Posts Tagged ‘ patricia briggs ’

Review: Moon Called

Moon Called coverAfter my failed attempt to read A Magic of Twilight (boo, hiss), I decided something a little less epic fantasy and a little more towards the romance end of the spectrum would perhaps be more suitable.  Since I enjoyed the Raven Duology so much, I settled on another of Patricia Briggs’ books that I haven’t read, Moon Called.

This is the first in a pretty standard ‘hidden world’ paranormal series; it takes place in modern times, but there are supernatural creatures living alongside (or with) humans that the majority of the world’s population are not aware of.  In this case, the humans are aware of at least one supernatural population, the fae, though in this book that is mainly background information.

Vampires, werewolves and witches… oh, my…

Merecedes Thompson is your regular everyday small-town mechanic.  Who happens to be a skinwalker – based on the Native American legend of shaman who could turn into animals – and lives next door to the Alpha of the local werewolf pack.  Did we mention that Mercy was raised by werewolves, and her former-employer, still-friend Zee is a fae metalwright?  Let’s not forget the vampire with the Mystery Machine van and the Scooby Doo ringtone…

Battling the paranormal is not Mercy’s usual style, but when a new teen werewolf in town leads to her neighbour being attacked and his teenage daughter kidnapped, she finds herself getting involved in some kind of crazy scheme to… well, no one’s sure quite yet, but it’s bound to be Bad.  A trip back home to the town she grew up in – the home of the biggest, baddest werewolf in North America, who just happens to be the father of her childhood sweetheart – goes less than brilliantly, particularly when said sweetheart ends up tagging along with Mercy and werewolf Alpha Adam on their quest to find Adam’s missing daughter.  A quest that is becoming more complicated by the minute…

It is, quite frankly, nice to find a heroine in a paranormal tale who isn’t a vampire, witch or werewolf.  Or two or more of the above (Jaye Wells, I’m looking at you).  Even if she does still have a ‘special’ element, being the only walker that she knows of apart from her long-deceased father, and the only walker a lot of people have ever met.  Despite this, Mercy seems fairly practical and relatable.  At least in the start of the book.

Moon Called is the first in a series, and it does show.  The major plotlines in the book are wrapped up by the end of it, but a lot of the characters still feel fairly flat and unsympathetic.  Hopefully this will be resolved with character development in the following books.  There are some nice little touches here and there to give life – metaphorically speaking, in some cases – to the minor characters that seem to be oddly lacking in some of the main characters.  It amused me to find out that Marsilia reads in the same position that I do; this little note made me relate to her a bit, which made the fact that her ‘humanity’ is just an act a little more jarring than it was for certain others (yay vagueness from trying not to provide too many spoilers).

One of the problems that I had in this book was that it seems to fall into the same problem that every other ‘paranormal’ story I’ve come across has – Everyone Wants To Do The Heroine!  This is more pronounced in the second book than the first, but for someone who claims she’s not very attractive, Mercy seems to receive an awful lot of male attention.

And speaking of male attention, have I mentioned yet that I hate love triangles?  Because I do.  I really, really do.  Particularly when you know that there’s no chance they’re going to end up in a triad or a polyamorous relationship.  And these love triangles (or polyhedrons, in some cases) are everywhere in paranormal fantasy/paranormal romance!  I will refrain from complaining any more about that, because there’s probably enough fodder in my burning hatred for love triangles to earn its own post at some point.

But there is a love triangle.  Which I could see as soon as the third person was introduced.  Argh.

I liked the interaction between Mercy and Adam, regardless of the will they/won’t they aspect of the relationship.  I did not like Mercy’s interaction with childhood sweetheart Sam, who came across as condescending and disrespectful of the fact that Mercy is no longer a love-sick teenager.  Quite frankly, I can’t see any of the positive qualities that Mercy seems to see in him, he was useless for much of the book, and I pretty much feel that he should have just stayed at home.  YMMV.

Other than the issues that I’ve mentioned, I didn’t have any big problems with this book.  There’s no sex, so anyone looking for sex scenes will be disappointed, and there isn’t very much romance.  Some of the characters need more development, which is a common problem with novels intended to be the first of a series.  I hate love triangles.  The vampires are not sparkly.

Overall, this book is a good, light paranormal fantasy that can be read on its own or as the first in a series.  The author’s paranormal universe is interesting, and hopefully she will take it to interesting places and provide more information and detail as the series advances.  Recommended.

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Review: Raven’s Shadow

With feeling like crap the past few days I’ve done a bit more reading than usual for the first part of the week, and managed to get through both Raven’s Shadow and Raven’s Strike (the review for which will follow probably some time later this week), amongst a couple of category and historical romances (which I’m sure will also be reviewed eventually).

Raven’s Shadow is the first book in Patricia Briggs‘ Raven Duology.  The books are a Quest tale set in the (as far as I can tell) unnamed Empire, a typical high fantasy medieval world with horses, palaces, and men who wander around with swords.

Raven's Shadow original cover

And magic, of course.

There are two kinds of magic in the Empire: traditional fantasy ritual magic and spellbooks used by ‘wizards’ and their ilk (solsenti sorcery, according to Seraph), and the innate magic of the Travelers.

The Travelers are a rather gypsy-esque group, who, as the name suggests, travel around rather than settling in one home.  Like in the real-world, these gypsy clans are disliked and persecuted by much of the Empire.  The magic of the Travelers is broken down into six Orders, Raven (mage), Falcon (hunter), Lark (healer), Owl (bard), Cormorant (weather) and Eagle (guardian).  The people with these particular magic Orders (Order-bearers) are relatively rare even amongst the Travelers, and Travelers who aren’t Order-bearers can (I think) still be mageborn enough to use wizardry, if they were so inclined.

I’ll try not to give away too many spoilers for the plot, but just recount the basics of the first couple of chapters that constitute Part One (which are mainly story-setting) and a general overview of the remainder.

Our story begins with the first meeting of our two main characters: Seraph, Raven of the Traveler Clan of Isolde the Silent, and Tieragan of Redern, a baker-turned-soldier returning to his mountain village home.  At the start of our tale Seraph’s older brother Ushireh, the only other member of her Clan, has been burned at the literal stake for the crime of… well, being a Traveler.  Tier rescues Seraph from a Fate Worse Than Death (essential slavery) and she journeys with him to Redern.  Things happen, and the pair of them end up married and most definitely not in love.

Raven's Shadow new cover

At this point we hit Part Two of the story, and jump forward 20 years. Tier and Seraph are married, farmers living just outside of Redern, and now have three children; Jes, who is Eagle, Lehl, who is Falcon, and Rinnie, who is Cormorant.  Tier is missing, presumed dead, but actually kidnapped by Evil Wizards™ and taken to the Empire’s capital city of Taela. The Quest ensues and Seraph, her two sons, and Seraph’s fellow Raven Hennea set off an Epic Journey to rescue him.

While I added both ‘fantasy’ and ‘romance’ tags to this, it isn’t a paranormal romance novel by any stretch – but it does follow a married couple, Tier and Seraph, who are clearly in love even if they don’t verbally admit it until almost the end of this book.  As a romance reader as well as a fantasy reader, I enjoyed the relationship between them; even though they spent most of the book apart, they were never far from each other’s thoughts, which is something I can relate to in my own marriage.  The side-tale with Jes’ developing feelings for Hennea was sweet and touching, and every bit as awkward as I remember my first romance being.

The overall interaction and relationships between the character was extremely well-written, and the world they were set in was detailed and interesting.  While some secondary characters felt like name placeholders, the more important and frequently-seen were well fleshed-out and engaging.

Though part of a duology, this book stands perfectly well on its own with a well-resolved ending.  I would definitely recommend this as a high fantasy sword-and-sorcery tale, and look forward to working through the rest of my Briggs books.

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