Hunting Ground (Alpha and Omega Series #2)by Patricia Briggs
Anna and Charles have just been enlisted to attend a summit to present Bran's controversial proposition:
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Anne Latham didn't know how complicated life could be until she became a werewolf. And until she was mated to Charles Cornick, the son--and enforcer--of Bran, the leader of the North American werewolves, she didn't know how dangerous it could be either...
Anna and Charles have just been enlisted to attend a summit to present Bran's controversial proposition: that the wolves should finally reveal themselves to humans. But the most feared Alpha in Europe is dead set against the plan--and it seems like someone else might be, too. When Anna is attacked by vampires using pack magic, the kind of power only werewolves should be able to draw on, Charles and Anna must combine their talents to hunt down whoever is behind it all--or risk losing everything...
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She observed him from her chosen cover, as she'd done twice before. The first two times he'd been chopping wood, but today, after a heavy snowfall appropriate for the third week of December, he was shoveling the sidewalk. Today was the day she'd take him.
Heart in her mouth, she watched as he cleared the snow with carefully controlled violence. Every movement was exactly the same as the one before. Each slide of the shovel was strictly parallel to previous marks. And in his fierce control, she saw his rage, tamped and contained by will alone—like a pipe bomb.
Flattening herself and breathing lightly so he wouldn't see her, she considered how she would do it. From behind, she thought, as fast as possible, to give him no time to react. One quick movement and it would all be over—if she didn't lose her courage, as she had the first two times.
Something told her that it had to be today, that she wouldn't get a fourth opportunity. He was wary and disciplined—and if he weren't so angry, surely his senses, werewolf sharp, would have discovered her hiding place in the snow beneath the fir trees lining his front yard.
She shook with the stress of what she planned. Ambush. Weak and cowardly, but it was the only way she could take him. And it needed to be done, because it was only a matter of time before he lost the control that kept him shoveling to a steady beat while the wolf raged inside him. And when his control failed, people would die.
Dangerous. He could be so fast. If she screwed this up, he could kill her. She had to trust that her own werewolf reflexes were up to this. It needed to be done. Resolution gave her strength. It would be today.
Charles heard the SUV, but he didn't look up.
He'd turned off his cell and continued to ignore the cool voice of his father in his head until it went away. There was no one who lived near him on the snow-packed mountain road—so the SUV was just the next step in his father's determination to make him toe the line.
It was a new wolf, Robert, sent here to the Aspen Creek Pack by his own Alpha because of his lack of control. Sometimes the Marrok could help; other times he just had to clean up the mess. If Robert couldn't learn discipline, it would probably be Charles's job to dispose of him. If Robert didn't learn manners, the disposal job wouldn't bother Charles as much as it should.
That Bran had sent Robert to deliver his message told Charles just how furious his da was.
"Chief!" The man didn't even bother getting out of the car. There weren't many people Charles extended the privilege of calling him anything but his given name, and this pup wasn't one of them.
Charles stopped shoveling and looked at the other wolf, let him see just what he was messing with. The man lost his grin, paled, and dropped his eyes instantly, his heart making the big blood vessel in his neck throb with sudden fear.
Charles felt petty. And he resented it, resented his pettiness and the roiling anger that caused it. Inside him Brother Wolf smelled Robert's weakness and liked it. The stress of defying the Marrok, his Alpha, had left Brother Wolf wanting blood. Robert's would do.
"I . . . ah."
Charles didn't say anything. Let the fool work for it. He lowered his eyelids and watched the man squirm some more. The scent of his fear pleased Brother Wolf—and made Charles feel a little sick at the same time. Usually, he and Brother Wolf were in better harmony—or maybe the real problem was that he wanted to kill someone, too.
"The Marrok wants to see you."
Charles waited a full minute, knowing how long that time would seem to his father's message boy. "That's it?"
That "sir" was a far cry from "Hey, Chief."
"Tell him I'll come after my walk is cleared." And he went back to work.
After a few scrapes of his shovel, he heard the SUV turn around in the narrow road. The vehicle spun out, then grabbed traction and headed back to the Marrok's, fishtailing with Robert's urgent desire to get away. Brother Wolf was smugly satisfied; Charles tried not to be. Charles knew he shouldn't bait his father by defying his orders—especially not in front of a wolf who needed guidance as Robert did. But Charles needed the time.
He had to be in better control of himself before he faced the Marrok again. He needed real control that would allow him to lay out his argument logically and explain why the Marrok was wrongheaded—instead of simply bashing heads with him the way they had the last four times Charles had spoken to him. Not for the first time, he wished for a more facile tongue. His brother could sometimes change the Marrok's mind—but he never had. This time, Charles knew his father was wrong.
And now he'd worked himself up into a fine mood.
He focused on the snow and took a deep breath of cold air—and something heavy landed on his shoulders, dropping him facedown in the snow. Sharp teeth and a warm mouth touched his neck and were gone as quickly as the weight that had dropped him.
Without moving, he opened his eyes to slits, and from the corner of his eye, he glanced at the sky-eyed black wolf facing him warily . . . with a tail that waved tentatively and paws that danced in the snow, claws extending and retracting like a cat's with nervous excitement.
And it was as though something clicked inside Brother Wolf, turning off the roiling anger that had been churning in Charles's gut for the past couple of weeks. The relief of that was enough to drop his head back into the snow. Only with her, only ever with her, did Brother Wolf settle down wholly. And a few weeks were not enough time to get used to the miracle of it—or to keep him from being too stupid to ask for her help.
Which was why she'd planned this ambush, of course.
When he was up to it, he'd explain to her how dangerous it was for her to attack him without warning. Though Brother Wolf had apparently known exactly who it was who'd attacked: he'd let them be taken down in the snow.
The cold felt good against his face.
The frozen stuff squeaked under her paws, and she made an anxious sound, proof that she hadn't noticed when he'd looked at her. Her nose was cold as it touched his ear and he steeled himself not to react. Playing dead with his face buried in the snow, his smile was free to grow.
The cold nose retreated, and he waited for it to come back within reach, his body limp and lifeless. She pawed at him, and he let his body rock—but when she nipped his backside, he couldn't help but jerk away with a sharp sound.
Faking dead was useless after that, so he rolled over and rose to a crouch.
She got out of reach quickly and turned back to look at him. He knew that she couldn't read anything in his face. He knew it. He had too much practice controlling all of his expressions.
But she saw something that had her dropping her front half down to a crouch and loosening her lower jaw in a wolfish grin—a universal invitation to play. He rolled forward, and she took off with a yip of excitement.
They wrestled all over the front yard—making a mess of his carefully tended walk and turning the pristine snow into a battleground of foot-and-body prints. He stayed human to even the odds, because Brother Wolf outweighed her by sixty or eighty pounds and his human form was almost her weight. She didn't use her claws or teeth against his vulnerable skin.
He laughed at her mock growls when she got him down and went for his stomach—then laughed again at the icy nose she shoved under his coat and shirt, more ticklish than any fingers in the sensitive spots on the sides of his belly.
He was careful never to pin her down, never to hurt her, even by accident. That she'd risk this was a statement of trust that warmed him immensely—but he never let Brother Wolf forget that she didn't know them well and had more reason than most to fear him and what he was: male and dominant and wolf.
He heard the car drive up. He could have stopped their play, but Brother Wolf had no desire to take up a real battle yet. So he grabbed her hind foot and tugged it as he rolled out of reach of gleaming fangs.
And he ignored the rich scent of his father's anger—a scent that faded abruptly.
Anna was oblivious to his father's presence. Bran could do that, fade into the shadows as if he were just another man and not the Marrok. All of her attention was on Charles—and it made Brother Wolf preen that even the Marrok was second to them in her attentions. It worried the man because, untrained to use her wolf senses, someday she might not notice some danger that would get her killed. Brother Wolf was sure that they could protect her and shook off Charles's worry, dragging him back into the joy of play.
He heard his father sigh and strip out of his clothing as Anna made a run for it and Charles chased her all the way around the house. She used the trees in the back as barriers to keep him at bay when he got too close. Her four clawed feet gave her more traction than his boots did, and she could get around the trees faster.
At last he chased her out of the trees, and she bolted back around the house with him hot on her trail. She rounded the corner to the front yard and froze at the sight of his father in wolf shape, waiting for them.
It was all Charles could do to not keep going through her like a running back. As it was, he took her legs right out from under her as he changed his run into a slide.
Before he could check to see if she was okay, a silver missile was on him and the whole fight changed abruptly. Charles had been mostly in control of the action when it was just he and Anna, but with the addition of his father, he was forced to an earnest application of muscle, speed, and brain to keep the two wolves, black and silver, from making him eat snow.
At last he lay flat on his back, with Anna on his legs and his father's fangs touching the sides of his throat in mock threat.
"Okay," he said, relaxing his body in surrender. "Okay. I give up."
The words were more than just an end to play. He'd tried. But in the end, the Alpha's word was law. Whatever followed would follow. So he submitted as easily as any pup in the pack to his father's dominance.
The Marrok lifted his head and removed himself from Charles's chest. He sneezed and shook off snow as Charles sat up and pulled his legs out from under Anna.
"Thanks," he told her, and she gave him a happy grin. He gathered up the clothes from the hood of his father's car and opened the door to the house. Anna bounced into the living room and trotted down the hall to the bedroom. He tossed his father's clothes into the bathroom, and when his father followed them, shut the door behind the white-tipped tail.
He had hot chocolate and soup ready when his father emerged, his face flushed with the effort of the change, his eyes hazel and human once more.
He and his da didn't look much alike. Charles took after his Salish mother and Bran was Welsh through and through, with sandy hair and prominent features that usually wore a deceptively earnest expression, which was currently nowhere in evidence. Despite the play, Bran didn't look particularly happy.
Charles didn't bother trying to talk. He had nothing to say anyway. His grandfather had told him once that he tried too hard to move trees when a wiser man would walk around them. His grandfather had been a medicine man and talked like that sometimes. And he was usually right.
He handed his da a cup of hot chocolate.
"Your wife called me last night." Bran's voice was gruff.
"Ah." He hadn't known that. Anna must have done it while he'd been out trying to outrun his frustrations.
"She told me I wasn't hearing what you were saying," Da said. "I told her that I heard you tell me quite clearly that I was an idiot for going to Seattle to meet with the European delegation—as did most of the rest of the pack."
Tactful, that's me, thought Charles, who decided sipping his cocoa was better than opening his mouth.
"And I asked him if you were in the habit of arguing with him without a good reason," said Anna breezily as she slipped by his father and brushed against Charles. She was wearing his favorite brown sweater. On her it hung halfway down her thighs and buried her shape in cocoa-colored wool. Brother Wolf liked it when she wore his clothes.
She should have looked like a refugee, but somehow she didn't. The color turned her skin to porcelain and brought out rich highlights in her light brown hair. It also emphasized her freckles—which he adored.
She hopped up on the counter and purred happily as she snagged the cocoa he'd made for her.
"And then she hung up," said his father in disgruntled tones.
"Mmm," said Anna. Charles couldn't tell if she was responding to the hot chocolate or his father.
"And she refused to pick up the phone when I called back." His father wasn't pleased.
Not so comfortable having someone around who doesn't instantly obey you, old man? Charles thought—just as his father met his eye.
Bran's sudden laugh told Charles that his da wasn't really upset.
"Frustrating," Charles ventured.
"He yelled at me," Anna said serenely, tapping her forehead. The Marrok could speak to any of his wolves mind to mind, though he couldn't read their thoughts no matter how much it felt like that was what he was doing. He was just damnably good at reading people. "I ignored him, and he went away eventually."
"No fun fighting someone who doesn't fight back," Charles said.
"Without someone to argue with, I knew he'd have to think about what I said," Anna told them smugly. "If only to come up with the right words to squelch me the next time he talked to me."
She hadn't reached even a quarter of a century yet, they hadn't been mated a full month—and she was already arranging them all to suit herself. Brother Wolf was pleased with the mate he'd found for them.
Charles set down his cup and folded his arms over his chest. He knew he looked intimidating, that was his intention. But when Anna leaned away from him, just a little, he dropped his arms and hooked his thumbs in his jeans and made his shoulders relax. And his voice was gentler than he'd meant it to be. "Manipulating Bran has a tendency to backfire," he told her. "I'd recommend against it."
But his father rubbed his mouth and sighed loudly. "So," said his father. "Why is it that you think it would be disastrous for me to go to Seattle?"
Charles rounded on his father, his resolve to quit fighting Bran on his decision to go to Seattle all but forgotten. "The Beast is coming, and you ask me that?"
"Who?" Anna asked.
"Jean Chastel, the Beast of Gévaudan," Charles told her. "He likes to eat his prey—and his prey is mostly human."
"He stopped that," Bran said coolly.
"Please," Charles snapped, "don't mouth something you don't believe to me—It smells perilously close to a lie. The Beast was forced to stop killing openly, but a tiger doesn't change his stripes. He's still doing it. You know it as well as I do." He could have pointed out other things—Jean had a taste for human flesh, the younger the better. But Anna had already experienced what happened when a wolf turned monstrous. He didn't want to be the one to tell her that there were worse beasts out there than her former Alpha and his mate. His father knew what Jean Chastel was.
Bran conceded the point. "Yes. Almost certainly he is. But I'm not a helpless human, he won't kill me." He looked at Charles narrowly. "Which you know. So why do you think it will be dangerous?"
He was right. Take the Beast out of the picture, and it still made him ill to think of his father going. The Beast was the most obvious, provable danger.
"I just know," Charles said, finally. "But it is your decision to make." His gut clenched in anticipation of just how bad it was going to be.
"You still don't have a logical reason."
"No." Charles forced his body to accept his defeat and kept his eyes on the floor.
His da looked out the little window where the mountains lay draped in winter white.
"Your mother did that," he said. "She'd make a statement without any real support at all, and I was supposed to just take her word for it."
Anna was looking at his da with bright expectancy.
Bran smiled at her, then raised his cup toward the mountains. "I learned the hard way that she was usually right. Frustrating doesn't come close to covering it."
"So," he said, turning his attention back to Charles. "They are on their way already, I can't cancel it now—and it needs to be done. Announcing to the real world that there are werewolves among them will affect the European wolves as much, if not more, than it does us. They deserve their chance to be heard and told why we are doing it. It should come from me, but you would be an acceptable substitute. It will cause some offense, though, and you will have to deal with that."
Relief flooded Charles with an abruptness that had him leaning against the countertop in sudden weakness, as the all-consuming sense of absolute and utter disaster slid away and left him whole. Charles looked at his mate.
"My grandfather would have loved to have met you," he told her huskily. "He would have called you 'She Moves Trees Out of His Path.'"
She looked lost, but his Da laughed. He'd known the old man, too.
"He called me 'He Who Must Run into Trees,'" Charles explained, and in a spirit of honesty, a need for his mate to know who he was, he continued, "Or sometimes 'Running Eagle.'"
"'Running Eagle'?" Anna puzzled it over, frowning at him. "What's wrong with that?"
"Too stupid to fly," murmured his father with a little smile. "That old man had a wicked tongue—wicked and clever, so it stuck until he dinged you with your next offense." He tilted his head at Charles. "But you were a lot younger then—and I am not so solid an object as a tree. You feel better if you—"
Anna cleared her throat pointedly.
His da smiled at her. "If you and Anna go instead?"
"Yes." Charles paused because there was something more, but the house was too busy with modern things for the spirits to talk to him clearly. Usually that was a good thing. When they got too demanding, he sometimes retreated to his office, where the computers and electronics kept them out entirely. Still, there was something in him that breathed easier now that his father had agreed not to go. "Not safe, but better. When do you want us in Seattle?"
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Patricia Briggs lives in Montana with her husband, children, and six horses.
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This is another excellent entry into the paranormal/romance/thriller genre by Patricia Briggs. I enjoyed it even more than her Mercy Thompson series. The thing that sets Briggs apart, and above, most authors in this genre is her world building skills. Only a few authors (the great Laurell K. Hamilton (love her, or hate her), Eileen Wilks, Lynn Veihl, and newcomer Nalini Singh), come close to her ability to create a really believable alternate reality. Another big plus in this novel is that the main characters are already a couple and you get to see their new relationship grow. This is definately a keeper. I can't wait for the next Alpha-Omega book.
This is the second book in the Alpha and Omega series. It was well written and well done. It is the continuing story of Anna (the rare Omega werewolf) and her new husband Charles (2nd most powerful werewolf in U.S.). Charles' father, Bran, The Marrok, sends Charles and Anna to Seattle to talk to the European Alphas. He's planning on anouncing the werewolves exisistence to the human population and the wolves need to make plans to get ready. Not everyone likes this idea and not everyone likes Charles. Some people are jealous that Charles has a rare Omega for a mate and want her for themselves and if they have to take out Charles to get her so be it.-Anna is still healing emotionally from the wounds inflicted by her first pack. Charles has been alone for the better part of 200 years and now having Anna-the new joy of his life- tends to throw him off balance.
If you have read any of Briggs books you will love it. The relationship between Charles and Anna is fleshed out and much more believable than most romance stories. It is not just lust at first site that somehow becomes true love. Like the Mercy Thompson series the plot has something of a mystery that has to be solved to keep the ones they love safe and the resolution is not obvious. I also love that the female lead kicks as much ass as the male.
I am enamored with this series of books. I like escapismn, and books of this genre are appealing. These books are a spin-off of the 'Mercy Thompson' series (I think there are seven books in that series, or soon will be), featuring characters from the Mercy Thompson books. Rather than go into a lot of plot details, I would like to speak of the whole series. Miss Briggs has done an excellent job of painting lead characters with just the right amount of personality quirks that allow you to identify with them as human...well, partly human anyway. Her lead character is a larger-than-life male werewolf who is good to the very last drop of blood. He cares for Anna, and abused female of his kind, his partner, and they must work out their differences and problems as the book develops in the dangerous world they inhabit. The book seems to jump around just a little in the first part, but it tends to settle down and move forward to an exciting and logical climax. It is well paced, and provides interesting reading, as do all of her more recent books. I personally prefer the Mercy Thompson series because I think it is a bit more tongue-in-cheek with a little more humor in its dark and/or mysterious characters, but this book carries the Mercy Thompson concept into a tangential realm very well. I think it is the positive, optomistic tone in the Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series about the dark and evil world that I find most appealing. She weaves in the supernatural aspects without slowing the pace of the books, and gradually brings the reader into her vision of a supernatural world just a few feet beyond our everyday lives. It makes you feel as though good might actually triumph over evil. Of course, the next day you have to go back to the reality of self-serving politicians, commercial television, and real life. It makes you anxious for her next book to take you away again for a few hours...
I feel that Briggs has redeemed this series with Hunting Ground. After reading Cry Wolf I decided that I wouldn't be following this series. However, after reading several reviews that said this was far better than Cry Wolf I decided to give it a try. And absolutely glad that I did. Hunting Ground is exactly what I would expect from the author of the Mercy Thompson series. I am absolutely enraptured with the pack dynamics that Briggs has created. In Cry Wolf, I didn't really think that I cared for, or could care for, Charles and Anna. But thankfully I was wrong. Their characters were much more developed in this one. I enjoyed reading about their relationship. Seeing how they deal with the insecurities and fears that have come about from being the Marrok's Enforcer and being brutalized in a previous wolf pack captured my attention, as well as learning more about the Mated aspect. Throw in the action and danger that a city full of Alphas brings(along with Fae, Witches, and Vampires)made this book memorable and captivating. I will definitely be following this series!
I've firmly entrenched myself in the incomparable Mercy Thompson novels and am now feeling the love from Ms. Briggs' most recent series, Alpha and Omega. Following an initial novella Alpha and Omega and the first novel Cry Wolf, this second full-length book in the Alpha and Omega series has really found a rhythm that works on so many levels. After having married the enforcer (or assassin) of the North American werewolf pack, Charles Cornick, Anna is still trying to figure how to effectively use her talents as an Omega while making a life for herself with Charles. Charles' father, the Marrok Bran, has decided that the North American werewolves are going to reveal their existence to the world no matter what other wolves might think. To try to the help wolves from other countries understand how this whole 'big reveal' will pan out, Bran has called a type of council where various alphas can come and discuss their options. Not wanting his father to be anywhere near the discussions, Charles agrees to go in his place to act as an intermediary. Only problem is, due to Anna's past, she has more than a little trouble being in the same room as a bunch of dominate males leaving both her and Charles on edge. Hoping the group will be kept in check by the moderating presence of a powerful fae, Dana, Charles agrees to let Anna come. Of course at the meetings, tempers escalate as disagreements arise but when wolves start getting attacked and an alpha is even killed, Charles becomes the prime suspect in a crime Anna is sure he didn't commit. Even though Ms. Briggs' series are both set in the same world, they follow essentially two distinctly separate groups under the direction of the Marrok Bran and must be viewed as individual stories with just a bit of overlap. I've come to enjoy the inherent differences between the two series; Alpha and Omega benefits from the perspective of multiple narrators who give various insights and viewpoints while Mercy narrates all of her books to perfection. Anna herself couldn't be farther from the gusty Mercy, but I like her just fine. As an Omega, Anna is often seen as a super submissive wolf, but in actuality an Omega is outside of the pack hierarchy and doesn't feel the compulsion to follow orders as other wolves do. They also don't have that 'killer instinct' but can kick serious butt when needed. Their most attractive feature (at least to other wolves) is their calming influence on other wolves because the more dominate guys can actually relax around them since they realize an Omega would never challenge them. Got it? It's taken me two books to finally be able to understand this concept in all honesty and this only because on one enlightening conversation between Anna and another Omega, Ric. Hunting Ground felt like a tighter novel on so many levels. I figured out what an Omega does (finally) and now, I'm totally digging Anna and Charles' relationship (finally). Anna has had a rough start as a werewolf and has taken some time to get more comfortable and relaxed around Charles, which lead to some nice conversations between the two. They have a nice give and take and I think they both are starting to trust and rely more on the other. This was a great second book and I'm more excited than ever for the next installment. seemichelleread.blogspot.com
Yes, the hardcover is new, but don't be fooled - the paperback version came out in 2009. I love Patricia Briggs and read everything she writes so when something that is really old is presented as new I get really irritated. Buyer Beware!
This is the second book featuring Anna, who is an Omega werewolf, and her new husband Charles. Omegas are rare and seem to have a calming effect on other werewolves. As there aren't that many, no one is really sure what an Omega is capable of, so Anna is sort of learning as she goes. I would recommend reading the first book in the series, Cry Wolf, for the background but it isn't necessary for this story. I really like Anna and Charles and was glad to see them again, and enjoyed watching their relationship evolve. The premise in this book is that Anna and Charles attend a werewolf summit in order to address the concerns of other packs about the North American pack's plan to announce their presence. As humans aren't aware that werewolves are real, this is a big deal. Charles' father was originally scheduled to attend, as it is his plan, but was talked out of it by Charles due to a premonition. Charles premonitions tend to be correct, so Charles and Anna attend the summit instead of Bran. The summit does not start well, as being around so many alpha werewolves is very hard on Anna. Then Anna and her escorts are attacked while out in public, which starts a whole series of events which Anna and Charles must resolve. While I did like Anna coming a little bit more into her own, there was just something about the storyline that didn't sit well with me. Not sure if it was the Fae summit mediator, the other alpha werewolves, or the vampire gang, but something seemed off. Patricia Briggs is very talented and overall I did enjoy the book. I'm looking forward to the next in the series, but could do without all of the additional players. I kept going back and forth on whether I should rate this a 3 or a 4, but decided on a 3 as there was just something off about this one....still a good read, just not as good as the usual Briggs book.
It's a great read, it's one of those books you can't put it down till it's done, ya just gotta know, and then as soon as your done, you read it again, just in case you missed something. I love all her books.
Wish there were more books
action-adventure, assassins, antiquity, fiction, healing, invested-erotica, magic, murder, not-quite-horror, paranormal, rehabilitation, relationships, self-worth-issues, shifters, mercyverse Read in June, 2016 This is a multiple reread of Charles' and Anna's evolving relationship and of the politics prior to the werewolves announcement of their existence to the human world. Charles is learning to lower the wall he surrounds himself with just as street cops and soldiers must if they are to navigate a love relationship successfully. Anna is learning to overcome past abuses and trust Charles as she has never trusted anyone. The North American werewolves are readying to announce their presence to the world at large, but there still are dominance issues with the insane alpha of a European pack. Throw in some untrustworthy fae, self-involved nasty vampires, and a lot of treachery, and you have a fascinating read. The publisher's blurb gives hints, and spoilers are inappropriate.
Action packed good read
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The entire series is wonderful. But the overview is misleading and gives up an important spoiler that I don't think it should. Beware!