Author: Patricia Briggs
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy
Publisher: Ace (US) / Orbit (UK)
Publication Date: April 2010 (US & UK)
Hardcover: 352 pages (US)
When mechanic and shapeshifter Mercy Thompson attempts to return a powerful Fae book she’d previously borrowed in an act of desperation, she finds the bookstore locked up and closed down.
It seems the book contains secret knowledge-and the Fae will do just about anything to keep it out of the wrong hands. And if that doesn’t take enough of Mercy’s attention, her friend Samuel is struggling with his wolf side-leaving Mercy to cover for him, lest his own father declare Sam’s life forfeit.
All in all, Mercy has had better days. And if she isn’t careful, she might not have many more to live…
Stand alone or series: Book 5 in the ongoing Mercy Thompson series
How did I get this book: Review Copy from the publisher
Why did I read this book: I love this series. I *LOVE* this series. I count the days between the release of each book in this series. Seriously, this is one of the finest ongoing urban fantasy series’ around – Mercy is the ideal, genuine heroine, and Patricia Briggs’ gift for storytelling is damn near unparalleled. Of course I lapped this book right up.
Mercy Thompson has been put through the grinder in her past four books – terrorized by vampires, thrown into fae politicking, and struggling to make her way through werewolf drama. Silver Borne begins with a Mercy that is, mostly, at peace with herself and her place in life. She’s accepted her role as Adam’s mate, making her the second highest ranking person in the Tri-Cities Pack. Things with Samuel are settled and seem to be going smoothly. Mercy’s shop is back in working order, and she can take solace and rest in the work she loves.
Of course, things can never stay so idyllic and peaceful in Mercy’s turbulent life – soon enough, trouble rears its ugly head. Someone is messing with the young, tenuous mate bond between Adam and Mercy, manipulating their emotional connection and trying to separate them for some unknown, greater purpose. Samuel is involved in a tragic “accident” – which turns out, was no accident at all. An old, tired, lone wolf, Samuel has tried to kill himself, only to have his wolf side take over and save them from death at the last minute. While Samuel is thankfully still alive, the bad news is that his wolf is in charge – according to law, he should be put down (as wolves that dominate their human halves invariably turn into crazed werewolves of horror legend). Mercy can’t do that to Sam – and is forced to lie about his condition to both the Marrok (the most dominant werewolf in North America, and father of Samuel) and Adam. Not to mention, Mercy finds herself entangled with matters of the fae yet again. A certain book she was loaned from bibliophile Phin suddenly seems to be attracting all the wrong attention. Throw in an overzealous bounty hunter, fae assassins and an arson attempt, and Mercy’s got her hands very, very full.
As you’ve probably surmised, Silver Borne is another three hundred-some pages of intense action, tight plotting and character development, all delivered in a seamless, expertly written manner that is Patricia Briggs’ trademark. Ms. Briggs juggles three separate, central conflicts in Silver Borne, and manages to tie these threads together and pull off the novel seamlessly. One of the things I love the most about this series is how little “filler” there is – although the novel is full of action and heavy plotting, it never falls into the trap of mindless action for action’s sake. Every scene in Silver Borne holds significance and is vital to the progression of the story. And that’s pretty cool (especially in a subgenre chock full of lazy plotting or so-called “mysteries” so painfully obvious that anyone with half a brain could solve them). Ms. Briggs’ prose is deft and sure-footed per usual, making Silver Borne – like the rest of the books in the series so far – one of those reads. (You know the ones I mean – they’re the ones that have you up all damn night, making weaker justifications to yourself about the hour – i.e. “Oh, it’s only 3am! I can still get in four hours of sleep! Four hours is totally fine!”)
I loved that Silver Borne shifted the focus of the series back on the Tri-Cities pack, expanding on the intricate dynamics that make up a werewolf group. Mercy’s cemented role as alpha Adam’s mate, while it sounds all lovely and nice and happy, holds serious consequences, and I loved that Ms. Briggs took a hard, long look at how a pack of dominant wolves would view being subordinate to a mere skinwalker coyote. The resentment from within the pack feels wholly genuine, and I loved reading about the pack, embroiled in conflicts because of this status shake-up, and the cutthroat politics that predators, understandably, abide by.
And that’s just the werewolf component of the story! Ms. Briggs also delves a bit deeper into the fae denomination of her Tri-Cities world, as someone is after the titled “Silver Borne” artifact. The fae in this series have long been my favorite secondary aspect, and I was ecstatic to see a return to these terrifying creatures (as opposed to more vampires) in book 5.
The only thing I wasn’t crazy about with in Silver Borne was the *very* convenient appearance of a supposed old flame late in the book (for Samuel). Sam’s conflict is a little emo, but understandable given how much of a mess he has been and considering how old he is. I feel for the poor guy, especially since the triangle between him, Mercy, and Adam has been resolved, but this plot development felt a little too…opportune for my tastes. The whole situation feels out of place with the rest of the series, especially in comparison to some of the harsher, grittier relationships Ms. Briggs writes here and in her spinoff Alpha and Omega books. BUT, that’s a matter of personal taste, I suppose!
What else can I say about Mercy Thompson? She remains my favorite Urban Fantasy heroine because of her savvy, her acceptance of her place in the power hierarchy of Tri-Cities, and her awesome, unparalleled level-headedness. In this book, I found it very interesting that since her role in the pack has drastically shifted, she’s forced to take the reins in pack-politics – it’s a new side of Mercy that I truly enjoyed seeing.
Even better than Bone Crossed, Silver Borne is my favorite Mercy book behind Iron Kissed. Absofreakinglutely recommended.
Notable Quotes/Parts: From Chapter 1:
The starter complained as it turned over the old Buick’s heavy engine. I felt a lot of sympathy for it since fighting outside my weight class was something I was intimately familiar with. I’m a coyote shapeshifter playing in a world of werewolves and vampires — outmatched is an understatement.
“One more time,” I told Gabriel, my seventeen-year-old office manager, who was sitting in the driver’s seat of his mother’s Buick. I sniffed and dried my nose on the shoulder of my work overalls. Runny noses are part and parcel of working in the winter.
I love being a mechanic, runny nose, greasy hands, and all.
It’s a life full of frustration and barked knuckles, followed by brief moments of triumph that make all the rest worthwhile. I find it a refuge from the chaos my life has been lately: no one is likely to die if I can’t fix his car.
Not even if it is his mother’s car. It had been a short day at school, and Gabriel had used his free time to try to fix his mother’s car. He’d taken it from running badly to not at all, then had a friend tow it to the shop to see if I could fix it.
The Buick made a few more unhealthy noises. I stepped back from the open engine compartment. Fuel, fire, and air make the engine run — providing that the engine in questions isn’t toast.
“It’s not catching, Mercy,” said Gabriel, as if I hadn’t noticed.
He gripped the steering wheel with elegant but work-roughened hands. There was a smear of grease on his cheekbone, and one eye was red because he hadn’t put on safety glasses when he’d crawled under the car. He’d been rewarded with a big chunk of crud — rusty metal and grease— in his eye.
Even though my big heaters were keeping the edge off the cold, we both wore jackets. There is no way to keep a shop truly warm when you are running garage doors up and down all day.
“Mercy, my mamá has to be at work in an hour.”
“The good news is that I don’t think it’s anything you did.” I stepped away from the engine compartment and met his frantic eyes. “The bad news is that it’s not going to be running in an hour. Jury’s out on whether it will be back on the road at all.”
He slid out of the car and leaned under the hood to stare at the Little Engine That Couldn’t as if he might find some wire I hadn’t noticed that would miraculously make it run. I left him to his brooding and went through the hall to my office.
Behind the counter was a grubby, used-to-be-white board with hooks where I put the keys of cars I was working on — and a half dozen mystery keys that predated my tenure. I pulled a set of keys attached to a rainbow peace sign keychain, then trotted back to the garage. Gabriel was back to sitting behind the wheel of his mother’s Buick and looking sick. I handed him the keys through the open window.
“Take the Bug,” I told him. “Tell your mom that the turn signals don’t blink, so she’ll have to use hand signals. And tell her not to pull back on the steering wheel too hard or it will come off.”
His face got stubborn.
“Look,” I said before he could refuse, “it’s not going to cost me anything. It won’t hold all the kids” — not that the Buick did, there were a lot of kids — “and it doesn’t have much of a heater. But it runs, and I’m not using it. We’ll work on the Buick after hours until it’s done, and you can owe me that many hours.”
I was pretty sure the engine had gone to the great junkyard in the sky — and I knew that Sylvia, Gabriel’s mother, couldn’t afford to buy a new engine, any more than she could buy a newer car. So I’d call upon Zee, my old mentor, to work his magic on it. Literal magic — there was not much figurative about Zee. He was a fae, a gremlin whose natural element was metal.
“The Bug’s your project car, Mercy.” Gabriel’s protest was weak.
My last project car, a Kharmann Ghia, had sold. My take of the profits, shared with a terrific bodyman and an upholsterer, had purchased a ’71 Beetle and a ’65 VW Bus with a little left over. The Bus was beautiful and didn’t run, the Bug had the opposite problem.
“I’ll work on the Bus first. Take the keys.”
The expression on his face was older than it should have been. “Only if you’ll let the girls come over and clean on Saturdays until we get the Bug back to you.”
I’m not dumb. His little sisters knew how to work — I was getting the better of the bargain.
“Deal,” I said before he could take it back. I shoved the keys into his hand. “Go take the car to Sylvia before she’s late.”
You can read the full chapter online HERE.
Rating: 8 – Excellent
Reading Next: Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey
We are giving away THREE copies of Silver Borne! Up for grabs are TWO copies of the US edition of the book and ONE copy of the UK edition. To enter, simply leave a comment here letting us know which Mercy book is your favorite. Entry is limited to those with mailing addresses in the US or UK, and the contest will run until Saturday, April 3 at 11:59 PM (PST). Good luck!