Rec a Series is a monthly post highlighting one of my favorite series, past or present. I’m so far behind on posting stuff that I don’t need the History Channel. Unlike the History Channel, however, I won’t blame it on aliens. I blame it on finally, finally finishing Petri and getting it ready for publication. More on that later! For now, let’s talk about a new-to-me series and author I stumbled across because the author was giving a reading with Patricia Briggs.
The Others by Anne Bishop
The Others is a unique look at a world where humans aren’t the apex predator. The terra indigene or Earth natives control the land and waters, leasing sections to the humans to fish or hunt or live. And those humans can be evicted should they breach the trust with the Others, whether the population numbers in the hundreds…or the millions.
Namid, the earth-like planet that contains the Others, hazily mirrors our planet. Some of the cities, countries, and bodies of water bear similar names to those on Earth: places like the ocean Atlantea, the continents of Afrikah and Australis, cities like Jerzy, and mountains like the Addirondaks and Rockys. Close, but not quite the same. It’s a good way to give the reader a vague idea of the world’s geography without keeping current names. It works.
The Others are similar to most Urban Fantasy creatures. The Sanguinati are Bishop’s version of vampires that combine modern and ancient mythology. They have fangs and drink blood, but can also drink through their skin (like in a handshake) or while in smoke form. They can take smoke form but not animal forms. They aren’t the undead and can go out during the day. The various animal gards are essentially shifters. There are other forms of terra indigene that are both interesting and scary and very well crafted.
The main character is Meg Corbyn, a cassandra sangue or blood prophet, a female who sees the future when her skin is cut deep enough to scar. She’s an odd mix of innocent and fearless, or perhaps she’s fearless because of her innocence? Her work as the human liaison for the Lakeside Courtyard brings changes to both the humans and the Others, whether they’re good or bad depends on how one looks at it.
I liked Meg…most of the time. Sometimes she’s a bit too clueless, but while it could grate at my nerves on occasion it also made sense because of her background. Part of it is because she’s a cassandra sangue. The “sweet blood,” as the Sanguinati call the blood prophets, have kind, child-like hearts, thus Meg befriends the Others without really realizing she’s supposed to be scared of them. She also has bursts of courage, especially when her friends are threatened, though it’s usually tempered with a good dose of terror. She’s not a Mary Sue, having a fair share of flaws, but she’s not as tortured as some authors could have made her. It’s a good balance.
Simon Wolfgard is the male main character. He’s the dominant wolf and leader of the Lakeside Courtyard…and the romantic interest for Meg Corbyn. Again, I liked Simon most of the time. He’s a good leader, but there were times he seemed as naïve as Meg. The Others are closer to their animal forms than their human ones and aren’t taught much about human ways, but his naïveté didn’t fit in with the dominant wolf descriptor. On the other hand, I liked that he had greater depth of emotion. The times he seemed young gave weight to his feelings of being in over his head. It was a fine line, and sometimes Bishop misses the mark, but overall it works.
Shortly after Meg’s escape from the blood prophet compound, an anti-Others human group rises to power. The Humans First and Last (HFL) Movement pushes the idea that the humans deserve more—more land, more resources, more of everything—and decide to take it by force. The Others take a dim view of this idea and things escalate until it comes to an explosive end.
The romance between Meg and Simon has the slowest build in the history of romance books. They go from predator/not-quite-prey to friends to tentative romantic relationship over the course of the five books. It was as cute as it was frustrating. I flopped between feeling all gooey at their antics and wanting to scream “JUST GET ON WITH IT!”
This was my first exposure to Anne Bishop, and overall I enjoyed the series. There is one issue that other readers could find problematic. Meg’s prophecies come from cutting her skin, an addiction that brings both euphoria and shortens her life. Some say it glorifies self-harm, while others say it provides a realistic look at addiction. It’s up to every reader to decide which it is for you. Another issue is that anyone who’s familiar with Bishop’s work will recognize the character tropes in The Others series. I read Sebastian after the series and found the main characters extremely similar. I’ve read reviews that state this is an ongoing problem throughout her series. As this was my first exposure to her, I didn’t have that issue though I might if I continue to read her work.
- Tolya Sanguinati – I don’t know why I latched onto him, but I did and I want to have his fangy babies. Tolya first appears in the second book, Murder of Crows, as a representative of the Toland Courtyard and takes a bigger role later in the series. He’s as suave as the rest of the Sanguinati, as good looking, but there was just something about him that tripped my trigger.
- Runner up – Twyla Montgomery is everyone’s stern but fair mother/grandmother everywhere. I was half afraid/half in love with her, so she was well-written. She provides a stabilizing influence to the children who end up associated with the Lakeside Courtyard and a calm voice of reason to the adults, human and terra indigene
- “Whether you’re beaten or pampered, fed the best foods or starved, kept in filth or kept clean, a cage is still a cage.” ― Written in Red
- Do any of them realize that Simon Wolfgard is falling in love with Meg Corbyn? Monty wondered. Does Wolfgard understand his own response to the girl? What about Meg? How does she feel? What would the rest of the Others do if one of their kind did fall in love with a human? – Murder of Crows
- “If you try to quit I will eat you!” – Murder of Crows
- “One store owner said he was going to leave a dictionary on a public bench so the vandals could at least spell the obscenities correctly.” – Marked in Flesh
- “And he wondered just how much teasing she had received—and why human males would train a female to shoot a gun and then tease her into being angry enough to shoot them.” – Etched in Bone
The Others –
Number of Books: Five
Number of Extras: Three
- Yes, though the author stated at a reading that she’ll be exploring other Courtyards in the future.