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Marked In Flesh (A Novel of the Others) Hardcover – March 8, 2016
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Praise for Anne Bishop and the Novels of the Others
“Anne Bishop is so good at writing character development....I love this series and I NEED MORE!”—USA Today
“A stunningly original yarn, deeply imagined, beautifully articulated, and set forth in clean, limpid, sensual prose.”—Kirkus Reviews
“The Queen of Fantasy...Teeming with intrigue, suspense, heartbreak, and hints of romance, Bishop’s literary skills continue to astound and enchant.”—Heroes and Heartbreakers
“Bishop’s world building is second to none.”—Fresh Fiction
About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop is a winner of the William L. Crawford Memorial Fantasy Award, presented by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts, for the bestselling Black Jewels Trilogy. She is the author of the Novels of the Others, including Vision in Silver, Murder of Crows, and Written in Red. She lives in upstate New York.
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Top Customer Reviews
I didn't mind the new characters. Some book series suffer from feeling they can never stray from the main characters first introduced. I really love Hope and Jackson. But sadly very few others of these new characters got developed enough to care much about them. It felt like they were just filling up space to make the book long enough until we got back to Meg and co. Other characters that had been developed didn't get as much page time, and I missed them. The Crows, for example, barely got a mention and no dialogue.
Certain things were repeated to the point that I got very frustrated with it. Characters talked or thought about the same things over and over with no new information or perspective; such as the whole 'how much human is too human to be' for Simon, and the worries about the Elders attack.
Meg and Simon's relationship development felt put on hold for this entire book. It felt as it that was being saved for the last book. I like 'slow burn' relationships and it makes sense for these characters. But done to this extreme it felt forced.
The entire book really felt as if they decided they wanted this series to be 5 books long, when maybe it would have been better more tightly written as 3 or 4. Bishop's Black Jewels series also suffered, imo, when there was demand for her to continue after she'd thought she was done.
Again the story revolves mainly around Meg, Simon, and the Lakeside Courtyard inhabitants. Humans are still plotting against the Others, and tensions are high. Is the cooperation between a few of the humans and the Others enough to stop the destruction of the human race, or are humans their own worst enemies?
I won't give this review on the story so much (as there are so many out there and I'd just be repeating much of what's been said), but on some of the underlying themes. In this series and in her others ('Black Jewels', 'The Alainn Trilogy', and 'Ephemera'), there is an underlying theme of stewardship, of care-taking. In 'Black Jewels', it's the Blood who are meant to act as caretakers of the people and land, supporting a balance of power that benefits both. Characters interested in only wealth and power use and abuse the environment around them. The same thread runs through 'The Others' and 'The Alainn Trilogy'- some aren't content with what they have and feel they should have more irregardless of the consequences. Some refuse to move past old slights, old beliefs, and won't believe the world around them is changing without them. Those people in positions of power to help the less fortunate, the environment, and/or society as a whole that choose to seek only personal gain are often the ones who are the "evil" side of things, and those people in positions of power who DO use their talents and resources for good, who show others what can happen when everyone works together for a common goal, are those on the "good" side.
One thing I really like about how Ms. Bishop develops her characters is that even the heroes of the story struggle with their choices and the resulting actions. How far is too far when it comes to interfering in the lives of others? How little is too little when it comes to preventing bad things from happening? Where is the line drawn when using personal power (connections, wealth, weapons, supplies) to influence the world around you? What's a better path - wait and see then react in a way that leaves no doubts, or be proactive and stop things before they get too far?
In 'The Others', Meg has known nothing but abuse for the majority of her life, but because of her friend Jean and Jean's influence, Meg is what most people would consider a good person. Other characters that were products of the same circumstances as Meg that weren't influenced by Jean ended up being individuals without hope, without her drive and belief that things could be better. So is Jean a good person for how she helped Meg become a stronger person, or is she selfish for not trying harder to do more to help the other girls in the Compound where she and Meg were kept? Is the Humans First and Last movement a natural response to the animosity and secrecy humans have encountered from the Others who admittedly interact as little as possible with humans? Should they have done more to educate humans about the way of things instead of only acting like (very) reluctant middle management of Namid's resources? One could argue that the Others have acted selfishly. Namid created humans just as she created the Others and Elders. So wouldn't she have been the one that gave humans their curiosity and drive, the drive that has led them to seek out more resources to expand and create new things? Things that the Others like and use. If they had been more willing to educate humans about Namid and the Elders, instead of only as "clever meat", would things have been different? In 'Black Jewels', the Blood distrust Landens, and Landens distrust Blood. In 'The Alainn Trilogy', humans mistrust witches and vice versa. It isn't until a brave few step forward, cross old lines to form new understandings and relationships that things change for the better. The same can be said for the real world. And like the real world, in her novels things don't change overnight, but over long periods of time. There are consequences for failing to adapt and change, to grow and become a better person. It's a lesson twined in with a great story.
For me the pacing was very off in this book, leaving it a slow, meandering read. I found it sluggish and without a theme at its center. The climax was more of a thud than a high point in the book. Throughout the book I felt I'd been left by the author to drift and find my own story. I understand the through line but as a work unto itself this just didn't measure up for me.
That said, I love this vision and the world created in books 1-3. I'll very likely read the next volumes. This felt limp and leaden compared to the prior books. Had anyone else written this, I'd give it 2 stars. Bishop is so good I feel this warrants 3.