The Cluviel Dor

May 19, 2011 in Character & Plot Analysis, Dead Reckoning - Book 11, Mythology, Sookie Stackhouse

The cluviel who-ie what-ie? The cluviel dor my friends, the cluviel dor.

Sookie’s inherited magical get-out-of-jail-free card containing one wish but with an exceptional amount of restrictions. Eh.. At least its not a Horcrux. Introduced in Dead Reckoning and found stashed in a secret compartment of an old desk, the cluviel dor is first mentioned in Gran’s letter as she recounts Mr. Cataliades’ visit while executing Fintan’s will:

Then he came by one more time, a few years ago. He gave me the green thing. He said fairys give it to each other when they’re in love, and Fintan had given it to him to bring here to me if Fintan died before I did. It’s got a magical spell in it, he said. You won’t ever need to use it, I hope, he said. But if you do he said to remember that it was a one time thing, not like a lamp, like in the story, with a lot of wishes. He called this thing a cluviel dor, and showed me how to spell it.

While curious it is that Gran can’t figure out the plural spelling of words that end in y, even more curious is the notion that Fintan loved Gran so much he waited until he was dead to give Adele the cluviel dor. Bizarre.

As is the fact that Fintan watched both Jason and Sookie, then ultimately decided that Sookie should be the one to have it. The same Fintan who would run around in a Mitchell suit. That guy’s judgement. *sniff.* Smells mahi-mahi to me, like Sookie was the one Fintan always meant to give it to. Why?

Sookie describes her new magical object thusly:

Before I could stop myself, I picked up my other relic, the worn velvet bag. I loosened the drawstring, which crumbled in my fingers. I opened the bag and let the hard thing inside -the cluviel dor, the gift from my fairy grandfather – fall into my palm.
I loved it instantly.
It was a creamy light green, trimmed in gold. It was like one of the snuffboxes at the antiques store, but nothing in Splendide had been this beautiful. I could see no catch, no hinge, nothing; it didn’t pop open when I gently pressed and twisted the lid – and there was definitely a lid, trimmed in gold. Hmmm. The round box wasn’t ready to yield its secret.

Sookie then reflects on the C.D’s magical charisma, rubs it against her cheek as she “felt like purring,” and then does a very cute Sméagol impression. She continues the physical description of the cluviel dor as the size of “two stacked oreo cookies” and that it looked “like a minature powder compact.” So comparatively it probably looks like this but smaller in circumference, a little fatter in thickness, and minus the latch:

Did anyone else imagine it was stuffed in a Crown Royale bag? Something tells me Gran was a boozer.

Wooooooooooooo!!!!

It is so exciting looking!!

Erm… I’m going to pretend it looks like this:

You say Sookie's magical compact, I say Sailor Moon's magical locket.


Glorious! Okay, it’s pink but it just screams mucho magical – see that awesome 1992 animated residue? Hmm? And it comes with a midi. Moon Prism Power!

Read the rest of this entry →

Mordor She Wrote

November 7, 2010 in Character & Plot Analysis, Dead in the Family - Book 10, Dead Reckoning - Book 11, Guest Posts

A LESSON IN VAMPIRE POLITICS – PART II

To review, we learned previously that Sookie should avoid Texas like the plague, Wright is wrong, Fredya might be a key member in the Alliance, and the Ewoks’ empire toppling services won’t be available this go round.


Indeed.

Picking up where I left off last time, I suggested war is the only option for Eric and friends in their attempt to pry the fingers of the Nevada regime from Louisiana. With that in mind, let us examine on a more technical scale the machinations of the vampire political system from the material we have encountered thus far and what drastic measures could be incorporated into the future plot.

How does this Vampocracy thing work from the top down? So far as it can be discerned, the natural order of rule by title of position inside the kingdom goes like this:

Kings and Queens – Russell Edgington, Felipe De Castro, Freyda
Royal Deputies – Victor Madden, Andre
Area Representatives – Sandy Sechrest
Sheriffs – Eric
Lieutenants – Pam
“Investigators” – Bill
Vassals – Thalia

The Kings and Queens are the absolute sovereigns of their domain and are also sometimes the Sheriff of the area they inhabit, ie. Sophie-Anne was the Sheriff of Area 1 in addition to being Queen of the entire state of Louisiana.

The Royal Deputies hold position over the Sheriffs, but do not decide policy independent of their sovereigns unless ordered to do so.**

**I mention this because I want to point out that Victor Madden has not been given the title of King, but rather is stuck as a Royal Deputy.. which I believe is a crucial fact, in so much as we should remember that Felipe De Castro is King of Louisiana and Arkansas (and Nevada).

The Sheriffs answer to the King or Queen, and their Lieutenants act on their behalf with other Sheriffs.

Investigators seduce pretty young girls and maintain databases. High proficiency in stalker skills required. K, investigators probably do something if they actually exist but beyond Bill’s penis envy and need to look more impressive in front of Sookie, they are irrelevant to the plot at this point.

And Vassals, well.. they probably grovel most of the time.


NOT ALL VAMPIRES ARE CREATED EQUAL

How does one become a King or Queen? It’s unlikely that there is a vote amongst the bloodsucker population, but it can’t be ruled out. As is the case with most aspects of vampire culture, the rule of order appears to be based on fear and power. And to a lesser extent, money.

But are money and influence all that is required to rise to the ranks of royalty? Perhaps not. Aside from the obvious trappings of the powerful, we also know that Sophie-Anne had unique abilities that permitted her to keep her children around, as well as communicate with them telepathically. The “vampire elite” must have some advantage over a tween vassal – whether it is age alone is questionable, and it remains to be seen if Felipe De Castro has some secret power up his sleeve that has allowed him to be so successful in expanding his power base. I’m curious to see what might be Queen Freyda’s deal as well.

But how are the Kings and Queens organized within the Clan-doms you wonder? Eric gives us a description the highest rule of law when discussing Felipe’s takeover of Louisiana:

Eric: “He took Louisana because he wasn’t frightened of SophieAnn as everyone else. He planned, and executed quickly and with precision after the governing… board… of Narayana Clan approved his plan.”

Sookie: “He had to present a plan before he moved on us?”

Eric: “That’s the way it’s done.”
(p 155)



GOVERNING…BOARD?

Consider this pause. Is Eric struggling to come up with the English equivalent of a phrase? Or is it an archaic term he doesn’t want to use in front of Sookie who may misinterpret and overreact? Or, does he not know how Narayana is run? I doubt that.

If Eric is describing a governing board as we would understand it, who is on it? All the Kings and Queens of the Clan? Or are Sheriffs involved too? Do they run on seniority of the members or just cronyism? Or is it run by special interest groups and members of the left wing media with soul corrupting agendas? Eric’s slight hesitation is a head-scratcher, it remains to be seen if there is something more here, but I think we can interpret it as Kings and Queens until proven wrong. For starters, its the simplest answer and for seconds, I do not see Kings and Queens giving up their any of their authority to elected officials, or otherwise.

In my opinion these royal vamps are royal snobs and will not give up an inch of sovereignty to anyone below them.

It’s how they roll.

Moving on, Eric tells us that the vampiric government was conceived in the Enlightenment period, paralleling the creation the US Constitution, which has to mean it bears some semblance of forward thinking logic… albeit with a huge helping of corruption and agism. Natch.

(And maybe they actually make laws instead of waiting around for the judicial system to pick up the slack? Oh snap!)

Anyway, Eric explains to Sookie and the readers that,

“At the first national meeting, about three hundred years ago, there were many disagreements.” (p 154).

He doesn’t elaborate on what those disagreements were about, but most likely they involved how the Clans would be organized and the natural order of vampire law. The allusion to that century makes me think that the Governing Board acts somewhat like a combination of the US Senate and the executive branch, while the King-Queen-Senators also act as governors of their own states. As for the Sheriffs, in relatable terms each appears to be like a US House Representative and dually a mayor of their Area.



HOWDY, SHEWIFF

With the example of Eric contacting Salome about her errant child Mickey in DD, it is evident that each Sheriff can contact another Sheriff directly and without needing to consult the head of state beforehand. Meaning, they are recognized as equals across state lines.

But how do the Sherriffs operate their affairs? Referrring once again to the information session of Chapter 7 from Dead In the Family, Sookie asks Eric for clarification on the nitty-gritty of vampire political activity.

“How does the business of – well, of Amun, say – get conducted between those biennial meetings?” There had to be stuff that came up.

“Message boards, mostly. If we have to have a face-to-face, committees of sheriffs meet, depending on the situation. If I had an argument with the vampire of another sheriff, I’d call that sheriff, and if he wasn’t ready to give me satisfaction, his lieutenant would meet with my lieutenant.” (158)

Lets take the first gem, the message boards. Isn’t that techno savvy of them?

Far be it for me to criticize the Sheriffs for using the internet as a means of communication, maybe Eric is a forum mod? The power to delete threads can be quite… tempting, heheh. But isn’t it strange that they’d use a form of communication that is hackable? Corruptible? With the prevalence of spying in the vampire political sector, some vampire computer geek must be watching those boards at all times.

Database my axe, Compton.

[Also interesting is the fact that Sam partakes in shifter business on message boards. Could this be a clue that Sam is involved behind the scenes in shifter politics? And there is also the incident in FDTW with Sandy Sechrest seeking Sam out specifically in Merlotte’s, in order to give him her business card. Why would a “nobody” shifter need that? Hmm? Churn, conspiracy theory brains! Churn!]

But back to the Sheriffs, and note this part in particular; “If we have to have a face-to-face, committees of sheriffs meet, depending on the situation.” Sheriff committees meet,… This would seem to be a different grouping to that of the ‘governing board.’ Sheriffs probably meet each other more often than not, as there is less of a chance for their communications to be intercepted.

I think we can deduce a few possibilities here. First, there are different Sheriff committees, probably allocated to specific functions (for example Budget, External Clan Policy, War Appropriations etc), and secondly, that Eric is on a committee or committees.

So where does this leave Eric in his attempts to barter within Amun for assistance with his annoying little political problem? It would seem that Eric can only appeal for aid at the committee level, if he is to get any help from Amun at all. Obviously, Eric can’t take it to the governing board – unless he wants to tip off Nevada since they are most likely represented at that level.

Besides, Eric must have loads more sheriff comrades then he does royal chums.


TO RIVENDELL, ANON!

So another thing noticed in Chapter 7 of Dead In The Family, which is quickly becoming known as the Chapter of DOOM, a summit lurks in the not so distant future - this time however without the pomp and ceremony experienced at Rhodes. Take it away, Sookie:


Sookie: “Um, okay. So the kings and queens of each state in a particular division get together to make decisions and bond – what, every two years?” …

Eric: “Yes,” he said. “Unless there’s some crisis that calls for an extra meeting.” (p 157)

And then continued a little later on:

Sookie: “And if that didn’t work?”

Eric: “We’d kick the dispute up the ladder, to the summit. In between meeting years, there’s an informal gathering, with no ceremony or celebration.” (p 158)

From this we can extrapolate the following: one, that emergency Amun meetings can be called in times of crisis and two, that there are informal summits in the off years, which means one will be popping up soon.

Say in the next six months.

ATD began at the end of September, and DITF took place in March – so around six months have passed since the last big summit in Rhodes. Based on Eric’s statement, we would therefore be looking at an informal summit in around six more months, give or take. Harris generally covers around one to two months in a novel – usually with time jumps in between books of anywhere between a few weeks to a couple of months, it’s probably reasonable to predict that we’ll see this summit come around in Book 12 or 13.

SVB or someone, please email Charlaine so she does not forget the summit is coming up on the schedule. (And no, that would not be obsessive and/or insane).

With this in mind, let us now depart into the wild area of speculation…

Uhhh I dunno, Philosoraptor. Thats why I’m asking you.


WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

If we may, let us jump to that conversation of the pretty vintage suit and the shirtless wonder in Chapter 3 of DITF, when Pam cautioned that to kill Victor without killing Felipe was too much of a gamble, while Eric on the other hand wanted to leave Felipe out of any plots if he could. Sookie reasoned that they couldn’t take the risk of NOT killing Felipe – that potential forecast is too dicey.

Unless plot developments change the current outlook, the king has to die too.



HOW TO KILL A KING

How does one decapitate or stake through the heart or burn to cinders or expose to sunlight a head of state? Especially when the obstacles are so stacked against Frodo Eric?

If they try to eliminate Nevada with the same tactics that Nevada used to overthrow Sophie-Anne’s Louisiana, Team Eric would fail. Outright fail. There is no way that Eric get enough ‘strike teams’ together no matter how much help he can receive from the outside. Mainly, in order to eliminate Felipe, Victor, and their minions they’d have to do so in three different states while still retaining the element of surprise. A typical invasion would be suicidal kamikaze tomfoolery – this regime is not weak.

But in my humble opinion, where there is a will there is a way.

So what particularly does Eric need to destroy Felipe De Castro and Victor Madden?



MONEY MONEY MONEY…MON-EY

Just how much green does Eric have? He has more than Sookie knows, I think. Combining Eric’s business acumen with what Katherine Boudreaux girlfriend Sallie said, he pays a crapload of taxes (p 241, DITF) and he should have recently inherited the remainder of Appius Livius Ocella’s estate if there was one. Connected to this, Sookie’s observation in Dead in the Family that Eric’s business was down – no reason was given though Pam once mentioned what a witch could do if they wanted to interrupt the flow of a business. Has Fangtasia been cursed? Or has the general attitude towards vamps changed in the local fangbanger populace? Or is it a great government conspiracy to keep the business repressed?

Doubtless, all of Eric’s money can’t be invested in Fangtasia. He must at least be stashing cash under the mattress or have offshore accounts some place that the US government is not able to tax. I think you can take it to the bank there is more dough…well, somewhere.



BUT WHAT TO BUY?

If money can’t buy you love, it can buy you guns. Hired guns. And pretty elven cloaks with +16 Damage Resistance.

Since vampires don’t need anything outside of themselves in order to kill we’ll leave out armor and ammunition, although some stakes and swords would be helpful. How much aid is Oklahoma willing to supply for free? How many soldiers does Freyda have? Can they sway any one else’s favor? More importantly Eric needs as much power as he can buy; bodyguards for protection from the Nevada vamps as well as assassins in order to kill them. The Britlingens cost a heap of money, can Eric afford them?

I’m quite sure this guy is available.

The shark desktop wallpaper just screams BAMF. Hey, Eric and Sookie will take any ally they can get at this point. The dude has a laser pointer, sick.



ALL HANDS ON DECK!

Oh why hello Niall, hello Eric’s Other Child. Heck, Red Rover Red Rover, send Bill Compton over!

But beyond gathering up friends and frenemies, they need a political powerhouse that will back them once they assassinate Victor Madden and Felipe De Castro. What is to prevent another hostile takeover by vamps seeking to take advantage of the chaos and the resulting leadership vacuum? In order maintain their own hold on Louisiana they need a rich ally, yes – but they need a respected and feared political ally too.

This is why Oklahoma is so important.

Compare it to the game Monopoly, (well.. with more dire consequences). If your enemy lands Park Place, you can’t let them take the other blue-property-I-can’t-remember-the-name-of. (Personally, this is why you bribe the banker to start the game, and or become the real estate agent in the first place. Yes, I play dirty – but I WIN). To hold the comparison, Eric can’t afford the blue piece on his own, but Oklahoma can help him with an under the table deal. Oklahoma can’t allow Nevada to purchase the entire board either, but if Oklahoma buys up that other blue piece, at least there won’t be a… monopoly. *shameface.* And then if Nevada trades Park Place to his friend Utah, Oklahoma will still have saved Eric from another.. illegal conglomerate.

Right, so a summary thus far of Eric’s needs: money, mercs and a political heavy weight. What else is left on the list?



A SITCH

Not the Situation,… a situation. A trap. A set of circumstances. Eric and company can’t ninja into the dragon’s den of Nevada to take out their enemies, not to mention the untold evil that sleeps there. On the other hand, Eric’s crew cannot set a trap easily themselves. Victor is not going to set foot in Fangtasia again without a small army alongside after the EPIC FAIL of Bruno Brazell, that much we can derive.

Oh Boromir. You slay me.

That’s right, you do not simply derive, drive, walk, wok, waltz, tap dance, fly, pogo-stick, rock, slip ‘n’ slide, teleport, or even take the train to Mordor.

You let Mordor come to you.

At a summit.

For Kings and Queens.

Of which Sauron Felipe De Castro is obligated to attend.

This informal summit, as we’ve already established, is on track for book 12 at the earliest. Where should this informal summit be held? The last summit was held at Rhodes, Michigan and in all likelihood they will not play host again, (unless Michigan is Amun Clan capital)? Which allies inside Amun will be in on this potential plot? Will Rasul have convinced the remaining Michigan vamps to come to Eric’s aid? What was the point of him spying there on those vamps, of all places?

I can hardly wait to learn how this all plays out. *bites on fingernails.*

This much is assured – if Felipe dies at the summit, it will send a message to other divisions not to mess with Amun.

AND if the other states so choose, they need not say who killed whom. “But no!” you say, “it would risk a Clan to Clan all out war!” Gadzooks! Possibly, but I doubt it; Narayana would only be losing a king, the state of Nevada would still be theirs to control and up for internal grabs. Hardly a reason to get their panties in a bunch, but we’ll see.



OH, AND ONE LAST NUGGET

My preemptive apologies for any waves of uncontrollable panic or fear-induced stomach lurching I may cause throughout the Sookieverse with my final thought – but really it could all be a well planned feint – what more convenient excuse could there be for Oklahoma’s Queen Freyda and her retinue to be present and accounted for at said summit, than her marriage to one of the members of the Amun Clan?

At first this seems counter intuitive, seeing as Oklahoma belongs to Zeus, not Amun. Their presence at the summit can’t be a penciled in marriage to Eric as that would send up obvious neon warning flags to Nevada. Oklahoma can be there officially on another matter though, leaving Freyda to take ‘marriage as payment’ after Felipe meets the final death.

It certainly seems plausible. Just sayin’.

Please don’t hurt me!

Well, thats all folks. I hope I’ve given everyone enough to tide them over for a while!

Until next time (if there is a next time!)…like if I’m not in the witness protection program first. Eeeeeek.


Texas Take ‘Em – A Lesson in Vampire Politics

October 22, 2010 in Character & Plot Analysis, Dead in the Family - Book 10, Guest Posts

Alright, so summer is gone and True Blood is over – which means class is back in session! Drag out your copies of the Sookie Stackhouse Novels, we are hitting the books!

First up on the agenda – a look at vampire politics as recounted by Eric in Dead in the Family, and its implications for the upcoming Sookie Stackhouse Companion and book 11, Dead Reckoning. To which I say, finally, I can use my degree towards something!

“As my wife, you must know this.” (p 154)

Dusting off our memories if we can, let’s go back to that clunky chapter where Eric gave Sookie the lowdown on the vampire political system. To summarize for those who don’t have their books on hand, previously Eric had snuck into the hidey-hole the night before while Hunter slept in the guest room, Sookie explains Claude and Hunter’s presence in the house, Eric then tells Sookie he has to give her the 411 – and no, he was not Leif Ericson.

On the first reading, the sheer bluntness and excessiveness of Eric’s delivery of so much information that he felt would help Sookie “negotiate the minefield of vampire politics” (153) was off-putting. Why this? Why this now? It seemed like Charlaine Harris lobbed this at her readers on a late edit. The chapter seemed odd and ill fitting, and it certainly didn’t appear to belong in the narrative, since the rest of the book focused so much on the theme of family and all but completely abandoned the political thereafter. But Eric was trying to tell Sookie important stuff, (by the Hammer of Thor, really I mean it!), and upon closer examination, Harris told us more than I originally expected to find.

Part of the difficulty we encounter drawing the message from this passage is due to Sookie’s narration – her growing impatience and the readers’ own anticipation ( *drool* ) amplify with every mention of mind-blowing, sex, and Eric. Redundant much, CH?

As difficult as it is to not fantasize where the Gracious Plenty is concerned, I suggest on your rereading that you try to block out the distracting sexual subtext, and hold those lady boners in. Think of the kittens Ewoks.

Haha, MAS. I borrowed your joke there. (But added Ewoks. *shifty eyes.*)


STAY ON TARGET… STAY ON TARGET!

Returning to the lesson, Eric and Sookie banter on for about 3 pages with the Amun, Narayana, Zeus, and Moshup delineations, – to which I say nuhuh, hit the ignore button please. The mythology behind these terms is unimportant. Scratch ‘em off the study guide for now. AmunNarayanaZeusMoshup. In test prep terminology, these new vampire territories are “attractive distractors” and are equally distracting as the GP. Sookie perked up when she heard them and feigned interest real well, but the backstory of these ‘stupid names’ is not relevant to where I think the story is going. If you put “Narayana created the sun from his eyes” down on the test later as the #1 important thing in this passage, you will fail.

Just sayin.’

These are not the bombs in the garden you’re looking for.



IGNORANCE WILL KEEL YOU

While this will make a snazzy poster for any of you politicos planning on attending a rally this year, does it have anything to do with AmunNarayanaZeusMoshup, these proper nouns of themselves? Hmm. Not that much.

“I think you need to know what’s going on around you, my lover.” Eric had never looked more serious. “Last night, while I was working, I found myself distracted by the idea that you might suffer for your ignorance. Pam agreed. She’s wanted to give you the background of our hierarchy for some weeks. But I thought the knowledge would burden you, and you had enough problems to handle. Pam reminded me that ignorance could get you killed. I value you too much to let yours continue.” (p 157)

Eric expresses concern for Sookie’s safety here – if we invert it, how could any of the information in this chapter be helpful in saving her life?

Going back a few pages while looking for ideas, I stumbled on a land mine. While explaining the political landscape and the mechanics of vampire governance, the Viking gave Sookie a serendipitous warning. That is, Eric told her where NOT to go. Eeeeerp. What? Jar Jar Binks, play that back again.

Meesa say, Eric told her where not to go.

“Stan’s lieutenant in Texas has struggled these past few months since Stan was injured in Rhodes, and it’s been hard for him to hold on to Texas.” (p 155)

Texas.

Which is ripe for a take over.

Texas.

Which is where Sam’s brother’s wedding is located.


WRIGHT ROH, RAGGY!

In order to get to Wright, Texas,** Sam and Sookie must go through the Dallas-Texas territory. Blurgh! Will Sam and Sookie make a stopover in Dallas or avoid it all together and take an alternative route? Will Eric freak when he finds out Sookie plans to go to Craig’s wedding but for her only to misconstrue what he is saying as jealousy and mistrust instead of tactical advice? And will she go ahead with attending this out of spite and her independent zeal?

**Apparently there are two Wright, Texases. I chose the one that is closer to Louisiana, but both are west of Dallas.

While I’m certainly trying hard not to panic over this newish layer of intrigue, I think it only spells trouble. Will the ‘takeover’ happen before or after Craig’s wedding? Will Dallas be ground zero of a battle for control of the state? Will news of it trickle to Sookie’s ears while she is there? Will someone make an attempt to kidnap Sookie once she enters that area? Regardless, I do not think it is a coincidence where this wedding is located. Harris has a purpose for this.



ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US.

Now if California is split into thirds because of population density according to Eric, then the Texas territory might be split at least in half, right? And for all intents and purposes we are talking about the northern half of Texas, which includes the Dallas area and which I believe must include the surrounding areas like Fort Worth. Although who knows, maybe Texas is one whole territory? Overall it could be a relatively moot point, but the focus here is Dallas.

As of right this minute, I am going out on a limb and saying Texas WILL be taken over.

It is only a matter of WHEN.

But I won’t stop there.  Pushing all my chips in, I also say Texas will be taken over by Oklahoma’s Queen Freyda, and NOT Felipe De Castro’s Nevada regime.

Why Oklahoma you ask?

First we know FDC is busy attempting to pry Mississippi away from Russell Edgington, which we learned from Pam in the short story “Two Blondes.” This would make Oklahoma’s blitz of Dallas more likely, since they know Nevada is still trying to expand and thus they will have a bigger sense of urgency.

Geographically speaking, Oklahoma would be walled in on three sides if the Felipe De Castro regime were to claim Texas – since this regime already have full control of Arkansas and Louisiana. I doubt Oklahoma will allow themselves to be surrounded to that degree, and I believe they will make a preemptive strike.

Also, a hypothetical alliance with Eric won’t be of much consequence if Freyda doesn’t command a powerful regime herself. A weak ally is a non-ally.

Here’s lookin’ at you, Alderaan.


FREYDA: HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE THAT?

This is killing me, I keep tripping all over that j. Fray-da? Free-da?

My research yielded the spelling is likely Russian or Polish and the name means “Peace” or “Peaceful leader.” Is Freyda possibly some old friend of Eric’s? An old flame?

“Freyda” appears to be Scandinavian in origin, and quite close to both Freya and Freyja – the Norse goddess of love, fertility and war. This could very well be a big fat hint of a long standing, past connection between her and Eric – either going back to their human days (a stretch) or simply a connection forged out of a shared Nordic heritage (more likely).

Will Eric approach Freyda looking for help to extricate Nevada and pledge his loyalty to her in exchange for the Queenship of Louisiana? Or instead, will friendly Freyda want a nice neighbor, take cash in small bills, and permit Eric the Kingship of his own state?

I’ll have more on a potential alliance later, but in the meantime why is a Texas takeover so important?


BYE BYE STANLEY!

We hardly knew ye.

Mr. Davis is deader than dead in my opinion. There is an off chance that Freyda may allow Stan to live in a non-hostile takeover and/or marries him in lieu of killing him outright, but I doubt it since Oklahoma has their back up against the wall. Well..  technically three walls.

If we’re weak enough to be taken, then we are fair game.” (p 155)

With Stan gone, what does this mean for Barry Bellboy? Is he still in Stan’s employ? Would he then belong to Freyda?  Will Barry leave the state before this goes down? Did he go into hiding after Rhodes? Was he ensnared by Lattesta & the G-Men or enslaved by Victor Madden, who is jealous of Eric’s little telepathic trump card?

Lemon hears people’s thoughts too. Should she be worried?

QUINN

John is supposed to be in the new novella and we know that this wedding Sookie has promised to attend is in Texas, so is there a connection? Is he there in his unofficial capacity as Traitor-in-Chief while spying for FDC on the Supes in Texas? Is the rest of the Nevada gang far behind? Is Frannie there too? Is Quinn stalking Sookie? Is he standing right over the border waiting for Sookie since he can’t step foot into Eric’s area? Has he finally given up pit-fighting and joined the circus?

It seems fairly certain that one final wedge will be driven between Quinn and Sookie to put that mess to bed forever, hence his reappearance in the novella. The tiger’s track record on choosing sides is nothing to write home about, and his habit of leading trouble straight to Sookie doesn’t bode well, either.

FELICIA

That dead little spy that Alexei annihilated at the end of DITF belonged to someone. Who dat? I’ll be damned if it isn’t Freyda. Since I think Stan is dead vamp walking, it doesn’t serve the story much if Felicia was in his employ, but rather if it was Freyda potentially she will send another minion to enquire about Felicia’s disappearance, and she could bring charges of wrongful death against Eric, since he was responsible for her as a vampire in his area. There is a lot of explaining to do to somebody on that front.

And what information did Bobby Burnham possibly pass along to her during their dirty little fling?

The likely implications of Felicia’s presence are that Freyda knows the situation in Louisiana from her reconnoissance, she knows that Eric is under Felipe De Castro’s thumb, and she will demand payment in some kind if she is to offer aid – regime toppling isn’t free last time I checked and payment via an alliance with Louisiana would have to seem mighty attractive to her vulnerable state. Who knows – if she is a connection of Eric’s, maybe she will offer it at a reduced price?

“THE SENATOR”

Shortly after the geography lesson and the mind blowing sex (which we the readers were not allowed to witness in dripping graphic detail. Nerds!!!), Sookie starts acting weird due to Appius’ arrival and the stressed blood bond. She blurts out this:

“Hey, I heard on the radio today that one of the senators from Oklahoma came out as a Were. He said he’d register with some government bureau the day they pried his fangs from his cold, dead corpse.” (p 161)

Does this Were-Senator have any bearing on the state of Oklahoma’s vampire hierarchy since the human government is starting to merge Vampire Affairs with Supe Affairs? Why did CH drop this? Was it supposed to be some random inconsequential fact? Why mention Oklahoma twice in the same chapter? Especially when this new character Freyda looks to be rather important if she is the “new Queen on the board” from the Dead Reckoning synopsis and that this Were-Senator holds an anti-registration stance. This may be in the long run irrelevant, but color me intrigued.



AMUN! NARAYANA! ZEUS! MOSHUP!

Okay, we can discuss their geographical relevance now. Oklahoma belongs in Zeus if Texas does and they share the common vertical dividing line, so most likely Zeus will support Oklahoma’s plan in solidifying inter-Clan power structures, especially in light of Felipe de Castro’s growing dominion.

So what does it mean if Oklahoma becomes a Louisiana ally, since it will be across Clan lines and not internally within Amun?

Amun has been decimated from the bombing of the last summit, so that makes them poor and self-serving and in my opinion they do not care about Eric’s troubles in so much their own. There is not going to be an army of droids help coming from his own Clan,  Eric has to look somewhere else for aid.

Which brings me to wonder how many marriages are allowed between Kings and Queens outside of their respective Clan. Eric seems to suggest marriage does not need to be inside the Clan when he recalls the summit:

“There are visitors at the summits, if they have some vested interest in a topic under discussion. Or they are engaged in a lawsuit against someone in that division. Or if they’re going to marry someone in the division whose time it is to have a summit.” (p 155)

The evidence in the Sookieverse suggests otherwise however; Sophie-Anne married Arkansas, which was internally within Amun, and Russell married King Bartlett of Indiana, again, internally within Amun.

Based on this, marriage and ‘peaceful’ alliances across Clan lines may occur, but don’t appear to be common.


PLEASE PUSH THE PANIC BUTTON… NOW!

Marriage as a means to form an alliance between Oklahoma and Louisiana seems pretty likely. Shark farts! With the example of Sophie-Anne and Peter Threadgill it was made clear a marriage of convenience does not have to be consummated, heck they don’t even have to like each other. Could Eric marry Freyda and have Sookie as a consort? Will Eric be forced to ask Sookie for a divorce? (Please CH – god, no!) Does Eric perform the matrimonial services at his own wedding? HAHAHA.

Oh, fudge buckets. I’m crapping my pants over this.

Can Eric form an alliance with Oklahoma without marriage being a necessary component? I have no frakking idea how it will play out. All I do know is Felipe De Castro and Victor Madden aren’t walking out that door of their own free will, which to me can only mean one thing.

This is war, Peacock.

To be continued…

PART TWO – MORDOR SHE WROTE

Pass the popcorn, please!

July 8, 2010 in Character & Plot Analysis, Guest Posts, True Blood

In this week’s vacation from True Blood, we learn that wearing a mask is more trouble than it’s worth, insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results, and supernatural families can be dysfunctional, too…

Sink your teeth into some not-so-spoilery commentary after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry →

The Leader of the Pack – The Case for Alcide

July 1, 2010 in Alcide Herveaux, Character & Plot Analysis, Guest Posts, Sookie Stackhouse

This is a guest post by our resident spitfire and long time commenter, Gigi. It was originally posted (in a shorter form) back in January, on the Who’s your Second for Book Sookie?” post. Together, we have reworked her original comment into post form.

Alcide often suffers for comparisons with other suitors, and in particular a certain big blonde suitor! Gigi’s clear-eyed take on Alcide – minus the usual Eric/Bill/Quinn comparisons – really helped me to see him as a character in his own right for the first time. With the introduction of Alcide on True Blood this week, we thought now would be an opportune time to take a fresh look at how this 6″5′ hunk of furry love fits into Sookie’s world.

* * * * * * *

Writing this post is somehow difficult for me – I’m not used to “seeing” anyone other than Eric as Sookie’s HEA, to do so requires me to detach a little from my bias. This post isn’t about who I think would be the best partner for Sookie, but about who I think Charlaine Harris might choose if she doesn’t choose Eric. I’m basing everything I’m going to say in favour of Alcide on what Harris has actually written in the books.

A while ago I was studying each character individually, in an attempt to “know” the real personalities behind them. I took the time to carefully study Alcide’s personality and how Harris has developed his character, because I was intrigued by the way Sookie thinks and feels about him. I came to like Alcide a lot. He is a loyal, decent man who came from a poor family that worked hard to have the wealth they achieved. He never flaunted his weath, and he has never acted superiorly towards Sookie – in fact even Alcide’s sister Janice was sincerely kind and lovely with her. He respects Sookie a lot, and has always cared for her safety. Harris has woven in a lot of subtle detail about his character and his relationship with Sookie, and she has masterfully hidden much of it, so that Alcide always manages to keep a “low profile”.

Alcide can be seen as a male version of Sookie in many ways because like Sookie, he is a survivor. Also like Sookie with her telepathy he had a hard time when, as a teen, he discovered he was a werewolf. Even though he loves children (remember him buying toys and waiting for his nephew’s visit) he told Sookie he would never pass “it” to his own children. He also told her he didn’t date weres or shifters for this reason, and only began to date Debbie because she lied to him, telling him that she was sterile. We all know Debbie was a real bitch, and that Alcide was heavily abused and manipulated by her. I think it’s possible that Debbie used a spell on Alcide (her mother was a spellcaster, and we saw how powerful spells can be with Eric’s amnesia experience). Yet even if she didn’t, the fact that Alcide was raised in a Were society that highly appreciates and respects women, and came from a home where his own mother was viewed and treated in the same way, made him much more vulnerable to Debbie’s manipulation. Alcide was also a victim of his father’s gambling addiction (and later, his political ambitions), which ultimately placed him in the position of being forced by Eric to take care of Sookie in Jackson. Yet even when they were both very attracted to each other and he perceived that Eric had an interest in her, Alcide never took advantage of it. In fact, he is the only important man in Sookie’s life who hasn’t had sex with her. And when I say “important”, I don’t mean important in the sense of who I think is the best suitor, but who is important from Sookie’s point of view in the story.

Charlaine Harris never adds meaningless details about Sookie’s suitors and she has said as much on more than one occasion. The first song Alcide and Sookie ever danced to – Sarah McLachlan’s “Good Enough” – wasn’t chosen at random. The lyrics read in part:

“Hey your glass is empty,it’s a hell of a long way home
why don’t you let me take you
it’s no good to go alone
I never would have opened up, but you seemed so real to me
after all the bullshit I’ve heard
it’s refreshing not to see
I don’t have to pretend
she doesn’t expect it from me.

Don’t tell me I haven’t been good to you
don’t tell me I have never been there for you
don’t tell me why
nothing is good enough.

Hey little girl would you like some candy, your momma said that it’s OK
The door is open come on outside
no I can’t come out today
it’s not the wind that cracked your shoulder, and threw you to the ground
who’s there that makes you so afraid
you’re shaken to the bone
and I don’t understand
you deserve so much more than this, so don’t tell me why
he’s never been good to you
don’t tell me why
he’s never been there for you
don’t you know that why
is simply not good enough
so just let me try
and I will be good to you
just let me try
and I will be there for you
I’ll show you why
You’re so much more than good enough…”

Lyrics here.

Analysing these lyrics, the significance of this song for both of them – not just at that moment, but throughout the whole story – is clear. As a matter of fact, at the end of Club Dead when Sookie thinks about her own situation as Alcide and Debbie fight on the other side of the wall, she has a moment of clarity that marked a turning point for her own relationship with Bill:

“Of course they should separate. They should never be in the same room again. And I had to take this to heart. Look at me. Mangled, drained, staked, battered. Lying in a cold apartment, in a strange city, with a vampire who had betrayed me. A big decision was standing right in front of my face, waiting to be recognized and enacted”.

Bill’s betrayal was the trigger, and it forced Sookie to see him for who he was. But for Alcide, his problems with Debbie were far worse and much more complex – because Debbie Pelt wasn’t “just” an abuser, or a royal pain in the ass. Debbie Pelt was a psychopath. The real deal. She even made Bill one of her victims when she helped with his torture in Jackson. Psychopaths (who are masters in the use of sex, charm, manipulation and violence to control others and to satisfy their own needs without feeling any guilt or remorse) are considered to be not only incurable but also untreatable. So the only possible way to definitely separate Alcide from Debbie was to kill her, him or Sookie.

“Weres are nothing if not loyal,” Alcide said. I took his hand. “I know that.” Alcide’s green eyes regarded me steadily. “Debbie asked me to kill you,” he said. For a moment I felt cold down to my bones. “What did you tell her back?” I asked, through stiff lips. “I told her she could go fuck herself, excuse my language.” “And how do you feel now?” “Numb. Isn’t that stupid? I’m pulling her out of me by the roots, though. I told you I would. I had to do it. It’s like being addicted to crack. She’s awful.” – Club Dead

And then CH decided to kill the bitch herself – to the relief of all concerned.

Sookie’s daydreams about Alcide, and her thoughts about him starting from the first day they met and shared a peculiarly peaceful moment of breakfast in her kitchen are very revealing. She had a glimpse of the kind of life she always wanted to have with a man. Not just in that moment, but also in Dead to the World, while Eric had amnesia and was staying at her home:

“Alcide Herveaux still figured in my daydreams.”

“I glanced over at Alcide and sighed. This man was just about perfect in many respects. I liked the way he looked, I understood the way he thought, and he treated me with great consideration and respect. Sure, he was a werewolf, but I could give up a couple of nights of month. True, according to Alcide it would be difficult for me to carry his baby to term, but it was at least possible. Pregnancy wasn’t part of the picture with a vampire. Whoa. Alcide hadn’t offered to father my babies…”

Alcide invited Sookie to accompany him to Colonel Flood’s funeral and yes, he omitted telling her that he needed her help. I think he had every intention of telling her since he did actually call, and Sookie interrupted him because she (as she always does, even with Eric) presumed to know what he wanted to say to her. I think he also wanted to tell her when he went to her house to ask her to come, and even when he returned to collect her for the funeral the next day. But he didn’t do it, because he could smell Debbie’s scent on her porch, and even after they talked more than once about it and Alcide asked her if she wanted to tell him anything about the night of the Witch War, Sookie never trusted him enough to tell him the truth about Debbie’s death. Many people believe that Alcide “used” Sookie at the funeral. But he wasn’t using her. He was getting even with Sookie for hurting him. The man is a were, but he’s also human… as human as Sookie who lied to him, and also got hurt by his omission.

Make no mistake. The fight between Sookie and Alcide at the funeral didn’t have anything to do with the fact that Sookie killed Debbie (Alcide never judged her for doing that), nor was it because he didn’t ask her outright for help. The real heart of the matter was that both of them were facing each other for the first time not as the idealized, perfect and flawless supe they each thought the other one to be – but as the humans they really are. Both full of flaws and able to lie, make mistakes, and hurt the people they care about. After the funeral Sookie assumed the defensive against Alcide, and went for the “offended lady” approach, fearful of how he might react. But let’s be real. Sookie’s paranoia about killing Debbie in what was clearly self defense was completely irrational. She thought for a long time that she couldn’t tell Eric (Eric!!) about what they’d done, believing he would only take advantage of the information to gain power over her. When she did eventually tell Eric about the circumstances of Debbie’s death – and then only after he blackmailed it out of her – Eric duly kept his mouth shut. He never raised it again, let alone threatened her with it. This incident showed clearly that Sookie’s assessment of how others around her might behave or react is sometimes very wrong. She misjudged Eric in the Debbie Pelt affair, and that is fairly universally acknowledged. The fact that she also misjudged Alcide is usually completely overlooked.

Alcide was there for Sookie after her house caught fire in Book 5, and even asked her to move with him and begin a relationship. Sookie was smart enough to reject his invitation because she knew they were both in the rebound stage of their last relationships, just as they were the first time they met. The “timing” was always wrong for them. Sookie has mentioned their “timing” problem many times since Club Dead:

“I’d love for someone to step in and solve all my problems,” I told him. “But I don’t want to accept your offer because I need a place to live and we’re hot for each other…I’m saying now is not the time to work on a relationship with you.” Though I wouldn’t mind jumping your bones, I added to myself wistfully. But I wasn’t going to do that on a whim, and certainly not with a man like Alcide.

At any rate, she did “do that” later with Quinn, so it seems that even though Quinn too has a double nature, Sookie never saw him as “a man like Alcide”.

Chemistry. WE HAZ IT.

When Sookie found out about Alcide’s relationship with Maria Comet in Definitely Dead, (ok… I know she was Maria-Star Cooper, but I can’t help calling her the funny name Eric did) it was obvious she still held feelings for Alcide:

“Well …” She seemed to be unable to spit it out, whatever was stuck in her throat. I was getting a glimpse of the shape of it. Pain flickered through me like a knife, and then I locked it down and pulled my pride around me…With a bright smile that echoed Maria-Star’s own expression, I said, “Alcide and I weren’t ever truly a couple, you know.” I might have had longings and hopes, but they’d never had a chance to ripen. The timing had always been wrong…

Also revealing is Sookie’s conversation with Calvin Norris, during which she herself accepts that she has feelings for Alcide:

“Do other kinds of shape-shifters do the same thing?” I asked this so quietly, I could hardly hear myself. I stared down at my hands, clenched together in my lap, and I could hardly breathe as I waited to hear his answer. Alcide’s green eyes filled my thoughts. “When the pack begins to grow too small, it’s their duty to,” he said slowly. “What’s on your mind, Sookie?”

Of course, Calvin’s community is very small compared to the Shreveport’s city pack; nonetheless Sookie correctly assumed that Alcide would engage in the same practice:

“I’m afraid that what really struck me about Calvin’s confession—or explanation—is what it might reveal to me about Alcide. Alcide had sparked my affection, and my lust. Thinking of him did make me wonder what marriage to him would be like, wonder in a very personal way, as opposed to my impersonal speculation about health insurance that Calvin had inspired. I’d pretty much abandoned the secret hope Alcide had inspired in me, after I’d been forced to shoot his former fiancee; but something in me had clung to the thought, something I’d kept secret even from myself, even after I’d found out he was dating Maria-Star. As recently as this day, I’d been stoutly denying to the Pelts that Alcide had any interest in me. But something lonely inside me had nursed a hope. I got up slowly, feeling about twice my actual age…but I never cooked a meal for myself that night. Instead, I leaned against the refrigerator door and cried.”

And if any more proof were needed of how fucked up Sookie left Alcide with her mixed signals, words and actions (because we all know that Sookie, when confused and wanting to hide from her feelings is worse than a damaged traffic light in the middle of Manhattan); her insight into Alcide’s jealousy in From Dead to Worse seals the deal:

“So you—and Eric—had a leisurely dinner at an expensive restaurant, with another man.” I looked at him incredulously. This was so far off the point. I concentrated. I’d never poked a mental probe into such turmoil. Alcide was feeling grief for Maria-Star, guilt because he hadn’t protected her, anger that I’d been drawn into the conflict, and above all, eagerness to knock some skulls. As the cherry on top of all that, Alcide—irrationally—hated that I’d been out with Eric.”

Alcide has grown through his painful experiences from being a kind of naive man into a strong and mature packmaster – a position he never even aspired to have in the first place. His journey from naivete to maturity has somewhat mirrored Sookie’s own. And now, Sookie admires him much more than before:

“Thank you, and thanks again for your part in that luck. You’re still a friend of the pack,” he said very seriously. His beautiful green eyes lingered on my face. “And you’re one of my favorite women in the world,” he added unexpectedly. “That’s a real nice compliment, Alcide,” I said, and drove away. I was glad I’d talked to him. Alcide had grown up a lot in the past few weeks. All in all, he was changing into a man I admired much more than I had the old one. I’d never forget the blood and the screaming of the horrific night in the abandoned office park in Shreveport, but I began to feel that some good had come out of it.”

After Sookie’s long-awaited admission of love for Eric in Dead in the Family, the Shreveport pack – headed by Alcide – requested Sookie’s assistance once again. This time to solve a murder, which resulted in Sookie playing the part of pack Shaman. The Sookie and Alcide story doesn’t seem to be over just yet.

And this guy, my dear viking sisters is the only man that Charlaine Harris could ever substitute for Eric as Sookie’s HEA. He is the Viking’s only true rival for Sookie’s affections, since Bill took himself out of the running so long ago.

And if Eric is not to be Sookie’s HEA, I refuse to accept less than this huge werewolf with a rabbit shaped birthmark in his right butt cheek.

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