Eating My Words (With a Large Side of Crow)

First of all, if you haven’t read Dead and Gone, the latest in Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series, and you have any intention of reading it ever in your lifetime, then stop reading this blog.

Seriously.

 I mean it.

If you’re still here, then I take it you have read the book and are prepared to consider just how seriously I might have miscalled it in my When the Hero You Want Isn’t the Hero She Gets post a few months ago.

Jumping the gun again, you say? (Surely not.)

 Well, okay, so I know that the door is still open for Bill and Sam or other possible supes and that Ms. Harris continues to keep us dangling, but I have done a total turn-around as to what I think the author’s intentions might be.

And, as the tag line for True Blood season two, goes It Hurts So Good.

So, why was I so…well, so wrong?  As someone who learned to look for authorial clues long ago, I thought it was a pivotal turning point in From Dead to Worse when Bill said he would die for Sookie and Eric didn’t.  I took it as one of those Authorial Big Moments When Much Is Revealed – so much so, in fact, that I truly believed Eric was out of the picture.

I wasn’t happy about it, but since authors can be undeniably perverse sometimes (the subject of my previous post’s lament) in giving readers what they want, I thought it was time for Team Eric to throw in the towel.

Not only that – and I’ll admit it right now – I believed the author was foreshadowing Sam.  The guy who’s always been there for her no matter what. 

So, there’s just no denying that I seriously miscalled it.  Seriously.

As those of us who loved and savored the book know, Dead and Gone featured All Eric All the Time until – almost literally – the final pages of the book.  Do I think Ms. Harris is sort of artificially hedging her bets in that final hesitation in order to keep the series going?  Yes, I do.  Do I think that Niall was referring to Eric as the vampire who truly loved her?  Yes, again.

Still, it’s undeniable that self-sacrificing Bill is there once again with the grandiose speeches and the Larger Than Life gestures when he proves without a doubt that he truly is willing to die for Sookie.

After all, Southern gentleman  (and, as a Virginian, I can personally attest to this) are very good with the big talk and the grandiose gestures.  

But it’s Eric who’s seen to her needs for the last few books – from the big ones to the smallest.  And, whatever else goes down, I trust that he will have a damn good explanation on the “I had the plague” level as to why he didn’t come to her when she so desperately needed him.  Hey, he learned to talk about “relationships” in this one. Surely confessing the reason for failing to come to “his woman” can follow that.  

I also think (and it may be a bit Freudian) that it’s very interesting that Ms. Harris used the term “bonded” when referring to Sookie’s ultimate choice in the interview I recently did with her.

Clearly, I’m not the only one loving the book and the direction the author seems to be going. There’s a lively ongoing spoiler discussion on the Let’s Talk Romance Novels forum and I’ve been following it avidly. And, though we may disagree on some pretty basic elements, I think most of us would agree that it takes a very talented writer to stir up and sustain this much discussion – and passion.

As I write this today, Dead and Gone is number one on the NYT list and on my own hometown Washington Post list as well.  That makes me happy. Good writers – great storytellers – deserve big success.  

Genealogygirl, a commentor on my previous post, wondered if I wanted to re-think the Eric Factor, my proposed name for authorial perversity in not allowing heroines to have the hero readers want.  Well, Genaologygirl, words eaten.  Crow consumed. 

We still don’t know where it’s going to end, but my dismissal of Eric as no longer being in the game was wrong. And it truly does Hurt So Good.

-Sandy AAR

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10 Responses to “Eating My Words (With a Large Side of Crow)”

  1. Aoife says:

    I just finished reading DaG, and am hoping that you are correct in the direction Charlaine Harris is going with Sookie and Eric. I’ve always been pro-Eric, but stopped reading the series around the time Quinn entered the picture. I read DaG because one of my daughters is a huge fan of the series, and wanted someone to discuss it with, so I may have missed something crucial in a couple of the preceding books, but here’s my take on how things are left at the end of DaG.

    Bill is a subordinate. Even when he is saving Sookie, much of the time he is there because Eric told him to be there. Just as in his early betrayal of Sookie, if he were told to NOT be there, he would have to obey. Unless that changes and he suddenly becomes dominant, that doesn’t make him hero-material to me. I also agree with much of what you said in your post, and I would be feeling much more satisfied with where things were left if I didn’t know that Charlaine Harris likes messing with reader expectations. Sookie has just gone through a life altering experience, and I am assuming what she went through will have some implications for how she sees her life and her relationships, and, knowing Ms. Harris, that makes me very, very nervous.

  2. LinnieGayl says:

    Just finished this book this weekend, and loved it, but am very uncertain about the ending. I’ve always been a team Sam person myself, and am totally anti-Bill. I just think at this point things are still open for all three of them.

  3. Lusty Reader says:

    Haha Sandy! But what a GOOD reason to eat your words when the Hero we want has more of a chance! It’s one of those reverse luck things, like if I DON’T root for the Capitals, they’ll win, or if I pretend I like Ranger better than Morelli, Stephanie will end up with Joe, or if I only talk about how I like Bill, Sookie and Eric live HEA. Better to be pleasantly surprised, than have your hopes dashed!

  4. MaryK says:

    GAH! It’s driving me nuts that I can’t read this post since I’m way behind on Sookie! (I’ve been in a reading slump and can only seem to read books I don’t have an emotional stake in.)

  5. SandyO says:

    Eric is the architypical bad boy and has that undeniable appeal. But I’m still on Team Bill. As Sookie says it’s hard to deny the appeal of a man willing to die for you. And I believe Sam with the puppy dog eyes is still a longshot.

  6. Debra says:

    I agree with Aoife, Bill is a subordinate. If Sookie had gone thru the knife-marriage with Bill, would that have saved her from having to work for the King of Nevada? No. Plus, from what I recall, she has saved Bill’s life at least 3 times over the course of the series. It would be churlish of him not to help her out when she is in danger. I like Bill as a character but he is not powerful enough in the vampire world to be a mate for Sookie – he cannot protect her from his own kind. Eric can.

  7. maggie b. says:

    SandyO, I am on Team Bill right there with you — but I think it may well wind up being Eric. I do think Sam is a long shot, although I really like Sam and think it would make a warm and fuzzy ending to the series if she went the route of having Sam and Sook together running Merlot’s. I can just see an epilogue whereSookie walks into the office and helps him close out the night and they drive off towards her house after a full day at the bar. And I did find it interesting that the first thing she thought of when Eric talked about her staying with him was the commute she would have to work. It was clear that it never even occurred to her to take up waitressing at Fangtasia’s, much less just live off Eric’s largesse. Most waitresses would go with the bigger tips and I have to think that would be Fangtasia’s, so something about Merlot’s is clearly important to her. Could just be the hometown feel but still, something is a draw.

    I did think Quinn’s point about her being harder on him than the others was accurate. I found his whole conversation with her very intriguing. I thought he had it dead on in terms of who the possible competition was and the pecking order of said competition. I also think he was right in that the reason Sookie gave him wasn’t accurate — they broke up not because of his responsibilities but because she was ready to start whittling down the playing field towards The One.

    I walked away from the whole book thinking that where Sookie mainly has it wrong is that she keeps saying she wants a man who she comes first with. I think she wants a man who comes first with her. One that she thinks of before others, not one who puts her ahead of others. That would lean her, imo, more towards Eric than Sam or Bill.

    Still, I think the decision is far from made and we could still be looking at several books before her final decision is revealed.

  8. Earlene Gillespie says:

    I am on team Eric too. I haven’t read DaG yet (waiting on the mail)
    and don’t mind reading spoilers about a book. All of the comments make me want get it now and see what I think of it. I can’t wait for the True Blood series to start up again in June. Is anyone else here into instant
    gratification like me? Hehe!!!

  9. Diane says:

    I’m not sure this series exactly qualifies as a romance series, although romance is certainly part of it.

    Also I don’t have the impression, especially after what happened to Tray and Claudine, that the author is terribly worried about a happy ending for any of the characters.

    So I’m not sure that Sookie will end up with anyone at all. I could easily see the series ending with her living alone in her home.

    I really do like the relationship with Eric best because for me it’s the most complicated, interesting, and sexy. My favorite parts of the series involve Sookie’s interactions with Eric, because neither of them are push-overs and they seem to complement one another’s personalities nicely.

    But I still think the author is using this relationship as a tease and a complication, without any intention of it working out well for either of the characters. In fact, probably with every intention of it ending in heartbreak.

    So I couldn’t get too worked up about all the Eric in this book… it seemed clear to me that whatever news he has to tell her about their “pledge” or why he couldn’t come to save her from the evil fairy siblings isn’t going to be anything that Sookie will be glad to hear.

    If Sookie ends up with any character we’ve already seen, I would imagine it would be Sam, since they are both human and could marry, have kids, grow old together, etc. A kind of quiet, supportive relationship. Exciting? Adventurous? Not really so much. Maybe not exactly the “La-Z-Boy” recliner marriage Sookie feels Tara chose, but certainly closer than not.

    I’ll be sorry when this series ends. I’ve enjoyed it tremendously.

  10. JMM says:

    Bill’s good at WORDS. He’s good at the occasional gesture. He’s not good at being there for Sookie.

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