Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Bookish Thoughts: The Others Series (Books 1, 2 & 3) by Anne Bishop

I absolutely love this series. I am having such a hard time writing a review because I want to tell you everything, from the set up of the world the series takes place in to the conflict between the humans and the terra indigene (the Others). I want to tell you about Meg, the human, and how innocent and special she is, and how much I love Simon's character, even in his awkward moments--and the sweet and vulnerable Sam. I love all the Others really.  They are animal first, only able to look human and live like humans, but really they aren't.  It's an important distinction to make because the shape-shifters aren't humans who can shift into animal form and the vampires are not humans who have been bitten and turned into the undead. There are Elementals and other magical beings (I love the ponies!)--so many of them, really. Some you may recognize if you are a fantasy reader and others you may not. It is impossible not to be swept up into their world, to feel their power and to fear them on some level, knowing their strength and ruthlessness, while at the same time admiring and respecting them--and coming to love them too.

This is a series I highly recommend reading in order as each book builds on the other. As a result, expect a few spoilers below--although I tried to keep out most of them.


Written in Red by Anne Bishop (ROC, 2013; 433 pgs)

First Sentence: Half blinded by the storm, she stumbled into the opening between two buildings. 

From the Publisher:
As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.
Simon runs a bookstore, fellow readers.  How could that not draw you in immediately?  Okay, so there is a Wolf who sits by the door waiting to eat shoplifters.  But still. A bookstore!  Anyway, I was instantly pulled into Written in Red, falling under its spell. This is one of those books (and series, really) in which I found myself with one foot in reality and the other foot still in the book world even when I wasn't reading.

Meg has been through much in her life, even as isolated as she was. She has a way with people and the Others, an innocence about her that makes everyone around her want to protect her. It isn't just her vulnerability and child-like nature. It is also her kindness and sense of fairness. She may not be the kick ass heroine we so often look to in books like this, but do not mistake her as weak.

Meg is a highly valued blood prophet and her loss at the compound where she was held does not go unnoticed. It brings a lot of unwanted attention to the Lakeside Courtyard where the Others live and work, especially once it is known she is there. Simon, who has made it a point to study and know human ways, still does not trust them and thinks very little of them on the hierarchy of species, but something about Meg makes him want to protect her, even after he learns what she is and the danger she places the Others in the Lakeside Courtyard in.

I could make a list of all the wonderful characters that have earned a place in my heart, from the young Wolf who lost his mother to violence at an early age, to the exiled police officer, Monty, sent to the area because he chose to save a Wolf child from a human predator, and Tess, the Other hiding her identity among her own. And I will always be in awe of the Elementals, particularly Winter.

Early in the book, the reader knows that Meg has had a vision she believes to be that of her own death. She sees Simon in that vision and knows she will die in the Courtyard.  She does not want to die, but she is not sure how to stop it.

To say the world building and characters are what I loved most about this book would be an understatement, but the story, too, was compelling. It was often intense, the suspense building as the bad guys got closer to finding Meg and as tensions between the humans and Others rose.  I was glued to the pages of the book and did not want it to end.


Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop (ROC, 2014; 369 pgs)

First Sentence: Nudged awake by his bedmate's restless movements, Simon Wolfgard yawned, rolled over on his belly, and studied Meg Corbyn.

It is obvious tensions are high between the humans and the Others at the end of Written in Red, setting the stage for what is to come in Murder of Crows. Carrying over from the first book in the series, the presence of two very addictive drugs become more apparent--and dangerous, especially to the  terra indigene.  Violence is on the upswing as both sides suffer more casualties. Simon is doing what he can to hold onto a fragile peace between the two groups as are the local human law enforcement officers as they try to figure out who wants to kill the Others. Meg's visions are coming more frequently and the Others continue trying to figure out a way to help her control her urges to cut herself in order to see the prophecies. Too many cuts or a cut in the wrong place could mean death for the young cassandra sangue.

In Murder of Crows, the reader gets an even deeper look into Meg's character and just how difficult it must have been for her to escape the compound and strike out on her own.  Imprisoned, she had been exposed to so little--it was a very controlled environment. Now free, she struggles with being over stimulated by all the new sights and sounds she encounters. Meg is trying to learn to adapt and grow with all the changes in her environment.  It's not an easy process, and, in fact, can be slow going at times.

The relationship between Meg and Simon is an interesting--and an awkward one.  There is something there. As the reader, I can't help but think of a budding romance, but the author is taking it slow. And it's one of the aspects I love about this series. Especially given how different the two are from one another and in their individual struggles.  I mean, Simon thinks of humans as "clever meat". He may not see Meg as prey, but to think of her as a love interest when his feelings are still so conflicted about humans?  Yeah. And Meg really is like a child. She has a long way to go before she's ready for a romantic relationship.  Yet it's obvious the two have feelings for each other that may be more than friendship. Neither one is in a place where they are willing--or able--to admit it.  

Written in Red was dark in its own right, but Murder of Crows takes the story into an even darker place.  Anne Bishop doesn't shy away from describing just how bad life is for the cassandra sangue, the abusive treatment of the girls by their human keepers.  The growing struggle between humans and the terra indigene has reached new heights. The Humans First and Last movement is growing and becoming more of a threat.  They are a group who on the surface says they oppose the oppression of humans by the Others, including the total control of their resources. But more importantly, they want all the power.  The Others, of course, want to maintain the balance, hold onto their control, and many are not willing to give an inch to the humans.

Even with the very real possibility of war between the species, I admire Simon and his group's efforts to try and find a peaceful resolution, working with the humans, including local (human) law enforcement to make that possible.  If there is a way to live together, they are the ones who can do it.

The threat of the humans to the Others becomes all too real in Murder of Crows, and I found myself holding my breath more than once as the story unfolded. There is a definite cliffhanger at the end of this book, and I was so glad to have Vision in Silver handy to read next.


Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop (ROC, 2015; 400 pgs)

First Sentence: Meg Corbyn entered the bathroom in the Human Liaison's Office and laid out the items she'd labeled the tools of prophecy: antiseptic ointment, bandages, and the silver folding razor decorated with pretty leaves and flowers on one side of the handle.

Can these books get any better?!  I hate that I have to wait for the fourth book. It's pure torture.  

The Others are watching closely to see what comes out of the Lakeside Courtyard, the attempts Simon and the Others in his circle are making to create an environment where the two can co-exist. If that wasn't enough, they have their hands full trying to save the now free cassandra sangue who are not only being hunted by those who once used and imprisoned them but are also struggling to survive in their new environments. Those trying to help them are at a loss as to how to keep them safe, and Meg, a cassandra sangue herself, is perhaps the best person to try and help.  Unfortunately, she is still trying to control her own urge to cut, especially when she is feeling too overstimulated or stressed.  It doesn't help that the Others may need her to cut, despite their every wish they didn't have to ask her, in order to help end the growing conflict between the species. 

Everything comes to a head in Vision in Silver, the Humans First and Last organization is as ugly as ever and out to take over the world. It's been difficult from the beginning not to see them as the bad guys, even knowing the Others are the ones in control and have the ability to wipe humans off the face of the earth.  Their greed for power, money and resources knows no bounds.  They do not care who they hurt in the process to get what they want. I do feel for those who feel they must choose a side. And really, they must given the circumstances. As someone in the know (the reader), I wish more people would see the wisdom in choosing the Others over the Humans First and Last (HFL) group, but it's not as simple as that, I imagine.

I continue to be in awe of Anne Bishop's world building in this series. Nothing is simple nor necessarily black and white. She puts much depth in her characters and it is hard not to care about them, even love them and ache for them in their plights. Meg is an interesting character and while at first I wished perhaps she would grow more quickly as a character, I reminded myself how little time had passed over the course of the books.  A person really cannot change overnight.  For all Meg has been through, for all she is struggling with now, is it any wonder there is some backsliding in progress now and then and some resistance? I continue to like her as a character, and have great respect for her as she takes on more responsibilities even despite her personal challenges.

I liked Simon from the beginning, but I like him even more as a character now. He's grown so much in terms of his view of humans. While most are still "clever meat", not all are anymore. I admire his willingness to continue working toward a peaceful resolution despite what the Humans First and Last organization has thrown at him. Many of his kind would not have been so tolerant or understanding--understanding in the sense that not all humans are bad and mean the Others harm.

While initially when this series began it was more about Meg, Anne Bishop has put great effort into creating other interesting and fully realized characters.  Those characters come even more into the forefront in Vision in Silver.  Monty and his daughter Lizzy, for example.  Can I just tell you how their story line not only pulled at my heartstrings, but there was one point at which I had to stand up to read because I couldn't sit still? And Tess still continues to be one of my favorite characters, even now that everyone knows who and what she is.

There was a lot going on in Vision in Silver. A lot going on in the entire series. I only see more turmoil in the future for all the characters--I hope that there is also hope and eventually peace. This is by far one of my favorite series of all-time, and I cannot wait until the next book in the series comes out.

To learn more about author Anne Bishop and her work, please visit the author's website. You can also find her Goodreads

Source: I purchased e-copies of both Written in Red and Murder of Crows for my own reading pleasure. I received an e-copy of Vision in Silver from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.


© 2015, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

18 comments:

  1. I've been very curious about this series ever since you mentioned them, Wendy. I've the first two books in my pile so I'm waiting for the mood to strike. This sounds like a wonderful fantasy series and I think I'll enjoy reading them.

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    1. Melody - I hope you do enjoy the series, Melody. It's a bit different than the usual urban fantasy or dark fantasy I read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Obviously. :-)

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  2. I've been interested in this series too, after reading of your delight in it. I have the first book as an audio book and will try it sometime this fall. Looking forward to meeting these characters.

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    1. Kay - I'm curious how the audio will be. You'll have to let me know.

      And now I'm nervous that all of you are going to try this series. I hope you don't hate it. LOL

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  3. I abandoned the first in this series...and I don't even remember why! Now, I'm wondering if I should try again.

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    1. Jenclair - I wish you could remember. I'd be interested to know. I've read quite a few reviews of the books since posting mine and I know not everyone was enamored with this books as I was.

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  4. I bet my sister would love this series.

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    1. Kathy - I hope she does if she gives it a try!

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  5. This series has been on my radar but I haven't been too motivated to pick it up because it's so different sounding than what I usually read. However, your enthusiasm definitely makes me want to give them a try! I love books where I just want to tell everyone everything! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Katherine - You should have seen my review when I first wrote it. LOL It's still overly long--I probably should have posted each book separately.

      I think fans of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files would like this series. They are dark. Maybe you should sample a copy of the first book.I don't know if it would be enough to give you a good feel for the books, but at least you'd know if you like the writing.

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  6. I've read the first book and really enjoyed it but I need to start the others ones soon! I love Meg, she's so sweet, and oh Simon, haha. Happy to hear you're enjoy this series so much!

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    1. Cyn - I am glad you enjoy the series too! Oh, do read the next two books when you can! I really love Meg too and Simon. I've enjoyed getting to know them. :-)

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  7. I have not heard of this series at all, sounds fabulous though. Really must keep an eye out for them, thanks for reviewing!

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

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    1. Lainy - I just love this series. If you do try it, I hope you like it.

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  8. This would definitely be different from my usual reads but I'm intrigued!

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    1. Iliana - It really is such a different series. I used to a read a lot more fantasy than I do now. This was kind of a cross between the urban fantasy I have come to love so much and dark fantasy.

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  9. ♥ love your reviews! I especially like you adding the first sentence, very cool! I love this series and can't wait to read the fourth book

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    1. Eva - Thank you! It's pretty obvious how much I love this series, isn't it? I'm excited about reading the fourth book as well!

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