Monday, April 11, 2022

The October Daye Reread: One Salt Sea

Welcome back, dear readers. Today we’re going to revisit the fifth novel in Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series: One Salt Sea. We assume you’ve been reading along with us because this will be rife with spoilers for past books and also for future. You have been warned.
“Should I care?” I realized the answer was probably “yes” as soon as the words left my mouth. They don’t come much bigger or badder than the Luidaeg. If she’d been too busy to deal with me, it wasn’t because she’d been vacationing at Disney World
Remember how the Luidaeg was pretty much absent for all of the last novel and wasn’t able to be quite the Deus Ex Sea Witch that she was in the first three books? Well, she’s back and coming to collect the debt that Toby owes her. There is a looming war between the undersea fae and the land (or with the humans) and the Luidaeg wants Toby to help stop it.

Worse - the looming war between the Undersea and the Kingdom of the Mists is because the children of Dianda and Patrick Lorden have been kidnapped and the Luidaeg says that if war does come, she’s not fighting and everyone else will die. So that’s great.

This is our big introduction to Dianda Lorden, and even in her desperation and rage it’s clear that she is a damned delight that just wants to punch everything that crosses her and I am here for it. I’m also reading this with the perspective of having read the next ten books and Dianda is similar to the Luidaeg in that she is clearly viewed as a big threat and most of the reason for that has already happened off page but everyone knows about it so it is the reactions of everyone that sells it.

I think that my favorite part of the October Daye series is not so much the specific plot points that each book hits, though the ride this series puts Toby on is stunning and I could never have remotely guessed from the first couple of books just how far things would go, but what I really love about each book in this series is how Seanan McGuire doles out lore, backstory, and hints. What I love is just how rich Toby’s world is and how exciting it is to get bits of information that if you are a reader anything like me makes you say “ohhh, shit” on a regular basis.

For example - there have been hints and suggestions about the Roane and that the Luidaeg doesn’t like Selkies. Well, it all gets laid out here about how the Roane here the Luidaeg’s children and that they were murdered into almost extinction (I always forget about the “almost”) and the Selkies are the descendents of those murderers AND the skins that the Selkies wear that allow them to be the Selkies they are - those are the specific skins of the murdered Roane being passed down through generations. Ohhhh, shit.
”War,” I said, and closed my eyes for a moment, willing myself not to cry. “This is why it’s bad, Raj. Remember this, for when you’re King someday. People get hurt.”

“I’ll remember,” whispered Raj

“So will I,” said Quentin
This is the book where Quentin becomes Toby’s squire. It’s super cute and sweet because she doesn’t feel up to the task and she’s so unconventional as a knight, plus she was knighted for an accomplishment and never went through the process of being a squire and then didn’t have the best relationship with her knight, Etienne, when she was being trained up in some of the customs and courtesies of doing being a Knight - but Sylvester insists and even Quentin asks her and actively doesn’t want the rigid and quite proper Etienne. I appreciate what this means for the rest of the series because what we don’t know right now (but are getting really subtle hints about) is that Quentin is the son of the High King, so he’s going to be in charge of ALL of the things. All of the lower rules and regular kings and queens in North America, they all answer to Quentin’s father. So in many ways, Toby will be shaping the future of Faerie, which Sylvester very well knows.

That quiet “so will I” - that’s not just the response of a boy who is shook by what he has seen. It’s that, but it is also the response of a future King.

Some random thoughts:

*There’s a sequence of which I would to see a live action adaptation of (hell, animated would be fine) Toby riding Dianda (and her wheelchair, thank you very much) down a San Francisco hill while being shot at by goblins and then crashing threw / over a fence into the water where she prompty turns into a mermaid or something. Incredibly cinematic.

*I completely forgot that Toby gets back with Connor before she ends up with Tybalt. The moment that Rayseline is out of the picture, Toby and Connor are back and I blanked on this being a thing - which is probably because it lasted all of this book because this is *also* the book in which Connor dies, which is foreshadowed nicely by a Roane prophecy that his place in this tale is nearly severed.

*Speaking of Roane prophecy, I really need to find a list of all of the prophecies and portents in this series and see how many of them have been paid off and what they all foreshadowed. For example, what the heck does this mean?
”Done more than she thought she would, but as much as she’ll do, once she’s given cause to eat the fruit of the Judas tree."
*The scene were Tybalt makes Toby coffee is a charming delight, especially coming off the heels of his jealousy of Connor (and this is probably why i forgot about Connor because the moment Connor is off the page the focus shifts to Tybalt. I mean, that and the actual quest to find the missing children.

*As a side comment - Tybalt mentions that the Luidaeg is only the second Firstborn that he had met, the first being Amandine. Unless I’m misremembering Tybalt’s phrasing, that’s not possibly true because I’ve read all of the short stories published elsewhere and he’s definitely tangled with Firstborn before.

*I love the line “Open waters and sweet tides, little land creature” as the underwater version of open roads and kind fires.

*“The Queen” continues to be awful. Can’t wait for that story to play out and the future changes to be made there.

*Speaking on future changes, I appreciate the hints for the future that I actually remember how they pay off, which is as fine of a place to leave off for now.
“There were so many things I wanted to ask. What was the shallowing in Muir Woods? What did the Luidaeg mean when she told Elizabeth the bill was almost due? Who was Arden, and why would a shallowing care if she was alive?”

Open roads and kind fires, my friends.

Previous Rereads
Rosemary and Rue
A Local Habitation
An Artificial Night
Late Eclipses

Joe Sherry - Co-editor of Nerds of a Feather, Hugo Award Winner. Minnesotan. He / Him