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Welcome all dreamers, fantasists, bibliophiles, and romantics. Join me Mondays and Fridays for speculation about other worlds, exploration of the human heart and soul in fiction and fact, sojourns in history and science, advice and tidbits in the realms of story, and thoughts on everything in between...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs: A Re-Read for Readers and Writers: Chapters 4-6

Two weeks ago, we began exploring Moon Called by Patricia Briggs. Once more, I apologize for missing last Monday due to those family/personal issues. If you’re interested in reading about the first three chapters of Moon Called, click here, then come back and enjoy reading about chapters 4-6.

SPOILERS!

Chapter 4

While Mercy bakes chocolate chip comfort food cookies, Jesse, Adam’s precocious fifteen-year-old daughter, shows up to pass the time while her dad handles pack business. She reveals some amusing details about her father.

Reader Comments: Interesting girl, Jesse. She shocks with the bright orange hair and yet endears herself with her fearsome disregard for her father’s fierce wolves, her bubbly, sweet, chaotic personality, and her love of cookie dough.

Writer Comments: Briggs is never short of a colorful description for a character. She uses dialogue to fabulously set up Jesse’s personality. This scene isn’t a big action scene nor does it carry pivotal details. Rather, it reveals character. Jesse walks on the page with the personality to turn heads. Through her interaction with Mercy, we glimpse Mercy’s maternal, or perhaps aunt-like, side. Also, we gain a greater glimpse of the game of power between Adam and Mercy. But Briggs inserts one piece of information to give the scene a direct link to the immediate plot: the werewolf Mercy killed was a hired gun. In addition, we’re warned of the threat of Ben, the newest werewolf in Adam’s pack.

The suspiciously nefarious Ben arrives to express his displeasure that Mercy acts to keep Jesse away from him. Darryl, Adam’s second, warns Ben off, but Mercy never likes being stuck between two werewolves.

Reader Comments: Don’t like Ben, the little punk. I’m very worried about his intents toward Jesse and Mercy.

Writer Comments: Through his actions (tossing his keys and catching them over and over while never taking his eyes of Mercy), his facial expressions, and his speech, Briggs effectively makes Ben threatening. We’re diving deeper and deeper into werewolf politics.

Someone kills Mac and leaves his body on Mercy’s front porch as a warning.

Reader Comments: Ah, I really liked Mac. And, oh no! Worse stuff than I originally feared is afoot.

Writer Comments: Killing Mac sets a new tone for the book. Before, sure life was threatened and death occurred before the story began, but I never genuinely feared for the characters like I do now. With this, Briggs tells her readers, “No one is safe. I can and will kill anyone I wish,” and the tension rises.

Mercy races to Adam’s house where a werewolf fight is hot in progress. She shoots another werewolf and finds Adam at the edge of death and Jesse gone.

Reader Comments: Well, since I didn’t put the book down to comment until now, you can be assured it was a pretty tense part. After seeing what the bad guys are capable of, I’m very worried for Jesse. Also, the werewolf fight was satisfyingly destructive to be good; though, Briggs shows more of the aftermath than the actual battle.

Writer Comments: What a wonderful place Briggs decides to end the chapter. Adam is near death, Jesse is kidnapped, and Mercy is starting to wonder if some of Adam’s pack might be planning revolt. To top it all off, Adam must have a suitably dominant wolf to control him while he heals or he’ll start rampaging. Lovely mess for Mercy to deal with.

Chapter 5

The intro to this chapter involves a detailed description of the Vanagon in which Mercy transports wounded Adam and dead Mac.

Reader Comments: Not being that up on vehicles of any sort, my eyes kind of glaze over this section, but I gather enough to understand that the car complicates Mercy’s plight further since it only travels at 60 mph, and that’s with not risking blowing out the engine.

Writer Comments: The fact that Briggs includes esoteric and detailed references to cars gives her and Mercy a lot more validity. It makes Mercy seem like a real mechanic and makes me feel like I can trust Briggs as an author.

Mercy takes Adam and Mac to Aspen Creek, hidden home of the Marrok, leader of all the werewolves in North America. Once there, Mercy locks Adam in a motel room designed specifically for berserking werewolves.

Reader Comments: This section is a bit slower as it deals with Mercy’s journey, but I enjoyed the revelation of further werewolf details: Mercy feeds Adam 20 cheeseburgers at once to keep him from dining on the Vanagon’s other occupants and once a year, the Marrock savages those who wish to become werewolves. Only a few survive.

Writer Comments: Most of this is transitional material that Briggs fills out with further insights into werewolf society and behavior. She also alludes to Mercy’s past, hence enriching the narrative further. By this point, it’s pretty clear that this isn’t just a slash ’em and kill ’em werewolf book. It’s about relationships and politics and people.

Mercy takes off in coyote form to fetch Bran, the Marrok, to control Adam. While searching the woods for him, Bran’s mate tries to attack her, and she’s barely saved by Samuel, her first love. From there, Bran’s sons, Charles and Samuel, take over care of Adam and Mac.

Reader Comments: I find it curious how Mercy doesn’t get along with female werewolves. I’m also enjoying the ever more complex series of Mercy’s relationships: Adam, Samuel her first sweetheart, Zee her fae former employer and friend, and so forth.

Writer Comments: I particularly liked how Briggs violates expectations with Bran. Despite the fact that he’s the most dominant wolf in North America, he’s small and unassuming. Yet that grants him a good dose of intrigue and perhaps a frightening amount of power. It’s good to do the unexpected.

Chapter 6

Mercy goes to check on Adam and finds Samuel tending his wounds. When she arrives, Samuel thoroughly berates and yells at her.

Reader Comments: Wow, I was expecting something much different for a guy Mercy was in love with. Instead, Samuel comes off as a completely abrasive jerk.

Writer Comments: Since I’ve read further ahead in the series and know that Samuel does not give a good first impression and that this is most certainly not typical behavior from him, I ask, why did Briggs choose to introduce Samuel in this way? Was it to destroy any immediate hope that a sweet romance would spring up between him and Mercy once again? Was it to drive Mercy away so Briggs could more easily incorporate later scenes?

Sam (Samuel) comes to apologize to Mercy, and she realizes that not all her old feelings have faded.

Readers Comments: Okay, so maybe Sam isn’t a complete jerk, but at this point, I’m still not sure what to think of him. Nice that he apologized though.

Writer Comments: This dichotomy of abrasiveness and thoughtfulness is an interesting introduction to Sam. Briggs swiftly assures us with this second scene that he’s not a jerk. However, he still hasn’t established himself as the Samuel that we later love. There’s a brief reference in this scene that I didn’t latch onto the first time I read it. Sam claims that he was so rough with Mercy because he didn’t like inflicting pain, very true to Sam’s later character. However, since Mercy didn’t set Adam’s broken leg before his speedy werewolf healing took effect, Sam must break it again so it will heal correctly. This reveals a deep truth about Sam, but in the wake of me being offended by him for chewing out Mercy, I didn’t catch it originally.

Bran comes to Mercy’s room with dinner and to determine her intentions. A lot of Mercy’s past is revealed, and Bran confesses that he was not completely honest with Mercy the last time he saw her when he sent her away because she and Sam intended to elope.

Reader Comments: I feel a little better about Sam after this, but not completely. Bran reveals once more that Sam only wanted Mercy to marry him because he hoped she would bear him living werewolf children, something practically unheard of amongst werewolves. Yet at the same time, Bran confesses that, after Mercy left, Sam pined for her like he would a true mate, and so, while he might not have loved her, he cared for her more than just as a brood mare.

Writer Comments: By presenting such a lengthy and complicated introduction of Sam, Briggs tells us two things: 1) Sam is important to the series, and 2) who he is and his relationship with Mercy will be complex.

Next Monday, we’ll go over the next few chapters of Moon Called. Until then, I’ll see you Wednesday and Friday for the next two posts.

If there are any books you would like me to go through as I am Moon Called, please let me know. I’ve already got a couple more in mind, but I’m always open to suggestion.

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