Reviewed in the United States on January 22, 2011
I've been reading the reviews above and I acknowledge some complaints, which were my complaints at first as well, but I think that people don't see that this book asks more questions then it answers, and if you don't see the acts of some characters as questionable, you are liable to assume they are simply evidence of bad writing...
Anyway... The one thing that bothered me the most is how Eric, who has always protected Sookie, leaves her bed in the morning, knowing she is in danger, and does not call in protection for her. This has bothered me a lot - until I've realized that every time Eric has protected her, he was a sheriff of Area 5 under the Queen. If you regard his behavior as an unanswered question rather then simply inappropriate behavior, it becomes obvious that something is going on in the politics of the vampires, that directly involves Eric, that prevents him from showing ANY kind of emotional bond to her. He cannot send Pam, but we don't know why. He does not show up at night when she gets kidnapped by fairies, but we know he hears her pain and can track her whereabouts but does not come to her rescue, we don't know why. When he leaves her, he does not immediately send a body guard, but we don't know why. Instead, he offers her to come to his house, again, something he would never do with anyone other then his "child", we don't know why. If you think about it, he listened to her thoughts for an hour as she was getting tortured, and for some reason could not act. Even if he didn't love her at all, I would have made it stop just to get something like that out of my head! When he finally sends her protection, he sends a very dumb vampire, knowing full well that fairies can come during the day and that this will leave her unprotected. When he cried listening to her ask why he didn't rescue her, he was obviously very upset over it - something has been going on that we don't know about. Also, Eric has wanted Sookie for 9 books and now she is blood bound to him. So he disappears for months. I don't believe this is a badly written plot, I believe this is a compilation of very important symptoms that will be revealing something very unexpected in the next book.
Guys, do we even need to ask why all the pregnant women deaths? Why Niall is sealing the gate? Torture? I am sorry, but the fairies in this book are not exactly the kind we read to our kids, the kind that live in flowers and sing beautiful songs. These fairies are blood thirsty, violent, and are incapable of pity, love, or kindness. Well, maybe a little love, but certainly to like those of any other creature in this book. They enjoy bringing pain and suffering to all, even their own kind. They are power hungry and savage.
What do you mean there is no real progression between Sookie and Eric?! I've been waiting for them to have sex, both memories intact, for 9 books! Do you really not see why Sookie is not pissed at Eric over the marriage?! She's been denying her feelings for Eric since day one. First, "no, this is just lust." Then, "this is just because he has kissing experience." Then its "I just miss Bill." Then its "I'm so horny and I miss having vampire sex." Then "its just because I have fairy blood." Then "its just his bloo in me." Then "that wasn't really Eric. And I didn't love that Eric anyway." Now, its the blood bond. Sookie would make a great attorney with all the excuses. There were subtle signs in the book of the Eric/Sookie connection, and the connection, for some reason despite their power imbalance, of two EQUALS. Book 2 - our hair color is exactly alike. If I put my hair into his, you can't distinguish them. (don't ask me to look for the page, but its there, when she is getting dressed to go to the sex party.) Truth be it, she always wanted him, but never trusted herself - or him - to be with him. Honestly, we have been watching these two getting closer and closer. Now, she can say "well, he is my husband..." When someone does something for me without me asking, something so big its seems wrong, but its from someone that I love and want to be with and its something I wanted, I'd meekly argue but consent too.
Bill... Something is going on here between Eric and Bill. Clearly, for some reason, Eric counted on Bill to take care of Sookie. Eric said that he would have killed Bill if he failed when she was injured in the end, so I'm guessing that Eric had to be somewhere else and Bill promised Eric that he would take care of her. Something went on here, and it will be revealed. Personally, there is nothing I hate more then men who are slimy liars, and, however much he loves her and almost died for her, he is. Yes, he has saved her, but, given the chance, he'd lie to her. Its his most defining characteristic.
Quinn... The only reason we have that brief entry is to establish the change in the hierarchy of the politics of the region and everyone's respective place. His appearance, Bills appearance, Eric's appearance - this is what Harris is saying: Quinn is breaking the law when seeing Sookie, Sookie doesn't want him around anyway, Bill obeys Eric who has the power to throw Quinn out (or worse), Sookie is Eric's wife and consort, effectively marked by him and belongs to him exclusively, and Eric is in charge of the territory. So, basically, the purpose of Quinn is sort of like Eric marking his territory. "nothing happens in my kingdom without my knowledge, I planned it this way, ALL of you are under my control."
Sam.. This character is a thorn under my foot, even more then Quinn, who was extremely annoying. I literally pray that Sookie doesn't end with him, for I will lose the remaining shred of interest in her. I understand its probably because I love politics, especially power politics, and I tend to see everything in terms of that, and for that reason, to me, Sam is a loser. But even if I didn't, he is BORING. He is that neutered version of a "friend" that always pines for a girl who dates other men. Yeah, in Hollywood movies, those guys get the girl, probably because they are handsome famous actors. In real life, they really are neutered. The man, despite some attempts by Harris to give him substance, has no sex appeal whatsoever. I'd really like him to leave, or disappear, or get married, because its the only way that I can be sure that he doesn't get involved with her. Or, better yet, decide that collie is his true shape, and stay that way forever. He has a personality of a collie too. Collies usually sleep outside the bedroom door when the masters of the house enjoy themselves.
Sookie has grown up so much since the first novel... She's outgrown every other character in the book, even Eric. But she is still non-aligned. When people are in a relationship, they usually get closer and closer, in all senses of the word. They spend more and more time together, leave personal items in each others houses, learn to recognize things about each other that no one knows about, and become a part of each other's world. They creep into each other's world until it all becomes one world. Human or vampire, the next book will be a test of the Eric/Sookie connection. If this blending of their lives will occur, then we will know that they are a couple, if she doesn't accept Eric's world (I'm assuming that Eric will not quit Fangtasia and become a real estate salesman) then... She will move on. Her speech about how she isn't moving in with him, how she likes her job, how she doesn't want to join his life - that needs to change eventually. The measure of her resistance will tip the scales one way or another. The shifters really pull on her, and she dislikes politics. She also needs to come to terms that is part of the supernatural, that her place is in the supernatural world. I am partial to Eric - I think there is nothing more intriguing then a man with 1000 years of knowledge. But she isn't like that. She just wants to go to work, get paid, clean her house, cook, play with kids, and make love. I guarantee that she will be pissed when she will find out the political reason for Eric not coming to her rescue.
Anyway... Nice book, savage and mysterious, Eric and Bill are both magnetic characters, the power shift is seamless and beautiful. Fairies are inhumanly savagely scary, good thing that the gate is closing. Can't wait to read the next book. Hope it will not disappoint, like some others. I do wish she would regain her faith in men though.