This is one of Patricia Brigg's earlier works (I think her 4th book possibly), and it is stand alone. It centers around a woman - Aren, with slight magepowers - the power of Sight specifically. In her world, women with such power are killed and men with it are forced to choose between becoming a bloodmage (an evil, much feared mage) or death. When her brother's power was discovered, he choose death while Aren continued to hide her ability. One day she has a vision but again suppresses it at a very high cost. The same day she feels the magic in the world reawakened - someone has taken off the bindings placed upon the magic in the world by the bloodmages. Aren's ability increases and she informs the villagers of her Sight, but this is not welcomed information. Meanwhile all the wildlings are reawakening and Aren knows only her sight will keep the villager's safe, no matter how much they may dislike her now. I found the premise interesting, but the execution felt unfinished. It is told mostly in the first person of Aren, but often a sentence or two would describe someone or a place and then pages later it would be referenced and I would have no idea who Aren was talking about. This is the same for her visions - she would see someone die in a far away place and I would say - ok who was that? huh? even though Aren seemed to know. I could piece things together somewhat, but I often felt like I was missing something and it broke the flow of the story for me to feel like I should flip back to see if there was something I missed (sometimes it felt like the information I needed was provided *later*). Also the first person sometimes shifted to third from the Hobs or someone elses point of view for a couple of pages, then move back to Aren. It was not a smooth transition. It felt even stranger knowing that I did NOT have this problem with Briggs' later books.
Patricia Briggs has a real knack for writing; her characters really come alive for me. I found all the relationships between the characters to feel very real and natural. Aren isn't "perfect", but I think that makes her a lot more likable. In fact all of the characters are imperfect in some ways, but I think that really improves the likability of the book. The plot is really fantastic, too. It grabbed me immediately and I literally ended up reading it all in one night (work the next day was a bear, though!). It moves really quickly, but really naturally.
Like the other reviewer, I had some problems with the point of view switching from first (Aren's) to third (the Hob). The transition wasn't always smooth and could be a bit more jarring than the author intended.... and I think it was more jarring because it seemed very random and didn't happen often. It was as if Briggs couldn't figure out how to give the reader the info because Aren couldn't know it, but it was important to the story line. While the POV change did pull me out of the story a little, I was quickly drawn back in because other than those minor nitpicks, Briggs is truly a fantastic writer.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I've loved the Mercy books, and I love this one too. Very highly recommended.
I've read several of Brigg's other books, and loved them. This was the first novel of her's that I thought was just OK. The story did not flow well, and there was not enough information about some of the characters-in the right places-to really figure out what was going on. For example, it was not explained until late in the story that Kith was a bezerker. Also, it was very unclear until the very end what that meant and how it was done/why, etc. A relationship between Kith and the widow, Danci was also hinted at, but left untouched and confusing. Maybe Briggs will go back and re-write it like she did with Masques.
I enjoyed reading this book. It was a quick read that I found fun. I haven't read P. Briggs before so I don't have anything to compare it to. It reminds me a lot of a fairy tale. And I always find them fun. The changes in POV didn't bother me as much as it seems to have bothered the other reviewers.
Aren has visions and she's been viewed as different since incidents in her teens. Her father went away to find younger sons of another farmer to foster and inherit his farm. And one of these young men married his daughter. But the day after her wedding, raiders came and killed her entire family, including her new husband as Aren hid in the root cellar. Unbeknownst to the entire village, blood mages fought elsewhere and the earth rebelled and fought off the binding which had kept the magic in check and the wildlings away. Now the Hob awakens on the mountain and finds himself the last of his kind. And he seeks to make a bargain with the village at the foot of the mountain -- his protection for a year if they provide him a wife.
Good read. Not Briggs best but worthwhile reading.
A friend loaned The Hob's Bargain to me. I enjoyed the story. Aren is a strong woman and she learns about herself and what she can accomplish. I found the story satisfying - the battle against evil ends with a solid win for the good side. Magic opponents is an important item, but the strong personal strength is the final character.