Chapter 23 starts off with Merry being so afraid of Aisling’s magics that she immediately begins stroking him with her hands as they nearly kiss. Then they both smell roses, and the Goddess begins talking to or through Merry again.
She’s frustrated that Merry didn’t listen to her the first time, when she cautioned Merry and Amatheon to go quickly (she just wanted Merry to kill him, remember?) and Galen was nearly killed because of their delay. Now, the Goddess tells Merry that her trist with Aisling has to wait, otherwise Merry will lose someone important to her – Doyle.
They run off to the throne room. Merry’s urgency causes the sithen to shift around, in order to quicken their approach. As they are running through the hall that leads to the throne room, Merry notices that it seems as if it’s coming back to life as well. The hall leading to the throne room is now a giant formal garden, when before it had been a barren hallway.
They get to the throne room and hear the Queen screaming. Merry yells out “Stop this!”That pretty much instantly pisses off Andais, Merry drops to her knees and requests a private audience with the Queen. The Queen wants to air all their dirty laundry in public first, however.
She’s mad that Merry and Barinthus had sex. ‘Cept, no, they didn’t. They had some weird magical release, but they were fully clothed and there was no penetration of any sort. Fun topic in front of full court, huh?
Well, that short chapter ends with Andais being pissed that Merry keeps calling her ‘Aunt Andais’ and not ‘Queen Andais’, which always ends well.
Chapter 24 begins with Merry admitting that the magical ring she wears selected a fertile couple, Biddy and Nicca. Everyone in the room is astonished by this, except for Andais. She’s just pissed. She’s always pissed. Now she’s mad that Merry didn’t rush to tell her this news, despite the fact that Merry’s been “trying” to solve a murder. I say “trying” because she’s mostly been super distracted and having sex, so she’s not trying that hard.
Andais then asks Merry if she’s had sex with Mistral. She asks this as she yanks Mistral close to her by his hair, then releases him and he falls to the ground. As he’s rising, a loud thunderclap sounds throughout the room.
“Could you bring any of us, all of us, back to our power? Is one good fuck from you all it takes?”
Merry doesn’t want to admit anything, because if she does, she fears Andais would just order her to start fucking everyone in that room right then and there. A good ol’ power-gifting orgy! It doesn’t honestly sound that out of place in this world. So Merry’s trying to tip-toe around the answer, but Mistral just fucking blabs out that most of Merry’s guards have started regaining their old powers.
“How many of my guards have you had sex with, Meredith?” She moved her face in close to me, as if she meant to kiss me. “How many of my guard have you given release?” She spoke that last word above my lips, and I knew she was going to kiss me before her lips touched mine.
Cool. More incest.
Except she never actually kisses Merry, because she becomes distracted by, like, all of Merry’s guards moving close to them.
“She has fucked all of you?” She sounded as if she didn’t believe it.
“You asked only who has had release,” Frost said. “When the power filled the hallway, it touched all who stood there.”
“You mean the power when Mistral and Meredith came together made all the guard in the hallway orgasm?”
So some of the noble sidhe who had always opposed Merry start speaking up, that they’d be willing to follow Merry’s rule if she’s able to start bringing power back to faerie. If she can help to bring children back to faerie. Andais is not super open to this, and since Biddy and Nicca are sworn to her service, their focus should solely be on protecting the Queen. If they were to conceive, their focus would be their child.
This causes a huge argument between the Queen and the nobles. They’re seeing Andais for what she really is – a giant spoiled rotten fucking baby. One of the nobles almost comes to outright challenging Andais, but eventually the bickering calms down. Well, it returns to just Andais fighting with Merry over any ridiculous thing you can think of.
Merry eventually tells Andais that she’ll take Biddy to her bed if it means that Nicca and Biddy can be together. Then we get to see some of LKH’s casual homophobia – I think this story was written before LKH became more open sexually (not that I want to get into her private life in this blog at all, we’re here to deconstruct her bad, bad books), but her characters are typically straight women. They fight against bisexuality so hard in their early books. Both Merry and Anita eventually have female lovers (I believe), but they just fight about it so hard.
“I did not think you liked women, Meredith.”
“My neck was beginning to feel strained looking up at her six-foot height from my knees. “I do not, as a rule, but if this is the only way to satisfy both the ring and my queen, then I will do it.”
Why “as a rule”? Why is that even in there? Is sexuality a rule, now? Something strict and set in stone, inflexible? This is just one of those gross casual homophobic remarks that litter early LKH novels that I cannot stand.
Merry ends up admitting to Andais that while she doesn’t care to rule faerie, if the choice is between her and Cel, she’d choose herself as the better future ruler. All she really wants to do, though, is bring life back to the courts. Andias is, again, pissed off at all this. She believes Merry is full of nothing but lies (and sperm, apparently, since she’s fucked so many men).
“The ring has chosen a couple, but I had to hear it from others, not from your mouth. You have imprisoned my son’s guards without consulting me. You have a suspect in the murders, but you have not told me who. You have fucked my new captain of the guard and divided his loyalties from me. Darkness and others ran into the night, and I don’t know why.” She stalked back to me, grabbed my arm, and screamed in my face,” I am queen here! Not you!”
First off, how does Andais know about the suspect in the murder already? Merry and Co literally fled from the crime scene directly to the Queen after they learned what the cops found. Anyway, Merry tells Andais that this is all stuff she wanted to tell her in private, because she didn’t want news to get out to the traitors. To prove there are traitors among the nobles, the guards drag Lord Kieran in front of the Queen. Oh and it turns out that the person leaking all these rumors and lies to Andais was none but Kieran’s wife, lady Madenn.
Madenn isn’t able to provide any reason why she was feeding lies to Andais, or any reason to protect her husband, so they take her away as well. They then turn to questioning Kieran, and he’s just such a pompous ass. While Merry is talking to him, he insists she call him ‘Lord Kieran’, which is just so… assy.
Kieran fears that Merry will bring about the death of the sidhe as a race of beings. He fears Merry’s mortal, human side will take over the sidhe. Except, as she’s proven multiple times, she’s in the Goddess’s favor and is starting to bring magic back to faerie. Anyway, Kieran and Madenn are pleading with Andais to help them basically kill off any of the non-full blooded sidhe to protect them, and Andais is pretty much falling for it.
So of course they suspect Andais is being tricked or spelled into this. They find a little charm under inside Madenn’s dress. Once they take it away, Andais comes back to her pissed off self. Only now she’s turned it onto Kieran and Madenn instead of Merry and Co. However, Andais believes that it is mercy that caused Kieran to act upon Galen – he knew if he were caught, he’d likely not be put to death, since the last assassination attempt on Merry ended with the suspect being caught and thrown into faerie prison, not executed outright.
“You see what mercy gets you as a ruler, Meredith? Do you understand now? Mercy is for the weak, and the dying.”
“I know how Kieran has interpreted your actions.”
She looked at me, and I really didn’t want that much of her attention in this mood, but I had it. “And how is that?”
“That if you would not kill someone for trying to kill me, then you would do even less to someone who tried to kill Galen.”
“Do you think he had the right of that? Do you think he has no punishment coming?”
“I think Siobhan should be executed and Kieran be made an example of.”
And the chapter ends with Doyle crashing through the doors and telling everyone that he knows how Kieran should be punished.