Monday, 17 November 2008

Laurell K. Hamilton: Swallowing Darkness

No, don't look away. Despite the probably double entendre of the title, this is that rarest of things, a LKH book without that much sex. Still some, of course, but not nearly so much as usual. Mind you, coming in at the seventh book of the Meredith Gentry series you'd have to read through the earlier ones to get to it, but it might actually be worth the effort.

To summarise the plot briefly without giving too much away, this opens looking like the climax of the attempts to put the main character on the throne of the unseelie sidhe, but things are never that simple. Having finally succeeded in becoming pregnant, and in bringing power back to much of fairie while she was going about it, Merry must now survive the last attempts of her cousin Cel, and others, to kill her before she can take it.

The simplicity of that basic plot belies the power of this book. It's beautifully, if very darkly, written, with a sensuousness to the prose that never spills over into floridness. The pacing is perfect, and the choices the characters make actually feel like they matter. I have a slight quibble with the level of divine intervention that keeps showing up through the series, since I feel that it removes some of the sense of danger from the characters, but even this is quite carefully managed here. In short, instead of the sort of enjoyable romp that we might have been expecting, Hamilton has reined herself in to produce a darkly thrilling tale of political intrigue and power.

No comments: