REVIEW: Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs

Dear Ms. Briggs:

Blood BoundAs I was reading this book last night, I turned to Ned with an epiphany. “Ned,” I said, “When an author of a fantasy book can make you believe her truths, that’s a great book.” He replied, “that’s why I read fantasy.” Indeed. You have the unique gift of being able to make the reader believe, for the space of 300 some pages, of your truths. That vampires, fae, werewolves, and magic makers live in tentative harmony with humankind. Mercy Thompson’s world is just like ours, only a bit more dangerous and a bit more sexy.

Mercy Thompson is a walker. As a walker, she has very few powers. She can shift into coyote shape and is somewhat resistant to other magics such as vampire compulsion or werewolf pack control. Because of her magic resistance, vampire friend Stefan calls upon her to deliver a message to a visiting vampire who has failed to pay the proper respects to Stefan’s seethe. Stefan is fearful that the visiting vampire has some type of magic that can compel him to do things he wouldn’t ordinarily do and that Mercy is hopefully immune and will be able to report back to his seethe should anything happen to him.

Of course, things go badly and soon Mercy is wrapped up in a hunt for a vampire/sorcerer who is causing the Tri Cities area to have an increased rise in violence, harming werewolf friends, and endangering lives of innocents. To complicate things, her feelings for Adam, the local Alpha, are scaring her and her feelings for Samuel, an old flame, appear unresolved. Throw in a bit of vampire, fae, werewolf politics and the story does not stop.

The strength of this story is in that the details of the world construct and the consistency of characters that create a believable alternate reality. Mercy has a keen sense of smell, consistent with the canis species, that she employs on an everyday basis. She uses it when she is in danger, when she is working and when she is full of desire. She uses her brain to solve problems but doesn’t hesitate to ask for help when she needs it. Mercy is portrayed as unassuming but loyal. She is the kind of person that you want to befriend so that when she is in danger or hurt or angry or in lust, all those emotions are felt keenly by the reader.

The complaints that I would have for the book is that, at times, Mercy monologues in a very educated manner. She uses words like effluvia and quotes old Benjamin Franklin maxims. That is not to say that a garage mechanic can’t be a poet ala Nick in Crazy for You, but there wasn’t any part of Mercy’s backstory that suggested she spent her time in pursuit of the literary arts. In this, I suspect that Mercy is more a reflection of the author, than being in character. You also have a small tendency toward repetitiveness. For example, you described Samuel as being more dominant than the Alpha, Adam, about five times.

Additionally, there is another love interest developed for Mercy other than Adam and Samuel and while I am not philosophically opposed to this, I wince because any movement toward the multi partner route reminds me, sadly of Laurell K Hamilton’s series debacle, the Mary Sue that Sookie Stackhouse has become, and the tedious Ranger/Joe triangle perpetuated by the ever popular Janet Evanovich. I would loathe to see Mercy’s unaffected charm be wiped away by having everyunattached male in the Tri Cities area falling for her. I have no problem with her being conflicted about her feelings for more than one guy but to make it so that she is just irresistible to everyone makes me groan in dismay.

Those are small quibbles and didn’t really affect my appreciation for this book. The characters, the action, seem so alive. That’s power of the pen – the ability to change a reader’s perception. It’s why we readers read fantasy. A-

Best regards



0 comments on “REVIEW: Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs

  1. Oh, yeah! Gotta have this one. I read Moon Called and found it thoroughly involving, great world-building and characterization. When I read for pleasure, I usually demand a powerful love story and amazing love scenes. Moon Called had neither, yet I was totally hooked–till the end.

  2. great review. I agree with most of it except for your quibble on Mercy’s language. She actually has a degree in history. In the first book Moon Called as well as this one she mentions that if she hadn’t been persistent about learning how to fix cars she would have been working at McDonald’s like everyone else with a degree. also as to the latest love interest per se, I think she brought out something I was suspecting for a while.

    I don’t really know if she is actually irresistible to everyone. I know that i am leery of the Mary Sue after so many bad experiences but I don’t feel like that with this series and this character. As far as i can tell they each want her for a different reason and these are all slowly being revealed as the series goes on.

    Anyway, I recommend reading the first book, while this book can be read on it’s own, you get a better idea of the politics and background if you read the first one.

  3. T – I had forgotten about that point. Thanks for pointing out my error. I should do a re read. I think in regard to the multiple partners issue, it is more of a once bitten, twice shy thing. I get tired of it easily theese days and am less likely to be accepting of a plot device like that because I haven’t seen an author yet pull herself out of it satisfactorily.

    Maybe i was wrong for me to mention it but . . . it’s something that was raised in my mind while reading and made me feel . . . discouraged a bit.

  4. Oh I plan to search for this one on Tuesday. Can’t wait. It’s so interesting to see a book set in my hometown as that’s not exactly a common thing.

    I wonder if Mercy will ever have troubles with the Hanford area. *grin*

  5. I loved the first one. This one is next on my reading list.

    I do have to say though, even though i haven’t read it yet, Mercy speaking in an educated manner doesn’t surprise me. Something about the way her character played out in Moon Called just makes me think there’s a lot more than the average shapeshifter/car mechanic ;o)

  6. I just finished reading it and agree 100% with your review. I think I was a bit thrown off with the other possible attraction. I hope it’s a far away attraction and not something that is acted upon. There’s the cop and the fae that didn’t seem enamored of Mercy’s charm so there’s hope, still. Otherwise, this book was awesome. I finally had time to read it all on my day off. Excellent book and I hope Briggs continues to tell Mercy’s story to the climatic end.

    Another worrisome quibble and warning spoiler alert: Is that Mercy for two books now have had to save everybody again. I hope that’s not a trend for the future books otherwise, I’ll be quitting them. If Adam, Bran and Samuel are dominant, let them be dominant. So far, their power has been pretty limited and only Mercy has been the one to say the day. I’m all for female power but there is a limit.

  7. You know, I thought about Mercy’s STD (Save the Day) ability only after reading the amazon reviews. My initial thoughts are that Briggs chooses to write about situations that are suited to Mercy’s talent – which is being resistant to magic. But then I remembered the part in the fae bar where she sings for her life or whatnot and thought – hmm, that came out of nowhere – the fact she could sing well.

    I read on May’s site yesterday in an interview with P Briggs that it sounds like Briggs doesn’t know which werewolf Mercy will end up with. That was a little encouraging for me because if it is a decision between Sam and Adam, and not Sam and Adam and 8 other guys, I can get behind that. 🙂

  8. So it’s between Adam and Sam, eh? I can get behind that, too. Didn’t know that she could sing either. I wonder what else Briggs has in store for us. I was somewhat disappointed in that we didn’t get to hang out much with Adam and Sam even though they were in 20% of the book or around that. So we still love this series eh?

  9. Oh, I still love the series. Reading BB gave me a series jones to re-read Moon Called so I know I’m still in love. 🙂 Between you and me, Keishon, you know it takes a lot of books before I give up. you too. 😉

  10. Ah, you, too? I went looking for it, too. I wanted to reread that scene where Samuel loses control when they leave Stefan’s seethe. And a couple of other scenes. Alas, I couldn’t put my hands on my paperback copy but I do have the ebook. Too lazy to search through it since I didn’t bookmark any pages.

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  12. Excellent review. Very good points about Mercy’s character. I’d seen this book in the bookstore several times and was a little leery about the whole supernatural mechanic aspect. Once I read the book, though, I was very impressed with the way Mercy’s character was developed. She is very well-rounded in many ways, and has a certain likability to her that is easy to fall prey to.

    Like many other readers, I’ve also become wary of copycats of the Anita Blake fiasco, since I had been so deeply disappointed by the quality of Laurell K. Hamilton’s recent books. The way the love interests are being developed thus far, though, is promising. Samuel and Adam each seem to be well-balanced characters that have their own merit regardless of any relationship with Mercy. Also, the third potential love interest really came out of left field, although there is some prior warning in a few scenes.
    Here’s hoping Patricia Briggs can sustain the quality of Moon Called and Blood Bound in the next two books she’s been contract for, unlike so many other series that have started with high hopes and have ended with disappointment.

  13. I started BB last night and finished it, too. and I loved it.

    Mercy did save the day again, but not in the uber-powerful way a lot of characters end up doing in these sort of books, so I’m cool with it. She didn’t appear to pull a new power out of her tail or anything, just realized that one power she’d always had was useful and she used it.

    I’m tyring to decide who I like more… Sam or Adam.

  14. COME on you just got to love a were-coyote in WASH state!,,,,,,,,and surprize!!!!!!!,,,,it is set on the dry side not the Starbucks wet side!..this series has got me!

  15. Late to this, but I quite like the way Mercy saves the day, especially in this one. It took a lot of legwork and determination. And I also like the way she’s a were-coyote who doesn’t know the extent of her powers. If handled well, that leaves open lots of interesting mysteries. I’m really impressed by this series.

    Oh, and while Sam has a certain appeal, I’m all for Adam. And not just because I’m not crazy over how Sam manipulated Mercy in the past.

  16. I am hoping that this series doesn’t collapse. I love Mercy and her intelligence. It’s refreshing to see a level headed heroine. It’s refreshing to see the love interests have 3-D personalities and that they admit how topsy-turvy their feelings can be ( Sam admitting he didn’t want her when she was 16 for love- Adam admiting that he doesn’t know how to react to her as a dominant male ). Though the story hasn’t completely unfolded, I’m looking forward to seeing the results. As for male lead favorite, I have to say Adam. He’s a ggod man and he has great qualities. He cares about his people, his daughter and Mercy and he doesn’t have a severe problem letting others know. Sam is great also. It took courage to say that he was with Mercy for her “brood mare” possibilities, but just because he admitted it doesn’t mean she should throw herself at him. *s*
    As you can see this series has me and others thinking a little bit about its outcome and I believe that shows that it has promise.
    We’ll just have to see what the future holds.

  17. I agree with much of your review (just started this series last week and now I’m hooked). I was wondering if you could elaborate on what you mean in labeling Sookie Stackhouse as a “Mary Sue.” I’m a big fan of Harris’ Sookie series, and while she certainly seems to be a magnet for every eligible, hunky supe character in her universe, I’m not sure that in and of itself makes her a “Mary Sue.” I searched this site to see if you’d reviewed one of the Sookie books, since that question might more properly be put there, but I didn’t find anything. When I think of “Mary Sue,” I think of a character that is close to an authorial self-insertion and/or a character who has everything going their way. Sookie may attract plenty of suitors these days, but she’s clearly flawed and things have not always worked out the way she’d like. I think she and Mercy from the Briggs series are actually quite similar. Just curious!

    I’m rooting for that third potential suitor myself. 🙂 I know he doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance it would seem, but ‘twould be my preference.

  18. Penny – sorry for taking so long to get back to you. I don’t think that Mercy is yet a Mary Sue but if everyone and their brother starts falling for her, then I do start seeing Mary Sue-ish behavior which is what I felt was happening in the Sookie series.

    I really liked the first few Sookie books and I think Harris is a very good writer, but I don’t trust her because of her past books and so I didn’t want to get caught up caring for characters (like Bill) only for them to turn almost villianous.

  19. Thanks Jane! I love Charlaine’s Sookie and Harper series, but I’ve not yet read some of her earlier work (which I assume is what you are referring to?). I do think Sookie has far too many suitors to be truly believable, but I also think that she falls short of true Mary Sue-ism since she is not a perfect character who gets everything her way (other Mary Sue red flags). Mercy is likewise flawed; I only hope rumors are untrue and the 3rd potential suitor will at least have a fair shot at winning her over.

    You know, I agree that Harris did not give any clues that Bill was going to turn out to be a bad apple. I suspect that she changed from her original plan with respect to him because there are several things in the first 2 books that don’t add up to the whole “Bill on a mission” storyline that she later inserted. And while that’s her prerogative as author, I can also see where some readers would cry foul on it.

    Anyway, thanks for taking the time to expand on what you meant.

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