"Fantastic and gripping urban fantasy explodes with tension"
Reviewed by Make Kay
Posted February 24, 2015
Oh my god, The Others series by Anne Bishop just
getting better, and I'm not sure how that's even possible,
because books one and two were so fantastic. And yet,
VISION IN SILVER is even more incredibly, mind-blowingly
extraordinary. There are werewolves and other shifters,
vampires, and very powerful fae-like elder terra indigene.
But this series is not like others urban fantasy or
dystopians you've read. It's dark and gritty. And it's
One of the main characters in this book is Meg. Meg is a
cassandra sangue, a young woman held prisoner in near-
sensory deprivation by humans, who was forced to make
controlled cuts that would allow her to make prophecies on
demand for payment. Meg escaped her captors, and in
fleeing, fell into her unique position working in the
mailroom in the terra indigene's Courtyard for The Others.
Now Meg is working to understand her self-rehabilitation
she can help other rescued Cassandra Sangue deal with the
overwhelming stimuli of the free world they are now
to. I love how Meg is slowly learning to cope with the
humans and the Others around her and titrate her
surroundings so she can discover new things but not feel
the need to cut herself to deal with the resultant
anxiety. Meg's growth and slow blooming is painful and
also beautiful to experience.
Simon is the wolf in charge of The Courtyard and the
in Lakeside. It's fascinating to watch him try to
understand the humans around him, especially Meg. I adore
Bishop's masterful work at showing us how differently and
other-ish the Others think, more like animals than humans.
The foreignness of their thoughts is so creepy and well
done, it give me goose bumps sometimes. The Others call
humans "clever meat." Simon and the terra indigene are
faced with the growing threat of the Humans First and Last
movement. The HFL is not only targeting the Others, but
also the humans who have dealing with them, and the
rhetoric and the skirmishes are heating up here.
There are wonderful political and ethical themes
this book, beautifully realized, but it's easy to get
distracted from some of the underlying truths by the
absolute kick-butt action and the hair-raising behavior of
both the Others and the fanatical HFL humans. The
trust between some of the Others and the humans who deal
with them and also the development of the released
Cassandra Sangue bring a lovely hope to the story. The
pace is excellent, with fairly steady action, and the
tension is positively gripping. If there's a single book
you must pick up this year, VISION IN SILVER is it.
The New York Times bestselling author of The Black Jewels
Trilogy transports readers to a world of magic and
unrest—where the only chance at peace requires a deadly
The Others freed the cassandra sangue to protect the
prophets from exploitation, not realizing their actions
would have dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are
greater danger than ever before—both from their own
weaknesses and from those who seek to control their
divinations for wicked purposes.
In desperate need of answers, Simon Wolfgard, a
shape-shifter leader among the Others, has no choice but
enlist blood prophet Meg Corbyn’s help, regardless of the
risks she faces by aiding him.
Meg is still deep in the throes of her addiction to the
euphoria she feels when she cuts and speaks prophecy. She
knows each slice of her blade tempts death. But Others
humans alike need answers, and her visions may be Simon’s
only hope of ending the conflict.
For the shadows of war are deepening across the Atlantik,
and the prejudice of a fanatic faction is threatening to
bring the battle right to Meg and Simon’s doorstep…
Thaisday, Maius 10
Meg Corbyn entered the bathroom in the Human Liaison’s
Office and laid out the
items she’d labeled the tools of prophecy: antiseptic
ointment, bandages, and
the silver folding razor decorated with pretty leaves and
flowers on one side
of the handle. On the other side of the handle, engraved
in plain lettering,
was the designation cs759. For twenty-four years, that
designation had been the
closest thing she’d had to a name.
She had a name now and a real apartment instead of a
sterile cell. In the
compound where she had been raised and trained . . . and
used . . . she’d had
one friend: Jean, the girl who wouldn’t allow anyone to
forget that she’d once
had a home and a family outside the compound—the girl who
had helped Meg
Now Meg had many friends, and it didn’t matter to her that
most of them weren’t
human. The terra indigene had given her a chance to have a
life, were helping
her find ways to live with the addiction that would
eventually kill her. But
Simon Wolfgard, leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, insisted
he’d seen someone
like her who had survived long enough to become an old
She wanted to believe that was possible. She hoped this
might provide a clue to how it was possible.
After checking to make sure she hadn’t forgotten anything
they would need, Meg
sat on the closed toilet seat and waited for Merri Lee,
the human friend who
was learning to work as her listener and interpreter.
The cassandra sangue saw prophecies when their skin was
cut. They were trained
to describe the visions and images. But the girls weren’t
taught how to
interpret what they saw. That would have been pointless.
The moment a girl
began to speak, a euphoria filled her, veiling her mind
and protecting her from
what those images revealed. In fact, the only way a blood
remember what she saw was to keep silent. If she didn’t
say the words out loud,
she remembered what she saw.
It took a particular kind of determination—or desperation—
to endure the agony
that filled a girl when she didn’t speak after her skin
was cut. And
experiencing the euphoria that was almost orgasmic was the
cassandra sangue became addicted to the cutting in the
It took a particular kind of courage to acknowledge that
completely escape the addiction after so many years of
being cut on a regular
schedule for someone else’s profit. The prophecies inside
her would not be
denied. Whether she wanted to or not, Meg needed to cut.
That was the reason today’s appointment with the razor was
so important. She
wasn’t experiencing the pins-and-needles feeling that
indicated something was
going to happen. Nothing pushed at her, and that made this
morning the perfect
time to discover what happened when she made a controlled
The back door of the office opened. A moment later, Merri
Lee stood in the
bathroom doorway holding a small pad of paper and a pen.
They were both petite women around the same age, and both
had fair skin. But
Merri Lee had dark eyes and dark, layered hair that fell
below her shoulders
while Meg had clear gray eyes and short black hair that
was still mostly a
weird orangey red from her efforts to disguise herself
when she ran away from
the man known as the Controller.
“Are you sure about this?” Merri Lee asked. “Maybe we
should wait until Simon
and Henry get back from Great Island.”
Meg shook her head. “We should do this now, before the
office opens and there’s
additional . . . input . . . that might change what I see.
Vlad is working at
Howling Good Reads today. We can tell him about the
prophecy—and he’s close
enough if we need help.”
“All right.” Merri Lee pulled over a chair from the little
dining area, set it
just outside the bathroom doorway, and sat down. “What
should I ask you?”
Meg had thought about this. When clients had come to the
they had a specific question. She wasn’t looking for
anything that defined, but
she needed some kind of boundary. “This is what you should
ask: What should the
residents of the Lakeside Courtyard watch for during the
“That’s pretty vague,” Merri Lee said. “And . . .
“If I ask about a specific thing in the Courtyard,
something else might be
overlooked—and that might be the important thing the
Others should know about,”
Meg replied. “Two weeks is enough time. As for
‘fortnight,’ I just learned that
word and like the sound of it. I think it fits in with
prophecies better than
saying ‘two weeks.’”
“But if this doesn’t work, if we don’t get anything
useful, then you’ve made
the cut for nothing,” Merri Lee argued.
“Not for nothing,” Meg said. The euphoria was reason
enough to cut. That wasn’t
something she would say to her friend, so she offered a
different truth. “If I
can stretch out the time between cuts because one cut will
supply the warnings
we need for two weeks and quiet the pins-and-needles
feeling that pushes me to
cut, I’ll have more years to live. And I do want to live—
especially now that I
have a real life.”
A beat of silence. Then Merri Lee said, “Ready?”
“Yes.” Opening the silver razor, Meg laid the blade flat
against her skin, its
one-quarter-inch width providing the perfect distance
between cuts—the distance
that kept prophecies separated without wasting valuable
skin. She lined up the
back of the blade with the last scar on her left forearm.
Then she turned her
hand and cut just deeply enough for blood to flow freely
important, for the cut to leave a scar.
Agony filled her, the prelude to prophecy. Hearing someone
one else could hear—Meg gritted her teeth, set the razor
aside, and positioned
her arm to rest in the bathroom sink. Then she gave Merri
Lee a sharp nod.
“What should the residents of the Lakeside Courtyard watch
for during the next
fortnight?” Merri Lee said. “Speak, prophet, and I will
She spoke, revealing everything she saw. The images faded
with the sound of the
words as waves of euphoria produced a delicious tingle in
her breasts and a
rhythmic tug between her legs, replacing the pain.
She didn’t know how long she floated on the pleasure
produced by the euphoria.
Sometimes it seemed to fade within moments of identifying
the last image, while
at other times she drifted for a while in a haze of
physical pleasure. When she
became aware of her surroundings again, Meg realized
enough time had passed
that Merri Lee had bandaged the cut, cleaned the razor,
and washed the sink.
The blood of the cassandra sangue was dangerous to humans
and Others alike. It
had been used to make gone over wolf and feel-good, two
drugs that had caused
so much trouble throughout Thaisia in the past few months.
That was the reason
why, when they made plans for this cut, she and Merri Lee
agreed that all the
blood would be washed away, and the bandages would be
collected later and taken
to the Courtyard’s Utilities Complex for incineration.
“Did it work?” Meg asked. “Did I speak prophecy? Did I see
Her voice sounded rough, and her throat hurt. She wanted
to ask Merri Lee for a
glass of water or maybe some juice, but she couldn’t rouse
herself enough to
say anything more.
“Meg, do you trust me?”
That sounded like an ominous way to answer her own
questions. “Yes, I trust
Merri Lee nodded, as if coming to a decision. “Yes, it
worked. Better than we
could have hoped. I need a little time to sort the images
into some kind of
Not a lie, exactly, but not the truth either.
Meg studied her friend. “You don’t want to tell me what I
said, what I saw.”
“No, I don’t. I really don’t.”
“Meg.” Merri Lee closed her eyes for a moment. “No one in
the Courtyard is in
immediate danger, but you said a couple of things that
were . . . disturbing,
things I’m not sure how to interpret. I want to do a
preliminary shuffling of
images, like we did the last time when we drew the images
on index cards and
kept arranging them until they told us a story. Then I’ll
go to Howling Good
Reads and talk to Vlad.”
“I didn’t see anything bad happening to Sam? Or Simon? Or
. . . anyone here?”
In human form, Sam Wolfgard looked to be around eight or
nine years old now,
but he was still a puppy. And Simon was her friend. Just
the thought of
something happening to either of them made her chest hurt.
Merri Lee shook her head. “You didn’t say anything that
would indicate someone
here was going to be in trouble.” She touched Meg’s hand.
“We’re both learning
how to do this, and I want someone else’s feedback before
you and I talk about
what you saw. Okay?”
No immediate danger. None of her friends at risk. “Okay.”
“It’s almost nine o’clock. You should eat something before
you open the
Meg followed Merri Lee out of the bathroom, feeling a
little lightheaded. Yes,
she needed to eat, needed a little quiet time. Needed to
figure out what to say
to whichever Wolf had guard duty today. Even if she tried
to avoid him, the
Wolf would smell the blood and ointment. She was pretty
sure she could talk
John into not sounding an alarm, and if it was Skippy’s
turn as watch Wolf, a
couple of cookies would distract him. On the other hand,
if Blair, the
Courtyard’s primary enforcer, showed up with Skippy, as he
usually did . . .
Maybe Merri Lee was right about telling Vlad before
someone started howling
about the cut and brought everyone running to demand
“Merri?” Meg said as Merri Lee opened the office’s back
door. “I didn’t see
anything else about the Others?”
Merri Lee shook her head. Then she frowned. “Well, you did
see paws digging.”
“Digging?” Now Meg frowned. “Why would that be important
enough to see in a
“Don’t know. Maybe Vlad or the Wolves will be able to
figure it out.” Merri Lee
hesitated. “Will you be all right? You’re not dizzy or
“No, I’m fine.”
“Remember to eat.”
As soon as Merri Lee closed the back door, Meg looked in
fridge. In the compound, the Walking Names who looked
after the girls never
gave them a choice about what to eat after a cut. They
were fed well, but they
were never given a choice. About anything.
Unable to decide, Meg warmed a small piece of quiche and
half a beef sandwich
in the wave-cooker. She poured a glass of orange juice,
then took her meal into
the sorting room.
She could select one of the CDs she’d borrowed from Music
and Movies and listen
to music while she ate. Or she could look at one of the
magazines she was using
to provide herself with images for the prophecies.
But she didn’t want new sounds or new images right now.
She wanted to know what
she had seen. She wanted to help figure out what the
And even though her friend had tried to be reassuring, Meg
wanted to know what
she’d seen that Merri Lee didn’t want to talk about.
Vladimir Sanguinati, co-manager of Howling Good Reads,
settled behind the desk
in the bookstore’s office. Turning on the computer, he
ignored the scant stack
of paperwork and wrote a quick e-mail to Stavros
Sanguinati, who lived in
Toland, the big East Coast city where the largest book
publishers were located.
Human book publishers, that is. Since the shakeup in the
Midwest Region a
couple of weeks ago, shipments of all kinds of material
had slowed down,
whether those materials came from the Midwest or not. So
it was possible that
the human publishers really were out of so many of the
books he’d ordered for
the store and were waiting for the next shipment of paper
in order to print
copies of backlist books and new titles. Or they could
foolishly be out of
stock only for orders sent in by the terra indigene.
Stavros would find out. Like Grandfather Erebus, he
enjoyed old movies and
often played at being a caricature of his own kind, the
country vampire wearing
blue jeans, a plaid shirt, and work boots who said things
like, “Ve vant a six-
pack of blood.” But when he was on official business for
the Toland Courtyard,
Stavros followed the Sanguinati tradition of wearing
black, and there was
nothing countrified about him when he arrived in a
limousine, dressed in a suit
of the finest material.
Stavros was euphemistically called the Toland Courtyard’s
Knowing how the other vampire solved problems, Vlad could
almost pity any human
who received an official visit. So Stavros would encourage
businesses to put
stores like Howling Good Reads first when they were
filling backorders, and
Vlad would be able to fill the requests coming in from the
settlements that received goods from the Lakeside
Courtyard. The goods
manufactured by humans were the only reason the terra
indigene on the continent
of Thaisia tolerated the continued existence of those
invasive monkeys. If
goods were no longer supplied, humans had value as only
one thing: meat.
As Vlad sent the e-mail, he heard someone coming up the
footsteps but not furtive ones. Could be someone in the
human pack wanting to
use the computer in the Business Association’s room, which
took up the other
half of HGR’s second floor. They were supposed to ask
permission before going
into that room, and the newer employees were still getting
used to working for,
and dealing directly with, the Others. That could explain
When Merri Lee stopped in the doorway and he saw the look
on her face, Vlad
understood that the hesitation he’d heard was because she
knew he wasn’t going
to like whatever she had come to tell him. He closed the
e-mail program and
waited to see what the exploding fluffball wanted.
When Howling Good Reads had been open to human customers,
he’d heard human
females refer to him as “eye candy,” which meant his dark
hair and eyes, his
olive skin, and his handsome face easily attracted his
prey. For him, feeding
was often combined with foreplay.
But Merri Lee had never shown any sexual interest in him,
which proved she was
more sensible than other human females, and since she was
dating a police
officer, he didn’t think she was about to throw herself at
Which meant he really wasn’t going to like her reason for
coming up here to
“Is there something I can do for you, Ms. Lee?” he finally
asked when she
continued to hover in the doorway.
She rushed in and sat in the visitor’s chair.
She’s shaking, he thought, suddenly wary. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. Yet,” Merri Lee replied. “You need to tell the
watch Wolf not to get
upset and stir everyone up.”
It occurred to him that he didn’t know who was supposed to
be on duty today.
Nathan Wolfgard, one of the Courtyard’s best enforcers,
was usually the Wolf on
guard when Meg was working in the Human Liaison’s Office.
But Nathan was on
leave for a couple more weeks, running with the Wolves in
Mountains, free to shed his responsibilities along with
the human skin. The
Sanguinati were more at home in human cities since smoke,
their other form,
made them ideal predators in an urban environment. But
shifters like the
Wolves, Bears, and various feline gards found life in a
Courtyard a constant
Working in a Courtyard was a sacrifice some terra indigene
made for the benefit
of the rest of their kind. They kept watch over the two-
legged predators who
had come to Thaisia from other parts of the world. They
made it possible for
humans to exist on this continent. Vlad wondered if any
humans realized that—or
realized what happened to the places granted to humans
when a “civilized” place
like a Courtyard disappeared.
But those thoughts weren’t important right now, not with
this female staring at
him from the other side of the desk.
“What will upset the Wolf?” he asked, having an uneasy
feeling that he already
knew the answer.
“Meg made a cut.”
Vlad’s hands closed into fists, but he stayed seated.
“We planned it for this morning,” Merri Lee said
hurriedly. “A kind of
Let her talk. “Something upset Meg?”
“No. See, that was the whole point. Making a controlled
cut when nothing was
A thousand cuts. Supposedly that’s all a cassandra sangue
could make before the
cut that would kill her or drive her insane. And it wasn’t
just the cuts made
with a razor. Any injury that broke skin counted as part
of that number. Most
of those girls wouldn’t see their thirty-fifth birthday,
and here was Meg
cutting without a reason.
Addiction was its own reason. That would explain why Meg
had chosen a time when
Simon Wolfgard and Henry Beargard were away from the
Courtyard. But that didn’t
explain Merri Lee coming to see him.
He needed to sound calm, reasonable. Merri Lee was a
member of Meg’s human
pack, and the two girls had shown an ability to work
together to interpret
prophecy. “Was the experiment successful?”
Merri Lee nodded. “It was different from the last time I
assisted. After the
initial . . . discomfort . . . Meg began speaking. Lots of
images. I think she
heard some things too, but the sounds were part of the
images. I wrote them
down.” She handed him a sheet of paper.
Vlad studied the long list. “What does that mean?” He
pointed to a P in
parentheses after some of the words.
“It’s a pause,” Merri Lee said. “That was different from
the last time. This
time Meg paused, like a rest in music, so I thought each
group of words made up
a picture.” She handed him index cards.
He took them reluctantly. “What was the question you
“We asked what the residents of the Lakeside Courtyard
should watch for during
the next fortnight.”
“Residents? Not just the terra indigene?”
She hesitated. “No. We said residents, not just the
Others. So what Meg saw
applies to everyone who lives in the Courtyard.”
Which meant everyone included Meg and Merri Lee.
Vlad looked at the “stories” on the index cards and felt
Help Wanted: NWLNA
Trail Fire (blaze/inferno?). Path Compass/Compass Path?
Pregnant girl on dirt road. Silver razor. Blood. “Don’t!
It’s not too late!”
Girl crying. Silver razor. Broken deer beside highway
Brown bear eating jewels.
Vegetable garden. Paws digging, hands planting.
FOR SALE signs.
Some of the “stories” meant nothing to him. But if he was
correctly, all of the terra indigene would need to act
Vlad studied Merri Lee. Some of the “stories” meant
nothing to him, but they
did mean something to her.
“Which ones do you understand?” He placed the index cards
on the edge of the
desk where she could reach them.
She hesitated, then pointed to Help Wanted: NWLNA. “Above
the door of the
Liaison’s Office are the letters HLDNA, which stand for
‘Human Law Does Not
Apply.’ NWLNA stands for ‘No Wolf Lover Need Apply.’” She
swallowed hard and
wouldn’t meet his eyes. “In the past week, quite a few
employment ads in the
Lakeside News have those letters at the end, and I’ve seen
a couple of those
signs in shop windows.”
“I see.” And he did see. Label anyone who wanted to keep
peace between humans
and the terra indigene as a Wolf lover, especially if that
interacted with the Others in any capacity, and force
those people to choose
between having a job and feeding their families, and
opposing the fools who
would provoke a fight that would end with many, many
humans dead or driven out
of the city.
Thinking about the humans who worked in the Courtyard and
two basic things
everyone needed—food and shelter—he asked, “Are these
letters applied only to
jobs or also to housing?”
Merri Lee didn’t answer him, and that was answer enough.
“What else?” Vlad asked.
“It . . . It’s not for me to say.”
He leaned forward. She flinched.
“Say it anyway,” he suggested.
“Ruth Stuart and Karl Kowalski. Everyone is being
encouraged to make some kind
of garden this summer and grow a few vegetables to
supplement what you can find
in the market. Well, Ruth and Karl bought the material and
built the raised
vegetable bed for their apartment building with the
understanding that they
would be able to use half the bed and the other tenants in
including the landlord, would share the other half. But
once the work was done,
the landlord gave them notice, said they’re unacceptable
tenants. He wants them
out by the end of Maius because he’s already got
acceptable people moving in on
the first of Juin. That gives Ruth and Karl three weeks to
find another place
and move. They signed a lease for a year, and they’ve
barely had time to get
settled in their new place. That man says he isn’t going
to reimburse them for
the materials they bought or return their security deposit
or the last month’s
rent, which they paid when they signed the lease. If they
before they did all the work, why are they unacceptable
now? And if this guy
gets away with it, what’s to stop the next landlord from
pulling the same
What was to stop this landlord from pulling the same trick
on the next tenant?
Sounded like it could be a human-versus-human problem.
Humans cheated one
another all the time.
But Karl Kowalski was one of the police officers who
worked directly with the
leaders of the Courtyard to keep any minor collisions
between humans and Others
from escalating into a major fight. If Kowalski was being
branded a Wolf lover
and was being driven out of his home because of it, the
Others needed to pay
more attention to things that on the surface seemed
strictly the business of
On the other hand, if Ruthie was the unacceptable tenant
because she actually
worked for the Lakeside Courtyard now, then the trouble
with this particular
landlord was no longer strictly human business, was it?
Something to discuss with Grandfather Erebus.
At least Merri Lee, all fired up now in defense of her
friends, was acting more
like her usual self rather than a flinching bunny. She was
telling him about
Ruthie and Kowalski, but she was also revealing what she
and Michael Debany
were facing. Debany was another police officer who dealt
with the Others, and
Merri Lee worked for the Courtyard. Right now, she lived
in one of the
efficiency apartments above the seamstress/tailor’s shop,
but sooner or later,
she and Debany would want to live together as a mated pair
and would face the
“Anything else?” he asked. She’d already given him plenty
to think about, but
he sensed the girl wasn’t finished.
Merri Lee pointed to the warning about something not being
too late. “I don’t
think that was part of the vision. I think Meg shouted
that in an attempt to
warn the girl she saw in the vision.” She blew out a
breath. “Both ‘stories’
about girls included a silver razor. The blood prophets
are in trouble, aren’t
“Trouble” might be a small word for what could be
happening to those girls.
“Thank you, Ms. Lee,” Vlad said, ignoring her question.
“You and Meg have given
me a lot to consider. But now it’s time we all started the
filling out orders in the bookstore today, aren’t you?”
“Yes. What orders I can fill, anyway.” Merri Lee stood up,
but she didn’t make
a move toward the door. “Ruth wasn’t going to tell you
about the vegetable bed
or the other part.”
“Then I’m glad you told me.”
Vlad listened to Merri Lee go down the stairs before
pushing away from the desk
and walking over to the windows that overlooked Crowfield
Damn monkeys kept chattering about the Humans First and
Last movement on the
radio and in the newspaper. Humans were an upstart species
compared to the
terra indigene, who, in one form or another, had been
walking in the world long
before the dinosaurs. But humans thought they should
control the world, and the
speeches made by members of the HFL movement encouraged
that kind of thinking.
Didn’t humans realize the terra indigene had heard such
words before? Didn’t
humans understand that such words were a warning that a
fight for territory was
building under the surface?
Didn’t they wonder what had happened to cities, and
civilizations, the previous
times humans had made such claims?
Fine, Vlad thought. Let it come. You monkeys have no idea
what’s out there in
the wild country. But you’ll find out. If you start a
fight with the Others in
Thaisia, you will find out.
As he idly watched the traffic moving along Crowfield
Avenue, he saw a car pull
up across the street. Two men got out, gathered some
material from the trunk,
and began pounding a sign into the yard of one of the
large stone apartment
buildings across the street from the Courtyard. Then they
went across the yard
of a two-story wood house and pounded another sign into
the lawn of the other
large stone apartment building.
Vlad looked over his shoulder at the index cards sitting
on the desk. He
studied the FOR SALE signs that had just been put up
across the street.
Can’t wait to discuss this with Simon, he thought as he
returned to the desk
and sent a quick e-mail to all the Sanguinati living in
Thaisia. What Meg saw
is already in motion, which means the blood prophets, the
sweet blood, are
already in danger.
He closed the e-mail program and left Howling Good Reads,
not even stopping
long enough to tell Merri Lee he was leaving. Shifting to
his smoke form, Vlad
raced to the Chambers to report to Grandfather Erebus.
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