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Monday, August 29, 2011

Moon Called: A Re-Read for Readers and Writers, Chapters 7-9

Over the past few weeks, we’ve gone through Moon Called by Patricia Briggs, exploring reader and writer perspectives. Today, we look at chapters 7-9 where the plot really thickens and its disparate parts start to weave together. Check out the readings on chapters 1-3 and 4-6 to get the full view of the book.


Chapter 7

Anxious to escape painful memories of long ago, Mercy gets ready to leave Aspen Creek and runs into Dr. Wallace, former veterinarian and recently turned werewolf. But something is wrong with the kindly middle aged man of her past; unless, he accepts what he is now, he’ll be too dangerous to allow to live.

Reader Comments: When I first read this scene, I found the problem with Dr. Wallace interesting and tragic, but I didn’t see how it added anything to the story. It felt like Briggs had invented Dr. Wallace and found him too cool not to show off.

Writer Comments: The way Briggs introduces Dr. Wallace is risky. He risks coming off as unnecessary. Incorporating Mercy’s emotional reactions gives the scene resonance but not validity. However, this scene with Dr. Wallace includes important clues for later in the plot, but they are too subtle to come off as anything other than trivial.

On the ride back to the Tri-Cities, Mercy, Sam, and Adam sort through what they know about Mac’s killers and Jesse’s kidnappers. Unfortunately, it’s less than they hope, but they know that somehow, Christianson, an old werewolf military buddy of Adam’s, is mixed up in it all too.

Reader Comments: The scene is a lot of recap and cerebral stuff. What’s fun is catching the new glimpses into Adam’s character.

Writer Comments: This scene could be really boring on its own. It’s a lot of information sorting, but Briggs includes the social tensions of werewolves to keep it from getting dull.

Toward the end of their clue sorting, Sam puts his hand on Mercy’s leg, and a fight almost breaks out between Sam and Adam right there in Mercy’s car. She proves she has the gall to stand up to two dominant werewolves, calls Sam outside the car, and yells at him.

Reader Comments: Ah, and here’s the really fun part. Knowing that Sam and Mercy were once an item makes this all the more delightful. Adam’s reaction announces to the whole world that there will be a love triangle between these three.

Writer Comments: Lots of wonderful tension here. Briggs foreshadows the relationship between these three quite well and ends the somewhat less interesting info section with a bang.

Chapter 8

Zee, Mercy’s former boss and a fae, arranges a meeting for her with another fae who has information on Jesse. But Adam isn’t up for a nighttime info gathering jaunt yet, nor is he strong enough to be left alone, and there isn’t a chance Sam or Adam will let Mercy go to this meeting alone. So they bring Warren, Adam’s best friend and the gay werewolf in the pack, in on the secret.

Reader Comments: I instantly liked Warren. The story about his heroism looking out for battered women and children was enough to ensure him a fond place in my heart.

Writer Comments: While Briggs uses a heavy dose of info dumping to introduce Warren, she selects an interesting and revealing story to keep the narrative from bogging down. In this particular instance, I would say that this info dump is necessary. Warren’s character is too unique and we need to feel like we can trust him too quickly for Briggs to bypass the introduction. Perhaps she could have included another scene introducing Warren with action, but I suspect such would come off as trivial or heavy-handed.

Mercy takes Sam and Adam to Warren’s house where we meet Kyle, Warren’s human lover who is ignorant of werewolves. Because of Warren’s orders not to tell Kyle of his true nature, their relationship is on the brink of death, a fact that infuriates Mercy.

Reader Comments: Not what I’d imagined of a werewolf book, but I like how conflict beyond the main one, especially relationship conflict, is such a part of Moon Called.

Writer Comments: Briggs uses this tension about Kyle and Warren’s relationship to illuminate further details about the brutal society of werewolves. It intrigues rather than detracts from the story.

Enraged at the unfairness of Warren not being allowed to tell Kyle, who he loves, about his werewolf nature, Marcy takes Kyle out and tells him herself.

Reader Comments: I love how courageous and foolhardy Mercy is, but more so, I adore how thoroughly she loves her friends and is willing to risk anything for their happiness. If Kyle blabs about werewolves, not only will they kill him, they’ll kill Mercy too.

Writer Comments: I appreciated that Briggs made Mercy, Kyle, and Warren so realistic through all this. For example, Kyle doesn’t believe Mercy right away, and when she shows him her coyote form, he’s shocked. It made the scene more believable and real.

Chapter 9

When Mercy returns to Warren’s, she’s met with Warren’s anger that she told Kyle. But Adam reveals that Mercy did exactly what he wanted her to do.

Reader Comment: Okay, I’ve decided, I like Adam. Sure, he can be a jerk and a bully, but he’s honestly a good guy.

Writer Comments: This scene and circumstances reveals a lot of character by pushing most of the characters involved into a tenuous position together.

Sam and Mercy meet Zee and a fae woman at Uncle Mike’s, a fae bar. She informs them that someone new has started paying the vampires protection money and there’s a good chance that someone new is the pack of wolves and villains Mercy is looking for. Mercy contacts Stefan, her vampire friend, to get his help in finding out more, but the vampire mistress insists Mercy come for a visit first, a visit that Zee, Sam, and even Stefan are nervous about Mercy taking.

Reader Comments: This is where the various strings of the plot really start to pull together into something intriguing and powerful. It’s nice seeing Stefan, Sam, and Zee with Mercy all in one scene.

Writer Comments: Briggs does a good job of weaving her Chekov’s guns together to advance the plot here. But in the past chapter or two, I started noticing that she also has a habit of breaking POV; Mercy occasionally explains the motivations of other characters when she has no reason to know them.

I hope you enjoyed this latest part of the Moon Called reading. Join me next Monday for the next few chapters.

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