Margaret "Maggie" Neely is the protagonist of Black Dawn, the eighth book in L.J. Smith's Night World series. She is the human soulmate of Delos Redfern. She is told of her brother Miles's death in a mountain climbing accident, but realizing he might still be alive, she journeys to find him, embarking on a quest that takes her to the heart of the Night World's Dark Kingdom.
Ultimate Fan Guide DescriptionEdit
"Strong, bold, determined, Maggie Neely is a born organizer. Maggie had a will of steel but a heart of gold. She stands up for herself - and for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Maggie treats everyone she encounters with respect, which in turn earns her great devotion. Maggie is not one to take shortcuts - and she refuses to be changed into a vampire when the possibility presents itself as the easy way out of a tough situation".
Black Dawn Edit
One night, Maggie is woken up by her mother's screams; although she doesn't realize it at the time, she is wearing a flower-print top and mismatched socks, both of which come into significance later in the novel. She goes downstairs and sees two park rangers, along with her brother Miles' girlfriend Sylvia Weald, talking to her parents. She discovers that Miles has gone missing. Sylvia claims that he had fallen into a crevasse because of not being careful with his climbing supplies, but Maggie knows that her brother would never make the mistakes that Sylvia claimed he made.
When the officers dismiss her, Maggie sees Sylvia walking down the street and decides to confront her about the truth of her brother's disappearance. However, when Maggie arrives at Sylvia's apartment, the silver-haired girl admits to her lies, but refuses to reveal the truth to Maggie; Sylvia is in fact a witch, and uses a special incense to put Maggie into a stupor.
The unconscious Maggie dreams of a mist-filled region, hearing a voice calling out for her. Suddenly, she sees a boy she feels connected to, although she doesn't know him or his name. Seeing her, the young man, described as having dark hair, golden eyes and a willful mouth, embraces Maggie and tells her she must leave as soon as she awakens. Despite her confusion, he points out a secret mountain pass; he insists that she find it and leave, regardless of what happens, as he is only concerned with Maggie's safety. When questioned about Miles, Maggie's elder brother, the youth evades Maggie's query, insisting she "can't think about him now". He then kisses her cheek with emotion, telling Maggie he loves her before fading into the mist as the dream ends.
Maggie soon after awakens, and discovers that she is in a wagon with three other people. She has a conversation with a red-haired girl who introduces herself as Jeanne, who tells her that they are going to the Dark Kingdom to be slaves. Jeanne, herself an escaped slave who was recaptured and tortured, tells her about the Night World and its supernatural citizens, and Maggie realizes that Sylvia is a witch. Jeanne also shows Maggie the cuts to her back made by Nightpeople playing tic-tac-toe on her skin, horrifying the Neely girl and galvanizing her decision to escape.
Maggie is introduced to the two other girls in the cart, a younger girl P.J. and one girl Maggie's age, although more beautiful. Jeanne is dismissive of the girl surviving, as she is very sick, in addition to being blind; the red-haired girl deems her a liability. Angered by the assessment, Maggie goes over to the sick teen and asks after her; she mishears the beautiful girl say her name, which Maggie hears as "Arcadia". She shortens this to Cady.
Maggie quickly comes up with a plan for escape, noting the age and rickety state of the wagon. The girls throw all of their weight to one side of the cart after another, eventually tipping the cart and setting them free. Pursued by the slavers Gavin and Bern, Jeanne, unwilling to work with Maggie for pitying Cady, leaves with P.J. Maggie takes Cady and races up the mountain.
The two shapeshifter guards follow the girls, although at one point they cannot sense them. After many close calls, Maggie and Cady make it up a mountainside before Maggie is attacked by Bern. Maggie defends herself with a stick, but is overpowered. Just as Bern is about to kill her, transforming into his true bear shape to devour her, a flash of blue lightning comes out of nowhere and immolates the bear; Maggie quickly escapes his grasps when she realizes she might die with him once his corpse falls off the mountainside. Farther up, she sees the boy from her dream, dressed in medieval clothing and bandaging a wrist dripping blood.
Recognizing him, Maggie goes to thank him for saving their lives, although she notes that the young man acts differently than in her dream. He brushes off her thanks, insisting he only did it because the bear, Bern, had flung a stick at him (although Maggie knows this to be a lie).
Thirsty, Maggie asks him for some water, but the boy initially will only give it to Maggie, impressed by her rock climbing skill. He insists that Maggie leave Cady alone, as he feels the other girl will only serve as a burden, especially being so sick. Maggie is angered by his assessment of Cady and insists on getting help for the girl. When she attempts to give Cady the water skin, he sees through her intention (she is getting the water away so she can't drink it herself) and insists Maggie give in to her thirst, as it's something nobody "can ignore". The young man shows her his fangs but, although now aware this boy is a vampire, Maggie ignores her fear of him, insisting she has to help her sick friend. The young man, resentful, releases Maggie, wondering why she isn't afraid of him. The girl insists on "being responsible" for Cady, comparing it to being a "queen" who has to look after her people.
Before she can throw down the water skin, the boy stops her and tells her to follow him. He brings her to a cave bearing a freshwater spring, where Maggie drinks, savoring being able to slake her thirst. She then fills the waterskin for Cady, to the annoyance of the boy. He questions her sanity regarding helping others and shows no qualms about kidnapping humans, viewing them as nothing but vermin, further infuriating Maggie, who insists that the young man at least cared about her in her dream. Reaching out, Maggie establish contact with his bared wrist, triggering the soulmate connection; through this she finally learns his name, Delos, and that he is the prince of the Dark Kingdom.
The inside of his mind is described as being angular, like "the heart of a giant crystal", with much beauty and color flashes, but also sharp edges. Delos, reacting with fear, commands Maggie to leave before he harms her, but she is able to see his childhood: his harsh treatment at the hands of his father, the late king Tormentil Redfern, and the other nobles, who dispassionately viewed him as the ultimate weapon. Maggie, horrified, shows him her own memories, images of herself and her family enjoying happy times, even fighting, to which Delos appears to react curiously, having never known warmth before among others. He recognizes Miles in her memories, but will not tell Maggie what he knows. When Maggie shows him her dream, the dream in which Delos told her he loved her, he violently reacts, fearfully throwing Maggie out of his mind.
Their connection remains, causing Delos to nearly kiss her, but he draws back, rejecting Maggie. As they argue, they are interrupted by the arrival of Delos's hunting party; Maggie becomes distraught that she had left Cady. Delos, irritated, tells Maggie he killed her brother, which truly hurts her, although she doesn't believe he's done any such thing. Delos departs and draws the party away so Maggie can escape back to Cady; among them she recognizes the voice of Sylvia. Maggie is hateful of the witch and her "familiarity" with the prince. Before leaving, Maggie is given a glimpse of how Delos really sees her: "a girl with autumn colored hair and sorrel-colored eyes" with "a depth and spaciousness that made mere prettiness seem cheap".
Maggie returns to Cady as night falls. The two then climb down the mountainside, where they reunite with Jeanne, who helps Maggie carry Cady when the girl faints. Jeanne takes them to a hidden shack that was built by other runaway slaves; P.J. is also there and is overjoyed at seeing Maggie alive. Maggie reacts with happy tears, and after setting Cady down, the quartet have dinner; despite eating tough strips of meat, Maggie is happy to have something. They then settle down to sleep.The next morning, Cady awakens, although she is still running a high fever, and thanks Maggie and Jeanne for helping her. The girls finish the provisions as Maggie describes what had happened after Jeanne had departed with P.J. the other day; Jeanne grudgingly admires Maggie's bravery in trying to fight off Bern with a stick.
However, Jeanne reacts with horror when Maggie explains how Delos had protected them; the former slave considers Delos the most dangerous of everyone in the Dark Kingdom. Maggie is unnerved at Jeanne's assertion of the prince's cruelty, uncertain of its truth despite the other girl's assurance. Maggie notes that there are no animals around, to which Jeanne replies that the nobles had hunted them all down; they normally breed or import animals to hunt, but on the occasion a slave gets loose, they hunt that slave down and, if necessary, conduct a death hunt to kill them. Jeanne further insists on the prince's wickedness by stating that after Delos gained the throne, the slavers began actually coming down from the mountain and abducting regular people "off the streets", instead of just taking those who got too close to the Dark Kingdom.
Noticing Cady getting worse, Maggie is determined to reach the castle and find a healer for the girl, despite Jeanne's insistence that Cady is dead-weight. However, their conversation ends when they hear hunters coming for them, using dog shapeshifters to track them down. Maggie leads the girls out of the shack and into the woods, intending to head for the castle, thinking it's the last place they'd look. Unfortunately, the hunt catches up to them. Cady, despite her fevered daze and lack of sight, instructs the girls to climb the nearest tree. Cady then proceeds to murmur and, although the hunt is right beneath them, the party cannot see or sense the girls. Maggie begins to suspect Cady of being more than she seems, especially wondering how, being blind, she knew where the tree was.
From their vantage point, Maggie is able to see Sylvia and Gavin at the head of the group. Among the party, Maggie is shocked to see a figure, whom she mistakes for the long-dead Tormentil. She learns from Jeanne that he is in fact Tormentil's grandfather, Hunter Redfern, newly arrived at the Dark Kingdom. Also among the party is Delos, which shocks and saddens Maggie. She is further stunned when Delos looks right up into the tree at her and telepathically warns her not to go near the castle, especially with the extra guards posted, promising he will not save her again. He convinces the party to leave, saving his soulmate and her companions.
Remaining in the tree, Jeanne explains Hunter Redfern's presence in the valley, and how the Dark Kingdom had been established by his son, Chervil, during the 1400s. However, the former slave is reluctant to say exactly why Hunter has come, as she does not want to disturb P.J. At Maggie's insistence, Jeanne reveals that Hunter intends to convince Delos to close down the kingdom, which will result in a mass killing of every single slave. This knowledge solidifies the Neely girl's intent to reach the castle, as she now has a new objective: to free the slaves before that can happen (although she additionally wants to stop Delos from joining Hunter in helping the Night World destroy the world, though if he didn't listen to her, she has every intention of killing her beloved).
Infiltrating the CastleEdit
The girls enter the castle Black Dawn by the stinking moat and then up a garderobe (a medieval toilet), with Jeanne leading them to the slave Laundress; Maggie is "dimly impressed" with the castle interior.
When they reach the kitchen, however, Maggie is shocked to see the dozens of slaves, all wearing basic, beige clothing with "no real color". They also all look "dull and faded"; she briefly wonders what it would be like to live like that, with no hope.
Jeanne ushers them to a shack in the castle yard, and goes to fetch Laundress. However, upon seeing Cady, Laundress cries out that she is in fact a witch (Cady is in truth Aradia, the Maiden of the Witches); deep down Maggie had known her friend had been something more than she appeared to be.
Jeanne had also known, but kept silent as Aradia had been helpful to them. The elder slave attempts to kill the helpless girl and the others for defending her, but Maggie struggles with her to save Aradia. At that moment, Laundress's assistant, a slave girl named Soaker, notices Maggie's clothing, interpreting the girl as being a prophesied "Deliverer"; one destined to liberate the slaves, and who would come "clothed in flowers, shod in blue and scarlet".
This information stays Laundress's hand; Maggie herself notes mentally that in fact her socks had begun this entire adventure, as when Sylvia had looked over at them, it had shown Maggie the witch had been lying. After confirming Maggie had spoken about freeing the slaves, Laundress agrees to help Aradia get better. Despite the surprise, the auburn-haired girl agrees to try to help the slaves.
Maggie and the others spend a night in Laundress's hut while Aradia is taken to another area to be healed. Maggie quickly ducks away from a window of the hut when she notices Sylvia and Gavin passing; the girls also notice animals being brought in for a feast. After Sylvia and her slaver depart, Jeanne takes Maggie to see Laundress and Aradia; Maggis is happy to see that the ill witch is recovering.
However, when asked if she can speak to Cady, the slave states that she cannot, as the Maiden's body is fighting off a truth potion. Maggie also meets Old Mender, another healing woman, who states that she can see Maggie's status as Deliverer in her eyes.
The old woman reveals that her nephew had overheard Sylvia discussing Miles with Prince Delos, and how she was going to bring him to the Dark Kingdom for Samhain (Halloween), but she had punished Miles when he turned on her. Accepting at last that her brother might be dead, Maggie decides instead to find out how he had died, if that is what happened.
She then tells Laundress of her necessity to get into the castle, intending to reason with Delos, although to keep Laundress's support, she agrees to take a piece of wood. Laundress aids her into getting to Delos's bedroom by introducing her to another slave: Chamber-pot Emptier.
Plots and PersuasionEdit
Reentering the castle disguised as a slave, Maggie hides herself in Delos's wardrobe. However, to her disappointment and fear, Sylvia and Hunter Redfern enter the bedchamber instead of the prince.
Here she learns of Hunter's scheme to use his great-grandson as his new heir, as well as use his power for himself, having used Sylvia to help contain the blue fire so that Delos can't access it.
Delos arrives and, after sending Hunter and Sylvia away, reveals that he once again has sensed Maggie's presence. She comes out and Delos angrily confronts her on her meddling, attempting to make her afraid of him.
However, this fails, with Maggie bravely denying him, and Delos, finally acknowledging his feelings, kisses her, reviving the soulmate bond. Maggie is able to persuade Delos that he is a person, not a weapon, and that he can decide his own fate.
However, remembering the lamia patriarch's scheme, Maggie informs Delos of the plans as well as the fact that he can't use the blue fire due to the arm brace. Delos removes it and attempts to summon his power, but it results in failure. Realizing the odds are against them, Delos decides to join with Hunter upon realizing that Hunter is in control of the nobles and now Delos's power, intending to make Maggie a vampire as well to protect her. Maggie angrily resists, and Delos has her sent to the dungeon until she changes her mind.
Soon after, Jeanne and Aradia are thrown into the cell with Maggie; the nobles had captured P.J. and had guaranteed her safety if the other girls went without a fight.
The Maiden, who has regained much of her health, thanks Maggie warmly for saving her life, insisting that if the witch clans can ever do anything for her, all Maggie need do is ask. She also reveals to Maggie that she had run into Miles as she was coming as an ambassador to talk with Delos.
Having accidentally set off an avalanche, the majority of the witch party had been killed. Hearing the rockslide, Miles saved Aradia, who was grateful to him and Sylvia. However, in her excitement Sylvia showed her true colors, revealing her identity as a witch, the reality of the Dark Kingdom, and her plan to be together with Miles once he was also turned into a Nightperson. However, to her anger, Miles rejected this, as he didn't "care about any of that"; Aradia mentions him as not being "happy" about this new knowledge. He preferred being with his family, especially Maggie
Sylvia concealed her fury and jealousy, pretending to get Aradia help as they all descended and returned to Sylvia's apartment. Once there, Sylvia instructed her Night World friends to take Aradia, but Miles shielded the Maiden. At this point, he was knocked unconscious, as Bern and Gavin finally arrived. Aradia was then subjected to the truth potion, which made her deathly ill; as such she knew nothing of Miles's fate.
Jeanne remarks that Miles was "brave" while Maggie observes that this adventure has changed all of them. She then asks for Jeanne's full name. The red-head reveals her surname, McCartney, and that her slave name had been "Second Assistant Stable Sweeper". She quips afterwards that now Maggie "knows everything".
Delos comes to the cell to see if Maggie will go along with him, but she instead reveals to him Jeanne's scars from slavers playing tic-tac-toe on her back. Horrified, Delos is finally convinced to stop his ancestor, but he himself is ambushed by Hunter and Sylvia, and placed into the cell as well. Here, Maggie realizes that, using their connection, Delos had sent her the dream from the future, trying to warn her to escape before it came to this moment.
The next day, the two of them, along with Aradia, Jeanne, and P.J., are taken to the castle courtyard to be executed via a blood hunt. However, Aradia, with Maggie aiding her, is able to appeal to Sylvia, as a daughter of Hellewise and, obeying, Sylvia undoes the spell on Delos, allowing him to activate the blue fire and obliterate Hunter and all of the nobility, although Sylvia is mortally wounded.
As the witch dies, she reveals that she never killed Miles, and hints to Maggie what really happened, even telling her to "take the leather band off his leg".
Figuring out the truth, Maggie is directed by Delos to the mews, where she removes Sylvia's falcon and undoes the bells. That done, Miles returns to his human form, congratulating his sister for managing to save him. In the end, Delos meets with Aradia, agreeing to join Circle Daybreak, and the sun shines over the Dark Kingdom for the first time while the liberated slaves celebrate; Maggie is acknowledged by the slaves as indeed being their Deliverer, and Delos, commenting that "there is nothing ordinary about [Maggie]", kisses her.
Maggie is notable for being both extremely stubborn and very compassionate. Maggie is largely selfless and and very caring towards others, as shown by her refusal to abandon Aradia in spite of the girl slowing her down and her determination to free the slaves. Maggie never gives up, even when the odds seem impossible to overcome and has an iron will to survive and succeed. Maggie is also shown to be quite smart and very observant, though her desire to help others sometimes overrules her common sense. Maggie is very brave, confronting Sylvia and going to find her missing brother alone and also showing little fear towards Delos even when he acts threatening towards her. Maggie generally treats everyone around her with kindness and respect, endearing her to many people, and is appalled by any kind of cruelty or injustice, seeking to help and heal people whenever possible. She feels a great sense of responsibility in protecting and standing up for others. Her courage and steadfastness have rightly earned her the nickname 'Steely Neely'. In addition, Maggie has a very close bond to her family, in particular her older brother Miles. She also enjoys playing soccer.
Physical Appearance Edit
Maggie is described as having "autumn" red hair and "sorrel" or brown coloured eyes. Her eyes in particular are said to be rather beautiful.
- The name Maggie is derived from or short for Margaret, which comes from the Greek word meaning "pearl" A pearl is a hard object that is naturally formed by oysters or similar creatures, and is considered an extremely valuable and precious material, often used for jewellry. Pearls are usually white or blueish-grey in colour, but can also, more rarely, appear in colours such as pink or black. Pearls are often associated with nobility, wisdom (hence the saying "pearls of wisdom"), purity, the moon and the sea.
- Maggie's surname, Neely, comes from Gaelic meaning "champion". It is supposedly a surname of Scottish origin.
- Despite being human, Maggie's first name could be considered a traditional lamia name, given that it means pearl, a precious object found in nature.
- Her surname, meaning champion, could allude to her status as the prophesised 'Deliverer' who frees the slaves, in the sense that she is the champion of their cause. It could also allude to her determination to always try her best and succeed.