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Literature / Merry Gentry

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Merry Gentry is the title character of an erotic fantasy series by US writer Laurell K. Hamilton, best-known for her previous series Anita Blake Vampire Hunter. Since 2000, she has been alternating between the two series, publishing nine Merry Gentry novels as of 2016:

  • A Kiss of Shadows
  • A Caress Of Twilight
  • Seduced By Midnight
  • A Stroke of Midnight
  • Mistral's Kiss
  • A Lick of Frost
  • Swallowing Darkness
  • Divine Misdemeanors
  • A Shiver of Light

The series follows Merry Gentry, the partially human/partially brownie Sidhe Princess of the Unseelie Court. Growing up in an Alternate History of Earth where faeries immigrated en masse to America in Thomas Jefferson's era, she is attempting to become pregnant as part of a convoluted scheme to keep her insane cousin off the throne. Occasionally, Merry Gentry receives supernatural powers from her love affairs and solves fairy-related crimes.


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This series contains examples of:

  • And I Must Scream: After Merry uses her Hand of Flesh power against an (immortal) attacker for the first time, Doyle tells her that if she doesn't finish them off she's condemning them to this. Later, she uses it again and the (again, immortal) target falls into a bottomless void.
  • Anything That Moves: Merry Gentry is heterosexual but has little discrimination in her lovers. It's an Aesop that Merry is trying to deliver to her own people that at one time they were not held to a human standard of beauty, nor human sexual mores. She beds a number of goblins, and members of the Sluagh. At first, even Merry had a hard time with Sholto's "extras", but by the later books she has become comfortable with them.
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  • Biggus Dickus: Rather notable in many cases.
  • Body Horror: The Hand of Flesh. Also, goblins are a whole race with elements of this.
  • Bottomless Pit: The sithen has one.
  • Cannot Have Sex Ever: Obviously leads to...
  • Chaste Hero: Oddly enough, a literal curse inflicted upon the Queen's Ravens for centuries.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: In Divine Misdemeanors Merry and the gang hear a woman scream from another part of the house. The gang goes to investigate, Merry ascertains that there's no immediate danger—and then, before joining the investigation, she and Sholto pause to have sex.
  • Cold Iron: Any iron (steel will do, too) can disrupt simple enchantments. Merry wears a clip-on steel-handle folding knife inside her bra, so it is in contact with her skin, as a protection from hostile magics (and as a hidden backup weapon, of course).
  • Combat Tentacles: The Sluagh, and Sholto in particular, sometimes use their tentacles in combat. Sholto used one of his stronger ones to try and strangle Doyle.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: A central theme of the series and, heck, personified in Doyle.
  • Death of the Old Gods: Many of the Sidhe were well-known Pagan gods, but lost their worshipers to Christianity. This marked the beginning of their decline in power. Sidhe draw power from such worship, and are therefore forbidden to set themselves up as gods as part of the treaty with Jefferson. Furthermore, the older Sidhe have referred to the Elder Gods and Firblogs, which implies that there may have been even Older Old Gods, that the Sidhe didn't just Put on a Bus to Another Dimension, but actually Killed Off for Real.
  • Decadent Court: Tyrannical queen, Evil Prince, lavish balls—the Unseelie Court checks all the boxes.
    • The Seelie Court is no better, it's just less energetic.
  • Expy: In almost every respect, Merry is really a less uptight (especially sexually) fairy version of Anita Blake.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • One of the early incarnations of the Wild Hunt and the sluagh is a many-tentacled, toothy amorphous horror that drives humans mad, consumes souls, etc. There's a fluffier one hanging from the ceiling of the sluagh's sithen who Merry helps make a child from wild magic.
    • The Nameless, which appears in A Caress of Twilight.
  • Everybody Lives: The author had admitted she hates killing off characters (apart from big bads, of course).
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: In this universe's version of World War II, the Nazis struck an alliance with the Sidhe to help them fight off the Allies and Soviets, which worked well right up until the moment the fae found out that the Nazis intended to march them into the gas chambers too once the war was won. The Nazis became a gruesome lesson in why crossing The Fair Folk is a horrible idea.
  • Extra Parent Conception: Merry eventually gets pregnant with twins, and the twins have three fathers each. In "A Shimmer of Light" Marry actually has triplets, one of whom is smaller and younger than the other two. The boy is the child of Doyle and Frost. The larger girl is the child of Rhys, Galen, and Mistral. The smaller girl show resemblances to Sholto, and also to the goblin Kitto and the demi-fae Royal. She has wings and horns. And Taranis is claiming fatherhood of one or more of the children, and suing for visitation rights! The definitive genetic testing isn't completed yet.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Not so fantastic for the goblin shock troops, or the domestic-slave brownies.
  • Fashion Dissonance: Justified because the immortal fey have birth dates separated by up to thousands of years, and they usually stick to the fashion of their youth.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Andais is very, very creative.
    • The Hand of Flesh and the bottomless pit, for the immortal sidhe.
  • Finger Snap Lighter: Doyle can do this with his Green Flames of Death.
  • Fisher King: The wellbeing of the ruler of a sithen determines just how lively and fertile it is.
  • From the Latin "Intro Ducere": The narrator's monologue often explains the Gaelic origins of certain words, and connects their modern, metaphorical meaning to the ancient, literal meaning used by the fey in the story. For instance, "slogan" is a corruption of "sluagh-gairn," so called because Celtic war cries were a kind of incantation, calling on the faerie sluagh to help them. She also describes an actress as "glamorous" as a way of pointing out that her faerie power and her fame are synergistic.
  • Fur and Loathing: Merry pitches a little hissy fit when she has to wear an ogre-fur coat - she had admired how "lovely" she looked in it until told its origins.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Relatively. Good people are a bit kinky by human standards. The protagonist very much encourages her harem to accept the idea that, so long as both parties are happy with the situation, nothing is wrong with what they want sexually.
    • On the other hand, all the evil people are a selection from vicious sadomasochistic necrophiliac rapists.
  • A God Is You: Since the fey are deities, there's a number of them within the books. Merry Gentry herself is descended from five fertility deities.
    • One of the first deities revealed is Rhys, actually the god Cromm Cruach.
    • Another Merry Gentry ally in Maeve Reed, actually the goddess Conchenn.
    • Recently, Doyle was revealed to be the god Nodons.
    • Maybe more of an Elemental than a god, but Frost is the Sidhe manifestation of Jack Frost. He is in essence, Winter itself.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Andais likes a good party, and Laurell K Hamilton likes to describe what every single character is wearing. Down to the silver thread stitching the tunic together.
  • The Fair Folk: Pretty much everyone. These are not your wish-granting, glitter-dusting kind of fairies either; most of them are of the haunt your nightmares, seduce your women and eat your babies variety.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Only Merry is part human, but since the narration is from the sidhe perspective, the sidhe hybrids function the same way.
    • Merry is half Unseelie sidhe on her father's side and quarter Seelie sidhe, one eighth brownie, one eighth human on her mother's side.
    • Doyle is a partially pookah sidhe.
    • Kitto is half snake goblin, half Seelie sidhe.
    • Sholto is half nightflyer, half Seelie sidhe.
    • The list goes on and on.
  • Hollywood Homely: In-universe. Merry is an alabaster-skinned, green-eyed knockout by any human standard, but her race is composed of the supernaturally tall and willowy. Her short, busty figure does not match the sidhe ideal, and is a blatant reminder of her mixed heritage. Though some had always found her attractive, she really becomes the Fey's Most Eligible Bachelorette when she's up for the throne, as political ambition can spackle over a lot of flaws. Of course, all the good guys prefer Merry — especially her large bosom which is very unappealing to the sidhe as a whole.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming:
  • By the same author, the Merry Gentry series, the titles of which could be stated as " A [suggestive verb] of [noun]." The ones that aren't, are Seduced By Midnight (Book 3), Mistral's Kiss (Book 5), and Swallowing Darkness (Book 7) and Divine Misdemeanors (Book 8):
    • A Kiss of Shadows (Book 1)
    • A Caress Of Twilight (Book 2)
    • A Stroke of Midnight (Book 4)
    • A Lick of Frost (Book 6)
    • A Shiver of Light (Book 9)
  • I Gave My Word: Break your oath and the sluagh will come and get you.
  • Ikea Erotica: LKH is tamer than you'd think.
  • Incest Is Relative: The fey have a Dark Ages understanding of genetics, and typical deity-like attitudes towards incest. Merry - as the first fey to go to university - is the first to realize this has consequences, and she delivers a tearful rant to Maeve about how the Unseelie have for centuries taken those children rejected by the Seelie court for deformities or magical inadequacy, while the Seelie's ignorance, negligence and prejudice was the cause all along. To be fair, the Unseelie were just as bad about screwing their siblings, but they never reject children, as a rule.
  • Interspecies Romance: Way too many to keep straight.
  • Intimate Healing: Mostly as a side effect of Merry's sexual magic.
    • Doyle can use his tongue to heal minor injuries.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: TA DA! Merry's got a second Hand of Power, bitches!
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: All of the Sidhe want to have children because their race is dying out. One of symptoms of this is that most Sidhe seem to be infertile due to Andais' and Taranis' infertility.
  • Light Is Not Good: There's a reason the Seelie ruler is the King of Light and Illusion.
  • Loyal Phlebotinum: Magical items of Faerie — that have been lost for centuries — keep appearing around Merry, and ones that supposedly lost their magic are coming to life in her hands.
  • The Magic Comes Back: Apparently Merry having sex with various men is reviving Faerie. It's as silly as it sounds.
  • The Magic Goes Away: In the backstory, for the last thousand years or so. Some of that was due to "weirdings"—voluntary castings-off of magical powers—and the rest was simply faerie magic weakening.
  • Magic Genetics: Merry's twin babies each have THREE FATHERS, which would give them 200% genetic material. Of course, it's justified by the fact that the sex was, well, magic. Also a case of Shown Their Work: there's a mention of Clothra of Connaught, who, similarly, had one son with three fathers (for the added fun, said fathers were also Clothra's brothers).
  • My Girl Is a Slut: Her boyfriends need to share her and are all accepting of the arrangement of her being with eight or so men in a row. Though a couple refuse menages-a-trois.
  • No Bisexuals: Averted.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine
    • Taranis wants Merry to come to a dinner party waaaaaay too much.
    • When Merry first returns to Faerie (and her Evil Aunt), she's half-expecting this, but it turns out to be more like Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu??
  • No OSHA Compliance: I'll see your Bottomless Pit and raise you some carnivorous roses and a building that occasionally remodels itself.
  • No Social Skills: Merry occasionally uses Obfuscating Rudeness to cut to the chase with the habitually secretive Sidhe, using the excuse that she was raised and educated among humans. Few realize that she should know better, having been coached in high court etiquette since birth.
  • The Oath-Breaker:
    • Cel has broken his oath. It's a huge scandal because among the fey this carries a death sentence, but everyone is so afraid of his mother that they don't do anything about it.
    • Merry also becomes head of The Wild Hunt for a night in order to punish an oath-breaker.
  • Older Than They Think: In-universe. Occasionally Merry will question an older fey for under-reacting, or reacting differently than she expected. They usually remind her that in several hundred years of living, they've seen most of it before.
    • The fey of Merry's world are gods and creatures culled from European mythology. For various reasons, the oldest of them are often extremely vague as to their actual age. But their memories (and possibly lifespans) have been confirmed to pre-date Christ by several hundred years.
  • Playing with Fire: Doyle's hand of power is a green flame. It's notable for being fatal even to Sidhe because it will proliferate and consume the victim.
  • Prophecy Twist: Try to identify the "Green Man" and "Princess of Flesh and Blood."
    • In a twistier twist than usual, Cel was right about Merry being the aforementioned Princess. But while he thought the seer was referring to her mortal blood, it turns out she was referring to her hands of power.
  • Pals with Jesus: The Goddess likes her little chats with Merry.
  • Puberty Super Power: Most fey come into their powers as teenagers, often a result of sex or a ritual; Merry turns out to be a very late bloomer, coming into her power in her thirties.
  • Really Gets Around: This is justified, as Merry Gentry is trying to conceive a child and her powers are based on sex.
  • Rhetorical Request Blunder: Merry Gentry subverts this by always phrasing herself carefully around the Fey. Unfortunately, the Sithen appears to read and obey her thoughts.
  • Screw Destiny: More like politely declining destiny's offer.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Nameless.
  • Selkies and Wereseals: Merry's lover Roane Finn is a selkie who's had his skin taken away from him, but after sleeping with her for the first time without her shields up, he regains his skin and can transform into a seal again.
  • Sex Magic: Having a protagonist who can cast great works of magic through sexual acts.
  • Shapeshifting Lover: Again, way too many to keep straight, though Sholto and Doyle are the most obvious.
  • Shapeshifting Squick: Due to above. Look into the anatomy of some of them.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: In Merry 'verse, Hitler wanted to create a super race of Aryan-sidhe hybrids. The European sidhe agreed to the plan and made an alliance with him... but then Hitler had a bright idea to eliminate all the lesser fey in order to clean the gene pool. The sidhe immediately turned on him.
  • Take a Third Option: Merry declines the throne because it would mean permanently sacrificing Frost, despite the fact that having her on the throne would end the infertility of the sidhe and subsequently save their race. She does this kind of thing a lot.
  • Terminally Dependent Society: The "essence of faerie" is a sort of magical Phlebotinum that the Lesser Fey cannot live without. Even the Sidhe will find themselves terminally depressed and magically reduced without it. This makes banishment from Faerie a Fate Worse than Death, and it is the reason no one expected Merry would just up and leave.
  • This Is Your Brain on Evil: Apparently, Taranis used to be good for "a few beers and a drunken brawl." You know, a few thousand years ago.
  • Trans Nature: Many people who want to be sidhe mimic them by dying their hair an unnatural red or getting plastic surgery to get their ears pointed. The latter is laughed at by real sidhe because only half breeds have pointed ears.
  • Values Dissonance: In-universe case. Faeries are, as a rule, pretty promiscuous, so presumably they would be okay with marital infidelity, right? Wrong. For them, an oath is a very Serious Business, and consequently sidhe were very much displeased with some humans' relaxed attitude to marriage vows.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: Poor, misunderstood Unseelie.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different? Why couldn't you be a sadistic, power-hungry tyrant like your Aunt, Merry?
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Lying is a capital offense among the fey, though they have such silver tongues after centuries of not lying that they can convince you the sky is green and the grass is blue.


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