Anne Bishop has two related series that are set in a fantasy world called Namid, mostly divided into humans and the terra indigene, commonly known as the Others. The first series was “The Courtyards of the Others,” and this is the second installment of the next series, called “The World of the Others.”
These Others include shapeshifters (such as werewolves), vampires, “elementals,” and “harvesters,” inter alia. There is also a third sort of in-between category of beings who are mostly human but have extra-sensory perceptiveness. The two subsets of this group are the cassandra sangue or blood prophets – females who can see visions of the future after self-mutilation or reading cards; and Intuits, humans with enhanced instincts that enable them to sense danger.
In the first series, a political movement- Humans First and Last (HFL), tried to challenge the hegemony of the Others and “take back the land” (which of course was never theirs in the first place). This upset the harmony of the world and led to a great culling of humans by unhappy Elders, who are the primal, dangerous, and most powerful form of the terra indigene. The Elders, also known as “Namid’s teeth and claws,” wiped out entire populations of some human towns and brutally thinned out populations of others. Now they are “staying nearby, waiting for humans to make another mistake.”
You may wonder, why do they let any humans live? The answer in part is, the Others need prey. In addition, they have come to rely upon some of the technological inventions of humans. And finally, some have found friendship with humans who are not evil.
The first series took place in Lakeside, where humans and Others mixed in a unique situation facilitated by the endearing characters of the werewolf Simon Wolfgard and the cassandra sangue Meg Corbyn. Fans were upset when the author announced that Etched in Bone was the last book that would take place in the city of Lakeside, but not the last taking place in this particular world the author created. But happily, we need not have been worried.
In this book, Bishop places the story in the Midwest town of Bennett, an important crossroads for remaining humans. The town is led by the vampire Tolya Sanguinati with the help of Jesse Walker, a human Intuit from the nearby settlement of Prairie Gold. Although all Intuits have a heightened sensitivity to the world, each Intuit’s sensitivity is unique; for Jesse, her speciality is ascertaining whether people are safe or dangerous.
Tolya agrees with Jesse that Bennett needs more people, and they begin to recruit settlers from specific professions the town needs but is lacking. One of the first to arrive is Jana Paniccia, a new police woman, who is sent to work for the Sheriff, Virgil Wolfgard. Virgil lost almost his whole wolf pack in the HFL attack, and has little trust in, or regard for, humans. Predictably, their relationship evolves in a way reminiscent of Simon and Meg in Lakeside.
There are also a number of “bad guys” who come to this burgeoning “frontier town,” with the intent of doing harm. Like the bad guys in previous books, they seem not to have gotten the message that it is difficult to win any battle against the terra indigene. Yes, they can make some inroads using guns, but there is only so much they can do against the supernatural strength and powers of “Namid’s teeth and claws.” But in this case there is a difference: at least some of these bad guys have an advantage – they are Intuits – expert at manipulation of others.
As we get to know all the new residents of Bennett, it is easy to see many similarities to the stories from the previous series set in Lakeside, from details about setting up the town, to character “types,” to the inevitable arrival of destructive human villains. There are even a number of references to the Lakeside characters. And the denouement is similar: frontier town or not, there will be a “showdown,” with both humans and Others in danger. Working together, they might have a chance to vanquish the malefactors, but not all of them will survive.
Evaluation: While this is not a standalone, and the plot arc is virtually identical to previous books by Bishop set in this world, fans will be unlikely to complain about a formula they already love. Some of the characters are as endearing as those in Lakeside – a good basis for more stories centered on Bennett.
Published by ACE, a Berkley book, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2019