Patricia Briggs is most well known for her Mercy Thompson series, one of the most highly rated urban fantasy series out there. That was my introduction to her work as well. A while back, I discovered that she began publishing work in the fantasy genre, though, and have since been working my way through her backlog.
It’s interesting to go through a large amount of books by an author like this. You can kind of see what changes they made to their writing, and what themes the author likes to use.
Of the books that I’ve gotten through so far, the Raven series is my favorite.
Tier is a former soldier, current farmer, who lives a village with his wife, Seraph. Seraph is a Raven–a kind of magician for the outcast Traveler people–who’s given up her way of life to marry the man who saved her life years ago. As luck would have it, all three of their children have Traveler magic, and one of them can’t hide how strange it makes him. Still, they try to go about their lives, until someone takes a little too close of an interest in their family, leading to the disappearance of one of their own. Now they have to get back their family, and find out why they’re being targeted in the first place. And it turns out to be a whole lot bigger than their family.
As an aside, flipping though these books again made me realize that I kind of miss the multiple point of view writings that were way more common when I was younger. Even in straight up fantasy, a large amount of books are written from a single POV. It has its own advantages, but so do multiple POVs. And I missed reading about multiple characters with different personalities and goals. It gave me more freedom to root for characters I liked and agreed with.
In the first Raven book, the multiple POVs make it possible to see the action in multiple locations, which is important for the plot. The missing family member isn’t exactly helpless, after all, and makes quite a difference during captivity. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it depends on the author, but I get the impression that generally other characters get to do more when their parts away from the main character are included in the narrative.
Anyway, my Patricia Briggs binge is good for realizing that she’s good at making interesting characters. In this duology, Jes stands out. He’s the oldest son of Tier and Seraph, and the one with trouble hiding that he’s a little different. He kind of has two modes, or personalities. One is called the Guardian, and is the more dangerous side of him (and shapeshifts). The other is just Jes, but part of him is always with the Guardian, making him seem simple to the villagers around him. Jes is also an empath, which makes it difficult to be near too many people or to touch people.
He’s absolutely my favorite character in this series. Despite the difficulties of living with his power set, he’s a very cheerful character. He cares deeply about the people around him, and the “Guardian” aspect of him is more a protector than a warrior.
The other characters are also interesting in their own rights–Seraph finds herself holding on to old prejudices against the people who’ve been prejudiced against her, despite living amongst them for decades. Tier may have once been a soldier, but his preference (and talent) lies in talking people around rather than fighting them. Hennea, not family but an ally that shows up to help them, is controlled and secretive, but puts her all into helping the family. Rinnie is young (Tier and Seraph’s youngerst daughter) but endearing.
This was definitely a refreshing story to go back to.