Merry Gentry is the title of a series of books authored by Laurell K. Hamilton. Ms. Hamilton is most well-known for the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series. In recent years, she has been alternating between the two series.
Meredith NicEssus is a faerie princess turned private investigator in a world where faeries are not only known to the general public, but are also fashionable. She takes on the pseudonym "Meredith Gentry" to hide from her family and her past while hiding out in Los Angeles as a private investigator at Grey's Detective Agency. Merry, the only Sidhe royal to be born on American soil, fearing the continuous assassination attempts on her life thinly disguised as duels, flees the Unseelie Court in a final act of self-preservation. Her glamour (the art of magical disguise through illusion) is nearly unrivaled at court, and she is able to pass herself off as a human with fey blood.
The general tone of the writing is less of an outright fantasy and more of an alternate history. The point of divergence from normal history is not provided, although hints are given about how the faerie history intersects with human history (Adolf Hitler, the Irish Potato Famine, and Thomas Jefferson are examples). In the books, Jefferson gave the Unseelie and Seelie courts asylum after the European courts exiled them - however, as a caveat, Jefferson said that they could not set themselves up as gods, or they would risk being evicted from American soil.
Flash forward to present times. The fey are quite fashionable in the modern United States, and there are many faeriephiles. "Sightings" of the Elven American Princess have covered the tabloids for years now, and Queen Andais' magic is constantly following these false leads--which are becoming more popular than Elvis sightings.
Merry's cousin, Cel, breaks the agreement by which Thomas Jefferson allowed the fey into the United States when he helps a human wizard by the name of Alistair Norton to set him up as a deity by way of a power-draining sex cult which siphons away the power of the women involved, encouraging him to lure fey and sidhe-sided women to his bed in an attempt to lure Meredith out of hiding. He breaks another of the rules when he gives Norton the use of a magical aphrodisiac known to the courts as Branwyn's Tears (or Fergus' Sweat), which can turn even a sidhe into a sexual slave and melt their glamour. It is the physical and emotional abuse inflicted upon these women which eventually gets the Jeremy Grey Detective Agency involved when his wife and mistress pay the agency a visit together. During a subsequent undercover assignment designed to catch Alistair in the act of breaking the law, Merry is covered in the tears in an attempt to drive her mad with lust when Alistair's seduction techniques fail, and she is outed as the missing Elven American Princess.
At the beginning of the first book in the series, Merry's name full name and title is Princess Meredith NicEssus, Child of Peace, Besaba's Bane. "NicEssus" means, literally, "daughter of Essus"; it is the sort of name given to a child and laid aside once the child has come into his or her powers. That Merry used the name into her thirties is a sign that she is a late bloomer at best, a lesser sidhe at worst. After a child comes into their power, the last name is dropped.
As of the end of the fifth book in the series, Merry's name is Meredith, Princess of Flesh and Blood.
The series chronicles the return of Meredith to the Unseelie Court by way of an invitation sent by her Aunt Andais, the Queen of Air and Darkness in the form of her right hand, Doyle, also known as Darkness. She is given a men from the queen's own guard, her Ravens, to guard her body and fill her bed as heir to the throne, provided she can get with child before her cousin.
- A Kiss of Shadows (2000)
- A Caress of Twilight (2002)
- Seduced by Moonlight (2004)
- A Stroke of Midnight (2005)
- Mistral's Kiss (2006)
- A Lick of Frost (Dec 2007) Official Webpage for the Sixth Book
(in alphabetical order)
- Andais - Queen of Air and Darkness, Merry's aunt, the sister of Essus, and mother of Cel. Andais is a war goddess, and the sadistic Queen of the Unseelie Court. She has recently been revealed as barren. Although she is a sadist and is widely believed to be insane, Andais appears to have the best interests of the Court somewhat at heart, and has sworn to abdicate her throne in favor of whichever of Cel or Merry can demonstrate themselves capable of producing new sidhe children. She lost her one true love in the goblin wars. Her current consort is Eamon.
- Ash - Goblin/Sidhe Hybrid, Skin is "Sun-kissed", displaying Seelie lineage, but culturally and morally, according to Merry, very much a goblin. He wants very badly to gain sidhe magic powers so he can have power undreamed of to the goblins. Remains to be seen how much his brothers’ (Holly) hatred toward the sidhe will have an effect on Ash’s chances towards this.
- Barinthus/Manannan Mac Lir - A sea god and one of the Queen's Ravens, Barinthus is one of the most powerful members of the Courts. He was long known as the "Kingmaker" for his involvement in the selection of court rulers, and supported first Essus, and now Merry for the Unseelie throne. Queen Andais fears that Barinthus may make an attempt for the throne himself, and he is the only member of the guards Andais has forbidden Merry to have reproductive intercourse with, for fear that Barinthus would become Merry's consort and the Unseelie King. Barinthus recently had some of his powers returned via metaphysical sex with Merry, and has become a member of Merry's guard. See Manannan mac Lir.
- Besaba - Merry's mother, who has returned to the Court of the Seelie. Went to Essus as part of a treaty and was forced to marry him after their union produced Merry; one of Merry's titles is "Besaba's Bane".
- Cel - Prince of Old Blood, currently being tortured in Hallway of Mortality for giving Branwyn's Tears to mortals and being worshiped by them. As there is currently no King, the King's guard serves Cel (formerly it served Essus). His hand of power is the Hand of Old Blood.
- Doyle - Captain of The Ravens, once the Queens Darkness now part of Merry's guard, and included in her many lovers, Part Sidhe, part Hell-Hound (Gabriel Ratchet, et al.), part phouka. He is a shapeshifter.
- Essus - Merry's father and Andais's brother, Prince Essus was a fertility god known as the "Prince of Flesh and Flame" for his hands of power. Essus did his best to prepare Merry for rule of the Unseelie Court. He was killed when Merry was 18 by unknown assassins, and the identity of his murderers is one of Merry's great unsolved mysteries. See Essus.
- Frost - Raven, The Killing Frost, second in command. Was revealed that he started life as Jacqual Frosti, Jack Frost, etc. Is prejudiced against Seelie Court due to poor treatment at court because the other nobles were jealous of Frost's remaining in power due to his power in the minds of the humans. Has tendency to pout. Has recently come into godhead via Merry. Says recent powers used to belong to one he called master. See Jack Frost.
- Galen - The youngest of the Ravens, Merry's best friend. Lineage is half-pixie and half Unseelie sidhe. Powers include subtle ability to have everyone like him. Extremely unpolitical, naive and idealistic, is voice of childhood reasoning for Merry. Unfortunately, letting go of those ideals is allowing Merry to survive. Mistranslation of a prophecy given from human prophet to Cel almost got Galen killed, as allies of Cel tried to assassinate Galen to prevent the prophecy.
- Holly - Goblin/Sidhe Hybrid, Skin is "Sun-kissed", displaying Seelie lineage, but culturally and morally, according to Merry, very much a goblin. His brother (Ash) wants very badly to gain sidhe magic powers so he can have power undreamed of to the goblins. Remains to be seen how much his hatred toward the sidhe will have an effect on Ash’s chances towards this.
- Kitto - Goblin/sidhe hybrid, Seelie sidhe mother raped during goblin wars, snake-type goblin, given full sidhe status via sex with Merry, has Hand of Reaching.
- Kurag - King of Goblins, Merry's ally. Was ally of Merry's father previous to his death.
- Maeve Reed/Conchenn - Former Goddess of Spring. Exiled from the Seelie Court because she suspected Taranis was infertile. Now a Hollywood actress. Husband Gordon (deceased) was able to give her a child due to Merry and Galen performing a fertility ritual. Merry and her guards now live on her property.
- Meredith NicEssus/Merry Gentry/Meredith, Princess of Flesh and Blood - Title heroine, daughter of Essus and Besaba, niece to Andais, cousin to Cel. Besaba's mother is half-human, half-brownie and helped Essus raise Merry. Other titles are: Child of Peace and Besaba's Bane.
- Mistral - One of Queen Andais' guards, replaced Doyle as the Captain of the Ravens. Former divinity associated with rain, wind and thunder.
- Nicca - Raven and Spy for Andais in Merry's home. Lineage is half-demifey and half Seelie Sidhe. Is apparently Cornish, due to being of Bucca-Dhu's Line (Revealed in Caress of Twilight) Sprouted wings during sex with Merry. Was possessed by Dian Cecht, due to jealousy, and cured via divine intervention.
- Niceven - Queen of the Unseelie demi-fey.
- Rhys/Cromm Cruach - Raven, former God of Death. Lost an eye when tortured by the goblins; was called Gwynfor "white lord of ecstasy and death" by Sage, 2nd hand has been seen when he killed Siun (Goblin) after Kitto hacked Siun to pieces. In Merry's dream, Rhys is shown with both his eyes, a magical hammer that can heal, and can raise armies of the dead. However, we are not sure whether dream was of past or future. Can speak to/see the dead. See Crom Cruach.
- Sage - Demi-fey sent by Queen Niceven to provide cure for Galen. Was made into sidhe after an interlude with Meredith and Nicca. And is now stuck in his previously secret, larger form.
- Sholto - Raven and King of the Sluagh. Sidhe/Nightflyer hybrid. Called Shadowspawn behind his back. Fears being regulated to being the Queen's Creature, similar to the Killing Frost and the Queens' Darkness. Has made deal with Merry to form alliance, yet to be consummated, as he desperately wants sidhe flesh. Merry is unsure whether she can handle Sholto's "extras" (tendrils that Sholto normally hides with glamour. Merry initially had problems with them in the first book).
- Siobhan - Captain of the King's Guard, Cel's right hand and personal Killer. According to first book, could kill with a touch. It has been revealed that this power is 'unnatural'.
- Taranis - King of the Seelie Court, known officially as the King of Light and Illusion, Merry's great-uncle, rumored to be the reason why the Seelie sidhe cannot have any children anymore due to his infertility. Released the Nameless to kill Maeve Reed to keep his supposed impotence secret. See Taranis.
Means of communication used in text
(in alphabetical order)
- By Blade - Using essentially the same principle as communication by mirror (see below), by applying blood and breath, communication between two people can be established by calling them by name. Communication by this method was used between Merry and Kurag in "A Caress of Twilight" (Merry Gentry #2) and Merry and Rhys in "A Stroke of Midnight" (Merry Gentry #4).
- By Dream (or Vision)- Generally accomplished through connection with God or Goddess, always magic or mystic communication type. In fact, the God and Goddess are the only people or beings that use this method due to their immense magical ability and influence. Usual methods of induction are either the Ring or Chalice. Examples of this type of communication are Reaction of Barinthus to Ring or Chalice to Merry in "Seduced By Moonlight" (Merry Gentry #3).
- By Mirror - First type of magical communication shown (with possible exception of mention of Queen Andais's ability to hear anything said in the dark). Method is achieved by coating a mirror with your own personal power or magic and willing the communication via a spell (spell not specified in book) In-text, it would seem communication is achieved by speaking the other person's name, and willing communication. Text shows that there are variations on theme, such as using a smooth, still pool, shiny blade, or pool of blood. Also, Doyle places a spell so that they can choose when communication commences, instead of instantaneous connection.
- By Vision - (See Above)