Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Spider's Revenge by Jennifer Estep

  Spider's Revenge is the fifth book in the Elemental Assassin series by Estep. As the story begins, Gin is on the rooftop of Mab Monroe's mansion, where a dinner party is beginning, in the middle of winter, with a crossbow at the ready and a small hole bored in the window, waiting to loose the bolt that will kill Mab and end their conflict at last. Ok, so you realize that if this succeeds, the story will be over, basically, and the book will be about twenty five pages long, so you can be certain that something is about to go horribly wrong. Just as Gin fires the crossbow, one of Mab's giant servants leans in to give her a message, and takes the crossbow bolt in the head, instead of Gin's target.

Much excitement ensues, and Gin is forced to flee the rooftop of the mansion, then its grounds, through the snow, with enemies round about. She almost makes it out when she is knocked nearly senseless by a woman who looks old enough to be her grandmother. Mab's dinner guests turn out to be a couple of dozen bounty hunters who have been brought into town to capture or kill Gin and anyone she is associated with. Gin manages to turn the tables on the elderly yet still quite spry bounty hunter and her youthful protege, and forbears to kill either one of them. I predicted at this point that her mercy would become crucial to the plot later on, and ...well, duh.

When Gin realizes what's going on with Mab and her hirelings, she decides she must kill Mab before any of her friends are captured, tortured or killed in order to gain leverage with her, so she decides to tempt fate once again by attending a costume ball where Mab is expected, hoping to get the jump on the fire elemental. She tries to keep her friends out of things, but they're all a little too stubborn for her. Just before she goes off to the party, her sister Bria pours a great deal of her ice elemental power into a silverstone ring that Gin wears to remind her of her family (this becomes important later - another point of prediction) Owen escorts her to the party, and Finn hangs around as a wheelman to make a quick getaway. Gin has her desired battle royale with Mab, just outside the ladies' room, and (since the book is only halfway done) her skills are not sufficient to kill Mab at this time, and she is forced to flee, wounded and weary, once again.

Mab's bounty hunters begin the hunt in earnest at this point, and Gin and her friends head for their safe house. Finn and Bria, however, do not answer Gin's frantic phone call telling them to get away from her deceased mentor, Fletcher's, house. They have chosen this moment, for plot reasons, to finally realize they are actually quite fond of each other, so fond, in fact, that they are caught en flagrante when the bounty hunters surround the house. Gin tries to rescue them herself, but they are surprised by, once again, the old bounty huntress and her young ward (whom Gin has treated with kindness one more time by now - gave the kid some home made cookies). The bounty hunters take Bria away, and Gin knows it's time for the final showdown.

Estep is a good writer, very entertaining, but unfortunately far too many of the plot elements in this climactic episode were utterly and inescapably...predictable.

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