True to Form

Well, the bits are still rifling around in my head, but I noticed something funny about Dead Ever After, so I figured that I’d post on it. Since I’m going to post on that, I figured I’d point out just how in character Eric was. Even from the early books. I figured I’d deal with the whole idea that Eric is OOC in this book – that we have all never seen this sort of behaviour from Eric before – because it fit with what I found funny. I like to group things together and save myself time.

Plus, this is something that never actually made it to my journal, but is in my fanfic on Eric’s POV that I used to tortuously write before I found out about the beneficence of LJ postings – and that Thyra would follow me here. As an aside, don’t expect me to write any more fanfic (although I do get people following me still) because that’s not going to happen. Writing a fanfic one shot took me two months. Writing a post on the same subject takes me an afternoon. My last – Dead by Popular Demand (which I haven’t bothered to transfer to my PMR identity because I don’t care about getting ‘my’ reviews) took me eight fucking months. It’s positively painful.

Please excuse my pun on the title – I’ve been watching a lot of Taggart (the appeal of which seems to be based on a lot of Scottish cops losing their tempers over nothing), and “he’s got form guv” is on my mind. “Form” meaning that he has a criminal history for something as far as UK TV is concerned. Thus, it’s nicely fitting for the subject, so I left it. And my avi is from here – and references the mood elsewhere in the fandom right now – particularly some who clearly torrent. 😉

But onto book stuff. I still haven’t gotten my print book by snail mail, so we’re going with my Kindle positions. One of the first things I read outrage – back when I was checking – was the stuff about Eric turning Sookie:

“I should have turned you without asking, as I did Karin and Pam!”
Dead Ever After, Kindle position 1709

Now, of course, there’s all sorts of ‘out of character’ claims about this statement, but there’s actually an early precedent for when Eric was thinking about this. Even though Eric told Sookie he wouldn’t turn her without her consent in Dead and Gone, he had clearly considered it early on in the books – and quite the clever little plan it was too.

“Eric, that girl I was just talking to is about three feet
away from us with part of her head missing.”

“But she is not quite gone. There is a spark.
Do you want me to bring her over?”
I was shocked speechless. How could I make that decision?
And while I thought about it, he said, “She is gone.”

Living Dead in Dallas, p. 212

Now, most of the fangirl statements have turned this into considerate St. Eric helper of humans, who was really looking to make Sookie happy no matter what. But come on, you can’t actually believe that. There’s a very tricksy reason Eric is asking her. It certainly wasn’t because he wanted a c-c-c-combo breaker by choosing to turn a woman he’d never met just because she was dead. I mean, making Sookie happy doesn’t really warrant tying yourself to a stranger like this – and is totally out of Eric’s actual character in the rest of the books. I personally find it hard to believe that Bubba, addled with drugs, wouldn’t turn right, but Trudi with part of her head missing would be a successful child. I doubt Eric was actually considering that he’d turn someone like that.

What Eric is doing here is trying to figure out if Sookie is dating Bill so she can be turned. It’s not as if there aren’t hundred of fangbangers doing this on the regular. Eric has his bar filled with many fangbangers who think that if they just play along and make nice with the vampires, they’ll get turned sooner or later. He asking her because he doesn’t care about Trudi – he cares about what Sookie’s answer is. Trudi could have been “gone” before that conversation, or any time, depending on what Eric said.

See, if Sookie had said “Turn her!” that would have been based on her own desires for turning – not on what’s best for Trudi. And if that was what Sookie said, then I doubt Eric would have let her leave the floor alive. He’d strike quicker than lightning, and bullshit to the absent Bill that he needed to turn his shot girlfriend. Even if he had to push a bullet into her dead body to prove it. Sookie – being that she’d be dating Bill in order to get turned – wouldn’t give a shit, and if she did, it wouldn’t matter – Eric could compel her to stay silent if he really cares. I doubt he worried that much about that, to be honest. You can’t undo who your maker is.

So Eric is actually referencing canon when he says he should have turned her without asking. It’s not like he had a ten year fucking relationship with Pam prior to turning her. Even if he’d glamoured her some time previous to the night of her death (and he probably did because he deposited her dead body back on her bed so she could be buried, and then dug her up) while she was slipping in and out of her house, you can’t tell me that he knew her any better than he knew Sookie at this stage in the books – which is pretty much not at all.

What does he do when that doesn’t pan out for him? Well, he lies and gives her blood – he says that a bullet wouldn’t come out on its own. This is yet another example of Eric early on in the books thinking:

…Eric’s opinion was that it was better to ask forgiveness than permission.
Deadlocked, p. 298

Eric knows that perhaps Sookie wouldn’t like to have a formal tie with him, but he just wants to do it. So he makes up the story about the bullet, and then he’ll worry about Sookie being angry later. Taking his blood gives Eric an advantage – he can read her emotions and she’ll see him as more human. So he can worry about fixing her anger later. This has pretty much been Eric’s modus operandi throughout the books – start a blood bond, marriage – one should just do it, and then worry about getting forgiven afterwards. And that’s what he did yet again – except he just hit a hard limit:

“Sookie, I would never have dismissed you like that, so publicly, if I hadn’t
been sure you understood that the ceremony was for the benefit of the others.”

Dead Ever After, Kindle position 1709

I’m kind of flummoxed over so many readers feeling surprise and declaring Eric out of character for this. This is exactly how their marriage happened. It’s exactly how Sookie found out bullets will pop out all on their own and don’t need to be sucked out. This is just another example of Eric doing something, and then worrying about whether he can save it. This is exactly in his character, right from the first book – when he ordered Sookie to Fangtasia and then tried to make her like him when she got there. The fact that he got away with it doesn’t make it not a trait of his.

And I’d like to point out that the above choice shows just how much of a choice it was. If Eric really was a slave, then he wouldn’t have the recourse of “never have dismissed you like that, so publicly” would he now? If this was slavery and forcing, then he never would have said that he had the option not to divorce her like that. Why would he say that he wouldn’t have done it? Slavery really doesn’t give you an option not to do it “like that”. You just have to do it. To my mind, the insistence on it being slavery is really all about how readers want to avoid that there was part of him that actually wanted that. I mean, Eric is still talking about it as a choice. Just like he used to talk about it as a choice now Appius is dead – there’s no compulsion, only desire (or not) on Eric’s part to follow it.

I don’t think that it’s out of left field for Eric to consider that Sookie might do this for him. We know Sookie wouldn’t do it – in my case fervently hoped – that she wouldn’t be some piece on the side for Eric, and yet it’s not as if Eric doesn’t have examples of others who just go along. Hadley is just one of many of Sophie Anne’s lovers, and she went along with a political marriage. So did Andre. So did the fangbangers in Russell’s house go along with his marriage. Eric took a big risk that Sookie would follow along, but that’s what he just does. He didn’t try and see if Sookie’s hard limit was a surprise marriage – and woe betide him if he’d gone that way and then found out that that was enough to break them up.

I confess that I thought that Eric would choose Sookie, but he didn’t. Being a good vampire was way more important to him, and as Sookie points out:

Faced with the choice between loving me for my short lifetime
and beginning an upward climb with the rich and beautiful
Freyda, he had made the practical decision. I’d always
known that Eric was a pragmatist.

Dead Ever After, Kindle position 1697

And so he has. He’s always doing practical things – and even give practical gifts. And while he’s making a start on making his way up the vampire hierarchy, it’s not so much an upward move, as a sideways move. Yes, Eric never wanted to be King, however by being a Consort, he’s not actually the one in the firing line for a killing. Freyda is still in line for getting killed. Her husband doesn’t mean jackshit once she’s dead. But in terms of perks – well, it’s all the perks of being King without the drawbacks.

So I didn’t see it all as so out of character for Eric to act as he’s always acted. Just like he’s always been about putting himself first and doing what is sensible, and has nothing to do with loving gestures:

“Oh, would you have flung yourself in front of me?”
“No,” Eric said simply. “Because it might
have hit me in the heart, and I would die.”

All Together Dead, pp. 221-222

This is the pragmatic Eric who is not willing to put Sookie’s safety first – let alone her happiness – for the sake of the pragmatic course of action. It’s something that Eric somehow gains even though it’s not even on the page. He says outright the pragmatic solution, and yet that’s forgotten. I’ve even seen this one hand-waved off because Eric may not have seen Sookie – despite the fact that Andre had time to get in front of Sophie Anne, and Eric makes it clear he made a choice that favoured himself. I mean, seriously. This stuff is his own words people – this was never out of his character at all.

Of course, the other thing that he was in character over was the fact that he was possessive beyond all reason, and that he thought that he could both divorce Sookie and still consider her ‘his’:

“Sookie, you’re mine.” He was beginning to be angry.
“I am not. You said that in front of everyone.”
“But I told you, I came to you in the night and told you I would-”

Dead Ever After, Kindle position 1709

So much calling that this is out of character for him – that Eric wouldn’t be that stupid. Except that he’s that ‘stupid’ through the rest of the books too. I know that the trend has died down a little – this erroneous belief that Eric is just not about doing the possessive thing – that due to True Blood’s portrayal of Bill, this is a “Bill thing” rather than it being almost the exact opposite. But here’s one of the earlier books when he said the exact same shit:

“This woman has been mine, and she will be mine,” he said, in tones
so definite I thought about checking my rear end for a brand.

Definitely Dead, p. 91

Eric has this belief that he just doesn’t have to do anything and Sookie is his. It doesn’t matter who she’s dating, or that he’s not dating her, he still considers her his – and in fact, called her “my future lover” in Club Dead – which is pretty arsy if you ask me. He tried to frighten Quinn off right from the start, and doubtless he’s put the word around the vampire community. After all, even Mickey talked about Sookie’s relationship with Eric – and Charles Twining assumed that they had a relationship.

We all know about Eric trying to ban Sam from seeing Sookie without mercy:

“I will not release you.” I frowned. He seemed to be speaking to Sam.
Dead Ever After, Kindle position 3512

I mean, this is really no different from all the other shit Eric has done. I predicted way back when that Eric wouldn’t just let Sookie move on with Sam (and please note I said that it was Sookie’s feelings on it that ultimately mattered – which includes changing her mind) way back when.  He banned Quinn from the entire state to prevent their relationship. And yet again, it’s something he does first and then asks for forgiveness later:

“The tiger got his dismissal from you. I heard it from
his own lips. Why should he return?” Eric shrugged.

Dead and Gone, p. 40

All the vampires think that Sookie belongs to Eric – because he’s apt to tell them that – but also he’s not just rolling over so that Sookie has another relationship. He’s not likely to just let things go. Eric is interested in locking Sookie down – and giving her only one option. As well as being a bit of a spiteful bastard as well. Sookie says that

After our terrible confrontation the night before my arrest,
I had never expected this magnanimity from Eric.

Dead Ever After, Kindle position 2019

There’s all sorts of talk about how generous Eric is. While he upped the $30,000 to $50,000 promised to Sookie when she took care of him, he’s not exactly known for being generous most of the time – particularly when his feelings are hurt. In fact, that’s when Eric seems to intimate that financial requirements are really all about what Eric thinks he should do when you own someone:

“You should be mine. I have slept with you, I have cared for you,
I have…assisted you financially.”

Definitely Dead, p. 89

All of the money and stuff Eric has given over time is really about what he considers his obligation to someone who is “his”. How you maintain your possessions. It has never been magnanimous – it’s always to do with his thoughts on his what is proper with someone in his retinue. It would be out of character for him to pay money to bail someone out.

So here’s the bit that made me laugh, when I thought about it. Something that sounds really nice and considerate on the surface, which Pam tells us isn’t quite so sentimental as some would believe:

On the less selfish side, he made it an absolute condition of his
marrying Freyda that you never be harmed by any vampire.
Not harassed, not tasted, not killed, not made a servant.”

Dead Ever After, Kindle position 3963

But there’s a hidden kicker in there. If Bill and Sookie got together, no drinking her blood. And that pretty much puts the kibosh on any other vampire suitors that Eric could consider. Lol. Really, you’ve got to admire his devious ways to make it clear to everyone that Sookie is his, and not to be touched. And it’s one last way that Eric tries to kick sand in Bill’s face – Eric bans him effectively from having a relationship with Sookie again – or at least allows only the most unsatisfying relationship a vampire can have with Sookie.

Part of the reason that I like the ending – and continue to like Eric – is that he’s still in character. I liked him for his character before, and it’s all still there. I would hazard that if you didn’t like these aspects of Eric, you never really liked Eric at all. Things don’t get well with him because he finally shot past his limits, but that’s okay. While Sookie wanted him, his many faults that I have set out here were fine with me if they were fine with Sookie. I would have been really heartbroken if Sookie did become the new Hadley, but other than that, I think ending up with Sam is good for her. I’m going to go more in depth on that in a future post, but I noticed something funny, and wanted to share it before I forgot it.