Fri
Apr 5 2013 2:00pm

The Sookie Stackhouse Reread: Book 7, All Together Dead

Sookie Stackhouse series reread All Together DeadWelcome back to our re-read of the Sookie Stackhouse series, by Charlaine Harris. This week we’re on the seventh book, All Together Dead.

All Together Dead begins during the third weekend in September, and between Definitely Dead and this book, Hurricane Katrina hit, dramatically changing the balance of power in the vampire states. Before, Area 5 (northwestern Louisiana) was much less influential than the other half of the state. Now it is one of the most profitable.

The chapter opens as Sookie arrives at one of our favorite hotspots, Fangtasia. Pam opens the door, shares that Eric is “full of happiness,” and asks about Sookie’s delicious brother and Sam. Sookie shares that Jason is thinking of getting married, and Pam consoles Sookie by quoting one of her favorite philosophers, “Dear Abby.” Pam brings her to the meeting room, and it’s full of supernaturals. There’s Eric, who looks at her, the proceeds to ignore her. Clancy, the bar manager (who since being drained by the witches is even more creepy) is also there, with Felicia, the newest bartender, along with two other vampires, Indira and Maxwell Lee. There’s Bill, whom Sookie has attempted to abjure (a la werewolf custom), an ancient vampire named Thalia, and two other visitors—Sophie-Anne Leclerq’s right hand man, Andre, and Jake Purifoy, the were who was turned into a vampire in the previous book. Andre bows to Sookie and offers her his seat (a sign of honor), and they proceed with the meeting. The queen is living with the Area Four sheriff, Gervaise, for the time being. Andre gives a report of the extensive damage, and implies that the area sheriffs will be taxed for repairs. He also shares that they have lost thirty vampires in Louisiana, and then in Mississippi. That is a huge number for vampires, and their power is significantly weakened.

Then Sookie asks a key question…do one of the kings or queens attending the summit have a weather predictor on staff? The conference was supposed to take place in late spring, but was constantly delayed. If the summit started when it was originally planned, the queen would have been incredibly powerful, and the other monarchs wouldn’t have been so anxious to prosecute her for the king’s death. Now, she is attending in a poor position. Andre thinks Sookie makes a very good point, and Eric says “Sookie is good at thinking outside the box.” So true. Andre also mentions that a vampire named Jennifer Cater was in training to become Peter Threadgill’s assistant, and has now filed a suit against the queen. The queen holds that since she was married to Peter, Arkansas goes to her. So if Jennifer wins, the queen would lose Arkansas and have to pay the state a substantial fine. Jennifer is claiming that the queen lured Threadgill to New Orleans, and planned all along to assassinate him. Sookie instantly responds “But that wasn’t what happened at all.” At that, Andre brushes the back of her neck with his fingers, making Sookie realize that she is the only witness to the king’s death besides Andre and Sophie-Anne. At that insight, her heart skips a beat, bringing the attention of all the vampires in the room. Everyone else moves on, but Eric will not forget. Andre explains that the queen requires Sookie to be close to her at the Summit. Eric will attend, Pam, and Bill, Mr. Cataliades, Diantha, Gervaise, Rasul, and Sigebert make up the rest of the Louisiana party. Eric will set up an account for the trip at Tara’s Togs so that Sookie can buy clothing for the trip—he explains that he sets up accounts for all his staff, which saves Sookie’s pride. At that, the meeting is adjourned and Sookie returns home.

When Sookie returns from Halleigh’s bridal shower the next day, Quinn is waiting in her driveway. He picks her up and swings her around, and Sookie is thrilled to see him. She’s only seen him three times since the events of the previous book, and both times were brief and not quite as romantic as one could have hoped. With Amelia out of the house they have to opportunity to, ahem, consummate their relationship, but first Sookie wants confirmation that Quinn is going to be along for the long haul before they proceed. When Quinn tells her that he plans to take a month off after the Summit and spend it with her, that’s all the commitment she needs. Sookie can read enough of his mind to tell that he’s sincere, but she can’t read enough of his thoughts to be distracted by them. Afterwards, with Amelia back in the house, they discuss her difficulty changing Bob-the-Cat back into Bob-the-Man. She can’t find her mentor after Hurricane Katrina. But her Dad is apparently a wealthy financier in Louisiana named Copley Carmichael (this is news to Sookie, and she is glad Quinn asked). Amelia manages the apartment complex he bought for her, lives off the income as well as her own payments for magic work.

At this point, Jason calls and asks Sookie to come out to Hotshot in an hour. He and Crystal are getting married—surprise! Crystal is pregnant again. When she arrives with Quinn, the panthers’ respect for her is clearly doubled, particularly Crystal. Sookie’s not quite sure what the big deal is, but she’ll take it. Then Sookie discovers that she has to vouch for Jason as his only living relative, meaning she has to take the penalty if Jason does wrong. The couple must vow to be faithful, to keep the secret of Hotshot, and to help out other members of the community if they’re in need. Jason agrees to keep his promises, as does Crystal. But while Jason is sincere, Sookie doubts his ability to stick to his word. Crystal has the ability, but isn’t sincere. Sookie calls her on it, and reminds Crystal that she can see inside her head. Crystal doesn’t care, and marries Jason anyway. After the ceremony and celebration, Sookie and Quinn leave the party while Amelia stays with a shifter. Sookie has to tell Bob-the-cat that Amelia will be late—he’s clearly angry, and stalks off to throw up on Amelia’s bed.

The next day at work, Selah Pumphrey takes the opportunity to ask Sookie how long she’s been scheming to get Bill back, and mentions the summit trip as evidence. Sookie is so angry at the insinuation that she almost slaps her, but Sam steps in and tells Selah Pumphrey that she isn’t welcome at Merlotte’s. She stalks out. Back at home, Amelia apologies to Bob for hooking up with the were-panther, and they make a pact that she won’t hook up with any men until he is back to normal. Claudine also stops by, concerned about Sookie attending the vampire summit. She’s worried because she can’t attend with so many vampires around, and thinks that there will be trouble. She also worries that so many will see Sookie and know of her ability—she’ll never be an innocent bystander again. This hits Sookie, and she wonders what her own motivations are for going:

Was I just curious about what the agenda might be at a vampire summit? Did I want the attention of more undead members of society? Did I want to be known as a fangbanger, one of those humans who simply adored the walking dead? Did some corner of me long for a chance to be near Bill without seeking him out, still trying to make some emotional sense of his betrayal? Or was this about Eric? Unbeknownst to myself, was I in love with the flamboyant Viking who was so handsome, so good at making love, and so political, all at the same time?

These are all good questions, but Sookie concludes that she may not totally understand her own motivations, but she’s going anyway, and she could really use the money. The next day, Sookie goes to Tara’s Togs to pick out clothes for the summit. Tara is upset that Sookie is still spending time with vampires, and is about ready to end their friendship, and resume a different sort of relationship with JB Du Rone.

Later that night, Pam visits the bar. She is worried about Eric—he hasn’t been the same since he stayed with Sookie, isn’t the carefree vampire he used to be now that he has feelings and is attached. Sookie disagrees that he has feelings, and argues that he’s worried about something else. But Pam asks the clincher, “Why do you think Eric would give a flying fuck what bill had been ordered to do, much less reveal it to a human woman, if he didn’t have inappropriate feelings for you?” Touché, Pam. At that, Amelia walks in the bar and Sookie introduces her to Pam. They clearly have a connection. Meanwhile, Arlene is now very involved in the Fellowship of the Sun, and her friendship with Sookie is clearly suffering for it. She’s incredibly rude and judgmental towards Sookie’s association with vampires, and Sookie won’t stand for it. She calls her on her own problems, and walks out of the bar with Pam. Sookie begins to cry, and Pam wipes away her tears (somewhat negating the comforting act by sucking the tears off her thumb). With Pam’s help, Sookie realizes that Arlene was not a good friend to her—she just used her. As Pam says, “She’s lazy. That extends to her friendships. If it’s easy to be friendly, she will be. If the wind blows the other way, her friendship will be gone...She has found some way to be an important person in her own right, by hating others.” So true. But the real reason Pam visited Sookie is not to talk about Quinn or Arlene, but to asssure Sookie that they didn’t know about Bill’s mission, or that he had been using Sookie for the queen’s purposes. Eric in particular didn’t know. Pam agrees that it would be easy to write off Sookie’s power and impact on their lives to her fairy blood, believes that the fairy but does not explain it. Sookie isn’t telepathic from fairy blood, and it didn’t impact her strong personality.

While the two are bonding, Pam also shares the story of her death, and birth as a vampire. She met Eric in London on her last night alive—she had snuck out of her parent’s home to meet her lover. Her parents didn’t her way back home, she met Eric. He was lonely, and when she woke up he held her and explained everything. She loves being a vampire—she has all the freedom she was denied in her human life. Pam is loyal to Eric and obeys him willingly. Though Pam went her own way for many years, she was glad to rejoin him at Fangtasia. Pam’s goal tonight is to ask Sookie to have mercy on Eric, which confuses Sookie completely. Pam is there because she cares about Eric and wants him to be happy, and he wants Sookie. But Eric arrives, and is clearly angry with Pam for her interference. She actually gets down on her knees and calls him master, which Sookie has never seen her do before. When she leaves, Eric steps in front of Sookie and just grabs her and kisses her. Sookie can’t help but respond, but then she thinks of Quinn, and reluctantly pulls away. Eric asks if she is Quinn’s, Sookie says she is her own, and that he is being ridiculous—Eric has never given any indication that she is significant to him and that he wants to be with her. But Eric clarifies that ever since his amnesia, he has wondered why he ran to her house, why he ran to her. Was he supposed to look for someone he hated? Loved? Was it random? Sookie suggests it was the fairy blood. Eric simply says “No” and then he is gone.

Amelia drives Sookie to the airport the next day, where she meets with the rest of the Shreveport vampires to take a private Anubis plane. Bobby Burnham is waiting out front, Eric’s daytime guy. Sookie has never met him, but his thoughts tell her that he recognizes her, and knows who she is. He’s making Sookie carry her own bag, when Amelia mutters something under her breath and all of a sudden he’s incredibly solicitous and polite, yet astonished at the words coming out of his own mouth. Mr. Cataliades is waiting on the plane, along with Diantha and someone Sookie has not met before, Johan Glassport, a specialist in vampire law. He’s clearly reluctant to shake Sookie’s hand, is incredibly rude, and just got out of prison for knifing a prostitute in Mexico. But once he realizes Sookie is the witness to the king’s death, he asks her many questions.

The group arrives in Rhodes and travels to the Pyramid of Gizeh hotel, where the Summit will be held. A truck unloads the vampires coffins while the daytime folk arrive in front. There are also protestors across the street, with worries Sookie. Then the front desk clerk is purposely taking forever checking them in, just for his own entertainment. After ten minutes, Sookie places a hand on Mr. Cataliades arm, and when he pauses, says to the clerk:

You give us our keys and tell us where our vamps are, or I’ll tell your boss that you’re the one selling Pyramid of Gizeh items on ebay. And if you bribe a maid to even touch the queen’s panties, much less steal ‘em, I’ll sic Diantha on you.

Love it. That settled the matter, and they were very quickly shown to their rooms. Sookie is sharing a room with Gervaise’s girlfriend, Carla, who clearly has no concept of what vampires are really like. She’s going to be interesting as a roommate, that’s for sure. Sookie also mentally greets Barry the Bellboy, who is attending the summit as well with the King of Texas, Stan Davis, who has been promoted from the sheriff he was back when Sookie met him. Sookie then walks to the queen’s rooms to present herself. Sigebert is standing outside. Apparently, the queen can talk to her children telepathically, and approves Sookie to enter. She asks Sookie her opinion of Johan, and Sookie gives it honestly—that she doesn’t approve of him—and the queen implies that after he defends her, he might receive justice for his crimes. The queen also requires Sookie to attend any meeting with humans. Then Stan Davis enters, with Barry, and expresses his regards, and Sookie receives a phone call to pick up a package for the queen in the lobby. Sookie leaves with Barry after a telepathic exchange that fascinates the watching monarchs. She and Barry practice their ability—Barry tells Sookie a story while she blocks out all other brains, then she tries to listen to both him and others at the same time. They determine that Barry is better at picking out who is thinking what in a crowd, Sookie is better at nuance and detail, but their hearing is the same with regard to broadcasting from different brains. When they hold hands, however, the volume increases to an incredible degree. But too early they are interrupted by an irate woman yelling at Sookie about her hatred of the queen. Sookie’s immediate response is “Save the drama for your mama,” which doesn’t go over well with Jennifer Cater. She threatens to drain Sookie, but Sookie isn’t cowed, reminds her that she is protected by vampire law, and that Jennifer is threatening her in front of many witnesses in the hotel lobby. She stalks off, and Sookie resumes practice with Barry, holding his hand.

But then Quinn walks up, slightly uncertain of his welcome when he sees Sookie holding another man’s hand. But they hug and kiss (making Barry feel very awkward since he can hear everything). Barry mentions that he’s heard of Quinn, the great fighter, which confuses Sookie. Quinn says he’ll explain later, and Barry is angry on Sookie’s behalf, that Quinn apparently hasn’t told her something significant. This interesting exchange is interrupted by a woman wearing black armor, named Batanya, who has come to protect the King of Kentucky from an entire other dimension. She’s a Britlingen, a super-bodyguard. A witch has to bring Britlingen’s over from the other dimension, negotiate terms with their guild, and send them back. After learning that fascinating tidbit, Quinn has to leave, and Sookie and Barry get paged. Barry mentally explains to Sookie that he had fantasized about them getting together, but now realizes that wouldn’t happen after meeting Quinn.

Back at the queen’s room, Sookie tells the queen about the Britlingen, and she comments on Sookie’s usefulness, causing Andre to be a bit jealous. Sophie-Anne also listens to Sookie’s conversation with Jennifer, and determines to visit her room to talk. She calls Jennifer and makes plans, but by the time she arrives fifteen minutes later, Jennifer is dead in her room. Batayna opens her hotel room door and helps them scout out the room—everyone in there is decapitated, and Jennifer is in six pieces. Todd Donati, head of security, arrives, along with the hotel manager, Christian Baruch. Sookie is concerned at the number of people in the room disturbing the evidence, and says so, which causes a low level security employee by the name of Landry to cuff her in anger. Of course her bosses immediately defend Sookie and Landry removes the handcuffs, and Sophie-Anne makes sure that Landry will apologize in writing. Baruch sends most of the people out, leaving the queen’s group. When Baruch questions Sookie, she answers calmly (though with a bit of attitude), and the queen and Andre step up to flank her. Got to give the queen credit, she protects her own people!

At that moment, a small vampire named Henrik Feith rushes in and howls when he discovers the dead vamps. Howls until the queen offers him a place in her retinue, that is. Mr. Cataliades also joins the group, and confirms that all of the king’s property went to the queen on the event of his death. But there were conditions: there must be a witness (that’s Sookie), and his second-in-command must not be alive to take over the state. Bill also arrives, but the queen sends him on his way immediately—it seems he had been doing business for the queen elsewhere, and was not supposed to be around. Sookie refuses to care that he rushed to her side.

As they leave, Mr. Cataliades informs the queen that she must marry again immediately—she needs an alliance. But there isn’t anyone worthwhile available. Then Sookie asks an important question. How is Sophie-Anne able to keep her children with her for such a long time, when most leave there makers? That closeness between maker and child is the queen’s talent, along with the mental communication—she can keep her children with her, and they can love each other. So Sookie asks, why not just make Andre King? The queen agrees, and they are both thrilled at the prospect. When Sookie is back in the lobby, she scans the crowd and happens upon a girl who knows Quinn. The girl is quite rude, but Sookie sees in her head that she has a lot of affection for Quinn.

Barry and Sookie are worried about the lack of security at the Summit. No one is checking who is attending, no one is wearing a badge. But besides that concern, the summit is fascinating. They even has booths for people to advertise their wares, like fake retractable fangs, or Bill’s vampire identification. While Sookie and Barry peruse the booths, the King of Mississippi and the King of Indiana enter together, hand in hand, the marriage negotiations apparently concluded. Stan mentions to his fiancée that Sookie was staked in his presence, and says that he found some sludge at the bottom of his pool (Lorena). Sookie even asks if he’s mad, and he says no—he has a sense of humor, and he didn’t like Lorena. She then asks why everyone is so impressed by Quinn, and while Stan doesn’t tell her, he does say that Quinn has made a lot of people money. Next Rasul pops up at Sookie’s elbow, followed shortly by Jake Purifoy, who further increases the mystery of Quinn by comparing his own ostracization with the acceptance of all Quinn has done.

Then Quinn begins the marriage ritual. Eric performs the ceremony (he was ordained online), and they cut the two kings’ wrists and let them bleed into a chalice, then both men drink from it, then twenty men and women line up for reception’s “buffet.” After the ceremony, Sookie corners Jake and makes him tell her about Quinn. Apparently he is a rock star in the shifter world, one of the last were-tigers, and the most ferocious. Quinn’s mom was captured by hunters, but turned back into a woman after her capture, and the men were abusing her when Quinn tracked them. He killed them all at 15, but needed help cleaning up the site. The local vampire nest agreed to help if he’d be indebted to them for three years. They agreed that he would fight in the pits for them for three years, or until he died, whichever came first. His three years ended and he quit fighting to take care of his sister, a sister born of the night his mother was captured by those hunters. The same rude girl who Sookie met earlier—Frannie. At this, all Sookie wants to do is leave, but the queen needs her to read the human compatriots of the other monarchs, and tell who will side with her. Another example of how Sookie thinks outside the box…when the king of Kentucky shows up, it doesn’t appear that the Britlingens are with him. But Sookie notices a consistent empty space on either side of them, and then notices a dull echo of brain waves, muffed. She makes the mistake of smiling at their areas, and the king notices. He says she gives him the willies, and asks the queen to send her away. So the queen sends Sookie to get the suitcase that they received a call about earlier. Andre follows her out of the room, pushes her up against a wall, and tries to force her to drink from his wrist. He insists that she needs a stronger connection to the queen or himself, bound by more than a paycheck. Sookie refuses, and he’s about to force her to drink when Eric arrives. Eric explains that Sookie must be happy or she won’t cooperate, and he suggests that as they have been lovers and she has had his blood before, she will agree to drink his again. As he is bound to the queen and Andre, that should fulfill the requirement. Andre agrees, and asks Eric to confirm that she answers his call. Eric flat out lies and says that Sookie “heels nicely,” when Sookie flat out defies him on occasion, and he’s never called her.

Andre insists that they share blood that moment, in the hallway. Sookie has no choice but to agree. For the first time, Sookie understands the power of the blood bond she already holds with both Eric and Bill. She has had their blood, and they have had hers. She sees them as more human than vampire, they have more power to wound her, and she can hear their lives humming along in the background without realizing what she’s hearing. Eric is still wearing his ceremonial cape from the ceremony, and uses it to give them privacy as he drinks from her, and she from him. As she finishes, Quinn arrives and is angry and her behalf. Sookie tells Andre she will finish this job, but will never work for him and the queen again. She thanks Eric for helping her, and tells Quinn that she will talk to him later, then leaves to cry by herself on a staircase. Even afterwards, she cannot think of another way out. But there’s not much she can do now, so Sookie walks to the area where the luggage is held, and a man named Joe helps her. His mind is shielded in a way that Sookie has never encountered, and he’s also very rude. As Sookie takes the suitcase up to the queen’s suite, Batanya exits the elevator with the King of Kentucky in her wake. Sookie has found a discarded soda can outside the queen’s room, but it is much heavier than it should be. Sookie is in shock for a moment, but recovers and tells Batanya that she thinks it is a bomb. Batayna leaves her holding it, taking the king to safety. Sookie just stands there, holding it, until Quinn bursts to the floor, along with Todd Donati. Quinn tells her to put it down, but she’s too scared to move. And she refuses to give it to Quinn until they know what it is. She says she’ll give it to a bomb specialist when they arrive. Then Eric runs in, with the line: “I’m here to die right along with you, it seems.” Todd leaves, and it’s just Quinn, Eric and Sookie standing there. As Sookie says, “Was this symbolic, or what?”

Eric tries to order Sookie with his vampire influence to give the bomb to him and leave, but of course that doesn’t work. Quinn tries to get her to put it down again, but then the bomb squad man arrives, a vampire with BOOM written on his nametag. He orders Eric and Quinn to leave, but they both refuse. Boom holds out a canister, and Sookie lowers it into the padded container. Once he is in the elevator and the door closes, Sookie collapses to the floor, Quinn following her and hugging her. When she looks up, Eric has vanished. Then a multitude of people descend on them, including the queen and Andre. They conclude that the bomb was probably planted for the queen, or possibly just at random. Sookie is distracted by a wave of warmth—Eric is coming. And when he arrives, his nearness is comforting, making her feel secure. But at the same time, she is frightene by this change due to their blood bond. Eric explains that he made Bill stay and sell his computer program, rather than rush to save Sookie earlier. Bill had wanted to take the bomb and be her hero, like Quinn wanted too. And Eric wanted to save her as well. Eric is rather shocked by that. Sookie storms out after yelling at the queen about her horrible day (and getting away with it), as she leaves hears the queen demand that Andre explain. Quinn knocks on her door, and says, “I have an idea. Let’s just climb in the bed and sleep.” And Sookie thinks, “At that second, I saw how I could come to love Quinn.” He does ask if she knows about his past, and is obviously worried about it. Sookie just responds. “I’ve got no problem with you. And I’ll try to like Frannie.”

The next day, just as Sookie is ready for the party, she receives a page from the queen, and Quinn calls—the trial has begun and they need her now. When she walks down, Andre meets her, clearly upset about the trial. They walk in, and an ancient vampire is sitting in a throne like chair—the Ancient Pythoness. The Pythoness is the original oracle that Alexander consulted. She was so revered that she was converted by the primitive vampires of her time, and has now outlasted all of them. She is brought out only for special occasions. Sookie can’t help saying “like the good silver” which makes both her and Eric fight back laughter. Sitting on the council is the King of Kentucky, the Queen of Iowa, the King of Wisconsin, the King of Missouri, and the Queen of Alabama. The lawyer for the other side is Mr. Cataliades’ brother-in-law, Simon Maimonides. Kentucky is elected master-at-arms of the judicial session. And while Sophie-Anne had offered Henrik Feith sanctuary, he testifies against her vehemently. But Sookie “hears” something—he had planned to let the lawsuit slide but someone had told Henrik that the queen planned to kill him. Sookie stands up and calls out “She doesn’t’ want to kill you.” The Pythoness isn’t pleased to be interrupted, but Sookie stands her ground. At the same time, she realizes that Eric’s blood has given her the ability to read Henrik’s mind, a vampire’s mind. She walks to the lectern, Eric at her side, and explains what she knows. Sophie then proceeds to explain her stance, and Sookie is called to witness for the king’s death. But before she speaks, the Pythoness pronounces Sophie-Anne innocent of conspiring to murder her husband, and declares that Arkansas is hers by law. She seems more interested in who lied to Henrik. But before he can say, he is shot through the heart with a wooden shaft. All the vampires hit the ground, Andre jumps in front of the queen, the Britlingens in front of Kentucky, and Quinn jumps in front of Sookie—just in time to take a second arrow, an insurance arrow for Henrik.

Batanya kills the assassin with a throwing star. Gervaise pulls the arrow out of Quinn while Sookie put pressure on the wound. Eric kneels next to Sookie, and she hates that his presence instantly calms her. Eric didn’t see the arrow coming, and says while he wouldn’t have flung himself in front of the arrow, he says, “it might have hit me in the heart, and I would die. But I would have dived in and tacked you to take you out of the arrow’s path if there had been time.” Awwww. Eric asks Sookie if she loves Quinn, but she doesn’t know. Eric asks if she loves him, but she doesn’t answer until the paramedics carry Quinn out. Then says, “Did I love you? Maybe. Sort of. But I knew all along that whoever was with me, it wasn’t the real you. And I knew sooner or later you’d remember who you were and what you were.” Sookie also asks Eric about the blood tie, and whether it will fade. He just answers, “I like being like this. You’ll like it too.”

The vampire that threw the arrows was named Kyle Perkins. He was clearly an archer before he died three years ago, and probably a vampire hit man, so they plan to research archery practice areas. But despite recent events, the party will go on, and the ball begins. Sookie finds the queen, who takes her hand, squeezes it, and says, “We’ll talk later.” Sookie soon finds the weather witch she had speculated about in the beginning of the book—Julian Trout and his wife, Olive. Julian is the local Channel 7 weatherman, and Sookie introduces them to Gervaise, to make sure the queen has a chance to meet him. Eric and Sookie watch two vampires dance an incredible performance, then dance themselves, as does the queen and Andre. Eric even throws Sookie into the air, and Sookie’s having a great time. Then she drags Barry on to the dance floor, which makes Eric mad, which in turn makes Sookie angry also. Sookie feels that she should check on Quinn, however (why didn’t she think that before?), and makes her way out of the ballroom. She guesses that Jake would be the one hosting him, but when she knocks on his door she hears the phrase “they should all die,” and Jake denies that Quinn is with him. Sookie then visits Quinn, and explains her side of the story. After listening to her explanation, Quinn tells her that he’s into her, likes everything about her, but he doesn’t want to share her. Sookie promises that she’s only with him until Quinn tells her otherwise. Sookie then leaves, only to find Clovache waiting outside to speak with her. Clovache shares that the King of Kentucky caught a Fellowship spy in his entourage a month ago, and that is why he called on his super-bodyguards. According to the spy’s deathbed confession, a splinter group in the Fellowship heard of the summit and thought it was the perfect opportunity to declare war on vampires. Just great.

When she wakes in the morning, she finds Barry, and while she eats breakfast they discuss events telepathically. Apparently that night there will be more trials for lesser cases, and the queen will need Sookie’s services again. A porter drops off a manila envelope with Sookie, containing a note from Bill with a list of archery places for her to research. While Sookie and Barry are leaving, Todd Donati approaches and warns Sookie that his boss is pursuing the queen, has an old fashioned attitude, and that they should peruse the security tape from in front of her room. She agrees and leaves with Barry.

They find the archery place where Kyle Perkins had practiced, and plan to return at 7 to view the security tape. But when they arrive, door is ripped off the archery place, and the clerk is dead. All the security tapes are burned. On their way out, Sookie presses the panic button for the police, and they leave. When they return to the hotel, Barry is upset that Sookie thinks it’s impractical to tell people—which it is. The police will already find her, and it won’t help them to draw attention to a vampire situation. While Barry is yelling, Eric arrives, and says “You’re yelling at my—at Sookie.” Clearly he doesn’t know what to call her, and Sookie is equally stumped. Sookie accompanies Eric to his room and fills him in. When she finishes, Bill arrives. So when he walks through the door, Sookie walks out. Next up? The judicial session. After two interesting cases, Sophie-Anne enters with Andre, and he gives Sookie a half-hearted apology. Sookie has no choice but to accept it and continue with her business, listening in and helping the queen make honest deals for help with the Katrina damage. Afterwards, the queen invites a vampire named Dahlia to her suite for a drink, and Christian Baruch tags along. Jake joins them shortly—apparently he had been buying tickets to Hello, Dolly! for Andre and the queen. Hilarious.

Anyways, Sookie tells Andre that she suspects Christian Baruch planted the bomb to scare Sophie-Anne, thinking she’d be vulnerable and need a big, strong male. He might have also told Henrik that Sophie-Anne was going to kill him, so that Christian would have the opportunity to save her then as well. She mentions he security tape Mr. Donati recommended she watch, and requests that the queen ask for it. Sookie leaves, but runs into Bill at the elevator. He apologizes again for his actions, and inquires after Sookie’s love life. She once again informs him that he has no right to that information, leaves, and goes to bed.

Sookie wakes up the next morning as Barry is calling for her telepathically—something is wrong. As Sookie runs to Barry, she finds Jake’s body on the floor. He can’t be roused, and he’s pointing towards Sookie’s room, as if he was going to see her. At this point, the lightbulb goes off, and Sookie understands the Fellowship plot. Joe in the delivery area would receive empty coffins and suitcases, and send them to various areas of the hotel. Jake would help set up the suitcases and unclaimed coffins, all rigged with explosives. The building is going to blow up any minute. Mr. Cataliades and Diantha join them, and they all turn on the fire alarms and try to figure out a way to get everyone out of the building. They call 911, Barry runs to try to get his party out, Sookie leaves the queen and Andre to Mr. Cataliades and Diantha, and runs off to save Eric and Pam. The Britlingens are carrying out wrapped bundles as she runs up—the King of Kentucky and his party. As Sookie opens Eric’s door, the explosions begin. Both Eric and Pam are in their beds. Sookie screams in Eric’s ear, and he wakes a bit—he is, after all, very old. Sookie slaps and screams at him until he moves. They put Pam in her coffin and latch it. Thoughts of Bill and Rasul run across Sookie’s mind, but there’s no time, and it’s too late—they break the glass. And in what Sookie says is the most awful moment of her life, they are out the window and tobogganing down the pyramid on the coffin. They are about to crash when Eric flies off with Sookie. His strength is weak so he can’t fly much, but it’s enough to save them. Pam’s coffin breaks, however, and she begins to burn in the sunlight until Eric covers her. Ambulances arrive, and Sookie urges them to take the vampires to a basement. Then a suitcase bomb comes hurtling out of the building, and Sookie falls to the ground. When she gets up, the pyramid has collapsed. Then for the next four hours, Sookie directs people to help. They find Mr. Cataliades alive, and Todd Donati. The dust coats Sookie’s lungs with what she calls the smell of hatred. She sits down on a pile and weeps, then looks into the opening revealed by falling debris and Bill is crouched inside. Sookie covers him from the sun with his body, and calls people over to help. Then she catches the signature of Quinn’s brain. Sookie cries over him and his wounds, but he jokes with her a bit as they wait for paramedics. She hears Andre nearby—hurt but alive. Hearing that, Quinn tells her to leave. And what we find out later is that Quinn then drags himself by the elbows to Andre, and stakes him. He kills him for Sookie, and she’s horrified that she feels a savage sense of pleasure that Andre is gone.

At this point it is about 4-6 hours after the explosion. Barry contacts her telepathically, and they meet up to expand their range. It takes a while to get someone to believe them, but they get someone to lift them up over the rubble, and they call out where the bodies are. But as nightfall hits, Sookie tells them that the rescue workers need to get out of the rubble—the vampires are going to wake up, and wake up hungry. She and Barry also refuse to give their names—they don’t want credit, and they don’t want to be known. Sookie and Barry take a cab to a motel, and use cash to spend the night, so they can’t be tracked. Mr. Cataliades comes to get them in the morning. Apparently the queen has lost her legs, and they aren’t sure if they’ll grow back. Sigebert is still alive. He can’t find Diantha or Rasul, Gervaise is dead, but Eric, Pam, Bill, and Cleo are alive. Apparently Johan Glassport is injured and very angry. Barry’s king is so injured that it may take him a decade to leave. Sookie shares that she overheard Todd Donati in the rubble, thinking about finding the security tape with Christian covering the camera with gum, then planting the bomb. Apparently he wanted to marry the queen and open a vampire hotel in New Orleans. This causes Barry to wonder who took out the Arkansas vampires. But Mr. Cataliades says Sookie should not say her answer outloud—meaning, the queen did it. Sookie figures that by communicating telepathically with her underlings, the queen sent Sigebert to kill Jennifer, as she had received the queen’s call and was expecting her. Sigebert killed everyone, returned in time to escort the queen to Jennifer’s room, then entered it so his scent would be explained. Kyle Perkins was hired to silence Henrik, and according to what Mr. Cataliades implies, was ready to meet the sun anyway, and wanted a legacy for his human descendants. Eric didn’t know about the queen’s actions. As Mr. Catliades says,“not everyone needs to know everything.”

After these revelations, Sookie plans to leave, but first she gets a disguise and visits Quinn. She sits with him while he’s asleep, telling him everything that happened. Frannie offers to let Sookie take her car back to Louisiana, as they have two and only need one. Sookie drives back, and Amelia meets her in the driveway, thrilled that she’s alive. Then Tara drives by—she married JB Du Rone. Sookie realizes that she’s trying to sweep all her bad memories into the corner, like Sookie wishes she could sweep the memory of Quinn staking Andre. THE END.

 

Whew. Quite a lot happened in this book! We have the introduction of the Britlingens. While they don’t really pop up in the story again, it does make us aware that there are other dimensions and worlds with access to ours. That idea will definitely impact later books. We have the changes caused by Eric’s blood. Now Sookie can hear vampire thoughts? She not only hears Henrik, but Gervaise. Sookie concludes that this will only last as long as Eric’s blood is in her system, but is that the case?

A vampire at the summit speculated that civil war between the Fellowship and supernaturals was coming. By the end of this book, that has already arrived. But he also believes that weres will be coming out to the public soon. Is he right? We shall see!

As for Sookie, this seems to be a time filled with personal revelations about her own choices and motivations. While buying clothes at Tara’s Togs, Sookie contemplates why she was drawn to vamps in the first place:

I’d had so little chance of having the kind of life my classmates had achieved—the kind of life I’d grown up thinking was the ideal—that any other life I could shape for myself seemed interesting. If I couldn’t have a husband and children, worry about what I was going to take to the church potluck and if our house needed another coat of paint, then I’d worry about what three-inch heels would do to my sense of balance when I was wearing several extra pounds in sequins.

Basically, Sookie will never be normal. And if she’s not normal, why not embrace it and enjoy the adventure? As she says to same, “What a world this is…It’s wonderful and it’s scary. Each day is different. I never thought I would have any kind of life for myself, and now I do.” That’s the thing. Before, Sookie’s life was boring, with few friends and no adventure. Now she has friends in people like Pam, Sam, Calvin Norris, and others. People who understand her and appreciate her power, and aren’t scared of it.

What do you think of Tara marrying JB Du Rone? It certainly makes for great contrast with Sookie’s embrace of the supernatural world, and acceptance of the trials and darkness it brings. Tara sweeps the past under the rug and tries to ignore that it ever happened, Sookie accepts it and tries her best to move on.

What do you think of the queen’s actions in this book? We certainly see why she has reached that status—her ruthlessness and willingness to use those around her certainly have their benefits in the political arena. But her quickness to kill an innocent bystander, that girl in the archery shop, simply because she didn’t tell her right hand (Eric) what her left hand (Andre) was doing, is more than Sookie can stand.

I love the scene with Pam. She so clearly cares about both Sookie and Eric, and wants them both to be happy. And for a vampire to care enough to interfere in romantic matters, particularly with a human…well, that shows how much respect Pam has for Sookie. She seems to accord her vampire-like status. She even interferes in Sookie’s relationship with Arlene, making it clear to Sookie for the first time that Arlene is a terrible person and a bad friend. We’ll certainly see more of that in future books.

Poor Eric really is confused. He demonstrates some patently un-vampire like behavior in this book—talking about feelings, a willingness to die for Sookie, both with the bomb situation and by an arrow. And he steps in to protect her from Andre. And while Eric could use that situation to his advantage, he really didn’t—he seemed more worried. As he told Sookie, “I know you may come to hate me because I spared you the bite of Andre. But I really am the lesser of two evils.” True. But this blood bond will have more of an impact of their relationship than either could guess.

As for Quinn, we finally find out more about him and his past. What an angsty, sad story! No matter how you feel about his relationship with Sookie, you must admit that Quinn is a strong, fascinating character. A fighter, in the true sense of the word. And he’s willing to do whatever it takes to protect Sookie, even if that means staking the queen’s BFF Andre right in front of her. What do you think of his actions in this book? Did he lie by keeping his past a secret from Sookie? Did he do right in killing Andre?

Join us next week for book 8, From Dead to Worse.


Whitney Ross is an editor at Tor Books. In her free time, she’s also a book collector, wannabe jetsetter, and Starbucks junkie, and enjoys competitive sports such as skiing and shopping.

13 comments
Marie Veek
1. SlackerSpice
Also worth mentioning is a cameo from Dahlia, main character of the short stories "Tacky" (Big Fat Supernatural Wedding), "Bacon" (Strange Brew), "Dahlia Underground" (Crimes by Moonlight), "Death by Dahlia" (Down These Strange Streets), and "A Very Vampire Christmas".
Mashara
2. Mashara
This book put Charlaine Harris into a writing corner. I understand she considered later that the blood bond to be a mistake on her part. I personally consider her sharing that it was a mistake, a mistake in it self. Arturo Perez Reverte said once that even though he trully enjoyed the Aubrey-Maturin books, he never wanted to meet O'Brian, and when O'Brian later died, and he find out about his life, he was glad not to have met him. I think CH has made the mistake of allowing too much fan opinion to permate her decisions. Getting involved in the Billshippers/ Ericshippers wars is also a sing of this. And it shows on later books.
Personally, and like Eric, I like the blood bond. It allows both of them to know how the other feels and even though in inserts a level of uncertainty of whether the feeling are true in nature, or coming from the other, life is full of this sort of uncertainties coming from personal impresions of reality.
Pamela Adams
3. Pam Adams
Personally, I felt this book was too much- this happens! then that happens! then something else! It felt like TV Batman- Pow! Zap! I felt that the characters and situations here could have been spread over two books- allowing more development.

Plus, I was a little annoyed with the Quinn thing- it seemed like Harris was retconning this big, strong, 'perfect for Sookie' guy to make sure3 that they wouldn't work out.
Mashara
4. Libra Rian
Charlaine is the queen of retcon & deus ex machina's. Especially in the latter part of the series. I find it unfortunate because it's often a tactic that writer's use when they've written themselves into a corner. The easy way out, so to speak.

**SPOILER**

Charlaine announced on her site recently that the "Telepathy" given by Mr. Cataliades through his demon blood can now be taken away, so Sookie wouldn't have to worry about passing the telepathy gene on to future generations.
Now, isn't THAT convenient. Sigh.
Mashara
5. Edi Ojeda
Last year at Books&Books in Miami, Charlaine said that an image of a flying coffin came to her and she loved the thought so much she had to write it. She also said this was one of her favorites. It is one my favorites too.
Mashara
6. Mashara
*SPOILER*

@Libra I was wondering about that while reading the 12th book for the first time this weekend. I cannot remember, did Mr Cataliades gave the gift to Sookie directly or to her father and aunt? Because I was wondering how did Hunter get it then?
CH is constistently retcon-ny. I still like Sookie as a character, I like her inner dialogue, and the way she doesn't allow herself to whine, but as much as I think the ability to take in critic is a plus to anybody, I believe she has let too much permate her process.
Mashara
7. Libra Rian
@ Mashara -
Mr. Cataliades put a thimble full of his demon blood into the wine that Adele and Fintan drank. Future generations born to Adele and Fintan, who were born 'with the essential spark,' would then have the 'gift' of telepathy. No spark = no telepathy. Hunter was born with the spark. Barry's telepathy was aquired because he is Mr. C's great-great-grandson by blood.

Many readers wondered if Sookie would choose to have children or not, because she always considered her telepathy a disability (plus the dangers in her life), and one she may not want to pass on to her own children who may be born with the essential spark. Sookie mentions a few times how her mother treated her poorly, and also how she didn't believe her about Uncle Bartlette and thought Sookie was just having "dirty thoughts." (Dead Until Dark) and in Deadlocked (#12) Sookie thinks " My mom hadn’t been a fun person; but then, she’d had a lot to worry about, after she’d had me. I sighed to myself."

I thought the children dilemma (would she, wouldn't she?) was a pretty obvious theme running throughout the books because of the telepathy, the dangerous lifestyle, AND also because vampires can't reproduce.
So in short, for CH to 'suddenly' (imo) let it be known (and not even in text , but rather as a spoiler) that the telepahy can be 'taken back' from children born with the essential spark is a major DUES EX MACHINA. Frankly, it reeks.
There's a big difference between planting bombs that may or may not go off, and dropping the H bomb out of nowehere.
Mashara
8. Jule
@Marsha - Ms. Harris never said she hated the blood bond itself. She said that she hated trying to explain it to people. I think Ms. Harris quickly grew wary of discussing the blood bond with people who clearly did not like all the ambiguity surrounding the blood bond and how it works.

@Libra Rain - I'm not sure that Ms. Harris's recent comment about Mr. C can be considered retcon since she's never previously said that he couldn't take back his babyshower gift, preventing future generations from inheriting it. It's my belief that she released this previously unkown fact as a way to remove any doubt some readers may have when Sookie chooses her mate. This way no one can say she only chose Eric as her mate because she's afraid of having telepathic kids.
Sara Berrino
9. Mashara
@Jule - I didn't say she hated it, I believe the word 'hate' is already used to lightly. But this sort of explaining what she did or did not meant with her comments is exaclty what bothers me of the level of immediatecy CH has with her fans and, in my honest opinion, it has invaded her process.
Maybe this is another discussion, more about the levels of mistery one wants from the people creating what we love. I just think it would suck if once we finish the 13th book we feel like we should have lobbied a bit harder for our favorite end.
Mashara
10. Edi Ojeda
Charlaine does not write according to what (insert favorite HEA) shipper camp speaks loudest...or what TrueBlood does. On the contrary. She has said over and over (to paraphrase) that she has lived with this world and these characters for a long time and knows what they would or would not do. Also, she has known the ending since book 2. Are there clues in book two that will help us solve the ending mystery? Eric and the pink tights, available and understanding? Sam's friendship and their interrupted kiss. Bill's trip and their constant misunderstandings. It isn't a secret that I hope it's Eric, but either way...I'm in this for the journey and the only thing that will make the last pages bearable are re-reads. Thanks for doing this, Whitney. It has been fun.

ps: BTW, I read that Charlaine is doing 'what are they doing now' type book that revisits with the characters after the end. Very curious. Very interesting. And I'll be there ready to read.
Mashara
11. Jule
@Mashara - My mistake. I got my CH quotes mixed up. I was thinking of one quote, but I cited the other in my post, but her sentiment was the same, in my opinion. I believe you was referring to the interview where she was asked if there was anything she regrets putting in the series, and she answered that she regretted the blood bond. She went on to say the reason she regrets it is because of all the questions about it. Apparently, she hates explaining things. But, I've never read anything where she said creating the blood bond from a storytelling perspective was a bad idea or that it put her in a writing corner. Of course, it's possible she did say that and I missed it.

But, I think I understand what you're saying. You'd prefer an author that has little interaction with fans and just lets her writing speak for itself? If that's what you're saying, that's understandable. It's also understandable if CH interacts with her fans and does interviews in an effort to sell more books. In my opinion, CH rarely gives away anything about what will or will not happen, her answers are usually quite crafty but reveal nothing major. But, I believe her when she says that she's writing her story, her way, and will end it the way she always intended to, and that the neither the TB series, nor her fans have influenced her writing.

I see no reason why you can't lobby for your favorite ending. I assume you've read all 12 books? As far as I'm concerned, all the real clues are to be found in the books. Anything else, in my opinion, is either confirmation of what I already read in the books, or just a lot of hype with some classic misdirection thrown in to keep readers guessing. But, once in a while there is a major spoiler, usually about something that will never happen in the books. No matter what some people are bound to be disappointed in the end, which I've heard may spark some controversy. *devilish grin*
Mashara
12. mary baez
I am rereading all the Sookie books again to prepare for the last one. After so many books you would think that they would get old with bad story lines or charectors but I have found them to be just as wonder after the 3rd 4th or 5th ones not to many writers cn do that thank Ms. Harris it has been a wonderful journey hate to see it end.
Mashara
13. Theresa Arnold
The great thing about a book is being able to take the journey again. Many thanks to Charlaine Harris for her funny bone and entertainment of the masses. My hubby thought I was loosing my mind laughing in the bathroom! I wish the series on HBO were truer to the books...they aren't funny. Just sexy and gory. Good characters though. We, my family, all love it.

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