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I reread Swallowing Darkness and have Divine Misdemeanors sitting on the side-table, which are the two books that follow Lick of Frost, in the Merry Gentry series by Laurell K. Hamilton. If you remember, I was very unhappy with Lick of Frost, mostly because of what happened to Frost, who is my favorite character in the series.

I still feel that LoF was the turning point in the series. The books before it were different than these three. But the circumstances have changed as well. Merry is pregnant and has not been granted the throne, and she is still fighting through the politics and physical battles.

Swallowing Darkness takes places over several hours, similar to Mistral’s Kiss. It starts with Merry recovering in the hospital after being kidnapped, spelled and raped by her uncle. He wants people to believe that her twins were fathered by him, when they actually have six different fathers (yes, six, read the books to figure out who). The Wild Hunt is called on again, like in Mistral’s Kiss, but this time it has a purpose. Merry has called it to hunt a kin-slayer and then it rides to save Mistral from an ambush. The whole series of events drives home that Merry is still in danger, even though she has conceived.

Oddly enough, Sholto is the main male character, even though the title suggests that it would be Doyle, called Darkness. But Sholto rides in the Wild Hunt with Merry and protects her during the events that follow.

It all culminates to a battle between Merry and her guards and her cousin, Cel, and his supporters. And Cel doesn’t make it.

More important than the events of the book is that Merry examines her feelings for the fathers of her twins. She knows that Frost and Doyle are her favorites and she is truly in love with them, but she steps back and really looks at how she feels about the other four fathers (still not giving it away). And that is more interesting to watch develop than all the politics.

The reader is also shown a bit more of Merry’s father, who was UnSeelie but generally liked by everyone. His killer is revealed and Merry wonders if her father had been a bit more ruthless and a little less liked, he would still be alive. Her mixed heritage is also brought to the foreground, as her Hand of Blood brings her more allies and highlights her unique bloodline. Because she is mortal and brownie and sidhe, Merry is not always bound the to the same rules of magic as her bodyguards. And this continual development (the mystery aobut her father’s death, her position and upbringing in the courts) is one of the reasons I read Swallowing Darkness after almost swearing off the series (I was really upset about Frost).

However, and this is my favorite part of the whole book, Frost is returned, in a humaniod form, to Merry and the other guards. I put the book down and did the happy dance the first time I read the book. Merry and Doyle agree to give up the crowns of Faerie in return for Frost, and to give up power for love is always a great idea, in my personal opinion.

The book ends with the group returning to LA, away from the faerie mounds of the Seelie, UnSeelie, goblin, Sluagh (Sholto’s people) and just about all their other kin. But the Goddess is not through with Merry and returning magic to the world, because there is Divine Misdemeanors and there’s something about a fairy godmother in LA and it doesn’t dissappoint, from what I remember. I have to re-read it after all. And there’s another Merry Gentry scheduled for release this year.

Frost is back. I’ll happily read whatever comes out.

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