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Lone wolves and pack
on April 10, 2010
Mercy Thompson may be a werecoyote, but her entire life has been tied to the werewolves around her -- and now she's a part of Adam's pack.
So of course, she starts experiencing some major trouble in "Silver Borne," the fifth book about a mechanic with a knack for getting into supernatural trouble. Patricia Briggs deftly weaves together werewolf pack problems with a fae hunt for a mysterious book, while also turning her focus to Mercy's troubles with the pack, and Samuel's inner turmoil. It's a bit scattered at times, but still brilliant.
After a disastrous date with Adam, Mercy learns that Samuel has tried to kill himself -- and the only thing that saved him was his inner wolf, who is now in control of his mind and body. Whenever that happens it leads to madness and death, and the Marrok will kill his own son if he finds out. To make matters worse, she's faced with subtle magical sabotage from the wolf pack, and a TV bounty hunter shows up in town gunning for werewolves.
But Mercy's biggest problem is that the fae are trying to kill her, so they can get their hands on a mysterious book called the Silver Borne, which has been entrusted to her -- and then they capture a young friend of hers as a hostage. As she struggles to save Samuel from his hopelessness and the pack from internal strife, Mercy will have to take on a fairy queen who wants the Silver Borne for herself. But she has some allies who aren't about to just give in...
"Silver Borne" isn't quite as even as the last few Mercy Thompson books, mainly because Briggs swings between pack politics and the whole fae book disaster, spending a little too long on each for long periods (come on! There's a hostage! This is no time to infight!). But that unevenness isn't enough to stop it from being the sort of urban fantasy that Briggs writes best -- bloody, grimy, but with plenty of heart and passion at its core.
Briggs' prose is as solid as her storyline -- lean and muscular ("he was a tall, sleek warrior with skin dark as wet bark. Sunlight tinted his hair gold"), with moments of humor (Sam as a "pony"), and some wonderfully tense fight scenes spattered with blood and magic. And compared to many authors, she juggles the werewolf politics and fae plotting very smoothly, never letting the plots drift too far from the "real world" of reality TV, broken-down cars and trailers in the desert.
And as usual, Mercy has a lot on her plate in this book -- she finds out that joining the pack won't make all the people in it accept her (some are even plotting against her!), and finds that even people she knows well might turn their backs because of the danger that follows her. And her new relationship with Adam hits its first road bump, which Briggs handles with just the right mixture of passion, bickering and heartfelt love. And most of the fae and werewolves are nicely fleshed out, although I seriously miss Stefan.
But the most striking Samuel's personal issues finally hit the breaking point -- he no longer wants to live because he has nothing to live for, and his inner wolf "Sam" emerges for much of the book. Briggs doesn't shy away from this thorny, painful issue, and she handles it very well.
"Silver Borne" is a bit more back-and-forth than some of Briggs' other Mercy Thompson books, but it's still a solid, beautifully written urban fantasy with plenty of heart. A must-read for werewolf fans.