Marked In Flesh - Anne Bishop

I'll admit to being somewhat surprised when I saw this book available for review.  Vision in Silver felt like it was the end of a trilogy, wrapping up the major plot lines with easily assumable future going forward.  Clearly, there's more.

The actions from Vision in Silver changed the power dynamics, with the cassandra sangue sheltered by the Others and certain radical human elements pushing for discord in order to profit.  Only, there are terra indigene that even the Others on the fringes of human society speak of only in whispers.  The Courtyards and the shifters have stood as barrier between humans and these Elders.  But terra indigene have learned from the humans before, and what they learn this time may not be to anyone's benefit.  And they Meg has piqued the Elders' interest as well.

This is a series that I definitely enjoy reading, and it's interesting to see characters struggle with their natures.  To some extent I'm never fully comfortable with the cutting aspect of the book.  I think it's done well, particularly the treatment of it as an addiction and that itchy need that goes along with it.  However, I always worry that the fantasy part of it elevates the cutting into something that makes it more attractive.  But a big part of the ongoing plot is how to keep prophesy without the need forcassandre sange self-harm, how it's not a simple problem.

I will admit that to some extent having the Elders show up seems a bit like a cop-out.  I don't think shifters and sanguinati needed something that even they're scared of, something that could bring about their extinction along with that of the humans.  My issue isn't with the idea of there being super scary terra indigene, more that the relationship between the "regular" terra indigene and the Elders is akin to that between the humans and the "regular" terra indigene.  But overall it's a minor complaint.  The most important thing about the Elders is it reinforces the idea that the terra indigene are truly other, that human form is a shape they wear.

I'm interested to see where Bishop takes the story next.

Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Roc/Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition.