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Friday, September 4, 2009

'Hunting Ground' Alpha & Omega by Patricia BRIGGS


‘Hunting Ground’ is the second book in Patricia Briggs’s spin-off Mercy ‘Alpa & Omega’ series. The series is centred on Charles Cornick, and his wife/mate Anna Latham. Charles is the son of the Marrok, Bran, who rules all of the American wolves. Charles was born a werewolf to a Native American witch who died during his childbirth – as a result Charles is a somewhat mystical werewolf, able to transform from wolf to human and retain articles of clothing, be somewhat immune to magic and occasionally see fae people.

Anna was originally apart of the Chicago pack after one of its members savagely attacked and turned her. She is an Omega wolf, a very rare ‘zen’ wolf that insights calm and happiness to the wolves in its pack. For three years Anna was abused, sexually, physically and mentally by the Alpha’s in her Chicago pack, until Charles rode in and rescued her.

‘Hunting Ground’ is set one month after the events in ‘Cry Wolf’. Charles and Anna are newlyweds and Bran has a mission for them. The Marrok is orchestrating a huge PR coup and exposing werewolves to the human world. But before the ‘outing’ can occur, the Marrok needs to soothe the overseas packs that are less than thrilled at the prospect of revealing their hidden identities. A conference has been organized in Seattle where Spanish, German, Italian, Finnish, Australian and French wolf packs will attend to voice their concerns for the Marrok to address. Concerned for his father’s safety, Charles insists that he attend the conference in his stead, especially since the infamous French werewolf Chastel (also known as ‘The Beast’) will be in attendance. Chastel has a hankering for human flesh, and after Bran thwarted his cannibalism a hundred years ago, the French wolf has it out for the Marrok.

I loved this book, which really isn’t surprising since I would happily kiss Patricia Briggs’s feet if I ever met her (it would be awkward, but unavoidable). She is my all time favourite Urban Fantasy author, and ‘Mercy Thompson’ is my favourite Urban Fantasy series.

‘Alpha & Omega’ is a wonderful spin-off to my beloved series. Charles is one of the most complex and compelling leading men, and Patricia Briggs is doing a fantastic job of drip-feeding his character story to us in these books. Charles is his father’s ‘killing arm’; it is his job to dispose of those wolves who have succumbed to the madness of immortality and bloodlust. For this reason, Charles has always distanced himself from everyone but his father and brother – figuring it would be easier to kill acquaintances than friends, for a long time Charles preferred his own company and was content with his solitary life and repellent killer reputation. And then Anna came along. Their mating was a completely happy accident – Charles’s ‘brother wolf’ mated with Anna, and then left Charles’s human side to catch up. And that’s what this book is really about – it is telling the story of what comes after the ‘happily ever after’.

When we left Charles and Anna in ‘Cry Wolf’ they had just performed the mating bond beneath the full moon and partook in a traditional human marriage ceremony. ‘Hunting Ground’ explores their tentative relationship – as Anna tries to come to terms with her brutal past, and Charles attempts to reconcile his assassin persona with his new love for Anna. Their relationship is so new and fragile, Anna and Charles were sort of thrown together by their wolf halves, and ‘Hunting Ground’ shows how their human sides are trying to catch up.

Charles is exploring new facets of his personality – for a long time he has been content with the fact that his role as Bran’s ‘killing arm’ had him ostracized from other wolves. But with Anna he craves touch and companionship, so much so that at times he feels off-balance and needy.

Anna is trying to overcome her poor self-confidence – first, in the fact that she thinks Charles, an educated and wealthy Alpha male has married her, an undereducated fledgling ‘puppy’. Anna is also trying to overcome past torments she experienced at the hands of her brutal Chicago pack – sometimes those old wounds have her hesitating over intimacy with Charles.

This is a really complex novel - it’s exploring both Anna and Charles’s psyches, and their evolving relationship. A lot of back-story is also provided with regards to the werewolf ‘outing’. This is especially interesting because the events of ‘Hunting Ground’ are approximately 2 years behind the ‘Mercy Thompson’ series (in which the werewolves have already successfully revealed themselves to the public). However, the ‘Mercy Thompson’ series skirted around the finer aspects of the werewolf exposure, but because of Charles’s links to the Marrok, the technicalities of ‘coming out’ to the humans are fascinatingly discussed and detailed in ‘Hunting Ground’.

If I have any complaints, it's probably the lack of Bran. He appears, briefly, on two occasions in the novel. I understand that this book is all about Anna and Charles and their evolving mateship, but I love Bran and I missed him (I'm also really looking forward to Briggs detailing Bran & Leah's tumultuous relationship, fingers crossed that is explored in book 3!).

I loved this novel. Anna and Charles are one of my favourite Urban Fantasy couples, and I just love their sweet, tentative relationship. Briggs has tentatively predicted the release date of the 3rd Alpha & Omega novel as being August 2010. I, for one, can’t wait.

5/5

2 comments:

  1. Wow Danielle - you did an amazing job reviewing this book!!!

    I agree with everything you said. I love how intricate their relationship is and how P Briggs explores it. You are right - they have a tentative relationship...I love to watch it grow.

    Maybe Bran will get his own series? I have heard no, but I'm still hoping!!

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  2. Danielle,

    I have Alpha and Omega on the tbr shelf - but haven't had a chance to get to it yet. :)

    This was a wonderful review. I love the Mercy Thompson series and feel surely that I will enjoy this one as well. :)

    Have a great weekend.

    M

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