As a long-time fan of Anne Bishop – beginning with her Black Jewels trilogy and continuing through her Tir Alainn and, well, just about everything else she’s written – my reaction to each of the books in The Others series has been quite unpredictable. I loved the first book, Written in Red. The introduction of the world, uneasily balanced between humans and the Others who came before; Meg, the naive and uncertain heroine who has so much to learn about herself and the world; Simon, drawn to Meg and the progress she represents and at the same time, concerned about how he is changing in response to her.
The second book, Murder of Crows, left me with mixed feelings: I enjoyed watching Meg grow into her own person, Simon getting tangled up in his feelings, and everyone else dealing with the changes and the bad guys. On the other hand, the plot swung between developing the characters’ relationships and resolving the conflict between the good guys and the bad guys. The world-building presented in this one also felt uneven, torn between the local geography of the Lakeside Courtyard and what amount to international politics in this world where humans are king of the food chain (excuse the mixed metaphors).
The story continues in Vision in Silver as the recently freed cassandra sangue learn to live in (or give up on) the real world, the various “good” societies (the first level of terra indigene, led by the Lakeside Courtyard, the human pack and smart cops of Lakeside, and the Intuit and Simple Folk communities) grow stronger and more connected, more understanding of each other, and the “bad guys” (the manipulative, power-hungry, greedy folks who want to go up against the terra indigene for ownership/control of the continent) plot, scheme, and make plans to use the cassandra sangue to start and win a war.
Fans of Bishop’s other works will surely enjoy this series. It has many of the same plot elements, world characteristics, and character relationship dynamics. In plot, readers will recognize the tolerant, respectful, and smart “good” characters, who are in direct conflict with the oppressive, discriminatory, and greedy “bad” characters.
This book felt more engaging than Book 2, mostly because the larger plot was expressed in individual actions that directly affected the the protagonists and secondary characters, making the action more immediate and interesting. The events are kept almost entirely to one small area (Lakeside and the Intuit community), which becomes a capsule of safety for the good guys and their allies. The Lakeside community, because of its ability to mingle races and cultures without (much) bloodshed, becomes an experiment: Can the humans and the terra indigene live alongside one another? More importantly for the humans, which humans will be kept off the extermination list? Without going into any more detail, readers of the Black Jewels trilogy will recognize this encapsulation.
The relationships between characters also have much in common with Bishop’s Black Jewels trilogy. The gender dynamics are based on each sex’s inability to intuitively understand the feelings of the other without careful observation and discussion. Males protect females because they are sometimes weaker, and when females’ protective instincts are roused, they protect the males. The tension between Meg and Simon exists because Simon is an overprotective, dominant alpha (literally, alpha wolf, in this case), and because Meg refuses to back down simply because he’s alpha, even though she’s still pretty timid. Their relationship works because each cares about the other.
One last thing I feel I should mention. This book does rely on the themes of self-harm and addiction. Meg, as a cassandra sangue, is compelled to cut herself when she feels a vision coming on. In this book, she and her family at Lakeside try to overcome her need and to figure out what would make it easier for her (and others) to live healthily and happily in the outside world. While the book seemed to try to address these issues intelligently and thoughtfully, they may be triggers for some.
So, there you have it. I found Vision in Silver to be more interesting, an improvement, over the second in the series. I would be surprised if this is where the series ends, and I do look forward to reading more about Meg, Simon, and the terra indigene and human interaction. I am not so very excited, though, because this series has so much in common with the Black Jewels trilogy that it does not feel like a new story to me. I recommend it to fans of Anne Bishop, with the caution that my familiarity with her other works negatively influenced how much I enjoyed it.
*Advance copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley and Edleweiss.
Daughter of the Blood is the first in the Black Jewels trilogy. If you loved this series, you’ll probably love this one, too.
The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs shares shapeshifters and the alternate North American setting with The Others series. Mercy is a coyote shapeshifter who ends up entangled in the affairs of dangerous fae, vampires, and werewolves.