Thursday, August 11, 2011

Looking for the Hero in Melissa Marr's FRAGILE ETERNITY

fragile eternity cover

In Fragile Eternity, Aislinn continues to be torn between Seth, her human boyfriend, and Keenan, the fairy king of the Summer Court. Who owns her heart was definitively laid to rest in Wicked Lovely, so what machinations are at work to tear her and Seth apart in this book?

Although this series is pretty clearly marketed to girls and the synopsis centers around Aislinn, I don't think she's the protagonist of the novel--in fact, I'm beginning to have my doubts she was ever the protagonist. Wicked Lovely was a fight between Keenan and Seth over masculinity; Ink Exchange was a battle between Niall (the sassy gay friend) and Irial (the king of the Dark Court) for Niall's soul; and now there's Fragile Eternity, in which Seth and Keenan continue to struggle for possession of Aislinn and power in faerie.

Despite the fact that Keenan is the one with the super fairy powers, Seth is obviously the more masculine of the two. Instead of manning up and following Seth's example, Keenan has responded to his emasculation--exacerbated by Aislinn refusing his sexual advances and the lack power he has within his own court--by being a conniving little bitch. Instead of Fragile Eternity, this could just as easily be titled Everybody Hates Keenan:
  • Donia (another fae and Keenan's long-time girlfriend) is snarly because he wants to have his cake and eat it, too--in other words, he wants to bang both her and Aislinn and have them be okay with that. YEAH RIGHT.
  • Seth's annoyed because Keenan's trying to keep Aislinn all to himself. Not cool.
  • Niall's still enraged over the whole Leslie thing and keeps threatening to kill Keenan if he gets the chance.
The only main character who doesn't hate Keenan is Aislinn--but she should hate him, because he's totally manipulating her for his own ends.

It's not that there aren't strong female characters in this novel, but the main action is driven by the activities of the two male characters, Keenan and Seth. While Keenan's playing mind games, Seth goes on a quest to prove his intentions to Aislinn and join faerie so they can be together as equals. Unlike Keenan, who responds to his stronger queen by guilting her into yielding to him, Seth works to make himself her equal. The women in the book--Donia, Aislinn, and Sorcha--are powerful, but their actions are a response to what the male characters do. The only exception to this is Bananach, who is one crazy bird lady.

In addition, Seth's quest leads him to make a deal that is very Persephone-esque. His story is framed in terms of myth and adventure, and this leads me to believe Seth is the true protagonist of these books, not Aislinn. Even Bananach recognizes that it's upon him the coming action will hinge; and he's the common denominator between all the fae courts and their leaders. In the first book he proved his masculinity, and in this book he demonstrates his mettle by going on an odyssey.

Like all heroes, though, Seth has a weakness: when he is in Faerie, his will is subverted to that of a woman's, which creeps everyone out. Will this prove important in the coming books? I'll have to read them to find out!

Musical notes: "Waiting for the End," by Linkin Park


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