Chapter 1 starts with Merry dreaming of fuckin’. And cookies. Great combination, Merry, I sure do love reading about your dream sequences. She and all her men are standing naked in her old apartment’s kitchen, nomming on some cookies post sex. She lengthily describes all her naked men, and then bites into a cookie. It starts bleeding. She starts freaking out, trying to stop the men from eating these blood cookies, but Doyle tells her “It’s all we’ve had to eat for so long.”
So the dream then changes course completely to Merry standing in an open snow-covered field with trees surrounding it. In the center is some white animal. A pig, she realizes, but with longer legs and snout. Merry starts thinking about leaving the field, but then she notices a woman is standing next to her.
Not three pages into this book and I’m already bored.
The woman standing next to her, this crone, who is supposed to symbolize the Goddess, tells Merry she has work to do, and like always, Merry is confused. Merry spends much of these books super fucking confused by everyone all the time. I’d wager that a good third of these books is just everyone constantly explaining things to her repeatedly. Another third is everyone fucking whining nonstop. Then there’s a little actual plot and the rest sex scenes.
The not-quite-a-pig thing transforms into a boar and starts chasing Merry. She trips and falls into the snow, so she reaches out and latches onto something with thorns to help pull herself up. The thorns tear into her skin and she starts bleeding all over everything. The boar charges through the thorns towards her but gets tangled, so Merry uses her hand of blood (her magical power that allows her to make anyone bleed profusely out of their wounds) to bleed it out. She then stabs it with her knife and from the boar’s blood a small piglet is born. Merry starts cuddling with it.
God this dream just keeps fucking going. She carries this piglet and eventually meets up with some cloaked male figure. He’s holding a horn in his hands. He hands it to Merry and tells her to “Drink and be merry” and I’m just rolling my eyes at how stupid this all is. So Merry takes a sip and it pours power into her and the chapter ends as she wakes up.
I hate reading any dream sequence written by LKH. They’re supposed to be chock full of symbolism and meaning but they’re just so boring. I imagine most people feel that way when they’re forced to read about other people’s dreams. I would apologize for all those times I’ve put my dreams up on Facebook for friends to read, but then again my dreams are badass and awesome. I will fight you over this.
Chapter 2 begins right after Merry woke up from her dream, naked in the Queen’s bed. Apparently Queen Andais loaned them her bedroom for the night? Uh what? Why? We’ve already learned in the previous novel that the sithen is responding to pretty much any and all of Merry’s requests, so couldn’t she just wish for a larger room/bed?
Kitto is staring at Merry, so we automatically get a reference to how child-like Kitto is. Kitto is probably one of the most problematic of the characters in this series, and he doesn’t even do anything to be so. Simply by existing, and being one of Merry’s lovers, while he’s constantly being described as being almost a child. It’s so disturbing and gross and I cannot even fathom why LKH thought it would be appropriate to incorporate a ‘child-like’ being as a sexual object in this series.
So Merry wakes up and the magical cup is laying next to her in bed. Oh wait, no, it’s another magical cup, shaped like and made of horn. The “cup of horn” as it’s called. Thanks, I hate it.
Abeloec tells them that the cup’o’horn used to be his, once upon a time. I don’t even remember who Abeloec is. That’s one of the big problems I have with LKH as a writer: she creates so many characters yet they’re all so unmemorable. They’re nearly all identical in features and personalities. It’s as if she has a template that she fills out each time she comes up with a new dude to throw into Merry’s or Anita’s throng of lovers. I’ve read many books where the cast of characters is HUGE and immense, and they’re all so varying that it’s not difficult to remember who did what and when. But I’ve always had difficulty keeping characters straight in any of LKH’s works. Anyway, with Abeloec… Did he do something in the last book aside from exist? Oh that’s right, the end of Stroke of Midnight has the Seelie accusing him of raping some seelie woman. Cool. Rape accusations. You just know LKH will handle this delicately.
I suddenly knew – not by way of a vision – I just suddenly possessed the knowledge. “You weren’t thrown out of the Seelie Court for seducing the wrong woman, as everyone believes. You were thrown out because you lost your powers, and once you could no longer make the courtiers merry with drink and revelry, Taranis kicked you out of the golden court.”
I love how this is announced. We’re supposed to believe that Merry just oh so suddenly possessed this information. There was barely any conversation before this to even spark this guesswork. Merry just knows. This is stupid.
We’re on chapter 2 of this book and I just don’t care. I don’t care about this stupid rape accusation bit of tension that’s supposed to drive this book. I don’t care about random side-characters suddenly shoved into the spotlight because of a dumb cup. I don’t care about Merry and her stupid self- aggrandizing statements like the below:
“Only those who have never known fear are allowed to think less of others for being afraid. Frankly, I think anyone who has never been afraid of anything in their entire life is either a liar or lacks imagination.”
Bitch, I could run circles around your imagination and I’m pretty much not afraid of anything. I honestly cannot think of a single thing that terrifies me. Maybe the thought of reading any further in this book.
Abe is hogging the cup and won’t share and the other men start bitching about it. He’s basically hugging the cup to him and shaking his head or pulling away whenever anyone else tries for it. Also he won’t say “Drink and be merry”, which apparently was his saying back in the day. He won’t drink, he won’t say the words, and he won’t share. Maybe I should make another child-like reference for Abeloec’s behavior. Merry fucks children, though thankfully not literally.
Merry finally convinces him to drink, which causes him to pretty much immediately contort into some weird position and fall asleep. Well, at least this means he can’t whine for a while.
He wakes up with some laughter and then starts kissing Merry.
His mouth pressed against mine. A great cry went up among the men, joyous and rough. His tongue licked light along my bottom lip, and I opened my mouth to him. He thrust himself inside my mouth, and suddenly all I could taste was honey and fruit, and mead. It wasn’t just his symbol. He was the cup, or what it contained. And it was like swallowing the thick, golden honeyed mead. He was the intoxicating cup.
During some of the kissathon, Merry touches Abeloec’s back with the cup, and this thick, viscous golden fluid starts pouring out of it, filling the room. Some of the other men start falling to their knees in it, or onto their stomachs to writhe around on it like a beached fucking whale. I’m sure this is all very sexy.
Merry is somehow able to pay attention to all the going ons in the room while Abeloec is apparently going down on her, which I don’t know about you, but if I’m able to concentrate on anything else it means you’re doing it wrong. Merry fucking knows who’s coming IN and OUT the doorway to the Queen’s room, and she sees Mistral step into the room and pretty much immediately slip and fall almost on top of her. Some guard Mistral is. Can’t even take a step in Merry’s golden love goop.
So Mistral starts kissing her, and Abeloec is doing his whatever to her, and there’s a random paragraph break. This isn’t something we see too often in an LKH novel. She typically just makes her chapters have ridiculous varying lengths as a way to force tension. A paragraph break mid-chapter is just rare!
But honestly this chapter has gone on for way too many pages already, and I think it would have been better served by a chapter break here. Because we’re now in some stupid dream world again, brought on by sex and hot frothy gold piss (or whatever that golden fluid is). Seriously, it took 9 pages to get to this point, and there’s only one page AFTER this paragraph break, so why even include it? This is why you need a good editor.
So, yeah, they’re in some dark place, which Merry eventually realizes is some dead gardens that used to exist inside the sithen. Then, magic starts pulsing all around them, and Merry realizes that the magic is forcing them to fuck.