"Fight between humans and Others grows in this delightful fantasy world"
Reviewed by Make Kay
Posted March 8, 2016
Fantasy | Science Fiction Alternate History
MARKED IN FLESH is book 4 in The Others series
by the marvelous Anne Bishop. This amazing series is one
of my favorites that I am currently hawking everywhere I
go. My goal is to get everyone around me to pick up these
books and find out for themselves what an entrancing and
utterly compelling world Bishop is crafting. Bishop is a
master at fantasy, and The Others showcases a
glorious mix of humans trying to coexist with shifters,
vampires, and very powerful fae-like Elders of the terra
indigene, who are very primal and magical beings who
definitely don't play by any rules that humans would
A series meant to be read in order, MARKED IN FLESH may
slightly frustrate those of us who are rooting for the
frustratingly slow blooming romance between Simon
Wolfgard (leader of the Lakeside Courtyard community of
Others) and Meg (an escaped blood prophet). I laughed
when I saw someone's comment on Goodreads saying, "come on,
just let them kiss already!" Meg stumbled into the
Courtyard after fleeing her captivity by humans who hold
cassandra sangue, or blood prophets, imprisoned to sell
their prophesies. Meg finds a place of safety where she is
slowly growing into herself and figuring out how to rescue
herself and other cassandra sangue from the need to cut
themselves in order to see prophesies. Having grown up
sequestered from the real world so nothing interrupts
her valuable prophesies, everything around her is still new
and frightening. As Meg learns about the world around her,
we do too, and it's such an innocent yet
brilliant way to experience the worldbuilding Bishop
leads us through.
Tensions are continuing to build between the Others and
a group called Humans First and Last or HFL. As one should
expect, the bigoted HFL foments fear of the
Others and attempts to stir up dissent to eject the Others
from the shared land. Stupidly, HFL does not realize the
power the terra indigene have, especially the shadowy
Elders who do not interact with humans normally. In book
4, the Elders unleash a little of the fury the Humans
First and Last right deserve, and the chaos is glorious to
see. My favorite part of this series continues to be the
excellent job Bishop does in making one sense the
absolute Otherness or nonhuman-ness of the terra indigene's
thoughts. They think of Meg as "Sweet Blood;" one who
retains the sweetness of a child and whose blood swims with
visions, and she is "not prey." The Others call
humans "clever meat." I love the very foreign sense
these stories are imbued with.
The childlike sensibilities of many of the wolves and
the cassandra sangue provide a great contrast to the world-
weary and suspicious outlook of many of the older Others.
Meg's naiveté and Simon's lack of recognition that he and
Meg are slowly falling in love provide a light counterpart
to the tension that continues to build in the series as the
hostilities between human and Other escalate.
Excellently paced and wonderfully diverting, MARKED IN
FLESH is yet
another resounding winner from Anne Bishop. I
will eagerly read anything the brilliant Bishop
writes, and I can't wait to see where The Others
Fourth in the “flawless” (The Reading Café) New
series from the author of VISION IN SILVER.
For centuries, the Others and humans have lived side by
in uneasy peace. But
when humankind oversteps its bounds, the Others will have
decide how much
humanity they’re willing to tolerate—both within
and within their
Since the Others allied themselves with the cassandra
sangue, the fragile yet
powerful human blood prophets who were being exploited by
their own kind, the
delicate dynamic between humans and Others changed. Some,
like Simon Wolfgard,
wolf shifter and leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and
prophet Meg Corbyn,
see the new, closer companionship as beneficial—both
personally and practically.
But not everyone is convinced. A group of radical humans
seeking to usurp land
through a series of violent attacks on the Others. What
don’t realize is that
there are older and more dangerous forces than shifters
the land that belongs to the Others—and those forces are
willing to do whatever is
necessary to protect what is theirs...
Sunsday, Juin 5
The sweet blood has changed things. You have changed
because of her. We are intrigued by the humans who have
gathered around your Courtyard, so we will give you some
time to decide how much human the terra indigene will
Simon Wolfgard, leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, stared
at his bedroom ceiling, the words of warning, of threat,
chasing away sleep, as they had for the past few nights.
The words weren’t the only thing chasing away sleep.
Procrastination was a human trait, and in this past week,
he’d discovered that it had its own kind of bite. Wolves
didn’t procrastinate. When the pack needed food, they
went hunting. They didn’t make excuses or find some
unimportant thing that didn’t need doing at that very
minute. They got on with the business of taking care of
the things that, in turn, took care of them.
I wanted Meg to heal from the cut she made last week. I
wanted to give her time before asking her to carry some
of the weight of these decisions. She’s the Trailblazer
who is finding ways for other cassandra sangue to
survive. She didn’t make decisions for herself or anyone
else for twenty-four years, and now she’s supposed to
make all these important decisions that could mean life
or death for . . . who? The other blood prophets? All the
humans living in Thaisia?
Growling, as if that would scare his thoughts into
hiding, Simon rolled over, closed his eyes, and pushed
his face into his pillow, determined to get a little more
sleep. But the thoughts were excellent hunters and
We will give you some time to decide how much human the
terra indigene will keep.
For the past week, he’d made excuses to himself and the
rest of the Courtyard’s Business Association, and they
had let him make those excuses because none of them—not
Vlad or Henry or Tess—wanted to tell Meg what was truly
at stake now. But time, like Meg’s strange, fragile skin,
was not something he could afford to waste.
Rolling the other way, Simon stared at the window. As he
raised his head, his ears shifted to Wolf shape, pricking
to better catch the sounds outside
Sparrows. Those first sleepy chirps that announced the
dawn when the sky began its change from black to gray.
Pushing aside the tangled sheet, Simon hustled into the
bathroom to pee. As he washed his hands, he glanced over
his shoulder. Did he need to shower? He bent his head and
gave himself a sniff. He smelled like a healthy Wolf. So
he would shower later when he’d have to deal with more
than the one human who was his special friend. Besides,
she wouldn’t be taking a shower either.
He took a step away from the sink, then stopped. Skipping
a shower was one thing, but the human mouth in the
morning produced scents strong enough to discourage close
Loading toothpaste onto his toothbrush, Simon studied his
reflection while he cleaned his teeth. Dark hair that was
getting shaggy—he’d need to do something about that
before the Courtyard’s guests arrived. Skin that had
browned a bit from working outside without a shirt on.
And the amber eyes of a Wolf. Human skin or Wolf form,
the eyes didn’t change.
He rinsed out his mouth and started to put the toothbrush
back in the medicine chest above the sink. Then he looked
at his reflection and lifted his lips to reveal his
No, the eyes didn’t change when he shifted to Wolf, but .
Shifting his head to Wolf form, he loaded the toothbrush
with toothpaste a second time and brushed the other,
better, set of teeth. Then he growled because a Wolf’s
mouth wasn’t designed to rinse and spit. He ended up
leaning over the sink and pouring cups of water over his
teeth and tongue so no one would think he was foaming at
“Next time I’m just chewing a twig as usual,” he grumbled
when he shifted back to fully human.
Returning to the bedroom, he pulled on jeans and a T-
shirt. Then he stepped to the window and put his face
close to the screen. Cool enough outside for socks and
sneakers—and a sweatshirt since they would be walking at
Meg’s speed, not his.
He finished dressing, then grabbed his keys out of the
dish on his dresser and went out the door in his
apartment that opened onto the back hallway he shared
with Meg. He unlocked her kitchen door and opened it
carefully. Sometimes she used the slide lock as extra
security, and breaking her door by accident would just
He’d caused enough trouble the time he’d broken the door
No slide lock. Good.
Simon slipped into Meg’s kitchen and quietly closed the
door. Then he headed for her bedroom.
A light breeze coming through the partially opened window
played with the summer curtains the female pack—Meg’s
human friends—had helped her purchase and hang. The
morning light also came through the window, giving him a
clear look at the woman curled up under the covers.
Was she cold? If he’d stayed with her last night, she
wouldn’t be cold.
“Meg?” Cautious, because she could kick like a moose when
she was scared, he gave her shoulder a little push. “Time
to wake up, Meg.”
She grunted and burrowed under the covers until only the
top of her head showed.
Holding out one hand to block a potential kick, Simon
laid the other hand on her hip and bounced her against
the mattress a couple of times.
“What? What?” Meg struggled to sit up, so he obligingly
grabbed her arm and pulled.
“Time to wake up.”
“Simon?” She turned her head and blinked at the window.
“It’s still dark.” She flopped down on the bed and tried
to pull up the covers.
He grabbed the covers, and the brief game of tug had her
sitting upright again.
“It’s not dark; it’s just early,” he said. “Come on, Meg.
We’ll take a walk.”
“It’s not morning. The alarm clock didn’t go off.”
“You don’t need an alarm clock. You’ve got sparrows, and
they say it’s morning.”
When she didn’t respond, Simon hauled her to her feet and
steered her out the bedroom door and down the hallway to
“Are you awake enough to pee and brush your teeth?”
She closed the door in his face.
Taking that as a yes, Simon returned to Meg’s bedroom and
pulled out the clothes she would need. Most of the
clothes. Apparently a male wasn’t supposed to take a
female’s underclothes out of a drawer unless he was mated
to that female. And males weren’t supposed to see the
underclothes unless females wanted the underclothes to be
He didn’t understand why everyone fussed about taking
clean clothes out of a drawer. Underclothes smelled a lot
more interesting after the female wore them.
Probably not something human females wanted to know.
While he waited, he made up the bed, more to discourage
Meg from falling back into it than because he wanted to
tidy the room. Besides, running his hands over the sheets
and breathing in her scent made him happy.
Why had he thought sleeping in his human form last night
was a good idea, especially when it meant sleeping alone?
If he had shifted to his Wolf form as he usually did, he
could have stayed with Meg, could have curled up next to
her in her bed.
All right, he hadn’t thought staying in human form
overnight was a good idea, just a necessary exercise. Six
Wolves from the Addirondak packs were coming to the
Lakeside Courtyard next week to experience interacting
with humans in ways they couldn’t in their own territory.
Three were adults who were already dealing with the
humans who lived in towns located in and around the
Addirondak Mountains. The other three were juveniles who
had completed their first year of the human-centric
education that would train them to keep watch over the
humans living in Thaisia.
Keeping watch to make sure humans kept to the agreements
their ancestors had made with the terra indigene was
dangerous work. The Others might refer to humans as
clever meat—and they were—but they were also invading
predators who grabbed territory whenever they could. And
despite what their government officials said, humans
weren’t really concerned with the overall well-being of
their kind. Humans belonging to the Humans First and Last
movement had howled about a food shortage in Thaisia and
said the terra indigene had caused it. But it was the HFL
humans who had sold the surplus stores of food to the
Cel-Romano Alliance of Nations for profit and then lied
about it. Those lies had spurred a fight in Lakeside that
resulted in the deaths of police officer Lawrence
MacDonald and Crystal Crowgard. By doing those things,
humans had drawn the attention of terra indigene who
usually stayed away from human-controlled places while
their intentions were benevolent.
Those earth natives, who lived deep in the wild country,
had decided that the humans living in Thaisia had
committed a breach of trust, and all agreements between
humans and the Others might be rescinded. Probably would
be rescinded. Already there were restrictions on what
kind of cargo could be carried by ships traveling on the
Great Lakes. There were restrictions on what kind of
human could travel from one human city to another. The
human governments that oversaw human concerns on a
regional level were reeling from the sanctions. If ships
couldn’t carry food and merchandise from one region to
another, if trains couldn’t carry food and fuel to cities
that needed both, what would happen to all the humans
living on the continent?
If the humans who were supposed to be in charge had paid
any attention to Thaisia’s history, they would know what
would happen to the humans. The invasive, two-legged
predators would be eliminated, and the land would be
reclaimed by the earth natives, the terra indigene, the
But that wouldn’t be as easy to do as it had been a few
centuries ago. Then, there was little that the humans
built or used that would harm the land if left to decay
on its own. Now there were refineries that processed the
crude oil being drawn out of the earth. Now there were
places that stored fuel. Now there were industries that
might damage the land if left untended. How much would be
harmed if those things were destroyed or abandoned?
Simon had no answers, and the terra indigene who watched
over the wild country—the dangerous, primal beings who
cloaked their true terra indigene nature in forms so old
those shapes had no names—would not be concerned with
answers. Even if everything else disappeared from the
world to make room for the new that would be born from
destruction and change, they would still exist.
The terra indigene shifters like the Wolves and Bears,
the Hawks and Crows, referred to those forms as the
Elders, a benevolent-sounding word for the beings who
were Namid’s teeth and claws.
Meg returned from the bathroom, looking a little more
awake and a lot less happy to see him. She was going to
be more unhappy when she found out why he wanted to take
“Get dressed, Meg. We need to talk.”
She pointed at the bedroom door.
He was the leader of the Courtyard and she was an
employee of the Courtyard, so she shouldn’t be allowed to
give him orders, even nonverbal ones. But he was learning
that, when dealing with humans, pack order wasn’t always
maintained inside the den. Which meant Meg was dominant
in her den and could disregard that he was dominant
He left the room and closed the door, then pressed his
ear against the wood. Drawers opening, drawers closing.
“Stop hovering, Simon.”
She sounded annoyed instead of sleepy. Having
sufficiently poked the porcupine, so to speak, he went
back to her kitchen and checked out her cupboards and
fridge to make sure she had enough people food. Half a
quart of milk; a couple of bites of cheese—maybe more in
terms of human bites; a small bowl of strawberries—her
share of the berries she and Henry Beargard had picked
yesterday; a wrapped half a sandwich from A Little Bite,
the Courtyard’s coffee shop.
Her cupboard had a canning jar of peaches, a jar of
spaghetti sauce, and a box of spaghetti.
“If you’re poking around for leftover pizza, I ate it
last night,” Meg said, entering the kitchen.
Simon closed the cupboard. Was this a typical amount of
food for humans to store in the warmer months? He didn’t
have more than this in his kitchen, but he usually chased
down his meal and ate it fresh, so other foods were just
supplements that he enjoyed for taste and were good for
the human form.
“Did you want something to eat?” Meg asked.
“Later.” Leaving her kitchen, he went down the back
stairs that led to the outer door, confident that she
would follow him. Once outside, he took her hand, linking
his fingers with hers, a form of contact and connection
they’d started a week ago after she’d spoken prophecy
about the River Road Community.
“The grass is wet,” Meg said. “Shouldn’t we walk on the
Simon shook his head. This morning the road, which was
wide enough for a vehicle and formed a circle inside the
Courtyard, felt too human.
How to start? What to say?
They passed the expanded kitchen garden for the Green
Complex, the only multispecies complex in the Courtyard.
As a way to help the humans who were working for the
Courtyard, the Others had agreed to let those humans
share in the harvest if they did their share of the work.
There was at least one human checking the garden every
day, making sure the plants had enough water—and the
females especially had eyes like a Hawk’s when it came to
spotting a weed.
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