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, April 9, 2012

Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs: Reread Part 2

And we continue our reread of Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs, the second in her Mercedes Thompson series. Today, we find out Stefan’s fate and whether or not the mistress of the vampires will let him live.

For review or to catch up, see Part 1 of this reread.



Chapter 3

After catching half an hour of sleep, interrupted by the smell of dead vampire in her closet, Mercy braves her living room where she finds Samuel still up and Adam, the local Alpha whom she’s dated and is now avoiding. Tensions rise between the three, particularly as Adam and Samuel are both dominant wolves and have a thing for Mercy. Mercy flees to work before both her exes turn furred and fanged. She’s greeted by Mrs. Hanna, a ghost of an old woman concerned over her unmarried status, and Tom Black, a reporter who wants the skinny on what it’s like to date a werewolf (since some werewolves, including Adam, have emerged publicly following the events of book one). By the time work is over, she’s managed to avoid the most uncomfortable aspects of her life and find out from Zee, the fae who sold her the garage and taught her everything she knows about fixing cars, that sorcerers eventually become prey to the demons that ride them no matter how strong they are. Warren, the werewolf Mercy likes best, and Ben, the werewolf she likes least, come, on Adam’s orders, to escort her to the seethe that night when Stefan’s mistress, the vampire queen, will question him about his and Mercy’s activities the night before.

Reader Comments: Perhaps more than any section thus far, this is the hardest to recall my original impressions of. It’s very much a transition chapter. There are a number of what seem like random details that, because I have read the whole book, are actually crucially important later.

Writer Comments: So as a transitional chapter, how does Briggs make it interesting? This chapter is 24 pages of backstory, information dumping, and seeming random elements. Yet, even on a second read, it was still engaging, not as much as the first two chapters, but still not a point where I felt like I needed to put the book down. Briggs accomplishes this in a number of ways: 1) Momentum. We’ve already gone through enough story to have lots of unanswered pressing questions. Stefan’s fate hangs in the balance, a sorcerer-vampire-murderer is loose, and we still have no idea why any of this is going on. 2) Briggs threads mini scenes between the back story and info dumping that have tensions, i.e. Adam and Samuel almost on the brink of challenging each other over the right to Mercy or Mrs. Hanna chastising Mercy for being too muscular and boyish to be appealing to the men. 3) Briggs makes her backstory and info dumping interesting. She gives details that are unique and carry little threads of tension: Samuel wants children badly because all of his have died over the centuries and he’s of the belief that Mercy could give him children that lived, Adam and Mercy’s last date nearly went much further than Mercy was comfortable because of her and Adam’s intense passion for each other, which is why she’s avoiding him, Ben acts constantly like he hates women and can’t understand why Mercy doesn’t like him. 4) Briggs adds funny parts to disrupt the flow of drier, more serious back story. When Zee calls Adam against Mercy’s wishes to tell him that she arrived safely at work, Adam asks what took her so long, so Mercy informs Zee to tell him she stopped to have wild, passionate sex with a complete stranger.

Chapter 4

Warren and Ben escort Mercy to the seethe. A small horde of vampires gather with them in a lush living room with a wooden chair complete with the scent of blood and metal thorns on the hand rests. Stefan answers questions first. He impales his hands on the thorns and the chair confirms to the vampires if he speaks the truth. Finally, it’s Mercy’s turn. To save Stefan, she too must endure the chair. For Stefan she makes herself tolerate it. Marsilia, Stefan’s mistress, finally determines to believe that the sorcerer might exist and tampered with Stefan’s memory. She gives Stefan four weeks to find the sorcerer and present him. If he fails, he will be held responsible for the deaths and risking the safety of the seethe. Warren and Ben volunteer to help since a sorcerer is as much of a danger to werewolves as one is to vampires.

Reader Comments: Those thorns, ouch. One of the things I like about Mercy is that, despite being exceptionally vulnerable, in the midst of a bunch of vampires on their turf, pinned to a truth detecting chair by metal thorns, and in fear for the life of a vampire who she isn’t certain is actually her friend, she has a wonderfully acerbic wit. It fits her coyote self perfectly.

Writer Comments: Mercy actually does very little in this chapter. Her testimony is essential, but beyond that, she serves little active purpose. Yet the chapter is still engaging. Briggs employs threats of harm on every page to keep it so. Besides the thorns in the magic chair, Mercy is in enemy territory. Add to that the fact that Marsilia has a thing for werewolf blood and sets her sights unabashedly on Warren, one of the vampires rocks to the rhythm of Mercy’s heartbeat, Stefan, an enjoyable and sympathetic character, might die, and the subtle and not so subtle power play between the vampires, even with a mostly passive protagonist, you get a scene filled with tension.

Thank you for joining me for this reread of Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs. We’ll resume this book next Monday. Until then, I hope to see you back for more forays into the speculative and life.

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