Archive for the 'Character & Plot Analysis' Category

15
Jun
10

It’s all been a pack of lies…I mean, wolves.

In this week’s Season 3 premiere of True Blood, we learn that serial killers need love too, Pam’s NOT a hooker, haircuts are for badasses, the water’s hard in Arkansas… and yes, vampires CAN grow beards…

Sink your teeth into some spoilery commentary after the jump…

Gimme More…

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26
Feb
10

Is Sookie a Magical Null?

[This is a modified version of a post I made on a forum a few months back – so some of you may have read it already.
Since the subject of Sookie being a null came up in discussion on the DITF post, I thought I’d respost it here.]

I recently read the short story, “Lucky” from A Touch of Dead, and was intrigued by Amelia’s explanation of a “magical null”. This is a concept we haven’t seen mentioned in the full length books at all, and it seemed particularly random to have Amelia raise it outside the framework of the main story.

Amelia describes a magical null in fairly simple terms, as an exceptionally rare human who is not affected by magic. While Amelia seems to imply that this refers to witch magic I wonder if we’re meant to be seeing that as usual, Amelia doesn’t quite have the full picture.

Throughout the series we’ve seen a number of instances where Sookie is either not affected, or able to put up a pretty decent fight against various types of magic.

– She is resistant to vampire glamour, but can also submit to it by choice (CD).

LDID: she didn’t go under with the maenad when every other human present did. In fact, Callisto implies that the reaction Sookie did have was in response to the other humans – and not her magic at all. “You were close.” She said to me. “You were very close. Maybe as close as you’ll ever come. Maybe not. I’ve never seen anyone maddened by the insanity of others. An entertaining thought”.

CD: she is very aware of the stay away spell around the outside of club, but she is still able to enter both times she visits.

DTTW: During the witch war, she is very aware of the spells the witches have cast around the abandoned building, and again she is able to overcome their influence and enter.

FDTW – Niall uses magic to deflect attention from the humans in the restaurant during his first meeting with Sookie. Sookie is aware of it, but she is not affected by it.

The Blood Bond: Eric has repeatedly insinuated that the BB is not working in the way he expected it would. For example, he seems surprised when he tells her that “the bond has worked both ways”.

“Gift Wrap”: When I first read this story I thought it completely blew a hole in the theory. Sookie is put under a spell by a fae posing as a were. But after some wider reading I found that in some faery mythology, the fae are immune to most types of magic but can be bewitched by other fae. Which of course, Preston is. Interestingly, Charlaine Harris is following established mythology regarding vampires, weres, shifters and the fae reasonably faithfully.

Charlaine Harris has said that Sookie won’t get any new abilities – but since this trait has actually been evident since the early books, it’s not new. It seems to have been there since the beginning, though it hasn’t received the attention in her writing that Sookie’s telepathy has. Although Sookie knows she can’t be glamoured, she doesn’t seem to have connected the dots with other types of magic yet either. Could that be coming down the line?

If Sookie is a magical null or some variation of this, it would seem to me that this trait is separate to her telepathy, and one that would make her even more valuable and special. Amelia makes a point of mentioning how rare this is and says in the story that she has only met one null before. She also notes that it takes an experienced witch to identify one. Perhaps CH is offering an explanation here for why Amelia herself hasn’t recognised it…yet?

I think this idea needs some refining – and that perhaps it may be a bit off the mark in some respects. Even so, given the examples above and the fact that this idea has been mentioned very specifically by another character, I think that eventually we will see some variation of it starting to play out. I think that definitely we are going to find out that there is something else going on with Sookie that is going make alot of these loose pieces fall into place.

I firmly believe that by the end of this series Sookie will have found her true place in the supe world, and some of us have speculated that it may turn out to be a more formalised, mediator type of role – rather than simply a telepath to be used purely for her unique abilities. She is already doing mediation type work in an informal capacity anyway, mainly because she can’t help getting involved in things she probably shouldn’t. A more developed ability to ward off the effects of different types of magic would be a valuable skill in this scenario – especially when combined with her telepathy.

29
Jan
10

“Where Were You?” ~ Dead and Gone

“Where were you?” Rage bubbled up in my throat.
“It’s not like you were obliged to come find me,” I said, “but I hoped the whole time – I hope you would come, I prayed you would come, I thought over and over you might hear me…”
“You’re killing me,” he said.
“You’re killing me.”

~Dead and Gone~

Eric’s whereabouts during Sookie’s torture by the fae in Dead and Gone stands as the number one question I (and I’m betting most of you) would like to have answered in Dead in the Family.

All I have to judge Eric on is what I see written on the pages of these books. Eric can be twisty. He can manipulate people and situations to his advantage with an ease that only comes with a thousand years of practice. He is cunning, intelligent, and often self serving. He rarely does anything without more than one motivation. Lest you think I’m about to tear him down, I love these things about him because book by book, he is tearing them down himself. Nine books into this series we have uncovered a vampire who still has all of those character traits – but who is learning through a human woman that even after so long in his skin, it’s still possible to become more than he was without her. This vampire always has Sookie’s back – even when it’s put him in danger, at political disadvantage, or just been an outright pain in the butt. This vampire has taken more bullets for, and been involved in more skirmishes over this woman than I care to recount. This vampire is finding more and more that he is doing things, and feeling things that would have been unthinkable to him before a small town waitress walked into his bar. His story arc has shown him becoming increasingly willing to take big risks for Sookie, even to the point of risking his undead life as his feelings for her have deepened. Whatever else you want to throw at him no one could accuse Eric of apathy, stagnation, disloyalty, or backing down from a fight.

Yet in Dead and Gone while the Fae are engaging in all out war – with his blood bonded, fae descended wife right in the middle of it – Eric is suddenly a no show. Where was he when Sookie was as close to death as she has ever come, and why did he send others to help her?

I thought we might kick around a few theories and see if we can find something that fits. I’m effectively throwing the proverbial at a wall here to see what sticks, so feel free to grab a handful in the comments.

THE BLOOD BOND

The crux of the blood bond theory runs like this: Eric felt Sookie’s torture through the blood bond and was somehow incapacitated by it, unable to come to her rescue.

As I understand the blood bond (and I could well get flamed here since interpretations of the bond and its effects vary wildly), it acts as an emotional conduit – Sookie and Eric can feel eachother’s emotions through the bond. It has been hinted at in the text that the two-way nature of their bond is unusual, and that blood bonds don’t normally see the vampire as affected by the human as Eric seems to have become by Sookie. Certainly in traditional vampire lore, the vampire would usually retain the upper hand over the human. And while we don’t know if Eric has ever fully bonded to a human before Sookie – he makes a couple of comments that indicate some aspects of his bond with her are not what he expected:

“We’re bound a bit too tightly to suit me, Sookie.”
He was visibly tense; I couldn’t remember ever seeing Eric so notably anxious. “I’m here to die right along with you, it seems.” – ATD

“The blood exchange has worked both ways,” he said. “I’ve had the blood of many women. I’ve had almost utter control over them. But they never drank mine. It’s been decades, maybe centuries since I gave any woman my blood. Maybe not since I turned Pam.” – DAG

While the bond is an emotional freeway, it does not conduct physical sensations or pain. Again, this is supported by the text. When Eric and Felipe are accosted by Sigebert outside Merlotte’s (bad juju in that parking lot, I tell you) they are beaten and burned with silver; but Sookie, driving away just before the attack, is not aware of Eric’s physical pain and that’s not the impetus for her to turn her car around and go back to check on him. She notes that she feels anxious, that she is overcome by what is almost a panic attack. She realises that it may be possible that her feelings are Eric’s, decides to trust her gut and returns to Merlotte’s. Interestingly, she points out that is her genuine regard for Eric motivating this decision and she makes a point of telling the reader that these feelings are separate to the blood bond. At no time does she mention feeling the physical effects of his assault and though she does experience some mental fogginess, she still manages to quickly assess the situation, come up with a plan, and dispose of Sigebert single handedly.

Charlaine Harris gave this answer last July to a question on her board about the difference between the sire/child bond and the blood bond:

If Eric were to be staked, Appius and Pam would both feel it, and Sookie would feel his absence emotionally and know he was in pain, though she would not actually experience it”.

And this in May last year:

Q. Can the bond can have an effect from afar? Sookie felt the impact on the road to go to save Eric, but would it be possible that she felt it from Shreveport in Bon Temps?

A. Yes, but not as vividly as when they are closer.

So what’s the point? Well, let’s pull it all together.

  • We know that Sookie does not experience Eric’s physical sensations through the bond – that is supported in the text, and has been confirmed by the author.
  • We know that the blood bond is working both ways, as confirmed by Eric. So if Sookie can’t feel physical sensation, it’s reasonable to assume that Eric can’t either.
  • We know that the intensity of the bond is affected by distance – and we are told in DAG that the shack Sookie was tortured in was in Arkansas. This is some distance from Eric, who was in Shreveport.
  • So if we accept that only Sookie’s emotions were flowing to Eric through the bond, and we accept that the distance between them would have dulled their intensity somewhat – the idea that the blood bond incapacitated Eric starts to come undone.

    Despite being in very close proximity to Eric while he was attacked by Sigebert, Sookie was clearly nowhere near “incapacitated”. So if Eric was hundreds of miles away during her torture, it’s not likely he was incapacitated either. And this is not even taking into account Eric’s age, which should make him harder to keep down than some 26 year old human – telepathic part fairy, or not.

    And then there are the phone calls – one taken from Bill, and at least one more to mobilise Niall. In the context of the blood bond theory, Eric called Niall in because he was physically unable to go to Sookie himself and he assessed Niall to be the only other being with the balls, and the commitment to Sookie to take on the fae successfully. Looking at the way the phone calls went down, that doesn’t pan out either.

    Bill called Eric as soon as he saw the abduction, making Eric aware of what was going down even while Lochlan and Neave were still moving Sookie through the portal. The Things had not started torturing her at this point (recall also that they waited for their spell to wear off so that she was aware). Bill told Eric to “call Niall”. Eric really had no choice but to enlist Niall, knowing that fae had taken Sookie and that he wouldn’t be able to find them without his help, so he wouldn’t have needed to think about this for more than five seconds. Eric’s call to Niall then, was almost certainly made before Sookie was being tortured – and before Eric could be affected by that torture. This makes it unlikely that Eric called Niall to rescue Sookie because he was incapacitated by the bond.

    It seems to me that Eric’s call to Niall was to formulate a plan to get Sookie and enlist his back up, rather than to ask Niall to go in his place. So how did Niall end up rescuing Sookie with Bill? Either something happened after this call that pulled Eric out at the last minute – or else whatever kept him away was actually in play beforehand, and Eric knew immediately upon hearing from Bill that he would not be able to help her.

    While the blood bond has played a huge role in Sookie and Eric’s relationship in the last few books, I feel that this is probably the least likely reason for his absence. It’s a heady romantic notion – that Eric and Sookie are so tightly bonded that Eric could be rendered useless by an attack on her – but I just don’t see support for it in the text.

    So I ain’t buying it.

    NEXT POST: Meet Your Maker

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    13
    Jan
    10

    Loved by a Vampire – The Afterglow

    For the last week or so we’ve been getting slightly hot and bothered around here as we explore Bill and Eric’s sexual behaviour and what it reveals about their character, their relationship with Sookie, and their role in the story generally.

    In two previous posts we looked at how each vampire initiates lovemaking with Sookie, and also how they behave during the act itself.

    Today it’s time to stifle those hormones, calm down a bit and snuggle up close. It’s time to bask in the afterglow.

    THE AFTERGLOW – BILL

    In putting together some Bill and Sookie afterglow material to explore, I was immediately struck by something I hadn’t even noticed as I read the books – there isn’t very much of it.

    In comparison to the Eric love scenes which contain pages of action and dialogue, the Bill scenes are short, and they often miss bits. For example, Charlaine Harris will show us the initiation and the act, but leave out what happens after. Or she will just start the scene after the sex is over, with Bill and Sookie talking. Charlaine says she doesn’t include anything superfluous to the story – everything that is in the books is there because it’s relevant; and if it’s not there, it’s not important to the plot or Sookie’s story.

    I find this little tidbit noteworthy, and you should bear it in mind as you read through this piece.

    Surely, I thought, there must be lots of warm and glowy talk after Bill and Sookie’s first love scene, right? It was Sookie’s very first time after all. Even though I couldn’t immediately recall a monumental conversation, I was fairly confident that I must have just forgotten it.

    After finding the scene in my copy of DUD, it turns out that Sookie’s first pillow talk is marked by a comparatively brief exchange during which Sookie confirms to Bill that he is her first, and Bill reassures her about her lack of experience, and confides that she is the first virgin he has been with since his wife.

    DEAD UNTIL DARK

    Finally Bill moved to lie beside me, propped on one elbow, and he put his hand over my stomach.
    “I am the first.”
    “Yes.”
    “Oh Sookie,” He bent to kiss me, his lips tracing the line of my throat.
    “You could tell I don’t know much,” I said shyly. “But was that alright for you? I mean, about on a par with other women at least? I’ll get better.”
    “You can get more skilled Sookie, but you can’t get any better.” He kissed me on the cheek. “You’re wonderful.”

    Sookie then suggests that Bill use some of his blood to heal her lady bits and Bill is pretty well up for that. It’s kind of hot, if you like that sort of thing. And brief – less than half a page. Bill is well behaved, which you would expect if he ever wants to get sex again. It’s all relatively normal. Well, as far as losing your virginity to a vampire can be considered “normal”.

    There is no real afterwards conversation to speak of, but otherwise it was kind of sweet, right?

    Let it never be said that I fail to give credit where it’s due.

    Moving on, the next time Sookie and Bill make love we are at Bill’s house. We get the initiation – and nothing else. Oh c’mon Charlaine, that is just mean! Let’s try again.

    Night three after Sookie gives it up. We miss the initiation, and we miss the act as well. We pick up the action with Bill and Sookie lying in bed afterwards, talking. The subject? Nasty Uncle Bartlett. Bill opens the conversation by asking Sookie if she has ever played “show me yours” with Jason, and shares an incident from his childhood when his brother and sister were caught doing this by their mother.

    So far so good. Bill is sharing! The topic is…well, odd. But he is sharing.

    Bill then begins to sense Sookie’s discomfort at the turn of the conversation, and manages to extract from her the story of her molestation as a five year old by Bartlett. Listening to Sookie tell the tale, it’s clear that he’s pissed as hell. But I can let that slide, since most any boyfriend would react from the gut in the same circumstances.

    So the scene concludes, and I’m thinking “Hey! That was good for Sookie! She confided something deep and private and got things off her chest, and Bill listened attentively and acted like a nice caring boyfriend. These two might just have a shot.” Of course, this was early days – and I didn’t really know Bill.

    Tell me, did it even occur to any of you that Bill would get on the phone and arrange a hit on the old fella as soon as Sookie fell asleep? Old Uncle B is drained dry by the time the sun comes up and I am picking my jaw up off the floor. The reality of what Sookie has invited into her life hit me full in the face.

    Bill!?! What the FUCK?! In her newly sexed up hormonal fog, she trusted you with something huge. And you just ruined it all! RUINED IT. You really have no idea, do you?

    Maybe things will improve in the next book?

    Sookie tells Bill her deepest, darkest secret. Bill broods. Bill does something stupid. The End.

    LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS

    The frequency of Sookie and Bill’s sex really hits the downhill slide in LDID – perhaps because there is so much going on around them, or perhaps CH is deliberately setting up for Bill’s emotional withdrawal at the beginning of Club Dead. I suspect it’s a bit of both.

    The first sex scene in LDID is interrupted by Eric before it really gets started (though Bill, true to form manages to get in some panty ripping to kick things off. This allows Eric to later find Sookie’s undies in pieces on the floor, and Alpha all over him. As he does.) By the time they get rid of Eric and get busy again, Charlaine is bored and we are cut off as Bill “bends his head to other things”. No afterglow here. No sex on page either for that matter.

    “Things” are heading decidedly pear shaped between Bill and Sookie by the time we get our first post coital scene, well over three quarters of the way into LDID.

    When he collapsed on top of me, I was exhausted…
    …”Are you okay?” he mumbled.
    “Except for having run into a brick wall a few times,” I said, indistinctly.
    We both drifted off to sleep for a little, though Bill woke first as he always did at night.
    “Sookie,” he said quietly. “Darling wake up.”
    “Oo”, I said, slowly coming to consciousness. For the first time in weeks, I woke with the hazy conviction that all was right with the world. With slow dismay, I realised things were far from right…
    “We have to talk”, he said…
    “So talk.” I was awake now. What I was regretting was not the sex, but having to discuss the issues between us.

    What they talk about, at length, is Bill’s self control issues (oh yes, this again) and specifically his inability to restrain himself from eating the FOTS people after the shoot out. Of course he has a good reason for this, and we all know what’s coming. He is VAMPIRE. Just in case we forgot.

    The discussion then briefly turns to Bill’s parading around Bon Temps with Portia Bellefleur to make Sookie jealous. Finally, Eric gets a look in as Bill furthers his “Make Sookie Think Eric Is The Devil” agenda in a post-bullet sucking scare campaign.

    I guess Sookie and Bill are having some problems, because this isn’t very warm and fuzzy. It is also the last time Bill and Sookie have consensual sex on the page. Charlaine has had enough of this mess, and so have we.

    In the immortal words of Everclear – “So much for the afterglow”.

    THE AFTERGLOW – ERIC

    Comparing Bill and Eric’s behaviour after sex? Night, meet day. The differences are stark, and I know I’m harping on this but I just cannot fathom how Charlaine could be writing Eric’s sex scenes with such detail and completeness and glossing over everyone else’s, unless she has a purpose in mind. Namely, to hook the reader on Eric. As usual we have lots of talking, playful banter, touching and holding, and eye contact. Is that getting boring yet?

    Hardly.

    Dead to the World

    From Eric and Sookie’s first love scene it was clear that in Eric, we were not getting a roll over and fall asleep kind of guy. DTTW Eric is not his complete self – however he is operating from his core, instinctive being. Since sexual behaviours are instinctive, I’ve always felt that Eric’s sexual behaviour in DTTW was probably not far off the mark for how “real” Eric would behave. It took five more books before we got any real Eric sex to judge whether that assessment was correct, and I think it was. Eric’s sexual behaviour in DAG really isn’t much different to that of DTTW. As it has remained throughout the previous two stages, his afterwards MO is consistent over both books…and of course it involves every hot move known to man, and some that most men have no clue about.

    “Tell me about us. How long have I known you?”..
    …“I’m cold,” I said gently, and he let me lie beside him, pulling the covers up over us. I propped myself up on one elbow and he lay on his side, so we were facing each other. “Let me think. I met you last year at Fangtasia, the vampire bar you own in Shreveport. And by the way, the bar got attacked today. Last night. I’m sorry, I should have told you that first, but I’ve been so worried about my brother.”
    “I want to hear about today, but give me our background first. I find myself mightily interested.”

    He was holding me, and my head was on his shoulder. I murmured into his neck, “You are so beautiful.”….
    …“What part do you like best?” he asked, his voice teasing.
    “Oh, your butt,” I said instantly.
    “My… bottom?”
    “Yep.”
    “I would have thought of another part.”
    “Well, that’s certainly… adequate,” I told him, burying my face in his chest. I knew immediately
    I’d picked the wrong word.
    “Adequate?” He took my hand, placed it on the part in question. It immediately began to stir. He moved my hand on it, and I obligingly circled it with my fingers. “This is adequate?”
    “Maybe I should have said it’s a gracious plenty?”
    “A gracious plenty. I like that,” he said.

    I love this passage, it demonstrates perfectly the playful flirtation that has always characterised Eric and Sookie’s relationship. From the very beginning they’ve played off each other, openly teased and flirted, and shared a sense of humour no one else around them seems to understand. Even Bill admits they’re compatible and very alike in DAAD. They bring that playfulness into their lovemaking, and there are numerous examples of their sexual banter through out the books, not all of it occurring in the bedroom:

    Lest we part on too lovey-dovey a note, I said, “Eric, when I’m back to being myself, I’m going to nail your ass for putting me in this position of being pledged to you.”
    “Darling, you can nail my ass anytime,” he said charmingly, and turned to go back to his table.

    Jeez! They're at it again! All lovey dovey, and touchy, and gazing into eachother's eyes. Laughing, talking...acting like a goddamn married couple. Get a room!

    DEAD AND GONE

    This time Sookie is the one to get the conversational ball rolling, before dodging out when Eric completely blindsides her with an unexpected offer:

    “Can I tell you what happened today?” I asked after we’d drowsed for a few minutes.
    “Of course, my lover.” His eyes were half open. He was lying on his back beside me, and the
    room smelled of sex and vampire. “I’m all ears—for the moment, at least.” He laughed.
    …Eric was a good listener, at least in his postcoital relaxed state.

    So off I babbled like a brook in the spring, telling him about my rendezvous with Claude and
    Claudine and all they’d told me about Breandan and Dermot.

    This conversation is very long and covers alot of emotional ground. While it began blandly enough with Sookie relating her encounters with some nasty fairies, things soon moved into heady emotional territory. Pretending to be acting out of concern for her safety (while we are all thinking what a big fat liar he is), Eric asks Sookie to leave Bon Temps and stay with him in Shreveport. Sookie immediately panics that she’ll end up fessing up her feelings before she’s sure that they’re reciprocated, and starts putting up her brick wall at lightening speed. Eric keeps trying, coming closer than he’s ever been to telling her exactly how he feels about her. Sookie – who obviously has no idea when to shut up – tells him not to even go there. They then discuss her feelings for Quinn, Andre’s final death, the blood bond and Eric turning her…even the L word is raised, in a roundabout fashion. This was a landmark conversation for a couple whose ability to dodge emotional issues is the stuff of Sookieverse legend.

    The reversal of “traditional” roles in this scene is striking. It is Eric who ends up laying himself emotionally bare in this scene, albeit unwittingly. He displays the kind of emotional vulnerability traditionally associated with the woman in a relationship that is still finding its feet. Sookie behaves more like a man; rambling about her orgasms, closing down his attempts to discuss their feelings and leaving him completely confused as he tries to work out what she needs from him – [“What are you after?”]

    Along with their talk at Fangtasia earlier in the book during which Eric shared the details of his human life, his turning and his maker, this pillow talk certainly stands as a milestone in their relationship. Eric put more out there emotionally in Dead and Gone than he has in all eight previous books combined. The vampire quite obviously has it bad.

    Finally, with dawn approaching Eric leaves for Shreveport:

    He bent to kiss me, and I put my arms around his neck. For a second, I knew he was thinking of crawling back in the bed with me; I hoped it was his body language and his murmur of pleasure that cued me to his thoughts….
    “I want you again,” he said, sounding a little surprised. “But I have to go.”
    “I’ll see you soon, I guess?” I was awake enough to feel uncertain.
    “Yes,” he said. His eyes were bright and his skin glowed. The mark on his wrist was gone. I touched where it had been. He leaned over to kiss the place on my neck where he’d bitten me, and I shivered all over. “Soon.”

    This exchange is so incredibly…human. I love that she knew what he was thinking as he was saying goodbye – was she reading his mind as she has done briefly in the past? Was it the effects of the blood bond? Or was it nothing more complicated or magical than a “knowing” we all experience at some time – the knowing that comes with feeling a deep emotional connection with the person we love.

    VERBS AND ADJECTIVES

    Bill Scenes: kiss, tracing, shyly, skilled, wonderful, indistinctly, drifted, hazy, dismay, regretting, sex, discuss.

    Eric Scenes: tell, gently, interested, holding, beautiful, teasing, burying, stir, drowsed, lover, laughed, relaxed, babbled, kiss, murmur, pleasure, want, uncertain, touched, shivered.

    Screencaps

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    08
    Jan
    10

    Loved by a Vampire – The Act

    In the first of three posts looking at Bill and Eric’s sexual behaviour and what it may reveal about their character and their vampiric nature, we took apart the MO used by each vampire to initiate sex and noted several stark differences in their approaches.

    Today in the second post I’m getting down and dirty. It’s time to get these vampires between the sheets to see what they can do.

    I would like to state for the record that writing these posts has given me the best excuse ever to pore all over the steamy bits of my books again…as if I really needed an excuse. I did, however, need to explain to my husband why my whole SVM series is sprawled around my desk with all the sex scenes dog eared and notes scrawled through them. Being a dirty perv in the name of research certainly sounds better than being…well, just a dirty perv.

    And on that note, we shall begin. With an apology for the epic length.

    THE ACT – BILL

    Bill and Sookie have a number of sexual encounters during which the tone of Sookie’s narration is generally…well, harrowing.

    Dead Until Dark (graveyard scene)

    ..I could feel the turmoil in him, I could taste his rage.
    Directing that energy in another way might save me. I leaned that inch, put my mouth on his chest…
    The next moment his teeth grazed my shoulder, and his body, hard and rigid and ready, shoved me so forcefully I was suddenly on my back in the mud. He slid directly into me as if he were trying to reach through me to the soil…
    I had thought he might kill me without meaning to.

    Living Dead in Dallas

    His hands were under my sweater and my bra was in two pieces. He was relentless. I almost collapsed after the first time I came. “No” he growled when I was flagging, and he kept pounding. Then he increased the pace until I was almost sobbing, my sweater tore and his teeth found my shoulder. He made a deep, awful sound, and then, after long seconds, it was over.”

    The first passage above from DUD is borderline rape. Sookie initiates sex with Bill sensing that he has completely lost control and that she is in immediate and serious danger. This scene is actually an interesting precursor to the trunk rape. In the trunk rape scenario, the defence centres around the fact that Bill had been tortured and starved and that he never would have done it in his right mind. I call bullshit. In this scene we see a well fed, untortured Bill in his right mind on the verge of raping Sookie or worse, because he cannot control his urges. Naturally a tortured and starved Bill can control them even less, however this scene demonstrates that the issue exists long before Sookie ends up locked in a trunk with him. Bill has self control issues and Harris deliberately points it out, over and over again.

    In the second passage, Sookie almost sounds like she is relaying her grocery list rather than describing an intimate interaction with her boyfriend. Her voice is detached and I think that is meant to clue us into where she is mentally. What is noteworthy is not just the fact that this is rough sex – since there are other times that Sookie enjoys Bill’s “intensity” and what goes on between consenting adults is their business. But what I notice about some of these scenes is how at first Sookie is generally consenting and comfortable with what’s happening, as she is in this scene until she orgasms. Then Bill crosses a line, and Sookie often doesn’t speak up. I wonder whether this is a combination of her sexual inexperience in these earlier books, and her history of sexual abuse. Regardless, Bill crosses her line…and then he just keeps right on going.

    A common coping mechanism adopted by victims of sexual abuse is to “leave their bodies” during the experience. As a victim of childhood sexual abuse, it’s reasonable to assume that as an adult, Sookie’s response to aggressive sexual behaviour is to just “mentally check out” – and this perhaps goes some way to explain her tone in these scenes, and also why she doesn’t put up more of a fight when Bill loses control. Her fear, or discomfort about what is happening is easily detected by the reader through her narration, even when she isn’t verbalising it to Bill.

    The lack of dialogue noted between Sookie and Bill in the initiation stage continues through the act itself. Unless they’re communicating immediate physical needs, they use only their bodies to communicate during sex. The act is often brief, intense…and mostly silent. Kind of like Bill. Bill/Sookie sex involves very little eye contact, however Bill’s penchant for taking her from behind, bent over something or in darkened cars, porches and graveyards would seem to make eye contact a challenge.

    Look behind you Sookie! He's BEHIND YOU! And what's with the arm grabbing? We CU Beel...

    Screencap

    Now I do realise that Sookie and Bill have a couple of sex scenes during which Bill manages to behave himself – they aren’t all as dark as the examples above. But even in their “lighter” scenes, I still feel a vibe from Bill that I just find unsettling. Witness his vengeful fit killing of Uncle Bartlett after Sookie shared something private with him in her post coital glow. Sookie is not very impressed with this and she dumps him. No sooner are the words out of her mouth and he’s trying to have sex with her. Again. Really, Bill?

    It was at about this point I realised I was utterly and completely over Bill Compton.

    Interestingly, there aren’t any dark sex scenes with Eric. Could it be that Harris doesn’t really want us to think he’s the bad guy, after all?

    THE ACT – ERIC

    Ladies, hold onto your panties. Gentlemen, you may wish to take notes.

    Dead to the World

    I was so on fire for him I was surprised that flames didn’t flicker out of my fingertips. I curled my fingers around him and stroked.
    Suddenly Eric was on top of me, about to enter. I was exhilarated and very ready. I reached between us to put him at just the right spot, rubbing the tip of him over my nub as I did so.
    “My lover,” he said hoarsely, and pushed.
    Though I’d been sure I was prepared, and I ached with wanting him, I cried out with the shock of it.
    After a moment, he said, “Don’t close your eyes. Look at me, lover.”
    The way he said “lover” was like a caress, like he was calling me by a name no other man had ever used before or ever would after.
    His fangs were completely extended and I stretched up to run my tongue over them.

    Fangs....so pretty....sigh...what was I saying? Oh yes - I hold some hope for True Blood watching the two dream sequences. They captured the spirit of E/S perfectly.

    Dead and Gone

    His jeans were off, and his shirt, too, and my panties vanished. His long cool body pressed full length against my warm one. He kissed me over and over in a kind of frenzy. He made a hungry noise, and I echoed it. His fingers probed me, fluttering against the hard nub in a way that made me squirm.
    “Eric,” I said, trying to position myself underneath him. “Now.”
    He said, “Oh, yes.” He slid inside as if he’d never been gone, as if we’d made love every night for the past year.
    “This is best,” he whispered, and his voice had that accent I caught occasionally, that hint of a time and place that were so far distant I could not imagine them.
    “This is best ,” he said again. “This is right .”

    I rose and fell faster and faster, and then I took his wrist, and I bit with all my strength, sucked on the wound. He yelled, an incoherent sound of release and relief. That was enough to finish me, and I collapsed on top of him. I licked his wrist lazily, though I didn’t have the coagulant in my saliva that he possessed.
    “Perfect,” he said. “Perfect.”

    Let us take a moment to collect ourselves before continuing.
    Because I am very fucking distracted.
    .
    .
    .
    Okay then.

    The first thing I notice about Eric and Sookie’s sex scenes is the complete change of tone in Sookie’s narration. She is very much present, physically and emotionally in every scene and there is not a hint of the mental detachment so often evident with Bill. The Eric scenes are quite long – the DTTW scene runs for 8 pages, and the scene in DAG for 15 pages. In contrast to the Bill/Sookie scenes, none of which are anywhere near as lengthy, Sookie describes the actual events, what is said, what she’s thinking, how Eric is reacting, and her feelings in great detail. You certainly don’t feel as though she’s rattling off her grocery list when she’s relating sex with Eric. Sookie (*ahem* Charlaine) makes sure we get every…single…juicy…detail. I wonder why she thinks we’d need to know all of that about Eric, but not about Bill? Or Quinn for that matter.

    Just as we saw in the initiation post, as they move onto the act itself E/S remain physically on level with each other, they are always face to face, always in eye contact, and they are talking to each other throughout. No one partner is ever dominant – in both scenes, they make love twice. The first time is more intense and Eric takes the lead. The second time is always slower, with Eric noticeably stepping back and encouraging Sookie to take things where she wants to. Sookie tends to play a wait and see game a little in bed with Eric. She takes her cues from him – then she responds fully when she’s confident she’s not misreading him. I think this springs from her still not understanding what he might see in her beyond her telepathy and fae blood, and her intimidation by the extent of his experience over hers – something she comments on often. He seems to be aware of these feelings, and appears to be trying to encourage her.

    In Dead to the World, Sookie reflects on her first time with Eric: “It wasn’t just the dynamic sex that had given me so much pleasure (though that had contained moments I’d remember till the day I died); it was the companionship. Actually, the intimacy”. In contrast to Bill, Eric actually initiates a lot of the more intimate aspects of their encounters – asking her to look him at him rather than close her eyes, asking her to bite him just because it feels good, asking her to tell him about their history when he lost his memory. These behaviours indicate to me that Eric understands women. Not only does he understand them, but he genuinely likes women. He chose to turn a woman as his companion in Pam, after all. While I’m under no illusions that he doesn’t rate himself in the sack, I think it’s clear from these scenes that sex for him is as much about making Sookie happy as it is about his own satisfaction. I don’t feel this is necessarily the norm for him anymore – vampire that he is – which makes it even more fascinating to see this side of him reawakened through her.

    Far beyond two people having sex, Eric and Sookie are most certainly making love.

    VERBS AND ADJECTIVES

    Eric scenes: fire, stroked, exhilarated, ready, lover, pushed, ached, wanting, shock, caress, stretched, kissed, frenzy, hungry, probed, fluttering, squirm, made love, best, right, whispered, release, relief, bit, kissed, licked, lazily, perfect.

    Bill scenes: relentless, collapsed, growled, came, no, flagging, pounded, sobbing, tore, awful, turmoil, rage, grazed, hard, rigid, shoved, forcefully, slid, kill.

    So are we seeing a pattern here yet?

    NEXT POST: Loved by a Vampire – The Afterglow

    04
    Jan
    10

    Loved by a Vampire – The Initiation

    For nine books now, most of us have probably argued the suitor pros and cons back and forth on forums, made lists, traded insults and experienced dark moments of doubt in the great “Suitor Debate”.

    Personality flaws and attributes have been endlessly dissected in an effort to determine the best partner for Sookie. Sexual behaviour is a reflection of personality, and we can tell a great deal about a person – and a relationship – from what goes down in the bedroom.

    With that in mind, I thought it could be interesting to compare Bill and Eric’s sexual behaviour and the way they relate to Sookie in bed. One way to do this is to break the sex scenes down into phases – the initiation, the act, and the afterglow.

    INITIATION – BILL

    As the younger vampire, Bill has more issues with self control [both in and out of bed] than Eric does, but I don’t think this is solely due to his age. His personality is generally dark, secretive and more introverted than Eric’s and I think this is expressed most clearly in the way he relates to Sookie sexually.

    From the outset it is clear that Bill has alot of trouble reigning himself in when it comes to sex. His approach to initiating it is often intense and very physical:

    Dead Until Dark:

    He scooted across the seat towards me, his arms scooping me up before I could say anything else. Then his mouth was on mine and after a second his tongue began licking the blood from my face.
    I was really scared. I was also really angry. I grabbed his ears and pulled his head away from mine using every ounce of strength I possessed…
    His eyes were like caves with ghosts dwelling in their depths.
    “Bill!” I shrieked. I shook him. “Snap out of it!”

    Living Dead in Dallas:

    “As I unlocked the front door, Bill came out of the darkness. Without a word he grabbed my arm and turned me to him…we stumbled into the house and he turned me to face the couch. I gripped it with my hands and, just as I’d imagined, he pulled down my pants and then he was in me.”

    The Mood tends to take Bill quite suddenly, it overwhelms him often, and he really does have trouble controlling his urges. This would seem to be partly because he doesn’t really understand why he should have to. There is usually very little dialogue between him and Sookie – Bill is an Action Man – and sex is not usually preceeded by conversation or intimacy. A notable exception is the very first time when Bill shows up the evening of Gran’s funeral and proceeds to brush her hair like his dolly and talk with her a little about his human life. The time he chose to make his move, and the fact that Sookie gave it up to him that night makes the motivation for his sharing [which incidentally, never happens again] dubious. Although this scene appeared intimate on the surface I think it’s reasonable to question it, given that it doesn’t gel with his sexual behaviour thereafter.

    Foreplay for Bill often includes a bit of underwear ripping and “manhandling”. I can think of at least three instances where Sookie’s underwear/clothing is ripped by Bill, and many more where he has physically handled her person. This happens both in and out of the bedroom.

    And notice that I haven’t even mentioned the OTHER incident. Interestingly, it’s not even necessary to refer to that in order to flesh out Bill’s self control issues. They clearly still exist, even outside the gray area of the trunk.

    Bill puts on his moves. On the porch, in the dark...as is his habit. Nice t-shirt Sook - that colour suits you very well...

    INITIATION – ERIC

    Eric approaches sex in a very different way to Bill, and his approach is consistent. Vampire he may be, but he demonstrates patience and self control that Bill either cannot muster, or has no desire to.

    Club Dead

    [Sookie wakes after the staking with Eric already in the bed beside her]
    “Thank you Eric” I didn’t care for how shaky I sounded but an obligation was an obligation.
    “For what?” His hand stroked my stomach.
    “For standing by me in the club. For coming here with me. For not leaving me alone with all these people”.
    “How grateful are you?” he whispered, his mouth hovering over mine. His eyes were very alert now, and his gaze was boring into mine….
    “That kind of ruins it, when you say something like that,” I said, trying to keep my voice gentle. “You shouldn’t want me to have sex with you just because I owe you,”
    “I don’t really care why you have sex with me, as long as you do it,” he said, equally gently.
    …His mouth was on mine then…

    Dead to the World:

    “I’ll do that for you,” Eric said, pulling back the curtain to step into the shower with me…
    …While I stood stock-still, paralyzed by conflicting waves of emotion, Eric took the soap out of my hands and lathered up his own…
    “Have we ever made love?” he asked.
    I shook my head, still unable to speak.
    “Then I was a fool,” he said, moving one hand in a circular motion over my stomach. “Turn around, lover.”

    Dead and Gone:

    Then he got under the blanket with me and propped himself up on an elbow. He was looking down at me…
    [Conversation about Quinn and Nevada]
    “Then I am high handed.” Eric said with no shame whatsoever. “I’m also very . . .” He dipped his head and kissed me slowly, leisurely.
    “Horny,” I said.
    “Exactly,” he said, and kissed me again. …”It’s time I claimed what is mine.”

    Reading these passages together, a pattern emerges. Eric has always initiated with Sookie in the same way. First, he makes his physical presence equal to hers [lying down in bed with her, lying down on the floor, getting into the shower with her]. This might be to make himself less physically threatening, or perhaps just a reflection of his desire for them to be on an even footing. It’s an interesting contrast to Bill – rather than using his body to put her at ease as Eric does, Bill uses his physical strength to dominate her and maneuver her body for his satisfaction. I always get the sense that Bill’s determination to satisfy Sookie is rooted in the desire to satisfy himself.

    Eric’s next move is to emotionally engage through conversation. The talking leads into the sex and even though Eric initiates, Sookie is always in control of how far it goes. When she says stop, he does – without hesitation or sulking [recall CD when they are interrupted by Bubba, and LDID – “Yield to me, Sookie” and she says no.] He always initiates in a slow, non threatening way. He always makes sure that she knows she is in control. He always makes sure that she can see him coming.

    He behaves as though he knows about Sookie’s childhood sexual abuse. But he doesn’t know. We also have no evidence that he knows about the rape – they have never discussed it on the page and while he would have seen that she’d been drained after getting her out of the trunk, it would not have been obvious that she had been raped. So we can only assume that Eric’s behaviour speaks of the man, rather than the circumstances.

    From the small taste we’ve had of Dead in the Family, Sookie is physically battered and psychologically traumatised. Eric is continuing to show an awareness that Sookie needs to be the one to set the parameters of their sexual relationship. Sookie tells Amelia he had asked her several times if she was sure she wanted to engage in sex.

    Compare Eric’s self restraint to this Bill/Sookie exchange in LDID:

    He was ready again, and he was rough with it, as if he were trying to prove something.
    “Be sweet,” I said, the first time I had spoken.
    “I can’t. It’s been too long, next time I’ll be sweet, I swear”.

    This is one of a number of examples of Sookie telling Bill no, slow down, stop, or be gentle and he is unable or unwilling to comply. He is VAMPIRE. He relishes his nature because it gives him an excuse to behave like an oaf. He constantly uses it to defend himself when his self control is lacking.

    Eric makes a move. And look! They're holding hands and smiling! There's connection, there's intimacy...there's talking! OK it's a dream, but we all know that this was major foreshadowing. This is how Real Eric rolls.

    It’s also interesting to compare the verbs and adjectives used in the selection of passages above, which are taken from different scenes and books.

    Bill scenes: scooted, scooping, licking, scared, angry, grabbed, pulled, shrieked, shook, snap, stumble, gripped.

    Eric scenes: stroked, whispered, hovering, gaze, gently, emotion, made love, lover, kissed, slowly, leisurely, mine.

    CH’s choice of words sets the tone of the scenes, and sheds light on the nature of the relationships. Bill’s words convey the physicality and urgency of the sex and are a reflection of the essentially physical nature of he and Sookie’s relationship, and Bill’s lack of self control. Eric’s words are “relationship” words. They are words you find in love scenes, as opposed to sex scenes – and this is the case even as far back as Club Dead, before love was ever part of the equation for either of them.

    Next: Loved by a Vampire – The Act
    Screencaps

    12
    Dec
    09

    Eric & Quinn: “A” is for Alpha – Round #2

    My last ramble about Eric and Quinn looked at how these two play off against eachother as romantic rivals, and the impact that Quinn’s presence in the story has on Eric’s actions and his emotional responses to Sookie.

    That is one facet of the Quinn/Eric dynamic, and this post will look at another – Quinn’s political ties and his intentions towards Sookie.

    As we touched on previously, Eric’s suspicion of Quinn is palpable from the outset. While on the surface it would be easy to chalk this up to good old fashioned jealousy, their first meeting leaves us feeling that Eric’s dislike of Quinn runs much deeper than this. The very first mention Eric makes of Quinn, even before their meeting on Sookie’s porch indicates that their paths have crossed before:

    Eric’s eyes widened. “So the contest was today. I’d heard Quinn was in town. Usually, he keeps transgressions to a minimum.” – Dead as a Doornail

    In All Together Dead, Eric corners Sookie in the parking lot at Merlotte’s and grills her about her feelings for Quinn, not for the first time:

    “Eric,” I said, and my voice was shaking. “I don’t know why you’re here, and I don’t know why we’re having all this drama.”
    “Are you Quinn’s now?” His eyes narrowed.
    “I’m my own,” I said. “I choose.”
    “And have you chosen?”
    “Eric, this is beyond gall. You haven’t been dating me. You haven’t given me any sign that was on your mind. You haven’t treated me as though I had any significance in your life. I’m not saying I would have been open to those things, but I’m saying in their absence I’ve been free to find another, ah, companion. And so far, I like Quinn just fine.”
    “You don’t know him any more than you really knew Bill.”
    That sliced down where it hurt.
    “At least I’m pretty damn sure he wasn’t ordered to get me in bed so I’d be a political asset!”

    Hump...hump...hump...watch out for splinters there, Tiger.

    Eric is right to be suspicious of Quinn. He was sent to secure Sookie by Sophie Anne, just as Bill was – the only difference being that Quinn was open about who he worked for from the beginning. But just like Bill, he was feeding Sookie a line about why he was really there. Recruiting Sookie to her employ for the vampire conference was only one of the reasons the Queen sent Quinn to her. Remember that Sophie-Anne had already tried to secure Sookie on a more permanent basis once already and failed (or more precisely Bill failed) – and she wasn’t the type to give up easily. There’s a theory that says Sophie Anne’s long term plans for Sookie involved a blood bond and possibly turning her, as she did with Hadley. This certainly makes sense for Sophie-Anne’s goals, as she would have far more control over Sookie through a blood bond and then eventually as her maker. She may even have intended Andre to undertake that role, after his actions in Rhodes. Either way it doesn’t seem that SA intended to simply keep a little human on her payroll. There’s no doubt that the clever, conniving queen would have wanted a more secure arrangement over the long term. Given what Sookie knew about Sophie Anne, Hadley and Bill by the time All Together Dead rolled around, she should have been suspicious as hell of Quinn by then. Except for briefly entertaining an idea much earlier that he’d been involved with Hadley’s murder, she is not – “At least I’m pretty damn sure he wasn’t ordered to get me into bed so I’d be a political asset.” WTF Sookie! For an intelligent girl I really don’t understand why you are so utterly stupid when it comes to men.

    As Eric quite correctly pointed out, since when does the Queen send a shifter to conduct her business? After Bill made such a monumental screw up of his mission, it would have been pointless to send another vampire covertly. So did Sophie Anne send Bill off to Peru to get his screwy-up-arse well out of the way, while she sent in a shifter to try again? I think there is some evidence for this. Having observed Sookie directly and through Bill for quite some time by this point, Sophie Anne knows her well enough to understand how Sookie reacts to lying and deception, so she changes tactics. This time, instead of outright deception Bill-style, Quinn’s strategy is to be open about his connection to the Queen. This openness seems to throw Sookie off the scent but Eric discerns Quinn’s game early. Which makes his readiness to rip Quinn’s throat out the first time they come face to face a little more feasible. Eric knows Sookie has to work Quinn out for herself, since she would only put it down to jealousy if he openly questioned his motives. In the Merlotte’s parking lot scene in ATD, he is once again trying to lead Sookie to reach her own conclusions about what is bleedingly obvious to him.

    Let myself in. Naked in ur tub. But don't call me Alpha.

    Quinn’s ties to Sophie Anne aren’t the only reason Eric doesn’t trust him. If we grant that originally Quinn was sent by Sophie Anne to finish what Bill began, the queen’s death during the takeover should have been the end of that. But oh no. Then we find out that Quinn happens to be under the thumb of the new regime as well due to a debt he incurred to them while protecting his mother. The new regime are just as interested in having a telepath as the old one – with the additional agenda of kicking Eric in the nuts to keep him in line as the only surviving sheriff of Sophie-Anne’s regime. Quinn continues to hang around after Sophie-Anne’s death and the takeover of Louisianna, and if his intentions looked suspicious before – now they just outright REEK. Yet again, Quinn is in a position where he can be easily manipulated via threat to his family into giving those who control him access to Sookie. It’s probable that Quinn’s return to Area 5 in defiance of Eric’s orders and his desperate, last ditch effort to win Sookie back was actually at the behest of Felipe de Castro himself. FDC would surely rather see Sookie involved with Quinn – who he can threaten and manipulate with ease, than see her blood bonded to Eric who is showing an increasing willingness to defy and out-maneuver him where Sookie is concerned. Looking back, it seems that Eric saw trouble in Quinn from the beginning and put the pieces together a long time before Sookie did – “You don’t know him any more than you knew Bill’.

    Why, of course he did. He is smart that way and THIS IS WHY WE LOVE HIM.

    I do feel that Quinn cares for Sookie, and that perhaps he even loves her. But the most sensible thing Sookie ever did was give him the boot over his mommy issues. His feelings about his family lead him to make the most unbelievably stupid mistakes. While Quinn is indebted to vampires, Sookie will never be safe with him.

    I feel like there’s a major showdown on the wind for Eric and Quinn. Not only do they want the same woman, but there is definitely something political going down between the two of them as well. They seem to have a history going back before Sookie, and Eric totally smells a rat around Quinn and his dubious associations. With Quinn having to align with Nevada to protect his mother and sister, and Eric looking more and more like he’s about to move against Nevada to become King (this is another one of my conspiracy theories – I told you have more than I can poke a stick at), I’m betting we haven’t seen the last of the alpha posturing between these two by a long shot.




    ABOUT SOOKIEVERSE

    My ramblings on the Sookie Stackhouse books, and the HBO series True Blood. Everyone I know is already half crazed with my plot and character assassinations, conspiracy theories, theme explorations and general obsessing, so now I'm going to share it all with you. Spoilers and Viking worship are rampant...you have been warned!

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