We continue our read of BloodBound by Patricia Briggs, the second in her Mercy Thompson series. To catch up or review, check out Part 1 and Part 2.
A week after Warren and Stefan go after the sorcerer, Mercy finds herself at her wits end and guarded by Honey, one of the few females in Adam’s pack, whose particular, feminine ways clash drastically with Mercy’s garage, her customers, and her temper. She demands Adam call off the guards, but Adam knows her better than she realizes. He insists that, if she wants to talk, she has to come to him in person. They spar and Mercy vents her frustrations and comes to the realization that what’s really bothering her is that she won’t be in on the kill to avenge the death of the hotel maid that the sorcerer tortured to death. Things turn heated as Adam massages out the kinks in Mercy’s muscles, and Jesse, Adam’s teenage daughter, interrupting them is the only thing that saves Mercy from submitting. She flees home, intent on asking Samuel for advice, but Samuel is in no state to help anyone. Mercy finds him battling his wolf and his own pain, sprawled on his bed. She creeps in, wanting to help him but afraid he’ll rip her throat out. But Samuel accepts her comfort as she slides onto the bed and holds him. He confesses that, shortly after she left the Marrock fifteen years earlier, he fled to Texas and hid among the humans. He met a girl while going back through med school and pretending to be like any other student. She was a lot like Mercy. She got pregnant. He was overjoyed. But one day, he came home and found a note; she couldn’t handle a child while in med school and had aborted it. Samuel blames himself and still hurts deeply at the loss of yet another of his children.
Reader Comments: I almost cried again at this part. It’s powerfully written and so deep.
Writer Comments: This chapter is all about Mercy and her relationship with the two men in her life. It details a powerful contrast between her interaction with Adam and that with Samuel. She responds to Adam, crumpling at his seduction far faster than she’s comfortable, and for that, Adam seems the best match for her. … Until we read about Samuel. The pain Samuel feels is so compelling, so deep, so painful to read that it keeps the question of who she should end up with still way up in the air. Samuel needs peace, comfort, and a bit of joy and hope. In a way, he’s dying, and there’s a chance Mercy could save him if she gave him what he so desperately yearns for, a child who lives. With this conflict, our hearts go out to the characters and the stakes rise higher.
The next day, Mercy calls Bran, the Marrock and Samuel’s father. Despite guilt at snitching on him, she manages because he called Zee on her when she got beaten up the first night of the book. She doesn’t tell Bran everything since Samuel’s secrets are his own, but she tells him enough to let him know something is wrong with Samuel. In the course of the conversation, Bran tells Mercy to watch herself and not antagonize any werewolves. A sorcerer-demon attracts violence and will make it harder on all the wolves to control themselves.
Reader Comments: Bran is the last person I would think to give Mercy information on sorcerers, yet he’s the first person to be honest and upfront with her, which makes it all the more poignant.
Writer Comments: Here Briggs gives Mercy a no win scenario: stay loyal to Samuel and keep his secrets or rat him out to his father and perhaps give him a better chance. Briggs makes Mercy’s ultimate choice more tolerable because of Samuel ratting Mercy out earlier in the book and Mercy remembering the fact. She also makes it easier to accept and more plausible by ensuring that Mercy doesn’t give all of Samuel’s secrets away. She gives Bran a tip, not the whole deal.
Mercy heads into work, despite it being a Saturday, and finds Honey waiting for her again. Poor Honey, as unhappy about the arrangement as Mercy but forced to follow Adam’s orders, takes the brunt of Mercy antagonistic mood. But when Tom Black shows up again, more important things emerge. Black presses Mercy again for the scoop on Adam, and just to annoy Honey, she pretends to be interested. But something is wrong. Instead of smelling eager, Black smells anxious and terribly afraid. At last, Mercy puts two and two together and asks Black what werewolf he knows. Black pulls a gun and reveals that he has a daughter who was attacked when she was ten. For three years, he’s locked her in a cage he built in the basement, but she’s getting stronger and starting to break free. He doesn’t know what to do and desperate for a way to keep his daughter safe. Eventually, Mercy gives him Adam’s number as the best person to take care of his daughter and teach her control. Then, when she realizes that all Black knows of werewolves is the monstrous, she convinces Honey to change and show him how beautiful they can be as well, and for the first time, Mercy and Honey reach a small but important accord with each other.
Reader Comments: Wow, I’d forgotten this part completely. This section really shows why Mercy is such a wonderful protagonist, she really, genuinely cares about others.
Writer Comments: Tom Black is Chekov’s Gun. Here he goes off, and Briggs fills this moment with such emotional energy, detail, and depth to her characters that it’s fulfilling and seems right. But she doesn’t stop there. If I recall correctly, there is still more to Mr. Black. Briggs is too good a writer to let a character that seems unrelated to the main plot stay that way.
Thank you for joining me today. Next Monday, we’ll continue Blood Bound. Until then, I hope to see you back Wednesday and Friday for more forays into the speculative and life.