Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop
|Book Name:||Murder of Crows|
|Formatt:||Hardcover / Audiobook / eBook|
|Release Date:||March 4, 2014|
After waiting with bated breath for a highly anticipated sequel, there is always a twinge of fear when I actually hold it in my hands. Will it live up to the hype and make the wait for the next installment just as excruciating, or will it disappoint with weakened characters or a long-drawn-out plot line in order to extend the series?
Thankfully, Murder of Crows, the second novel in The Others series by Anne Bishop is even better than the first. I am continually amazed by how her writing is so descriptive and yet so succinct. There are no wasted words, no fluff (although there are some “exploding fluffballs” that prove to be rather amusing) or long internal ramblings. I was constantly vacillating between eagerly waiting to see what would happen next and peeking through my fingers, so to speak, afraid to see what dark twist the plot would take. This was storytelling at its best.
This book is not something to be rushed through, even though the suspense becomes almost painful at times. The worldbuilding is intricately woven with its descriptions of the earth natives (terre indigene) who dominate that world and their view of and interactions with the sometimes-inedible human meat. Although this series is considered urban fantasy, the world of Namid seems to be vastly different from the Earth we are familiar with. It is a more primitive place operating on the principle of “survival of the fittest,” and humans are not at the top of this food chain.
The terre indigene are far from your typical shapeshifters; their creature counterparts were chosen/acquired after long periods of time, and not all of these earth natives transform into an easily-recognizable animal. The four elements of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire are beings in and of themselves. Interestingly, vampires are part of the terre indigene and take on the alternate form of smoke. I am curious to see what other mythological creatures show up as the deeper territories of the terre indigene are revealed.
The repeated source of conflict between terre indigene and humans is the question of which species is superior. The terre indigene are relatively patient, but humans seem to have short memories when it comes to past disputes. When clashes do occur, humans lose each and every time to the earth natives’ display of power, and entire human settlements can be lost.
The current tension about to simmer over revolves around a special cassandra sangue, Meg Corbyn. She is a blood prophet that can produce visions of the future when her skin is cut and bled. She is the only one that has ever escaped her confinement under the Benevolent Ownership law. After winning over the terre indigene residents of the Lakeside Courtyard and avoiding recapture by her previous owner, she is now settled into a freedom that is scarily unfamiliar but worth every uncomfortable learning moment.
Unfortunately, Meg is prized above all other cassandra sangues, and her owner will stop at nothing to retrieve her and further his cause of the Humans First and Last movement. This has resulted in two drugs circulating in the populations of both human and terre indigene, causing havoc and death. The terre indigene’s patience has run out; war is on the horizon. How much human civilization will be left standing when it is all over remains to be seen.
Issues of freedom and choice are well-explored here, from confinement of the blood prophets for their own safety to the flagrant misuse of their abilities for personal gain. Meg’s interactions with the other characters are sensitively written, often filled with humorous naiveté on both sides. I especially appreciate the strong and steady friendship between Meg and Simon Wolfgard that is slowly blooming into something more. The way that shapeshifters are portrayed through their simple and straight forward reasoning and actions with each other is quite endearing.
In the race to track down Meg’s previous owner and institution before war erupts, the Courtyard’s bookstore, Howling Good Reads, is put to good use for the images in its books and maps that Meg tries to recognize as landmarks during her escape. Both human and terre indigene come to realize the plethora of knowledge waiting to be found in these books can fill the gaps in their understanding of each other. Books contain much influence and power, as the Crowgard has come to realize…
“Are there weapons in a bookstore?”
“It’s a store full of books, which are objects that can be thrown as well as read,” Monty replied blandly.
The Crow cocked his head. “I had no idea you humans lived with so much danger.”