Hunting Ground is the second novel in the “Alpha and Omega” series by Patricia Briggs. It is a paranormal romance with werewolves, witches, vampires, and the Fae – a little bit of something for most paranormal readers. The “Alpha and Omega” series is a spinoff of the Mercy Thompson series. Even if you are not a fan of romance, this is a good read. The romance does not overpower the main story. There are merely touches of romance when dealing with the progression of the relationship between the main characters.
In Hunting Ground, Anna and Charles are newly mated and still adjusting to each other. The Marrok, Bran, sends the two of them to Seattle to deal with a coalition of Alphas from Europe. He wants to address their issues with taking the werewolves public. Bran has decided to do so whether the Europeans agree to or not so he is offering his assistance with any complications they may face because of his decision.
Due to the meeting, there are obviously new characters in this novel. Jean Chastel is the most notable new character. He is also known by the werewolf community as “The Beast,” because he has a history of preying on human women and children in the light of day. Several centuries ago, he focused his attacks on the village of Gevaudan until he became notorious among the humans. When the Marrok stepped in and made him stop, he masked his true identity to the human population by going into the woods and killing “The Beast” that had been ravaging their village. He then became the hero of Gevaudan to all but the werewolves. During negotiations, Charles must deal with Jean being too dominant and obnoxious. In fact, a French wolf calls Charles into a local restaurant on their first day in Seattle because Jean is facing off with the Spanish Alpha over table territory.
Another new character is Arthur Madden, the Alpha of the British Isles. He claims that he is King Arthur reincarnated and that Bran chose the name “Marrok” for his position because Sir Marrok was one of Arthur’s knights. He even carries a sword he calls Excalibur that he claims to have found in an excavation when he was just out of school – pulling the sword from the stone (haha). During the negotiations, Arthur seems to take a backseat to the goings on. By appearances, he does not want to get on Jean’s bad side.
For the meeting, Bran hired a Fae woman named Dana Shea to mediate. Of course, that is not her real name, but no one keeps secrets like the fairy folk. He hires her because she is a Greylord and can overpower the Alphas without being involved in their politics. Dana is an odd woman, who has a rather large and interesting role in the book, but to reveal more might spoil the story.
Angus Hopper is the Alpha for the Emerald City Pack. He hosts the meeting of the European Alphas in Seattle. Although he is the boss in the area, his parts in the story are relatively small. His second in command, Tom Franklin and Tom’s mate, Moira make a bigger showing when they take Anna shopping to get her out of the meetings.
Charles sends Anna out with Tom and Moira to keep the other Alphas from killing each other. Because of her past, she is anxious around Alphas and being surrounded by them all day makes her anxiety soar. The Alphas sense her fear and want to kill the source of it – oh the irony. To make matters worse, a group that apparently wants Anna attacks the three shoppers.
There were several other characters introduced to the series as well, but none of them are as prominent as these. However, the warning that the troll – that’s right, a troll – gives, is very prophetic: “Never trust the Fae.”
The storyline is well set and a quick read. It does not take much work to follow along with the plot. I have found that you do not need to read all of the series to understand what is going on, but it helps. Briggs does a wonderful job of giving back-story without boring those who have already read everything. I highly recommend Hunting Ground to anyone who has read the rest of the series, and to those who have not. Personally, I cannot wait for the next installment.