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Laurell K Hamilton is a bestselling author and has been on the New York bestselling author with this book and previous others. She lives in St Louis, Missouri with her daughter and husband Jon. She writes two major series, the first is the Anita Blake series and the second which this book is from is the Merry Gentry series.
On the Cover
I am Meredith, princess of faerie, wielder of the hands of Flesh and Blood, and at last I am with child - twins, fathered by my royal guard...
Yet my uncle, Taranis, the King of Light and Illusion, claims that he is the true father. He abducted me, betrayed and defiled me, and now he brands my guards as a threat to my unborn children.
Bearing an heir has placed me halfway to my Aunt's throne - and dangerously ahead of her son, my cousin Cel, in this race to reign over the unseelie court. Indeed, not all in faerie are rejoicing in my condition. Conspirators throughout the realm plot against me and mine, seeking to strip my guards, my lovers, from me by poisoned word to cold steel. But I must stay alive to see my children born, and to claim my place as queen. And I have supporters still, friends even, among the goblins and the slaugh, who will stand by me...
Yes I am Meredith Nic Essus, and those who would defy and destroy me will pay a terrible price. For I am truly my father's daughter and to protect what is mine, I will sacrifice anything - even if it means waging a great war against my darkest enemies and making the most momentous decision ever made as a princess of faerie.
I really enjoyed reading this book, it kept a good pace throughout the story and I managed to read it in a week. It starts of in the hospital where the sixth book left off, the first few chapters sets the tone for book and is action packed. We get to see the wild hunt in action and find out a mystery that started in the first book. After the first couple of chapters we end up in faerie where the wild magic is. There are some things that you don't expect to happen. I think you would need to read the previous books to help understand this book. We also see how much she loves one of the guards. The father of the pregnancy needs a little thinking to get your head around it to but I will leave that for you to discover. Overall a really good read.
The story is set out over 363 pages and is sold in hardback. It will be coming to paperback in November in the UK. It is available in most good book stores and on the internet. Prices range from £12.59 onwards.
The next book in the series is called Divine Misdemeanors and will be available in Winter 2009.
I have previosly written this reviw on www.ciao.co.uk under the same user name.
"Swallowing Darkness" is the seventh Meredith Gentry novel and the first one I read. Despite that I had no problems at all in following the plot - even though there isn't that much obvious exposition in the novel.
Meredith NicEssus is a faerie princess in a slightly alternative world (i.e. US) where faeries are known by the humans - a treaty allowed them to settle in the US three hundred years on the condition that they don't engage in war or make humans worship them.
The faerie courts are obsessed by purity of blood and even more so by purity of looks and Meredith, who is mortal, curvy and has not just human but also lesser fey ancestors, flees the Faerie and starts working as a private investigator in the human world. But her disguise ends when Meredith investigates a man using magic against humans. Her aunt, the Queen of Unseelie Court of Air and Darkness sets a contest between her son and Merry. The Sidhe are dying out, the old magic is disappearing, and some revival is desperately needed. The previous six books, apparently, chronicle Merry's adventures as a private eye, evading death and trying to get pregnant.
"Swallowing Darkness" starts with Merry in a human hospital, pregnant with twins genetically fathered by all of her harem of at least five guards, having just been raped by her uncle and the King of the Seelie court. A visit from her brownie grandmother proves rather disastrous and starts Merry on a rampage tour of the whole Faerie, during which she unleashes more and more amazing magic, dispatches quite a few major enemies and gets crowned (twice).
From what I gathered from my brief survey of the previous volumes of the series, the other Merry Gentry novels had plentiful descriptions of magical, shimmering sex executed in lush prose worthy of Diana Gabaldon and other writers of bodice-rippers, bonk-busters and female-aimed erotica.
"Swallowing Darkness" reads as a lively fantasy adventure romp, with sinister plots, court politics, blood and guts aplenty. There are some (but not a lot of) sparkly (and ludicrously extended) sex scenes and masses of magic.
It would all be brilliant, tharshy fun, if it wasn't marred by the way it's written. There is an overwhelming amount of detailed description which frankly seems like pure padding. While grand Dali-esque visuals of writhing wild magic may occasionally impress, providing a detailed description of face, body and clothing of every other character that turns up (especially the fey males) is simply very, very boring.
The language doesn't exactly soar either, with a plodding, unbelievably wooden dialogue, frequent repetitions that should have been edited out, a surfeit of unnecessary adjectives and and occasional but very grating clash of modes (as a single example: "my mother's emotional ambivalence towards me" doesn't fit with high epic style of the sequence in which it's included, but there are many others).
Still, "Swallowing Darkness", while by no means the best in its sub-genre, is not entirely dreadful either. I wasn't tempted to seek out previous books from the series nor other novels by Laurell K. Hamilton (she also authored a long series about Anita Blake, the vampire hunter , but I read this one in two days while recovering from a 'flu and it was fun.
As fantasy thriller it could easily provide an evening or a plane journey of trashy entertainment, especially if urban fantasy with sexy, arrogant fairies is Your Kind of Thing.
This review was originally written for www.thebookbag.co.uk.
384 pages Bantam Press hardback
I love books about fantasy or supernatural, and have loved Laurell K Hamiltons books so far. When her new one, "Swallowing Darkness" was released, I had it pre ordered, and eagerly tore into it, excited to see what would happen, after a cliffhanger of a last book.
Unfortunatly for me, not very much happens at all.
A bit of background.
Meredith NicEssus is a fairy princess. The faerie world has never treated her particularly well however. Her Father was a Prince of the Unseelie court (widely considered the darker court of Faerie), and her Mother belonged to the Seelie Court.
Having both brownie and human blood in her family tree, Meredith has never been quite sidhe (pure blood faerie) enough for her people.
To get away from faerie, Meredith takes on the persona of Merry Gentry, and for a while lived as a private investigator in LA.
When her Aunt, Queen Andair of the Unseelie Court announced that the heir of the throne would either be her son Cel, or Merry, things began to change.
Merry came back to faerie, aquired a new personal harem of faerie men, developed some exciting new powers, and made many new enemies.
Previous books in the series include,
A Kiss of Shadows (2000)
A Caress of Twilight (2002)
Seduced by Moonlight (2004)
A Stroke of Midnight (2005)
Mistral's Kiss (2006)
A Lick of Frost (2007)
Swallowing Darkness (2008)
The rest of this series, I would quite happily label as erotic fiction, as barely a page goes by without someones clothes dropping off.
This particular book though is far more sedate than the others, and there are only two sex scenes.As a result, i would label this book as a romance/thriller/supernatural/fantasy fiction.
Okee dokee. Here is the plot as short and sweet as I can manage it.
Merry Gentry is a faerie princess, heir to the Unseelie (one of the courts of Faeries) throne.
There were conditions upon her becoming heir. Her Aunt Andair, the current queen, told both her son Cel, and her neice Merry, that whoever got pregnant first, would become heir.
Merry got pregnant first. The book begins with Merry in hospital, after a battle of some sort in the previous book.
Half of the book is spent in the hospital room.
After the hospital, there are several attacks upon Merrys life, a wild hunt, some revenge, another murder plot, friends in danger, a bit of sex, a lot of magic....and thats about it.
What was wrong with it?
Blimming heck, nearly everything.
The writing is disgustingly sloppy. Words are often repeated with ridiculous frequency.
For example, in one very short paragraph, the word vines is repeated six times. This is just lazyness. Im sure Laurell K Hamilton could have cracked a thesaurus.
The action, and pacing of the plot is very very slow. Nothin at all seems to happen in the first section of the book, and it takes until page 66 for Merry to move out of the hospital room.
66 pages is quite a lot to spend in the same room with the same people, esspecially considering the same sentiments, words and actions seems to be repeated over and over.
The simplest statements are over explained. For example, Laurell K Hamilton could easily write *she was cold*, but instead, she writes three paragraphs on the cold...and ten repeates said three paragraphs a page later. Its like she has the memory of a goldfish.
The plot devices are the laziest I have ever had the displeasure to read. As soon as there is a problem, an obstacle, a sickness or a death, the *Goddess* comes to Merry, and gives her the answer, in the form of knowledge of what to do, or a spell to cure all.
I dont know why any of the characters waste their time worrying about things, considering the *Goddess* seems to bail them all out whenever things get tense.
The dialogue is inconsistent and choppy. Merrys speech is sometimes old fashioned, and sometimes modern, but neither is consistent enough to be convincing.
For a Laurell K Hamilton book, this one is suprisingly sex free. There are two sex scenes, but the first one is thrown in almost as an afterthought. as in *bloody hell, we forgot to have some loving in here. quick, throw it in*.
When one of her closest men nearly dies, Merry does n respond by talking to him, or comforting him, or just rejoicing that he is ok....she tries to give him a blow job. I mean, thats nearly psychotic. Clearly not a normal response. She doesnt ask him if he is ok, or how he is filling, just jumps in, mouth first. It seemed very insincere and rather inhuman to me.
Whats right with it?
Well, considering how much I have slated it, I still enjoyed it immensely.
I dont know why. I cant explain it. It appears to have no redeeming features whatsoever...but it was highly entertaining.
The characters are beautifully described, as are the places, an the history of faerie. The whole mythology is very interesting, and beautifully constructed.
The characters are nicely explained, and interact well together.
The descriptions of the monsters in particular are fantastic. Laurell K Hamilton, whilst not having the best train of thought in the world, certainly has a wonderful imagination.
Read this if you have read th previous Merry Gentry books, and if you have a fondness for Laurell K Hamiltons haphazard style of writing. Be warned though. Nothing is resolved from the previous book. Only about two days pass throughout the entire duration of this book, and thats just not enough time to resolve any previous questions.
If you are unfamiliar with the series, and expect some cohesion and care put into writing, then dont touch this with a bargepole.
for £10.79 in Hardback.