For this one, I feel like I need to bring out that wrestling announcer to grab the mic and shill, ARE YOU READY FOR VAMPIRE POLITICCCCCCS? This, the seventh book in the series, is probably my favorite, because I am THE MOST ready for vampire politics. All Together Dead features the oft-talked about vampire political summit, amongst other things, and we’re gonna be looking at a crazy amount of plot development, so strap yourselves in. Spoilers to follow…
The end of Definitely Dead in theory takes place in the late winter, early spring, because the summit is set for “a few months from now,” as well as the Bellefleur joint wedding, which Portia definitely mentions as going to take place in April, and Sookie notes it isn’t that far away. It’s curious that All Together Dead skips so far ahead, but given that it is set right after Hurricane Katrina, that makes sense. I wonder that Katrina happened mid-writing it, and Harris decided to jump ahead a few months, seeing as how her books take place in present-time Louisiana, and everyone would be impacted by it. And they are: since Sophie-Anne’s headquarters are in the heart of New Orleans, her territory is heavily impacted, her estate is ravaged, and a large portion of her nest is killed. New Orleans is, as Sookie describes it, vampire Disneyland, so there are a considerable amount of local and visiting vamps at any given time, so the vampire loss is large. Not to mention this is coming after Sophie-Anne and Andre murdering Arkansas king Peter Threadgill, so she’s going into the summit knowing she’ll be facing trial. Pre-Katrina, she was wealthy and influential enough that she could have gotten away with a simple reparations fine, but now that she’s essentially a beggar, she is a lot weaker and a lot more vulnerable to takeover. (Sookie speculates, correctly, that another royal has hired some kind of weather witch, to readjust the date for major catastrophe. Which is excellent political intrigue at first glance, but ultimately makes no sense. Who is sitting around thinking, ‘You know what we haven’t had in awhile? A hurricane. Let’s hope one is on the horizon within a predictable range, and I’ll come up with excuses to delay this giant semi-national summit for an undetermined amount of time, just to screw with Sophie-Anne.’) Jennifer Cater, an Arkansas vampire, is openly challenging her for territory. YOU GUYS. I love vampire politics, this is like candy to me.
Jason’s girlfriend Crystal Norris, if you’ll recall, recently had a miscarriage. She’s pregnant again, and this time Jason decides to marry up. Sookie gets wind of this about an hour beforehand, and goes out to Hotshot, where she stands as Jason’s second. Because it’s a werepanther thing, and I’ll let Calvin explain it, “We offer to take the penalty if either of them does wrong.” This seems like it’s gonna end fucking poorly.
Amelia sleeps with a dude from Hotshot, Bob the cat (slash former lover) takes it personally, so Amelia promises she’ll only sleep with girls until he’s a human again. Next time she runs into Pam, there is flirtation. Amelia is dressed like she just came from a golf game; Pam is wearing literal penny loafers, with pennies. It’s amazing. I hope they’re together forever.
Arlene is still dating that dude from Fellowship of the Sun, and she is getting real bitchy to Sookie about consorting with vampires. Arlene doesn’t realize that Sookie gets actual pleasure and relaxation from vampire company, nor that Sookie gets paid for these out of town trips, but it doesn’t really matter. Pam overhears them fighting and forces Sookie to realize her friendship with Arlene is one-sided as hell. Pam is Sookie’s mom friend, I think.
Pam drops a little backstory, though nothing particularly useful. She was from an unspecified time in British history, and was turned by Eric. Pam LOVES being a vampire, always has. She and Eric used to bang, she liked that too, but they definitely aren’t in love. Pam is mostly worried that Eric definitely has Confused Feelings re: Sookie after the whole mindwipe thing, and it’s making him a mess. Pam also makes sure to point out that she and Eric had no idea Bill had been planted by the queen. They might not have told Sookie if they had known, because vampires first, but they didn’t know, and it’s important to Pam for Sookie to know that.
So that’s all of the interpersonal blah blah. Sookie and the Louisiana vamp contingent head up to the Pyramid of Gizeh vampire hotel in Rhodes, Michigan. Sookie has the distinct non-pleasure of meeting Johan Glassport, the queen’s lawyer for her trial, who is human, an expert in vampire law, and was just released from Mexican prison for stabbing a prostitute. He’s a real charmer.
After they land in Rhodes, we also run into Barry the bellboy, the telepath Sookie met in Dallas. He’s now working for Stan Davis, who’s been made King of Texas. He and Sookie get to have some fun times exploring their telepathy gifts together.
The entirety of the time they stay at the Pyramid of Gizeh, Sookie repeatedly points out to her superiors that security seems less than top-notch, particularly where humans are concerned. Vampires, of course, are so powerful, and have been in positions of power for so long that they forget that humans have made strides in their ability to destroy things. Regardless, Sookie’s observations get routinely ignored, and too bad for everyone in the end.
And let me say, I don’t think I really talk about how impressive Sookie is. Certainly the first time I read this series, I read it as fantasy/mystery/romance, and I never really gave her credit for being as intelligent as she is. She has to have a lot of the supernatural world explained to her, but she is constantly solving mysteries around her, and often thinking outside of the box to save her friends’ problems neatly. I find that I just really like her.
In any case, there are several mysteries going on here. The Arkansas contingent, including shit-stirrer Jennifer Cater, all get mysteriously murdered in their hotel room. (I’ll save you some time: turns out, it was the queen’s guard Sigebert, and look at that, the trial is going to be so much easier now! Frigging vampire politics, man. You would think that the brutal removal of the rest of a state’s vamp population would somehow make Sophie-Anne more suspicious, but all it really does is take away voices that are going to speak against her. Sophie-Anne wins the trial, and the right to rule Arkansas.) A dude comes to the trial to shoot arrows (and by “dude” I mean vampire, and by “shoot” I mean throw with his insane vampire strength) at the remaining Arkansas vampire, and nearly takes out Sookie in the process. Quinn takes an arrow for her, which is semi-romantic. Eric’s taken at least one bullet for her at this point in time. Bill hasn’t done shit, because Bill is a big old NOTHING. I hate Bill, you guys. He’s at the summit selling his stupid vampire search engine and I’m mad I have to mention him at all.
Then of course there is the small bomb, in a fake Dr Pepper can, placed outside of Sophie-Anne’s room. That one is an easy solve: it was placed by the vampire hotel designer, Christian Baruch, so he can swoop in and save Sophie-Anne from danger, thus wooing her. Whatever. It doesn’t work.
Jake Purifoy comes back, the werewolf turned vampire. He’s ostracized from his pack, and not really accepted by the vampires, either. He drops a few ugly truth bombs to Sookie regarding Quinn (I’ll get to those eventually, there is a LOT going on in this book), and then it turns out that he was working for the Fellowship of the Sun. The Fellowship, finding loopholes in the security that Sookie noticed but no one else gave a damn about, has loaded a bunch of bombs inside coffins, which are in the holding bay in the basement, and some have been sent up to rooms as “unclaimed” by members of various traveling groups. Nearly too late, Sookie and Barry work together to figure out the plot (and figure out that it’s completely unrelated to the other two plots), and realize it first thing in the morning, which is right about when the charges are set to blow. Sookie sends Mr. Cataliades off to take care of the queen, and she goes after Pam and Eric, who are rooming together. She manages to rouse Eric just enough, and fortunately he’s old enough to still have some strength in the daytime, even though in this scenario he’s literally the walking dead, that they get Pam in a coffin and shoot her out the window and down the side of the hotel. Then she and Eric hop aboard another coffin and go riding down the side of the hotel, I am not making this up.
Let’s jump back in time a little bit, here: at one point, Andre, who you’ll recall is the queen’s second-in-command, decides that Sookie is not enough in the fold, and the two of them should exchange blood so he can control her better. Sookie Does Not Want. Fortunately, Eric shows up just in time and manages to talk Andre out of this arrangement. Unfortunately, the compromise is that she has to take Eric’s blood instead. They’ve already shared blood, so this will make their bond stronger and stuff. It’s a raw deal, and Sookie is not at all thrilled. Quinn, who arrives at the last moment, and knows way more about dark dealings with vamps than Sookie does, is also not at all thrilled.
But back to the explosion. Sookie teams up with Barry, and they manage to convince the first responders to let them help, using their combined mental powers to suss out live mental signatures in the rubble. They manage to save a lot of people, some vampires, and Sookie finds Quinn in the rubble. Sookie also finds Andre, the biggest (long-term) threat to her personal safety, dying not far from Quinn. She informs Quinn of Andre’s location and walks away, to later find out from Mr. Cataliades that Andre did not survive the explosion. Let’s be clear: Sookie never asks nor tells Quinn to kill Andre, but she knows perfectly well what’s gonna happen and she lets it. You don’t fuck with Sookie.
Oh, and the Quinn thing – Quinn’s mother, a weretiger, got abducted in the woods by hunters, the stress turned her human, she was raped by the hunters (thus: Quinn’s younger human sister Frannie, who is unstable), and Quinn killed them all. He needed the vampires’ help cleaning up the site, and in payment, he had to fight in The Pits, because apparently even supernatural creatures like pitting animals against each other, I do not even know, people. The whole thing is ugliness on top of ugliness, but Sookie isn’t exactly a pure angel, so she tells Quinn she’s okay with all of it, and probably even means it.
Anyway, Sookie and Barry realize too late that now they’ve exposed their powers in an effective manner, they might never be able to live free. It’s one thing for Sookie to do things in Bon Temps like save Holly Cleary’s son, but this is a different level of exposure, and she doesn’t like it. She knows that she’d end up some kind of government agent, and never really free. They sneak away from the rubble, get a motel room with cash, and wait for Mr. Cataliades, who is surprisingly understanding for a demon, to extract them. Sookie goes back to Bon Temps and has a nice quiet evening at home with her human friends, and it is nice. Man, this book was exhausting, too.
Some other crap:
– Sookie goes to a bridal shower for Halleigh Robinson, there is a bawdy older lady.
– Selah Pumphrey, Bill’s girlfriend, comes into the bar to accuse Sookie of trying to steal Bill back (because they’re going on a trip together). In fairness, Selah really has no idea how wrong she is or how disinterested Sookie is, but she’s still an enormous bitch about it and gets kicked out of the bar.
– Tara Doesn’t Like that Sookie is willingly working for vampires, they get into a fight. By the time Sookie comes back from Rhodes, Tara’s gotten married to JB du Rone, and all is forgiven. Well okay.
And the bullet points.
–Does anyone new get introduced that in theory will come up later as a recurring character?
SO MANY vamps. The Fangtasia/Area 5 contingent: Maxwell Lee, Indira, Clancy, all vampires. Bobby Burnham, human, and Eric’s daytime dude. Gervaise and Cleo Babbitt, more Area Sheriffs. Isaiah, the King of Kentucky. Batanya and Clovache, Britlingens, who are bodyguards-for-hire (here, to protect Kentucky) from another dimension. (I don’t think they come back ever; I just like pointing out they are FROM ANOTHER DIMENSION. They have to be summoned by witches, AND THEN STILL GET PAID.) Frannie, Quinn’s younger sister, not were, a hot mess.
–Does Sookie get laid and/or romantically propositioned? (And by whom?)
Sookie and Quinn finally have (a lot of) sex, good for them. Do I now know some uncomfortable things about vampire penis temperatures? Yes I do. I didn’t want to know that, but now I do.
–Does anyone wind up dead?
There’s a damn explosion in a damn hotel, a crap-ton of people die, though the only one we really know or need to be concerned about is Andre, the queen’s second-in-command.
–Does Sookie get injured in some capacity?
She gets a little bumped around, but Quinn is the one that has to be hospitalized.
–Is Andy Bellefleur a pain in the ass?
He’s not in this, but he’s having a joint wedding with his sister, and that’s irritating.
–Sookie Paramours: Who Wore It Best?
Eric and Sookie exchange blood for the third time, so they are bonded, which will come into play later. For now, Eric is just that hot, annoying guy Sookie knows, although in this he does show up to officiate a gay vampire wedding, so I’m good with him. Quinn does domestic really well, which is something Sookie needs, but him not telling her his tragic backstory gives him minus points. Sam remains a vague fantasy. Bill is so persona non grata, Sookie attempts to abjure him (although she is not a werewolf so it has no real meaning or impact. Still, it’s a good gesture for her mental health).
WHEN NEXT WE MEET, fairies, an unexpected coup, and a hotter version of Jimmy Smits.