I freaking love the cover art for Patricia Briggs’ books. All of them, Mercy, this series, the graphic novels (I WANT) they are all just beautifully done. After some research I discovered that the artist for most of the cover art is Daniel Dos Santos. His work is truely awesome. His website is here: http://www.dandossantos.com/gallery.html
There is a novella that is the prequel to this book. It is called Alpha and Omega, and is in the On the Prowl Anthology. I had no idea it existed, and I suppose the fact that I didn't read it first was the reason that I felt like this story started off right in the middle of a scene. The first scene you see is the Chicago pack helping Anna and Charles pack up her apartment because she is moving to Montana. Charles has been injured killing the Chicago Alpha, and he and Anna are mates. You see what I mean about jumping right in? I was familiar with Charles and Bran and the Montana wolves from reading Mercy though, so it wasn’t long at all before I was off and running with this story. And Barb will tell you, I read this one so fast it was ridiculous. That only goes to show you how good the story was -I couldn’t put it down.
This series runs parallel with the author’s other series, Mercy Thompson. I had a fun time trying to figure out when exactly in Mercy’s timeline was this book happening. It’s been a little bit since I’ve read the early Mercy’s. Charles was mentioned in that series briefly, but not enough for you to really get to know him. I like the Charles you find in this novel. I am all for positive Native American heroes/heroines because I think there isn’t enough of them. I’m fiercely proud of the tiny amount of Cherokee blood I have, and love to read about any Native Americans portrayed in a positive light. Bran is what is known as the Marrock - the alpha wolf of all the wolves, the world over. Charles is Bran’s son, and is the appointed assassin for the pack--he’s the grim reaper, or the angel of death depending on the situation. If there’s someone who needs killing, he’s usually the one sent to do it. As a result, most people fear him, or at the very least are terribly uncomfortable around him. He has taught himself not to get close to people, just in case he is sent to kill them one day. That’s one end of the spectrum. The other is that the older that wolves get the harder it is for them to deal with life, which leads to a lot of them asking their pack leader to kill them. (You see this a lot with vampires as well) Shortly after Charles and Anna return from Chicago you see evidence of both of these extremes. They attend a funeral for a wolf that had to be “put down” due to his inability to control his wolf. Sad, but it happens. At the funeral another wolf comes on to Anna despite being told that she is Charles’ mate. Asil is the wolf, and he has asked for death more than once - he’s thousands of years old. He was trying to provoke an attack. Instead of being offended or afraid, Anna instinctually takes his hand, to comfort him. This is where we find out what this Omega thing is all about.
Anna is what is known as an Omega. I haven’t been able to really figure out a concise definition for what an Omega is yet. Have you ever met anyone that you just implicitly trusted? Someone who put you at ease with their presence, and kind of exuded peace and serenity? That’s kind of what an Omega wolf would do for the dominant wolves around them. They are submissive wolves, but they are submissive out of choice, because they have no drive to dominate the others around them. This turns on a wolf’s protective instincts, and an Omega is referred to many times in this book as a blessing to have in the pack. The funny part is that while a wolf in the normal hierarchy of the pack would be bound to obey the others above them. If they were ordered to, for example, not call the Marrock and report wrongdoing, they would be physically unable to pick up the phone. If they managed to pick up the phone, they wouldn’t be able to make themselves dial the number. If someone was to dial the number for them, they would be unable to force themselves to speak. Pack bonds and commands are THAT strong. You can imagine the evil that a person could do with a group of people that are forced to obey your every command.
An Omega is different. An Omega chooses to submit, and by doing so slips those pack bonds. They don’t have to obey an alpha’s orders. I gather this is how Charles and Bran came to be in Chicago in the first place. As I mentioned, I have not read the novella, but the description of Anna and the circumstances they rescued her from were totally opposite of how a treasured Omega should have been treated. She was changed against her will, by virtue of a purposeful, planned attack. From then on she was abused physically and sexually, all under an alpha’s commands. Needless to say, her wolf recognizes Charles as her mate, but the wolf and the woman have to come to terms with what that means to both of them. All she knows is that she feels safe with him, and he is smart enough to know not to push her.
This novel does focus more on the romantic aspect of the story than you normally see in the Mercy Thompson series. It’s well warranted, in this case, given the circumstances. After they arrive in Montana, the main plot of the novel gets to moving. There have been people being attacked in the woods by a “creature”. Charles, although he is still recovering from bullet wounds, is sent to investigate along with Anna. They spend time together tracking the creature, which they think is a rogue wolf. I won’t give away the main meat of the story, but I will say it involves Asil, the wolf Anna met at the funeral. His former mate (killed long ago) was also an Omega, and the heartbreak he still feels over her loss is just palpable. You feel bad for this guy, even though you just met him a few chapters ago. His story alone is fascinating.
In conclusion, this series is (so far) a wonderful new angle on a world I was already familiar with. I’m enjoying learning more about the Montana pack, and look forward to reading the next book.
Until next time,