don’t particularly care. He always covers himself in a cloak and mask for reasons. He doesn’t want to remove the cloak to let Hafwyn heal him, but eventually he’s convinced to remove just the cloak.

“I’d forgotten that you covered your face,” I said, and hadn’t really meant to say it out loud.

“Much is forgotten,” he said, hands still holding his cloak around his bloody side.

“I said I forgot that you covered your face, not why.”

“Yes, yes,” Hafwyn said, “the most beautiful man in the world. So beautiful that if a woman, or even some men, look upon your face they will be instantly besotted with you and unable to deny you anything.” She grabbed his cloak and tried to wrench it from his hands, and finished the rest through gritted teeth. “But I am not asking you to take off your veil, just your tunic.”

“I fear what effect it would have upon a mortal.”

Hafwyn stopped struggling with him, and leaned back on her heels, I think too surprised to know what to do. I realized then that he meant me. How could I ever truly rule here if they still thought of me as a human?

Gee, maybe it’s because all you ever do is come close to death and then make human decisions that terrify and threaten the sidhe’s way of life?

Aisling tells them that the only thing that could break the enchantment, if Merry were to become besotted with him upon first sight, is that Merry must be in true love with someone. His magic cannot break true love.

They again start arguing about Merry’s mortality for another page or so, before Merry just straight up orders Aisling to take off his goddamn shirt so he can be healed. Her reasoning is that if she’s too mortal to look upon the sight of his bare chest, she’s too mortal to be their queen. So, he removes his cloak and Merry sees his bare chest. It’s sprinkled with gold dust and glitters from the light.

Merry then realizes that she’s totally already seen Aisling nude, when she was trying to protect the guards from Andais’s sadistic urges in one of the last books. So, they determine that either Merry is more sidhe than mortal, or that Aisling lost too much of his power. Wild card!

Hafwyn finally can start healing everyone, and while she’s doing so Merry finally just outright asks why Galen was targeted and attacked. She tells them it’s because Galen is a “green man”. He’s got green skin, remember. But what’s ‘green man’ mean? No one knows. No one except Melangell, one of Cel’s most outspoken guards, who has been insulting and threatening both Merry and Hafwyn since she was captured.

Merry then decides to use Aisling’s power of besottment against Melangell, assuming that if Melangell is besotted with Aisling, she will answer any question asked of her. I thought Aisling’s powers worked on mortals, they said nothing about how it works on the sidhe. Who cares, it’s for the plot!

So he removes his veil and Melangell is instantly in love with him, so she’s able to answer any question. It still takes forever to get her to fucking answer. I mean, this is a Laurell K. Hamilton book, of course no one can give a straight fucking answer.

Turns out Cel had gone to a prophet to see if Merry would be a true threat to him. “She would bring life back to the court with the help of the green man and the chalice.” And since Galen is the only “green man” in Merry’s harem, they attacked him and meant to kill him.

Melangell then claws her eyes out to rid herself of the besottment spell. She then requests to be taken away from them and thrown into a cell, just to get away from Aisling and the needs she still had to look upon his face. They end up taking all of the attackers away, leaving only Merry’s guards. Merry then tells all her guards, even the women, that she will bed them all if that means they can join her retinue permanently and be protected. And the chapter ends with everyone being finally healed.


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