Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Thoughts on Night Broken

So I just finished my way through Night Broken Patricia Briggs' eighth Mercy Thompson book and it was okay. Not great. Not one of the better books but it had its moments. Overall I this book might be setting the series up for something better so I'm willing to cut it some slack. Here are my specific thoughts. There will be mild spoilers.

Too Many Plots
There are a lot of really good, really interesting ideas here and it feels as though it should have been three books almost.  At the 20 page from the end mark I asked myself how the book was going to finish everything and it all felt rushed and unsatisfying. Mainly the b-plot about the walking stick which I felt was more important to the series than the main plot.

Don't Blame The Victim

So the dust cover jacket plot is that Christy the protagonist's husband's exwife has been attacked by a stalker and the main cast has to deal with that. I have some problems with the villain himself but I really like how Christy was handled. She is not a good person, and the characters around her a stuck between calling her on her bullshit and saying that everything that's happening is her fault.  The book strikes a decent middle ground by saying okay to be disgusted and put out when people are being manipulative assholes, but no matter how "bad" a person is they don't deserved to be stolen from, raped, assaulted, or murdered.  Nothing they do makes them deserving of that. Her condo was burned down not because she's a flighty, conniving, gold digger, though she is,  but because one asshole has problems.

That being said Christy, isn't so subtle about hinting that yes does still "love" her ex, Adam, even though he's remarried, and would like to make a life with him,  all while she's living across the hall from his current wife.

Building the Myth

The b-plot I mentioned has to do with a legendary weapon or the creation there of. The thing that attracts me to the Mercy Thompson series on an intellectual level is that it appears as though Briggs is setting up Mercy as a modern champion. I didn't say hero. That word gets used to often. I mean champion.

The old classical hero. The guy descended from the Gods (Coyote), tested by them, and fated for some journey, often featuring the defeat of supernatural creatures of some sort and maybe a legendary weapon.

This was the story of the legendary weapon.  But I feel as though it didn't really do much other than retell and explain events that happened in other books.  Now that I think about it all this hero stuff really get's put more into action in River Marked and is only subtly touched upon there after.

On the other hand a lot of those stories, King Arthur,Sigurd, Heracles, Momotaro and the like, are short vignettes with added narratives coming later as those stories were either passed down orally night to night or ballads.

Still it feels like the build up of Blood Bound, Iron Kissed, Bone Crossed, Silver Bourne, and River Marked is starting to fizzle out.

I want to see that. I want to see how you can make a VW mechanic from Washington a herculean figure.

Revisiting The Past
Neither a good nor bad thing this book really treads on old ground. Several of the new characters are echoes of older ones. And that is the case of our villain who in a lot of ways feels like a revisiting of the villain and themes from Iron Kissed.  Iron Kissed is probably my second favorite book in the series and I would be lying if I didn't say it was more focused. In both books some anvils need to be dropped but merely as a reading experience Iron Kissed is the better book and I'm mildly disappointed that in this book it didn't feel as though the series has moved forward narratively. Almost every book shows more about the world and advances it, pulls back the curtain a little more so we the audience are closer to the reality that the first few books are clear we don't know. We know what Mercy, the protagonist, knows and she starts the series with more knowledge than the typical muggle but also knows what gets people killed being the person who can tell tales.

As she learns about her world we learn about her world, but this book just seems disposable in the overall series.

I'm Not Feeling The Menace
The odd thing is Gauyota just doesn't feel as threatening a villain as the guy from Iron Kissed. If I had to put my finger on it would probably be because we know from the outset what his deal is. Sure a lot of supernatural mumbo jumbo gets put on top of it, but at the end of the day he is just possessive douche trying get his ex back. That's not to say that in real life those guys aren't threatening but the only reason why call the cops doesn't work here is because of the supernatural element. I suppose my point is he doesn't feel alien the same way most of the series villains including the one from Iron Kissed felt.

And I suppose that might be the point. While he's crazy, dangerous, destructive, and possessive he doesn't feel viscerally evil or at least as alien as say the guy who had dog fights with werewolves, or the guy(s) who gained perverse pleasure from their powers to hold the dead to the earth, or she that would devour the world. To a point anyway.

Anyway every other villains' deal felt more interesting as we learned why they blew into town. Here there is no weird trick. There is no facade, no misdirection.  If you read the dust jacket you know what he's about.  He's just not that interesting.

Like I said it's not a bad book. It's entertaining, but the series has a lot of potential and this is one of the weaker books. I wore out the first three. The forth and fifth hold up to them and while I was disappointed with River Marked at first, it brought a lot of series changing information to the table. Before speaking on Frost Burned I need to reread it but at the time I liked it.  I just feel this one could have been better.

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