Review: Silver Borne

Posted: October 8, 2010 by in Books We Like (4/5 single_star) Meta: Patricia Briggs, Urban Fantasy, Books for Chicks

Mercedes Thompson, car mechanic and shape-shifter, leads a complicated and exciting life. Considering the vampires, werewolves, and fae that surround her, whether friend or enemy, there’s usually something dangerous involved. But the great thing about Mercy is that her friends can always count on her when there’s trouble.

Only this time, in SILVER BORNE (Amazon), it’s Mercy who needs help.

She’s the unwitting owner of a fae item that someone would kill to get. Unfortunately, while Mercy is trying to discover the identity of her would-be assassin, her long-time werewolf friend Sam is in another kind of trouble: after hundreds of years he no longer has the will to live, but Mercy refuses to let him give up. Yet there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to solve these problems before lives are at stake.

There’s many reasons why I like to read Patricia Briggs‘s stuff over and beyond any other urban fantasy. Foremost is that she’s excellent with setting. While others gloss over the intricacies of living in a werewolf pack or having a vampire as a friend, Briggs doesn’t stop at the obvious–she goes deeper and it enriches her stories and the relationships between her characters. After two different series (if you also include ALPHA AND OMEGA, Charles’ and Anna’s story) to build onto the setting, there’s only that much more to grab you. So while the books in the Mercy Thompson series are fine to read as stand-alones, it would be hard to believe any urban fantasy lover wouldn’t want to read the entire series and get the full brunt of what Briggs has created. It’s also kind of fun that it’s set in the atypical location of Tri-Cities Washington.

Mercy is an enjoyable mixture of bold and thoughtful, loyal and independent, courageous and vulnerable. Her shape-shifting is inherited from her Blackfoot Indian father: she’s a ‘walker’ who can become a coyote (not to be confused with weres), and as a result she’s also able to see ghosts and has some resistance to magic. Adam is her werewolf alpha boyfriend, whose overprotectiveness is sometimes creepy, but oddly endearing because it doesn’t stop him from letting Mercy be who she is. Sam, the son of the the North American Alpha of all Alphas, and a dominant in his own right, is a friend from Mercy’s childhood. His story is a fascinating one, and it’s interesting to see how his age and experience affects his behavior. He’s been around since early in the series and needed a resolution, so I was glad that his story finally wrapped up in a satisfying way (ok, I admit the resolution was probably too easy, but I just went with it). Side characters, such as members of Adam’s pack and Mercy’s friends and co-workers, are all a diverse group without being too many to keep track of–and they’re easy to care about because Mercy sees them for who they are and loves them for it anyway. Briggs has been consistent across the series with her characters and setting, yet is still true to Mercy’s development as her story has unfolded from book to book.

SILVER BORNE is only one book of the fantastic Mercedes Thompson series--don't miss out if you love urban fantasy.

Briggs’ prose is unencumbered, and Mercy’s first-person PoV is intelligent without being melodramatic or too flippant. That’s one thing that drives me crazy with the current urban fantasy chit lit: authors think that the females have to be brash and kick-butt, or at the very least sassy, but it always comes off as annoying and unbelievable. That, or else they’re so powerful or know-it-all that they have too easy a time coming up with solutions to problems. Mercy approaches her dilemmas in a realistic way, accepts her limitations and will work around them in order to get the job done (she’s not so ultra modern female as to not ask for help), no matter how scary the situation is.

SILVER BORNE’s plot is straightforward, although with a touch of Briggs’ usual convolution to complicate things. There’s a big scene about a quarter of the way in where lots of crazy stuff starts happening, and there’s all these names, so I got lost–Briggs could have been more careful with how she handled the entire chapter. But there seems to be a complicated event like that in all of her books; for example, the entire end of book 1, MOON CALLED (Amazon), was a confusing explanation of motives and actions that still doesn’t make sense to me. You’d think she’d know better by now, especially considering how many books she’s written, but I guess even experienced authors will overreach.

Briggs plans on writing two more books before finishing up Mercy’s series. Fortunately, she’s just starting her Alpha and Omega series, so it looks like she’s not leaving that world anytime soon. In the meantime, if you haven’t read any of Mercy’s story, go find MOON CALLED and get to know her and her friends.

  • Recommended Age: 16+
  • Language: A few scattered here and there
  • Violence: Yes. There are werewolves after all, and they are temperamental creatures.
  • Sex: Innuendo throughout, and one detailed scene

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