Pros: Continues our fascinating tale
Cons: Too many characters to keep track of
Rating: 4 out of 5
Anne Bishop’s Marked In Flesh: A Novel of the Others is book four in the series. While there’s a well-done summary of the general world background at the start of this book, don’t jump in here. Even having read the previous books I started to lose track of the characters.
Meg is a blood prophet, and she has foreseen quite a lot of disaster. The “Humans First and Last” (HFL) movement is striking out at the Others, but they’ve forgotten one crucial thing: the Others they’ve met (primarily vampires and werewolves) are not remotely as powerful as the types of Others that live in the wild places. And the Others living outside of human civilization allow the humans to live only so long as they can be kept under control. The humans have developed some powerful weapons, and pulled a lot of people into their anti-Others campaigns, but the Others operate on an entirely different scale.
It makes sense within the world that the HFL could do a lot of damage before provoking the most powerful of the Others. After all, if the werewolves and the vampires ask for help from their more dangerous cousins, that help won’t be careful or discriminating. Entire cities–including many innocent people–will be leveled. And most of those distant Others aren’t likely to take notice of the smaller infractions that tend to lead up to a battle. Usually I can’t buy into the reasons why characters wouldn’t pull out their biggest guns right away, but it actually makes sense in this world. We’re talking possible extinction of the human race if things go too far, and some of the lesser Others want to keep some of the nicer humans around.
There’s plenty of stuff happening around the blood prophets. Meg is trying to develop a safer way for them to prophesy without needing to cut themselves, but the euphoria caused by prophecy-by-cutting is a hell of a difficult addiction to kick. I like that the Others who are protecting the prophets both care about helping to get rid of that addiction, and get angry when they see the prophets giving in to it. When you aren’t the addict, and you know what the person is doing is self-destructive, it’s hard to stay calm. It’s especially difficult for werewolves–empathy does not come naturally to them.
While Meg is still the emotional anchor of the tale, this installment in the series gives more space to those around her. It’s very nice to see, but I admit I had trouble keeping track of all the different characters and their places in things.
The story builds up to a hell of a climax, with plenty of terror and destruction. I felt that one small piece of it was a bit quick and anti-climactic, but the rest of it staggered me.
There’s a nice use of cute humor in places to counter-balance the deaths and horror. It keeps things from getting too dark and it makes a nice contrast.
All in all I loved Marked in Flesh and hope there will be more books in the series. I teared up a bit here and there. and felt totally sucked in by the plot and pacing.
My reviews of previous novels in the series:
NOTE: Book provided free for review by publisher.
Expected publication date: March 8, 2016