Friday, May 9, 2014

Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

 So, the first thing that is fun here is the word play Bishop creates with the title of her book, Murder of Crows. Murder is the term for a collection of crows, and in this case "murder of Crows" is the triggering incident in an incipient war between humans and the terra indigene, or Others. Crows are...well, not lycanthropes but shapeshifters who more accurately could be called, perhaps, corvuthropes. See, you learn a new (made up) word every day, eh?

Things are getting serious in multiple ways, as the leader of the Wolves, Simon, finds himself falling in love with Meg, nominally human, but actually more of a subspecies, the blood prophets, or cassandra sangue. This could cause problems for both of them, as interracial/interspecies affairs are not sanctioned in Thaisia (North America), and it is affecting his judgement in matters concerning her. Meg is also experiencing new feelings towards Simon, but neither of them wants to make things more complicated or encounter unrequited emotions, so it's all being bottled up. So healthy.

Meg's former captors are still trying to get her back, and the Humans First and Last fanatics are distributing a pair of drugs which strongly and negatively affect The Others, causing even more friction between the indigene and humans. Many humans have forgotten just how powerful The Others are, and that they exist on this continent only on sufferance, and so they ignorantly support the rabble rousers and grow restive. I'm sure there are some political undertones we could explore in this novel applicable to present real world situations, but I'm going to ignore that for the moment, as the plot is far more twisty and interesting.

The only thing that falls flat for me in this book is the rather contrived nature of how the blood prophets "see" their visions. They can only relate them in images which they have already experienced, so the cassandras in captivity are shown booklets of approved images which they can use, while Meg, who has escaped to "the wild" is beginning to have a far wider range, but her prophecies are still very childish, in my opinion, and just seem a little hokey. I mean, she sees a fish fin and a donkey, and what that means is the name of the man who is hunting for her and other cassandras, Phineas (fin + ass). Can't Bishop come up with something a little better than that?

Humans who associate with The Others are being harassed and threatened, like the girls who work at Howling Good Reads, and police officers like Monty and Captain Burke are going to have to choose sides, so to speak, soon. The Others respond quickly and decisively to eliminate threats from the humans, and cities can be and are destroyed to pay for the sins of a small number of their inhabitants. We begin to see a picture of a wider world here than just that of Lakeside, and Meg's prophecies must expand to include threats to more than just her new friends.

After a huge buildup, the final confrontation between the indigenes and the renegade Controller takes a dozen pages or so. Bishop may have wrapped this one up a little hastily, even though I'm sure there are more novels coming in this series. Soon, I hope.

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