Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Rose-Red Chain by Seanan McGuire

You know, a person can slog along, trying to finish reading books over longer than normal periods of time, and begin to think that it's because they're distracted, too busy, under the weather, or some sort of excuse to justify matters. Then, suddenly, you pick up a book that is quite simply so riveting that you have to force yourself to put it down so you can get a decent night's sleep before work, finding yourself halfway through it in the first hour, and tearing through the rest as soon as it is possible to pick it up again. This latest book in the saga of Toby Daye is one such book. Loved it.

The book opens with Toby, the bridge troll Danny, her squire Quentin and her fiancee, Tybalt battling a large group of supernatural Mauthe dogs that has gotten loose from one of the inner realms of faerie. When Toby realized that the Mauthe were not hostile, but rather terrified of the modern world and decided to rescue them instead of killing them all, I made a mental note of this, thinking that the dogs would end up in the role of calvary to the rescue later on, but it turned out that they were simple a device to introduce us to Madden, one of the "dog" Sidhe, who becomes the first casualty when war is declared on the Kingdom of the Mists by the Kingdom of Silence, where one of the villains of a previous novel has taken sanctuary, and seduced its King into attacking Arden's domain.

In the category of Really Bad Ideas Arden's subsequent decision to send Toby as the chief diplomat to begin negotiations with Silence to try to halt the war really ranks near the top. Toby and her fetch, May, Tybalt and Quentin, and her friend the alchemist, Walther all journey to Portland where Silences is located in the physical world. Why Walther? The Sea Witch tells Toby she should take someone who knows the lay of the land with her, and Walther was born there before a coup by the present ruler, and fled to the human realm, where he has hidden ever since.

As it turns out, Walther is key to the success of the mission. It turns out that he is related to the former royal family in Silences, and that he also is the only person with the skill, combined with some of Toby's special knowledge, to create a potion which can waken the elf-shot true rulers of the land, who have been kept asleep for more than a century now, as conditions in their rightful kingdom grow more and more oppressive.

This plot moves right along, never a boring moment. After nine novels, McGuire's tale is still going strong.

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