Hunting Ground is the second of three books in the Alpha and Omega series. The series began with a short story in the anthology On the Prowl. You can read more about the Anna Latham’s story here. Now, Hunting Ground picks up about a month after the events in Cry Wolf. Charles and his father are arguing, which is unusual when you consider Bran is the Marrok, Alpha of all Alphas and most of his wolves obey him. The argument is over the fact that Bran is hosting a summit with the Alphas of the European packs and Charles doesn’t want him to go but he cannot give him a logical reason for it – only an instinct that says Bran should stay home in Montana and stay safe.
In the meanwhile, Bran’s tried to enlist Charles’ mate Anna to get through to Charles, but the contrary little Omega reminds Bran that Charles would not argue with him for a frivolous reason so maybe Bran should really think about what Charles is saying. All of this is revealed as Anna in wolf form, stalks Charles who is shoveling snow off his walk. Charles is agitated and angry, irritated that he cannot just obey his father and more irritated that he cannot make his father understand his point.
A month ago, Anna probably would have run away from such anger, but instead, she tackles him into the snow and thus begins a pounce and play game that is wonderful to read. Bran even gets involved when he shows up to talk to his son and the two do not stop their horse play to greet him. The interaction allows readers to fully grasp the dynamic between the leader of the North American packs and his family. Anna’s poise is also a welcome evolution of her character as she grows not only more comfortable with whom she is, but also with the men in her life.
When Bran actually acquiesces to Charles’ request to stay away from the summit and sends Anna and Charles instead, it demonstrates to Charles just how much Anna’s influence has changed things. This brief glimpse into life in Aspen Creek is wonderful, but short-lived because soon, Anna and Charles are heading for Seattle where they will meet with the European Alphas, spend time with the Emerald City Pack and even see two old friends from the Strange Brew short story (werewolf Tom and his ‘mate’ the blind witch Moira).
What I Liked
Briggs expands her world to include the European wolves with their territorial, ethnic and nationalist disputes to the fore. Alphas from the British Isles, France, Germany, Spain, Russia and Italy are just some of the examples of werewolves Briggs introduces readers too. Not only are there language barriers to overcome, but the wolves of Europe are not like the North American wolves. They are not ruled by a single Alpha of Alphas.
The summit is designed to address the political ramifications of the wolves coming out in public. Not about asking their permission. Interestingly enough, while the Emerald City Pack is ‘hosting’ the event in Seattle, it is a Grey Lord of the Fae that is providing the ‘neutral’ security for the event. This is important because all those dominant wolves in one place can mean a lot of trouble.
The back cover blurb sums it up very well:
Anna Latham didn’t know how complicated life could be until she became a werewolf. And until she was mated to Charles Cornick, the son and enforcer of Bran, the leader of the North American werewolves, she didn’t know how dangerous it could be either.
Anna and Charles have just been enlisted to attend a summit to present Bran’s controversial proposition that the wolves should finally reveal themselves to the humans. But the most feared Alpha in Europe is dead set against the plan and it seems as though someone else might be, too. When Anna is attacked by vampires using pack magic, the kind of power only werewolves should be able to draw on, Charles and Anna must combine their talents to hunt down whoever is behind it all --- or risk losing everything.
What I Didn’t Like
Only that it ended. I wanted more resolution at the end than we got. I understand the action oriented nature of the books requires that when the conflict is resolved, the story ends. However, in the world that Briggs is building I don’t think it’s dragging on the book to offer more than just the conflict is over, the end, at the tail of the story.
While not one hundred percent predictable, I did figure out the conflict source fairly early on. The red herrings were well-played, however, because they did make me question my guess in a couple of places.
I give this book a solid read it endorsement, but only if you’ve been following Anna’s story. I do not think it’s a good book for anyone to pick up as a first timer. In fact, you should read the books in the following order:
Mercy Thompson Books
In the loose chronology, Alpha and Omega takes place during the events in Moon Called, while Cry Wolf happens immediately following it. Hunting Ground appears to take place around the end of Blood Bound.
Alpha and Omega (On the Prowl Anthology)
Seeing Eye (Strange Brew) – Moira Keller and Tom Franklin are introduced in this story and play a role in the events of Hunting Ground.
Coming Up Next from Patricia Briggs:
Silver Borne, the fifth book in the Mercy Thompson series is rumored to address Samuel’s problems. The book is currently availble for pre-order and Amazon lists March 30, 2010 for release date. While a third book is planned in the Alpha and Omega series, it is as yet untitled. Learn more at her website.
Coming Up in September:
Cover artist Dan Dos Santos (Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega) will join the Daily Dose for a Spotlight On conversation in September! Be sure to stop by for that.