A Red-Rose Chain
October Daye, Book #9
By Seanan McGuire
Author’s website: http://seananmcguire.com/index.php
Things are looking up.
For the first time in what feels like years, October “Toby” Daye has been able to pause long enough to take a breath and look at her life—and she likes what she sees. She has friends. She has allies. She has a squire to train and a King of Cats to love, and maybe, just maybe, she can let her guard down for a change.
Or not. When Queen Windermere’s seneschal is elf-shot and thrown into an enchanted sleep by agents from the neighboring Kingdom of Silences, Toby finds herself in a role she never expected to play: that of a diplomat. She must travel to Portland, Oregon, to convince King Rhys of Silences not to go to war against the Mists. But nothing is that simple, and what October finds in Silences is worse than she would ever have imagined.
How far will Toby go when lives are on the line, and when allies both old and new are threatened by a force she had never expected to face again? How much is October willing to give up, and how much is she willing to change? In Faerie, what’s past is never really gone.
It’s just waiting for an opportunity to pounce.
Thus he that overruled I oversway’d,
Leading him prisoner in a red-rose chain:
Strong-tempered steel his stronger strength obey’d,
Yet was he servile to my coy disdain.
-William Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis.
Repercussions from events from the previous books are starting to stir up new problems for Toby and the Kingdom of the Mist. It all starts when Madden, the seneschal of Queen Arden in the Mist, is found asleep by an arrow with Elf-shot and a declaration of war form the Kingdom of Silences. In the declaration, Queen Arden is accused of taking the throne from the previous Queen of the Mist, and demands that she steps down and gives the throne back or the kingdom will be invaded. Because Toby was in the knowe when the Madden was hit and is a hero of the kingdom, she draws the short stick and is send to the Kingdom of Silences with a small delegation to try and convince the King to cease the declaration of war. Toby’s delegation consisted of Quentin, May and Walter, while Tybalt decided to tag along to keep his fiance safe. Before leaving, they come to the conclusion that the previous Queen of the Mist must be hiding in Silence. When they get there, they are not prepared for what they encounter, as the name of the kingdom of Silences fits the kingdom to well.
I have been a fan of the October Daye series since the second book, A local Habitation, came out, and reading the ninth book in the series makes me so happy. Toby has changed so much since we met her as a night cashier in the first book; she now is a hero, has a family, a fiance, and most of all she is starting to understand her heritage.
Over the course of the series, we meet the mysterious Queen of the Mist, and in Chimes at Midnight we learned that she wasn’t the actual heir to the throne. Now, in A Red-Rose Chain we learn a little more about her, and even more about her name.
The main topic of this book is Elf-shot, and the consequences that it has had over the fae populations since it was created by the Daoine Sidhe’s FirstBorn. Toby has had her fair share of encounters with Elf-shot; she was it once, she had to turn her daughter human after she was stabbed, and she lost her lover Connor to wound made by an arrow with Elf-shot. It’s safe to say that Toby doesn’t like Elf-shot, and after this book she is going to like it even less.
It seems that Toby is starting to accept her bloodline and even come to understand the purpose that it has with Faerie. I wonder if Amadine ever understood, or if Oberon planned it all along. I can’t wait for the day we see both of them. Toby’s bloodline will play an important part when the Lord and Ladies appear again, I can feel it.
Almost at the end of the book, the story takes a stronger theme that we haven’t seen in the October Daye series, but I felt that while it was a strong scene, it did its job showing the cold side of Faerie and the madness that Purebloods have.
I always like how there are new characters in every book, or we learn more about the past of one of the characters that we have already seen. In A Red-Rose Chain it was the turn of Walter the alchemist Tylwyth Teg, I have always wondered about his past or if he was a spy or ally, but in this story we learned a lot about him and his family.
If you are a longtime fan of the October Daye series, or of the work of Seanan McGuire, then I recommend you A Red-Rose Chain. Toby has come so far and she’s determined to go even farther for the good causes of Faerie.