Review: Marked in Flesh (The Others, #4) by Anne Bishop

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Date Read: March 18 to 21, 2016
Recommended by:
Recommended to:

First of all, winter extinction is coming.

Secondly, this book gave me chills from start to finish.

“The HFL wants to talk about land reclamation? They have no idea what they started–and I have no idea who among us will still be here to see where it ends.”

Third, I would have finished it in one day if not for a water main bursting, neighbors losing their cats* during evacuation, and the IRS wanting to chat (not related to the other two but still time-consuming nonetheless). Needless to say timing was bad, and I wish I had waited for a better time to start this book because it was so hard to put down. Even during evacuation and the cats’ mad dash for freedom, I thought about maybe getting another chapter in.

So what made this book hard to put down?

If you’ve been following the series, you know. Whatever’s coming is gonna be bloody and it’s gonna be brutal.

For those who don’t know: this is a story about the inevitable thinning of a herd, and that herd is the human race. Events in previous books in which humans of the controversial HFL (Humans First and Last) movement clashed with the Others have led to this inevitable mass cleansing.

But before things get to that point, Simon and the rest of the Lakeside Courtyard, with the help of Meg and the other humans who side with the Others, must consider how much human the Others want to keep. It’s a haunting question that follows everyone throughout the book. Some handle it better than others, but ultimately the inevitable is out of their hands. They may have a say in how much human they want to keep, but the final judgment belongs to the Elders, Namid’s teeth and claws.

The prose is simple, yet its implications are deeply felt. Perhaps this book isn’t so much about the end of the world as it is about the end of a toxic way of life and the beginning of a better way to live.

We’re not here to take care of you humans,” he said. “We never were. We’re here to take care of the world.”

Simple truth.

Of course this book isn’t without the series’ signature people-eating jokes. A couple of my favorites:

“If the bison are a problem, we’ll just eat them sooner.”
“If we ate everything that was a problem–”
“–we’d all be fat.”

“I encouraged him to resign before he was fired.”
“Or eaten.”

Lastly, I just want to go on record to say that I’m invested in this series not because I want to see Simon and Meg get it on… unlike almost everyone who’s posted a review on the book page.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

ETA: Although not a fan of the Simon-Meg pairing, there’s one pairing I’d like to see happen, and that’s Tess and Nyx. Maybe these two should have a spin-off series where they roadtripping across Thaisia to solve crime and get into all sort of shenanigans.

*The cats are fine. They were found shortly after the streets stopped flooding.

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Review: The Pillars of the World (Tir Alainn #1) by Anne Bishop

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆
Date Read: March 05 to 10, 2016
Recommended by: The Vaginal Fantasy Group
Recommended to:

Anne Bishop is my blind spot, so for the time being this whole trilogy (Pillars of the World, Shadows and Light, The House of Gaian) gets a solid 4-star rating, but that might change later on once I let the story and the whirlwind ending settle down a bit.

Normally 4-star books are automatic recommendations from me for friends who share similar tastes, but not this time. I can’t say I’d rec this book, Pillars of the World, unless you plan on finishing the series because of the ending. It’s kind of agonizing and will probably make you want to pull out all your hair, but the third book makes up for your suffering because the bad guys get what they deserve and maybe more. It’s Anne Bishop’s signature style. It’s precisely why I like her writing and why she’s my blind spot.

This book in particular though had three things going against it from the very beginning:
– vague medieval setting
– young naive protagonist
– the fae (and their meddlesome nature)

I’m not too keen on these particular elements in genre fiction in general, so I went into the story not expecting much. And yet somehow Anne Bishop made all the things I hate interesting, and that’s despite using over trodden tropes and cliches that we’re all familiar with and tired of seeing time and time again. In her hands, these things become interesting somehow. I don’t know how she does it–really though, how does she do it?

If I were to take this story apart piece by piece and look at each individual piece, it would be contain the very things I take issue with in other high fantasy series. Terry Goodkind comes to mind at the moment. Pillars contains almost everything I hated about Wizard’s First Rule, particularly the copious amount of violence and torture. And yet–AND YET–that didn’t get in the way of the read and I was able to move past it and enjoy the story–well, “enjoy” is probably not the right word, but I did like it. Of course it bothered me and made reading about it in great detail uncomfortable, but I knew there was a purpose to it and its role in the story arc. Because that’s Anne Bishop’s signature style. Evil doers tend to get what they deserves in the end.

But just looking at all the things I take issue with, it’s quite baffling I’m giving this book a high rating (for now). Quite baffling, really. What’s even more baffling is I blew through the trilogy in a matter of days, and I enjoyed it immensely. Again, maybe not “enjoyed” exactly, although I did like it a lot.