Tag Archives: The Others

Etched in Bone (The Others 5) by Anne Bishop.

Stars: 5 out of 5.

I love this series. I love the worldbuilding; I love the characters; I love the stories in each subsequent book. So I can’t help to be excited when I got my hands on Etched in Bone. “What are Meg and Simon up to now?” I ask myself. And let me tell you, they both made big steps in this book, both individually and towards each other, but we’ll get to that in due time.

First, a bit of shameless self-promotion. I have been following this series since its debut, so if you are interested in reading my other reviews, just click on the links: book one, book two, book three, book four.

How much human should the terra indigene keep? This is the question that Simon and all the Others at the Lakeside courtyard have to answer. And that answer is not only for the Elders who took an interested in Meg and the curious relationship terra indigene and humans have in the courtyard. No, Simon, Vlad and the others need to decide for themselves as well. Since terra indigene transform to take the traits of the strongest predators, they can become too human and risk losing part of what makes them wolfguard or sanginati. So how much human is too much? Not only in the numbers of the human pack that now lives in the courtyard and relies on its resources, but also in the interactions they have with those humans and how much they allow themselves to change.

The theme of change is central to this book. Simon and the courtyard Others struggle to determine just how much they need and want to change now that they have Meg and the human pack to think about. The humans living in Lakeside are face with a much steeper change of circumstances now that the terra indigene have reclaimed most of the lands. Meg and the other cassandra sangue are trying to choose a way of speaking prophesy that doesn’t involve cutting…

And Meg has their own struggles and her own choices to make as well. She has found a place where she belongs and people (human and other) she considers friends and family, so it’s only natural for her to want to fit in, to be as normal as possible. She wants to do everything they can do and she doesn’t want to cause them more problems than necessary. Unfortunately, in her desire to be normal, she forgets that she is not normal and can’t really be normal – she is cassandra sangue.

Simon has to come to terms with his own feelings towards Meg and what that means both for him and for the courtyard. I’m glad that he finally decides to be upfront with Meg about this, and that they approach the situation like responsible adults and talk it out, even if it takes some rather traumatic events for them to get to that conversation.

The other important theme in Etched in Bone is that evil doesn’t always act overtly. It can present a perfectly harmless façade to the world. And that one bad apple can sour the whole barrel, or in this case one individual can threaten the peaceful existence inside Lakeside’s human pack. To the Elders, the arrival of Morty’s brother is nothing more than an interesting development in their quest to understand humans. They are perfectly happy to observe and not interfere, letting the human pack deal with this intrusion. Unfortunately, they also want to keep him in the Courtyard for observation, so the humans can’t do the one logical thing that would help them deal with this toxic person – cast him out.

This decision almost ends in disaster and teacher the Elders a valuable lesson – just because they are Namid’s teeth and claws, it doesn’t make them infallible. They can make mistakes and live with the consequences. And that sometimes what seems like a small stone falling off a cliff can trigger a landslide.

All in all, I loved the progress all of the characters made in this book and I am excited to see where they will go from here. The others, at least in Lakeside and around the Simple Folk villages, are starting to treat their humans as a valuable part of the pack. Lakeside humans are actively working on restoring as much order and cooperation as they can in their city. Cassandra sangue finally learn how to survive outside of their cells and hopefully not die after a thousand cuts telling prophecies. Let’s see where the next book takes us.

PS. I received and advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Marked in Flesh (The Others book 4) by Anne Bishop.

Stars: 5 out of 5.

I absolutely love The Others series, so I look forward to each new book with trepidation. And I have reviewed all the previous books so you can check them out if you want: book one, book two, book three.

First things first, even though I absolutely loved this book, it’s not one a person unfamiliar with the series can pick up and enjoy. If you have never read any of the Others books, you wouldn’t understand 80% of what’s going on and just how high the stakes are, so I would recommend that you start at the beginning with Written in Red. Then you have four whole books of excellent story to look forward to.

Now that I’m done with that disclaimer, let’s dive into the story. Back in book 3, the Elders asked Simon a crucial question: How much human the terra indigene will keep. And the future of all humans in Thaisia rides on the answer to that question.

This book is really about reaping the consequences of what all the characters sowed in the previous three books. I knew that humans and the terra indigene were headed for a confrontation if not an all-out war. All the events in the previous three books hinted on that. Heck, the third book ended with the terra indigene declaring a breach of trust. So the question was not whether there would be a conflict, but just how bloody and all-encompassing it would be.

The Humans First and Last (HFL) Movement is pushing for an open conflict and the annihilation of the “animals” that they consider the Others to be so that the human race can finally have unlimited access to all the resources that the land has to offer. Unfortunately for them, they operate under the (false) impression that the Wolfguard, Crowguard, and Sanginati they are used to seeing in city Courtyards are the only existing terra indigene. But the Intuits, Simple folks and some selected humans who closely work with the Others in Lakeside, know the truth. These terra indigene are but a buffer between humans and the Elders, the ancient and ageless beings who roam the deep country. So far, they hadn’t paid much notice to the clever monkeys living on their allotted piece of land, happy to let the various guards to keep the peace. But with the humans getting bolder by the day, they start to take notice. And that’s very bad news, because those Elders aren’t called Namid’s Claws and Teeth for nothing…

This book shows just how big of an impact Meg’s presence had on the Others and humans alike, both in Lakeside and in smaller communities like Ferryman Crossing and Sweetwater.  If the Elders had asked Simon that question in book 1 or even in book 2, he would have answered “None” without a shred of hesitation. Now he worries and even looses sleep over it. And what’s significant is that he isn’t worried about Meg. In fact, none of the terra indigene are worried about Meg because to them, she has become part of the pack. She is just as terra indigene as they are. But they worry about all the other humans that she had brought to the Courtyard – the Meg’s pack which includes a “gaggle of girls” (I chuckled at that definition), as well as the police officers who did everything to help the Others and cooperate with them throughout the previous books. It also includes the Intuit villages and Simple folks that had been more than willing to cooperate with the terra indigene and are being persecuted by the HFL movement for that.

A great storm is coming, and for the first time in his life, Simon is worried about how to make sure that the human pack he got entangled with would survive the certain annihilation of human kind in Thaisia.

All the characters show tremendous growth throughout the series and I love that we see the progress Meg, Hope, and Jean have made to deal with their limitations and the strive they have to adapt to their new lives. I love that when faced with tough choices, the Lakeside police officers like Monty and Burke side with the Others even if that means being declared Wolf Lovers and being shunned and persecuted. I love that the Intuits of Sweetwater don’t think twice when they get Meg’s warning and grab not only their own children but ride to the terra indigene village and evacuate all the pups as well. I love that when the night of reckoning comes, a lot of terra indigene return the favor and stand guard in front of the human villages that helped them, telling Namid’s Teeth and Claws, “We’re here. Those are our humans. Pass along. Leave them be.”

By the end of this book, the landscape of the world has changed irrevocably, but thanks to the cooperation and friendship of a few humans and terra indigene, there is still hope for the human race in Thaisia…

I loved this book and the further insight we got into the rules of this land and the different kinds of terra indigene that populate it. I’m definitely looking forward to the next one and to see how life will unfold for your protagonists now that the Others have reclaimed the land. And what impact would the Elders’ interest towards the “howling non-Wolf” have on the lives of all the cassandra sangue.

Once again, I will say that this is one of the best urban fantasy series out there right now and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who likes great complex worlds and excellent characters, but you need to start at book 1.

PS. I received and advanced reader copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop.

Stars: 5 out of 5.

This is the third book in the excellent Others series by Anne Bishop. I have already reviewed the first two books, if you are interested in my opinion – Written in Red and Murder of Crows.

I love this series, I love the wonderfully complex world Anne Bishop has created and the diverse and engaging characters, both Other and human, so I was waiting for this new book with barely concealed excitement. I must admit that I wasn’t disappointed.

Meg and Simon and everybody else in the Lakeside Courtyard are back, and we get a glimpse into other parts of this fascinating world as well.

The story picks up right after the events of the last book and in part deals with the consequences of what happened. I love the fact that Anne Bishop didn’t gloss over the liberation of cassandra sangue and the issues that resulted from this. It would have been so easy to just say, “they were all freed and everything is well for them now.” Well it’s not, and it couldn’t have been.

Most of them have lived all of their lives in a controlled environment, have never been outside of the compound and are not prepared to cope with this huge change. Plus a lot of other  compound owners panic and dump their charges on the side of the road before the Others reach them. So we see a lot of scared and overwhelmed girls let loose in a world they fear and don’t understand.

The results are predictable and rather sad. A lot of the cassandra sangue choose suicide instead of trying to face this new frightening world. They cut too deep and bleed out, spilling prophecies and riding the waves of bliss into their death. Others try to adapt, but they don’t know how, and their new guardians, whether Other or human, are just as clueless about how to help them.

So they turn to Meg and Simon for help, because Meg is a cassandra sangue, but she managed not only to flee her compound and make it to the Lakeside Courtyard, but also to adapt enough to be able to perform her job and interact with others without shutting down every time the information input became too much. I loved reading about how Meg and her human pack start picking apart her routine and analyzing what helps her cope and how it can be applied to the other girls as well. And it works.

The other huge topic in this book is the growing tension between the Others and humans and the rise of the Human First and Last movement. The author does well to instill tension into every word – the whole continent feels like a huge powder keg ready to explode into blood and violence. And the reader knows that humans have the most to lose if that happens, even if they seem to have forgotten that. So it puts even more emphasis on the tentative truce and cooperation between the Lakeside Courtyard and the Lakeside police, because it sets an example that humans and Others can in fact work together. But will that small step be enough to steal the hand of those who roam the Wild Country if they decide that the monkeys have no place on their land anymore?

If you have read my review of Murder of Crows, you probably know that my main complaint had been that there since Meg can predict almost anything that happens to the people she cares about, the reader doesn’t have a sense of urgency or dread when bad things are afoot. Well, that changed in this book… and I won’t say anything else in order not to spoil you.

This is a wonderful series and I would recommend it to everyone. If you are new to the world of the Others, pick up the first book, Written in Red and enjoy. If you are already familiar with the series, fear not, Vision in Silver delivers everything it promised and more.

PS. I received and advanced copy of this book via NetGalley.

Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop.

Stars: 4 out of 5.

With Murder of Crows, we are back in the world of the Others, and I am very happy about that! This is a fascinating world and Anne Bishop lets us explore it a bit further in this second book of the series. I have also reviewed the first book in the series, Written in Red.

A lot happens in this book. We learn more about the origins of the drugs “feel good” and “gone over wolf”. We discover that there are human settlements on the Others land that are under the Others’ control. The people who chose to live there did so because they were persecuted by other humans for being different. The Others granted them asylum from persecution in exchange for work and goods. Those humans, Simple Life folks and Intuits, are not considered “meat” per se, but they are not considered friends either – they are simply tolerated as long as they don’t break the rules.

It was interesting to look at the settlements and the human / Others interaction outside of the Lakeside Courtyard. It was also a stark reminder that humans are just tolerated on this continent, and that there are a lot more dangerous terra indigene inhabiting the deep wild country that would not hesitate to wipe them off the land if provoked. It also served to emphasis just how progressive Simon is as the leader of the Lakeside Courtyard. He actually tries to work with the human authorities instead of just dealing with most of the problems the terra indigene way –  eat the intruder, throw the personal belongings out of the Courtyard for the police to find.

Speaking of the humans in the Lakeside Courtyard, we also see changes that are a direct consequence from the previous book. Meg has been accepted by all the inhabitants of the Courtyard. She is part of the Pack, even though she isn’t terra indigene, but she isn’t “smart meat” either. This is a source of confusion for Simon and and some of the other members of the Business association until they decide that she is just The Meg and leave it at that.

Another big change is that the humans working in the Courtyard become Meg’s human pack, so they transition from being just employees who are not eatable unless they misbehave to people the Others feel obliged to protect, especially when the rest of the human population of Lakeside turns on them and dubs them Wolf lovers.

And the Others finally turn their attention to the cassandra sangue  and those who keep them and bleed them for profit. The consequences of that attention will be life-changing for everyone concerned…

I loved this book. I got to spend more time with all the characters I grew to love in Book 1 and watch their relationship develop and become stronger. I got to see more of this fascinating world of Others and discover a bit more about its inhabitants.

So by now you are probably wondering why I only gave this book 4 stars instead of 5? I have one problem with it, but it’s a problem significant enough to deduct a whole star, because it tarnished my enjoyment a little.

There are a lot of things happening in this book, and a lot of different forces threaten Meg and the Courtyard inhabitants, as well as some of the other terra indigene we encounter, but there was almost no suspense, at least not for me. And the reason for this being that Meg would always have a prophesy that would warn them beforehand about the bad stuff coming their way, so that they are prepared. I understand that it’s part of who she is and what this whole world is about, but it kills the suspense. I don’t worry about the characters anymore, because I KNOW nothing will happen to them, no matter how threatening the danger is…

It could have been easily rectified though. Meg is only one blood prophet. The Controller has a whole compound full of them. Why don’t the bad guys get prophesies before they set out to do anything as well? That way they would at least see what would work and what would fail miserably. Or we could have the Others fail to interpret Meg’s visions correctly, or understand the warning only AFTER the fact. If some of the evil plans actually succeeded and there had been casualties among the cast we grew to love, I would have been more invested in the story. It’s hard to be worried about characters when the author portrays Meg’s power as infallible.

But despite that, I enjoyed Murder of Crows and I would definitely recommend it. Can’t wait for Book 3 to come out.