In the third and final part of The Winter Long, nobody fights like family.
This post will cover chapters 16 to the end of the book, and is bursting with spoilers, so be warned!
Some of Toby’s relationships are falling apart even more now. Luna and Sylvester both say (or don’t say) things they can’t take back, and it looks as though Toby may finally have had enough. What did you think of her confrontations with them, and is there any hope of reconciliation?
I hate to say it, but I can’t blame Toby one bit for feeling the way she does, where the Torquills are concerned. In all fairness to Sylvester, I understand that promises are something the Fae take very seriously, and if he’s made one and can’t break it, then fair enough – but for him to simply offer this up as his justification without apparently showing any regret over the fact is pretty cold. Given how kind he’s been in the past, I’m disappointed in him now.
And then there’s Luna. She might be grieving for her daughter and hurting over everything she’s had to go through, which is fair, but the way she treats Toby, as though she’s at fault for all of it, is not. And to make matters worse, she responds to Toby’s last-ditch effort to empathise with her by belittling the very same pain that lets Toby do so in the first place.
“It was only Hoshibara’s stolen skin that allowed me to bear my little girl, and I nearly lost her several times before she arrived. She has suffered more than enough in this life without my being able to save her. Do you understand me? What I did, I did for a mother’s love, and I’m not sorry.”
“I do understand,” I said. “You forget I was a mother too.”
Luna sniffed. “Only for two years.”
So now Toby is done with her, and I don’t blame her. Sympathy can only go so far in the face of that sort of coldness, and while I regret that it came to this, I can’t say I’m not on Toby’s side. She doesn’t punish Rayseline for her mother’s attitude, which is well and good – she might have caused chaos and cost lives, but Luna is right that she’s suffered enough, mentally. So, what will happen when Rayseline wakes is a question I’d love to see answered – but I’m about done with caring about her parents, at this point.
Conversely, it’s Simon who makes the effort to be supportive of Toby, in the end – despite what it costs him. How do you feel about what happens to him here?
I’m kind of glad Simon turned out not to be the bad guy Toby thought he was. His actions might have been misguided, but now we know he was doing the best he could in a bad situation – and he did almost save Toby’s life! It’s all very tragically heroic, though at least he’s not actually dead… Poor Simon. There’s hope for him yet!
Some family feuds really can be epic. What was your take on the big showdown with Toby, Eira and the Luidaeg?
I won’t lie – I was thrilled to see the Luidaeg return to the fight like this. SHE IS SUCH A BADASS I LOVE HER SO MUCH. Also, Seanan McGuire really knows how to tease her readers with information. Yegods. So Oberon is Toby’s grandfather! WHO ELSE IS AT THE ROOT OF TOBY’S FAMILY TREE?!
As for Eira… it might easily be read as something a bit anticlimactic for her to not really have such a grand, evil scheme in mind. She’s done what she’s done, and doing what she’s doing, because this is just in her nature. She had a near-miss with death and needed to claim her power back, but such is her nature that doing it openly, without harm or manipulation of others, just never occurs to her. She’s all about power, and it is so damned ironic that she overlooks Toby on account of what she believes she knows about her, ie. that she doesn’t have enough power to stop her. Toby said it herself – she’s not the same changeling that she was before Evening died. To me this says that the Fae habit of being set in their ways is what works against Eira here. Changelings being strong enough to challenge her is a ridiculous idea because it’s never happened before, so why would it be any different now? TOBY HAS NEWS FOR YOU, LADY.
And how. Toby is able to take her down physically instead of with magic, and the clever simplicity of her method is almost viciously satisfactory – Eira could have Toby under her thumb by now if Toby was still the same low-magic-level changeling she’d always been, but the game has changed. Oh, and Toby gets around that disadvantage by LITERALLY TACKLING HER. It’s the head-on tactic Toby prefers, and I love how well it works for her here.
And I bet the Luidaeg enjoyed the show too, even if she couldn’t be the one doing the tackling.
Tybalt proposed! Is this going to be a happy ending, do you think?
EXCUSE ME WHILE I DO MY HAPPY DANCE.
I loved the ending to this book, and I love that it sets things up to improve Toby’s life in some ways after all the angsty disappointment she’s had to face where certain former friends are concerned. Yes, it sucks that her relationship with Sylvester is falling apart, but it serves to remind us that a long-arc theme of these books is the emotional journey Toby’s undertaking, and that this is not the first time she’s found the strength to leave something negative behind her and move on. She’s turning a little more toward a brighter future and away from a sad and shady past, and with that in mind I have nothing but joy for her engagement to Tybalt.
And it damned well better be a happy ending. I have crossed everything it’s possible to cross that Toby can live to get one, after everything she’s been through. There are still so many questions to answer, of course, but so long as she has her found family, surely she’ll be all right?