The Sooner to Feel the Love

You’ll have to excuse my absence. Firstly, mainly cause I give you all no choice 😛 But secondly because it’s been a busy week. My birthday and my wedding anniversary – so I stuffed myself with cake, and generally spent my time enjoying my sons and definitely their father. I tell you so you know it was an anomaly, not a trend that will continue – I’m not getting worse than this and it’s not going to be consistent. I was so bad with reviewing I was more behind than I normally to my shame. Sometimes I wish I was a “That’s hot” reviewer. It’d make my life so much easier. I have been informed that if that happens, people will call the authorities, sure I have gone mad or been killed. 😀 The requisite True Blood rant will be up right after this, and I’ll be mentioning this is here too. It’s two posts for the price of one! A bargain in anyone’s mind…except me, because I have to write them.

So, Freyda has been occupying my free thoughts for the last couple of weeks, just sort of on a backburner there, but since I’m not making any headway on the situation, I figured I’d write this one out. Usually when I do this, my thoughts become less formless, and I come to an actual conclusion. So that’s how we’re going to do this thing. This won’t be all about how they get rid of Freyda – I’m not sure that the clues are in the text for that, and I’m not a lateral thinker, so I probably wouldn’t come to the same conclusion as Sookie. I’m a critical thinker – I delve into the meaning of what I’m given. Hence, this journal. 😀

Freyda is really an interesting idea to delve into in the books – and I think CH has picked it for the subtext of the situation. I think CH chose a marriage, another woman who could rule Eric was part of her point about things from the post-feminist perspective. She rightly points out here that if Bill was being bossed around by another man, instead of a woman, no one would think twice about it. So one of the things that I think is important as far as contextualising the books is how very differently things are seen when a man does them, to when a woman does them. Eric strong arming Sookie into marriage is for her own good and therefore good despite her protests, and Eric being strong armed into marriage is not for his own good, and therefore bad despite his protests. When the truth is that both marriages ostensibly protect both people from bad consequences from Felipe. Love or not love doesn’t make any difference – it is the shit the different genders catch for the same motivations and actions.

CH admits that there are big undercurrents in her books, and I think she deliberately chose a woman to have dominion over Eric, in the hopes that maybe some people would think about it. About why it’s okay for Sookie to get forced into marriage for her own protection, but not okay for Eric to get forced into marriage to make his life better. I also think an important part of the discussion is not to minimise and dismiss Freyda as invalid just because she behaved in a way we wouldn’t minimise and dismiss a man for doing. Eric was surely gaining an asset as much as Freyda would be. Yes, he loves Sookie now, but he certainly didn’t offer that up as the reason for their marriage, no matter how much he likes it now. Having a vagina doesn’t add any extra evil context to your actions…or it shouldn’t.

Nor am I going to degrade Freyda because of this subtext. If you think Freyda, unlike all the male rulers is motivated solely by love and peen, when every man is using political advantage (like Victor and Felipe) then now’s your time to step off. I kinda hate that Freyda’s had her political teeth taken from her in most fanfic. She’s ruthless enough to get a kingdom by 150 years old, she’s no piddling idiotic lightweight. She is not ruled by her heart or her vagina – she doesn’t even think love is a real thing vampires feel, I suspect because of this quote:

“But he does love me.”
“I am sure he thinks so.”

Deadlocked, p. 172

That tells me that Freyda thinks love is an illusion one must convince themselves they feel. That Eric doesn’t love Sookie really, he only thinks he loves Sookie because presumably, there hasn’t been a better offer on the table. So we’ll have none of the minimising and dismissing of Freyda based on ideas that she’s in luuuuurve with Eric, or she really needs a good screw. It’s insulting and incredibly sexist. Just look at this journal – no sex, no pictures of men to drool over – and yet women are discussing something that isn’t love and peen – a fuck of a lot of it is all about politics. And don’t give her some charming name in the comments like other women get – you know – Whorena (Lorena) or Whora (TB Nora) – unless you want a PMR to go nuclear.

I think that there are a lot of parallels between Eric’s marrying Sookie, and Freyda’s wanting to marry Eric. Maybe Eric wouldn’t fall for a velvet wrapped bundle, or maybe she just hasn’t been able to convince Eric to do as he’s told. Or maybe it’s that Bobby Burnam is dead, and Freyda can’t convince Mustapha to take said bundle to Eric. If she discovers the secret of a wrapped bundle, then Eric’s screwed. He’s just as impulsive as Sookie, but catches way less shit for it.

Now, like Sookie, Eric’s fate will be tied to Freyda:

“If she marries this right hand, he can’t succeed her. His loyalty
will be assured, because his fate is bound to hers.”

Deadlocked, p. 192

and lest you think otherwise, Sookie’s fate is tied to Eric:

If Colton couldn’t tell the little he remembered about that evening
at Fangtasia, Eric would be safer, and therefore I would be
safer – and so would all the Shreveport vamps.

Deadlocked, p. 247

If Eric is unsafe, Sookie is unsafe. But this is why Freyda is a bright bulb to make Eric a Consort and not a King. If he kills her, he gets nothing. He owns no part of that state as the Consort. They’re just for dancing on tables and amusing the Queen.  Just as if Sookie decided to kill Eric – even if she was a vampire – she wouldn’t inherit the position of Sheriff of Area Five. Unless Eric wants to fuck himself over, and lose all he has, he has to keep Freyda alive.

If Eric killed the Queen, he wouldn’t inherit the state – he would end up with nothing. While Sophie Anne inherited what Peter Threadgill owned, that was because they made a compact between their states – not because there’s any kind of inheritance laws for vampire husbands and wives. Freyda has it set up like a pre-nuptial agreement – if Eric betrays her, he goes on trial for regicide, just as Sophie Anne did. And even if he leaves with his life, he loses the Area Freyda gave him to sweeten the deal – and no longer has an Area in Louisiana. He does not gain Oklahoma.

I think that shows how smart Freyda is. She’s getting a Second who would be tied to her for all of his needs. And it seems to me that if they are not married in the traditional way that Kings and Queens are married, there’s perhaps no hundred year stipulation either. We get the hundred year stipulation here:

Russell and Bart have agreed, both verbally and by written
covenant, to ally their states for a hundred years.

All Together Dead, p. 166

Since Eric and Freyda won’t be allying states, then maybe that hundred years clause doesn’t exist. After all – you might want to switch around which state you give your fealty to – and you may want to change political alliances every so often. But a marriage where you’re not allying states, then maybe you don’t want to put a time limit on it. I doubt there’d be a point in time at which Freyda doesn’t want to have Eric working for her and her state. He’ll always be older than her.

Now, this is one of the key things that I think interests Freyda. It’s Eric’s age – as well as all of his attributes that she points out herself. She points out that Eric is bold and intelligent – but there are many bold and intelligent vampires, I’m sure. In order to survive to the ripe old age of a thousand, you couldn’t be timid or shy, and you couldn’t be dumb. I know much is made of how wonderfully brilliant Eric is – the unparalleled strategist he’s seen to be. However, um, may I remind you that Eric was browned off over the Queen and Bill getting one over him? There’s nothing so stunningly special about Eric in that department. Finding an intelligent and bold vampire – the other vampires that rival Eric are all over the place.

I think it’s the combination of the fact that he’s bold, intelligent and old. Freyda takes pains to point out just how young she is – she’s only 150 years old. It was the one thing I took for granted when I was thinking about what she wanted – it never occurred to me that a younger vampire would be able to actually get installed as Queen. I would hazard that she’s way more driven than Eric. And she can’t marry another King because at her age, well, he’d be able to best her in a fight. Once he kills her, then she’s dead and he owns her kingdom. Freyda is the unusual monarch who is really, really young. She’s hemmed in – to reference mah zones picture – by Kings like Stan, who are 400 plus years old. This is not good if you want to have a hope of besting them. And the only reason a King or Queen would marry Freyda is to off her – her kingdom is not so secure, so she’s not a good bet.

Age matters when it comes to a vampire. As I pointed out, Eric doesn’t take Pam to his meetings with Freyda – he takes Thalia, who is nigh on indestructible. I mean, we saw in Dead Reckoning that ripping off Thalia’s arm did not stop her. Not only are the older vampires able to heal and proven their ability to survive a fight, they’re downright scarier than other vampires. Sookie is always scared by the older ones – and they’re stronger. So much so that Sookie has a visceral reaction to the old vampires:

Being so close to the ancient vampire made me vibrate like a violin string.
Definitely Dead, p. 234

This is Sophie Anne that Sookie is referencing, and she’s only a hundred or so years older than Eric. All the guff that goes on about how Eric wasn’t scary when Sookie first met him – well as I’ve pointed out, it had nothing to do with Bill and what Bill said and came about just from Sookie looking at Eric – and Eric scares the shit out of people like T-Rex. It’s not just because he’s forbidding and grim, it’s because he’s old. Sookie never would have fallen into Eric’s arms first because older vampires are scarier – less human. She needed time to acclimate to him, and the ‘old’ factor always sets off Sookie’s heebie jeebies.

I would hazard that whatever it is that Sookie is detecting – and it could be a fairy sense – the older ones must exude power. And they seem to be able to do it to other much younger vampires of their own accord – because we’ve seen Eric do it once:

Pam and Long Shadow both moved suddenly, but Eric flooded the
room with his presence, commanding them to be still.

Dead Until Dark, p. 202

Pam is Eric’s child, but Long Shadow is not. So it’s not the Maker’s command – I think it’s something that an older vampire can do to other younger vampires. Sookie feels it whenever she’s in the room with an ancient vampire – she’s always able to tell if they are in fact old without being told exactly how old they are. That would be quite the useful tool to a monarch – to be able to quell their underlings. And Freyda doesn’t seem to scare Sookie like that – much like Bill and Pam don’t frighten the shit out of Sookie by being in her presence – so I bet she wants an older vampire as her backup.

Apart from that, of course, the older the vampire, the more proven they are at staying alive. I mean, Eric didn’t get where he is by pulling his punches and being Mr. Sweetheart of the Year. He got to be a thousand years old because he is ruthless. It’s what Eric calls himself – and it can’t be doubted that that’s exactly what he is. He’s got a track record a thousand years long to show that he’s not caring for tiny babies, unless preparing to shower them down on himself. The older vampires are more rare – and Eric tells us that with both vampires and fairies, the ones left alive after so long are determined survivors. Which is why Freyda wants to tie an older vampire to herself. Any vampire who comes at Freyda has to take out her second-in-command in a direct challenge. And anyone who loses their position in the event of a takeover – and probably their life – will be more likely to fight for your life.

So when Bill speaks of what they have to do to get rid of Freyda – driving her to a more amenable mate – that’s where things get tough. Anyone else that is Eric’s age and not already high in the hierarchy, isn’t likely to be leadership material. They’re likely to be like Thalia – all burned out and not amenable to friendliness. Freyda isn’t likely to take someone like say Bill, Pam or any other young vampire. I doubt that Eric wants to part with his Second so easily. And Felipe sure wouldn’t want all that juicy database money going to Freyda. So I really don’t have much of a clue as to how to get rid of Freyda. For what he is, Eric is rare. At his age, Sophie Anne had a Kingdom.

We haven’t met many other vampires who are as old as Eric, and who are juuust in the right spot. We’ve met Godfrey, who was burned out; Appius who didn’t want to come out of the coffin; Thalia, who according to Pam just wants to be left alone; Isabelle who was last seen chained up in Stan’s upstairs nestroom. Sophie Anne, Andre, Sigebert and Wybert are all dead. Most of the vampires over about 400 years old are leaders – like Felipe and such. It is the younger vampires that are in the lower eschelons – vampires like Pam, Maxwell Lee, Chester, Melanie, Rasul, Hadley, Indira and Felicia – none of them are old. Eric is rare just for how old he is and that he doesn’t have a Kingdom already – and shows no sign of wanting one either. So age does seem to be a critical factor in why Freyda is after Eric in particular – apart from the fact that their personalities, likes, dislikes and preferences are amenable – that is after all, surface crap – while Eric’s age is rare.

I think with all the similarities drawn between Eric and Freyda, it’s important to think of her as we would with Eric – that she doesn’t have just one motivation. It’s not just about having a look-see at the reason Eric won’t give it up. Freyda ostensibly came to suss out what it was that Eric loved. I think that like any good predator – she would want to understand what it was she had to emulate. It’s obvious from her get-up – the tank top, the shorts, she’s found out that he likes the illusion not of sophisticated glamour, but rather casual clothes. I could see Sookie wearing Freyda’s clothes. Eric isn’t impressed by pomp and circumstance, and so Freyda didn’t try to give him that. Freyda started off with trying to lure Eric with power – but that didn’t work for her. So now she’s got to have a good look at what he loves.

That’s not because of any other reason than she wants to present him with an alluring picture. Freyda is all looking like a young fresh girl – and that’s the last thing she is. So I’d say that when she thought about what Eric’s tastes might veer towards, she figured it’s best to look like a sort of copy of what she perceives is Sookie’s style. Just in case the image of Sookie is what floats Eric’s boat. After all – out of all the women we’ve seen around Eric, he certainly has shown a special obsession with Sookie to the point of doing politically stupid things in order to keep her for himself. Yes, he turned Pam, but it is Sookie Eric has fought to be with. If only he could go that one step more and actually act without it being something to put off someone else. Sigh. Next book.

Since surface looks weren’t working for her – she had to study the enigma that is Sookie. Because essentially, it’s not all out there on the surface to see. Whatever attracts Eric to Sookie is not her looks – as Freyda finds that’s not working for her. Or at least, not all looks. This is where it gets more nebulous because Freyda is like Eric. And well, just like one wouldn’t want Eric studying them and trying to figure things out, it’s no better if the female version of Eric does it. Particularly when she’s looking to put Sookie in a world of pain over this. If Freyda gets what she wants, Sookie could die – or at least be indebted to Felipe for the mess that happened in his Area.

Obviously, one of the key reasons to come and visit Sookie – with the presumption that she will trump Eric’s relationship with Sookie – is to get a peek under Felipe’s skirts. He’s obviously in Shreveport in hopes of scooping him up a telepath. One who would save him mucho deniro in his casinos – always working the floor, making sure to pay her debt off by saving Felipe money. Judging by the prices Felipe set for Quinn to work off his debt, that should be the rest of Sookie’s life prowling around trying to save him from losing money. Freyda does well to assess what sort of asset one of her close neighbours will be acquiring. And maybe seeing if she can push Felipe into a corner with some political insight.

But I think there’s more to it than that. I think there’s more to what Freyda’s doing there, based on a few things she’s said – and it’s only since writing this post I’ve become more clear. I don’t think Freyda has a completely dispassionate view of Sookie as merely the impediment to Freyda’s grand plan. While Eric has more value to her, due to his age, I don’t think that she’s just disinterested in Sookie all together, due to what she says.

As Freyda rightly points out, Sookie is liked by Pam, Bubba, Eric and Bill. And that’s when I think it gets into scary territory as to what Freyda’s secondary motivation may be in coming to visit Sookie. I think this is the quote that’s taken me a long time to contemplate:

“I’ve heard that you have many hidden attributes.”
Deadlocked, p. 172

On the surface attributes would be fine – they are quantifiable factors. Telepathy and fairy blood – which Freyda knows about. And really, even if she was referring to just the fairy blood, that is in no way a “many”. It is the hidden attributes that someone somewhere is referencing, and that’s what makes me think that Freyda’s secondary motivation may be a darker one.

So I’ve been wracking my head for weeks on what counts as “hidden” as far as Sookie’s concerned. The problem with that comes in the intersection that as readers of a first person viewpoint is really difficult. What do others know about Sookie, what do they observe that isn’t hidden from us? Moreover, what would a tight lipped vampire Queen be interested in specifically? What would vampires and other supernaturals (or at the very least Felipe) be thinking about as far as “hidden” attributes? Freyda sidestepped Sookie’s questions about why she was really there – much like Eric sidesteps questions he doesn’t want to answer.

Now it occurred to me that one of the “hidden” attributes is the essential spark. It’s a very important thing – because apart from Mr. Cataliades, no one else knows that the telepathy is tied to the essential spark. Pam thinks it’s an anomaly:

“Because Sookie is human,” Pam pointed out. “And she’s
more of a natural phenomenon than a true Supe.”

Dead to the World, p. 217

So Pam thinks that Sookie is a natural phenomenon – like a glitch that allowed her to have telepathy. In fact, until Niall came into Sookie’s life, we didn’t hear anything about a spark at all. It’s possible that it’s only that fairies can detect it. As I’ve pointed out before, the fairies are all about life, and the essential spark is probably something that is extra vitality. Even if some fool wanted to scream RETCON – it doesn’t make any difference – only have the Fae mentioned it so far – no one else. Since Eric or Bill never mentioned it, it’s possible that they can’t actually detect it as a thing. It’s also possible that it’s so rare that not many vampires know what the hell it is in order to detect it.

We know that the essential spark gives the person who has it something valuable – a unique ability. That being the ability to accept and tolerate the existence of other supes, and to be friendly to them:

It’s an openness to the other world. Some humans literally can’t believe there
are creatures in another world besides ours, creatures who have feelings
and rights and beliefs and deserve to live their own life.

Dead Reckoning, p. 312

This is what allows Sookie to forge ties with every single group she comes across. This is why there’s vampires in her house, weres in her yard and fairies in her woods. Apart from the fact that she’s a great asset to have for yourself, she’s also someone who accepts supernatural creatures without a thought. And she’s always been like that – ever since Sam came out by turning up naked in her bed:

“What are you, Sam?”
“I’m a shapeshifter. I thought it was time you knew.”
“Did you have to do it quite like that?”

Dead Until Dark, p. 251

I quote that because I suspect a few people have forgotten in light of True Blood that Sookie did not lose her shit and stop talking to Sam. In fact, her most extreme reaction to that scene was finding out that Bill really was dead – and she chucked up. She took all this stuff in stride right from the first. Imagine if that was Arlene – well, you don’t have to imagine. Arlene reacted like Sam was made of betrayal and lava. He wasn’t even naked in her bed.

When it comes to Freyda, that could be part of the “hidden” bits she’s referring to. And with a mover and shaker like Freyda, well, that could be useful. Sookie has managed to get the weres and the vampires to work together, and the fairies and vampires – Niall and Bill or Eric working together is not something one would see often. It’s possible that this is something Freyda could make great use of when it comes to Oklahoma:

“I intend to hold on to my kingdom, Sookie Stackhouse.
A strong consort would double my chances.”

Deadlocked, p. 173

Holding onto your kingdom? That doesn’t sound so wonderfully secure. If Sophie Anne and Felipe have to watch their backs, Freyda must doubly so. And we’ve seen how Sookie getting groups to work together has helped Eric to hold onto his Area. After all – he could have easily lost Area Five – and his identity – if Sookie didn’t bring the Weres in to help fight off Hallow. It wasn’t Pam or Eric that made that phone call and reached out – it was Sookie going to Alcide and then to Colonel Flood. The vampires would have been absolutely fucked if Sookie didn’t enter into the conflict, and decide to bring the Weres into it. And of course, Claudine never would have gone and told the vampires she knew that Hallow was nuts, or where she was.

The essential spark makes Sookie valuable for the connections. So it’s possible that just that confluence of factors can get Freyda interested. Sookie is like a super-supe-networker. If she’s in your corner, then she can liaise with all the other groups, and make sure to keep your own agenda foremost. But of course, it’s questionable if anyone else knows about the essential spark – apart from the Fae. They’re the only ones who have actually mentioned it.

But there’s something else that’s “hidden” about Sookie – and that’s the cluviel dor. It was something that the fairies and Eric were banging on about – as well as Donald Callaway. And we know that someone else knows about it:

“Are you gonna tell me who’s after the cluviel dor?”
He looked profoundly sorry for me.

Deadlocked, p. 225

Now of course, we know that there’s Claude who was after it – but Mr. Cataliades warned Sookie ages ago not to give any sign to the riff raff at Hooligans that she had a cluviel dor. So I don’t think it is Claude he’s referring to. After all, he doesn’t much seem to like Claude – I’m not sure that he would in fact keep Claude’s betrayal to himself. It’s possible he’s trying to keep neutral – as he did in the Fae War.

But it was when I was thinking about this quote that I thought maybe Freyda is looking for evidence that there’s something more than just the idea of mere “love” impeding her:

“Pam is fond of you,” she said, not answering me directly.
“This one, too.” She jerked her head at Bubba.
“I don’t know why, and I want to know.”
“She’s kind,” Bubba said immediately. “She smells good.
She has good manners. And she’s a good fighter, too.”

Freyda eyed the famous face as if she were mining secrets from it.
Deadlocked, p. 174

I wonder if one of the people that heard about Sookie having a cluviel dor is Freyda. Mr. Cataliades about this nebulous other pursuer of a cluviel dor that:

Stupid Callaway Googled Fintan, too and though he didn’t find anything
about the real Fintan, the conjunction of the two searches sent out an
alarm that eventually reached…the wrong ears.

Deadlocked, p. 223

So it can’t be Claude who is the wrong ears. He knew about the fact that Sookie was Fintan’s granddaughter, and that she has a cluviel dor in her possession. It wouldn’t make sense to put an alert on those two searches – this is known information to him. Claude’s been searching Sookie’s house on the sly for months. It’s not Niall, because he too knew that Sookie had a cluviel dor, because he told Eric. The wrong ears – well – all of the rest of the people we saw in Deadlocked were friends who never even alluded to it. It’s entirely possible that it’s someone else, someone we’ll be meeting in the new book – but it’s also possible that it’s Freyda. Freyda who put together the clues of Fintan and cluviel dor, and figured Sookie had one.

And maybe she came along to scrutinise Sookie and see if she was using the cluviel dor to keep the loyalty and friendship of all the vampires around her. After all, Freyda doesn’t even consider that the love will trump the power. And one of the other things she says about Sookie is this:

“I am fairly sure that you are what you seem on the surface.
You aren’t arrogant and conniving.”

Deadlocked, p. 173

The arrogant and conniving thing – well, I can see where you might consider this woman you’ve never met before, with all these vampires who like her despite the fact that Freyda points out that there’s no reason for her dumped boyfriend to still like her. I think this is Freyda questioning whether there really is some sort of nefarious reason as to why Eric refuses to leave. If Sookie isn’t conniving and arrogant, then that shows it’s not because of what magic she has up her sleeve. The fact that she said it means that she’s probably considered in her head that Sookie could be likely to be arrogant and conniving. I think it’s maybe because someone who uses magic to get love is rather like Claude – arrogant and conniving – not a nice person.

So I think the conclusion I’ve come to is that Freyda truly doesn’t believe that love is enough. She’s sure that Sookie’s using the cluviel dor, or some other power to keep the loyalty of other vampires, and Eric specifically. She doesn’t take Bubba’s assertion that there are reasons to like Sookie – and she’s absolutely perplexed as to why the vampires like her, or are willing to cleave to her when she offers power instead. After all – Eric could get all kinds of perks for himself, and even Pam if he so wanted. And yet he chooses to stay with this human perhaps because of these “hidden” attributes.

Maybe, of course, that’s the ultimate key to getting rid of Freyda. Maybe once she hears that the cluviel dor was used very publicly, she’ll see that really, it is love that is keeping Eric there. And that’s what will lead her to looking elsewhere. After all – if Eric knows that it makes him a very flawed, imperfect vampire, then maybe Freyda won’t consider him a good prospect either. Maybe Eric won’t look so tantalising when Freyda doesn’t think he’s caught with cunning fairy magic, but rather of his own free will. That nothing she can say or do will break him out of the genuine feeling of love.