Hunting Ground (Alpha and Omega) by Patricia Briggs
|Hunting Ground (Alpha and Omega) by Patricia Briggs|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A second and meatier task for our werewolf couple, as diplomacy is found to be difficult with vicious vampires and shadowy motives galore.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: October 2009|
Life with a werewolf is a question of balances. You have to swing your new-found status as the motherly, calming, but powerful Omega wolf, with his Alpha-male studly status. You have to equate his inner Brother Wolf being practically a different entity to his human side, and know when and how to relate to both. And you have to remember that you might be playfighting in the snow one minute, and the next told by your father-in-law to go to Seattle, and act as figurehead for a revolution in werewolf life - and stand in the face of a very wicked and powerful European werewolf, vampires, and more.
This is a book drifting back into the regular Briggs universe, from the nearly all-werewolf series opener. Once again the non-human in amongst us are thinking of coming out publicly, and the Marrok, the biggest big cheese in the werewolf species, is trying to get the point across that this is best for all. His son is around as usual to do any fixing up when singular wolves get too malevolent for the rest, but might everybody be about to bite off more than they can chew?
Swinging from the snowy wastes of the first book to downtown Seattle has done the series no harm. We don't get a very in-depth look at the city, as too much of this story is set in hotel rooms, anonymous conference halls and hidden hideaways, but the urban fantasy is back within the more obvious home for it. It's delightfully difficult to pin this down as per genre however, as we have a lot of thriller tropes, a fair bit of espionage, and international bickering to go with the fantasy lore.
It is still Briggs' characterisation that is the most obvious selling point. Here we have a werewolf couple having calming mugs of cocoa, and talking their sex life through. And for the female reader to whom, let's be honest, this series is slightly more geared, one particular calm before a storm here has lots of beneficial, therapeutic shopping.
I still haven't found a Briggs narrative I could call perfect - sometimes things are too slow to build, but when the action does come along it is well worth the wait. Here though she is towards the best of her form. Things don't rush belatedly to a kinetic storm, or labour towards anything. Instead we get a greater, more measured drive towards an intense and less flashy action ending than usual. Any tics along the way (I still think the staged, indoors hunt was getting people moving under false pretences) are inconsequential.
And almost as if in silent response to my concerns about the first book, there are a host of other characters and species of legendary people to consider - witches, bridge trolls, vampires, and more. The quickest check on wikipedia will show Briggs is bringing European lore and factual history into her characters, making this just as rounded, satisfying and engaging as she - as one of this genre's best - gets.
I must thank the publishers Orbit for my review copy. I should also say this, beyond a couple of stumbles regarding who's who and what a Marrok might be, is probably very self-contained. You don't need to read her earlier work, but it's not to be discouraged - starting with this series' parent cycle, and Moon Called.
You can read more book reviews or buy Hunting Ground (Alpha and Omega) by Patricia Briggs at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Hunting Ground (Alpha and Omega) by Patricia Briggs at Amazon.com.
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