Written in Red (2nd of The Others series)

Written in Red  - Anne Bishop

I got a bit sick of Bishop's Blood Jewels series after the main drama played out-- the other queens/characters didn't resonate as deeply with me, but this Others series, set in an AU Earth where there are shapeshifting Others with long lives & various "magical" powers who merely suffer the humans to live on most parts of the Earth (without a master/slave dynamic, per se) is fascinating. I suppose the best analogy would be to say that there's a kind of Native American mindset, but that's not really wholly accurate, except inasmuch as the Others value the land and its resources far more than humans.


Part of the enjoyment comes from the main character, Meg Corbyn, a human who nonetheless has powers of her own that she comes to learn to deal with over the two books so far-- she is likeable and while innocent, not twee or too much the damsel in distress.  You root for her to become her own person.  


I also enjoy that the Others really are that-- not human, without human priorities, and here, they are occasionally "monstrous," in that there is gore and violence and killing-- and their motivations are non-human.  Bishop lets the monsters be monsters, because as the series develops, you can see the humans are not without flaws, and the humans are just as capable of being horrid as the Others, red in tooth and claw as they are. 


The Others are merely natural-- the humans are the ones who are vicious and have to be kept in control.


It's an interesting morality play-- especially in light of global warming and population issues in other parts of the world, but Bishop manages to toe the line of not whacking you over the head with it, and keeps the plot and the relationships between all the characters moving along.  


The secondary humans are all really well-written, even when their motivations are suspect, and the various races of Others we meet are fascinating for the plays off "traditional" myths about the shapeshifters versus how Bishop chooses to portray those groups.  


The action's nonstop, but there's room for character development and some headscratching at yet-to-be-filled-in backstory-- overall, the narrative's tight, and the world building is different and welcome.  I will be eagerly awaiting the third in the series and hoping it won't be the last.


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