Sunday, April 11, 2010
Silver Borne is the fifth installment in the very popular Mercy Thompson series by Patrica Briggs. Mercy, the VW mechanic whose proper name is Mercedes, is a skin-walker who turns into a coyote. Being raised by werewolves has left Mercy naturally wary of the brutes of the were-community, but she hasn't been able to fight her attraction to the local pack alpha and she has finally taken the position as his mate and fully accepted the pack bond. Unfortunately many of the werewolves in Adam's pack do not like a coyote in a dominant position and are using the pack bond to manipulate Mercy and drive a wedge between her and Adam. But that's the least of Mercy's problems. Her roommate, and lone wolf, Samuel is growing tired of living and his wolf has taken over. And as Mercy fights to save Sam's life, she gets a mysterious phone call regarding a book she borrowed from a local fae book dealer, and she may be the target of those who would kill to get their hands on the book. Like most popular paranormal fiction "Silver Borne" has a lot going on. A whole lot. And at times it can be confusing. But I have picked up a lot of paranormal fiction lately, trying to find a new author to love, and it's tough to find one that has Brigg's gift for pacing and characterization. I find that a lot of writers try to cram too much action up front and too much unrealistic "romance" (which really translates into heavy breathing at the first site of the romantic interest), and the results are a mixed bag at best. Paranormal fiction is also one of those genres where you generally know what you're going to get going in. They're light entertainment, full of action and magic, and typically quickly devoured. That said, we all still want something compelling in our fantasy fiction and it's not unusual for a series to get tired as it goes along. Fortunately "Silver Borne" seems to have what it takes to keep the series alive and interesting. Where "Silver Borne" succeeds is with the characters. Mercy has always been a great character. Not your stereotypical beauty, you still get the sense that she's compelling and tough. The romance between her and Adam flows naturally and never feels contrived and the obstacles they face actually make sense-- which is rare in any kind of romance. Briggs also is smart enough to keep a regular cast of characters and has continued to develop their story-lines over the course of the series; and Samuel's story is particularly poignant. Where "Silver Borne" stumbles in this go-around is with the action. The borrowed-book thread is the only part of the book that feels a bit forced. I like that Briggs has always introduced different types of fae in each of her books and has never relied solely on the typical vampire/werewolf shortcut to attract an audience. But this time around the fae don't draw our attention as much as the wolves and I wanted to linger on that storyline instead of some tangential action. Also, we don't see Mercy spend much time as a coyote in this book, and I kind of missed that. "Silver Borne" isn't the best book in the Mercy Thompson series but it's still a good book. Like any book that's written as part of an established series, it's for people who already know and love the characters. It'll satisfy those craving a new installment even as it seems somewhat transitional and doesn't have a lot wow moments. I know I enjoyed it and still consider this to be one of the best paranormal series' in print.