Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 5, 2008
I'm not sure where to begin on this.
I've been reading the Meredith Gentry series for several years now, and when I realized book 7 was out I eagerly went to get it. I hadn't minded the series' decline from an intriguing urban fantasy into all! sex! all! the time!, mostly because the sex was hot and there was still enough political intrigue to keep me interested. Like other fans I was horrified by the cliffhanger ending of book 6, in which Frost got turned into a stag, and Merry was kidnapped and possibly raped by the Seelie King. I'd heard rumors that book 7 was to be the end of the series, so I was really expecting something big.
And I got... dreck. Utter dreck. Did somebody ghostwrite this for Hamilton? I hope so. Because she's a better writer than this -- I wouldn't have followed the series this far if I didn't think so -- and if this dreck is her work then that means she needs to take a break from writing for awhile. She's clearly burned out or bored.
It's hard to pinpoint what pissed me off most. I wasn't happy about the plot, which pretty much consisted of "the characters run here to do something, then they run there, then they run somewhere else." The last few books have been like that, so I'm used to it, but I really had hoped for more in this book, given that we had so many dangling plot threads to resolve. And while this book acknowledges these plot threads, it doesn't resolve them so much as handwave them out of existence. For example, Merry was assaulted by her uncle at the end of the previous book. But since she conveniently doesn't remember it, and apparently doesn't care that something horrible was done to her while she was unconscious, it has no psychological effect on her. She doesn't even think about it past the first ten pages or so of the book, and she never gets around to using the clever media manipulation strategy that she mentioned at the end of book 6 (scratch that -- we're *told* she uses it, but we don't get to see it). The rape, if it occurred, becomes irrelevant. I found this actively offensive; if a story includes a rape as a plot element, it really shouldn't be trivialized the way it is here.
On top of that, the book contains sudden, inexplicable personality changes in a number of characters. Cel, the series' primary villain, suddenly abandons all his intricate plots and plans and just walks in front of Merry's car with a sword to challenge her. Later, he just decides for no reason to tell her what a bad thing he's done, in a classic Villain Monologue. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Merry herself, who's spent the whole series using clever, nuanced diplomacy to solve problems (something I admired greatly about her) suddenly stops bothering and instead just whacks things with magic or a sword. Queen Andais, who I have to admit has been one of my favorite characters because she's so complex and messed-up -- she barely appears here, but when she does, she suddenly becomes one-dimensional and contradicts everything she's said and done for seven books. Seriously. It's as if she was secretly replaced with Taster's Choice. It's shameful.
I wasn't happy with the pace of the book, either, which was breakneck -- for no reason. The characters were running all over the place, but they weren't running *to* anyplace. They had no goal; they just reacted. It feels as though Hamilton just decided to toss as many plot threads at them as she could think of, just so she could hurry and wash her hands of the series and move on to something more interesting.
But by far the most infuriating thing to me was how Hamilton chose to resolve the biggest and most important plot threads of the series. I won't spoil the ending, but I'll just say this: it pretty much negates everything Merry has endured. All the deaths, all the blood and suffering, her rape (for whatever that mattered), her being forced to bear children on command, her father's death... the ending makes *the entire series* pointless.
Unless you feel that the point of the series was to get Merry laid, pregnant, and married off. And you know what? The sex scenes in this book are dreck too. For that alone, I want my $20 back.
I'm going to stop here, lest I lapse into incoherent raging profanity and make this review unpublishable. Suffice it to say that I do not recommend this book at all.