Michelle West – Hunter’s Death

It is a bit complicated for me to review Hunter’s Death (1996), the second book of the Sacred Hunt duology, a fantasy series by Michelle West. I have chosen to read it after the first three books of The House War series, which shares a number of events with with Hunter’s Death. Because of that a substantial part of the novel was a revisit so I didn’t read the novel in a normal way.

The overlap in events cover about the last third of City Of Night and all of House Name. About 100 pages are virtually identical to Hunter’s Death while the rest provide either a different viewpoint of known events and the rest is original. The original parts were the most interesting. Many gaps in the story of The House War are suddenly filled. Some I had noticed and complained about in my reviews of those novels while others provided greater insight into what was going on. The same can be said on the different viewpoints although this was not always the case.  Those were more of a rehash, similar to the duplicate scenes. As I had read the other novels quite recently I knew the contents of the scene and simply skimmed them until I got to something new.  All this diffused my reading experience, although I was glad the story became more complete. I am not sure how West could have solved the overlap of the two narratives. My main surprise was how much she had already set what would be part of The House War storyline. I had expected a different approach, instead it was unchanged. The reader is thrown right into the middle of it with many relationships unclear. It felt somewhat remarkable that West was able to fit in the House War storyline without needing to make any changes to when it would merge with Hunter’s Death. It is however hard for me to give a clean review of it as all the background details were already known to me.

There is one light annoyance about the Sacred Hunt duology. Within the plot there is a guiding force that pops up at most events of consequence to steer the other characters in the best course of action. This is all very convenient and the characters thus seem to matter very little in regard to what they might choose themselves. Much of the character hardships are caused by them being forced to do something else than they wanted. They rarely suffer from choices of their own, so the emotional damage they do have can be blamed on something else. That is thus quite peculiar. Normally it happens incidentally and not frequently. It sometimes seems it doesn’t matter what they do or think, and that is a bit annoying.

Because of the similarities between Hunter’s Oath and House Name it is hard to give a separate final opinion. The main difference between Hunter’s Oath and House Name is that Hunter’s Oath has more action and events are more tightly packed. While House Name had several periods with minor storylines of no consequence to the greater story, Hunter’s Oath has more focus. In general it is thus a better novel, except for certain things that seem to come out of nowhere but are explained much better in The House War novels. By reading these novels first the story of Hunter’s Death receives a better foundation. Hunter’s Death also provides a better resolution, while House Name clearly keeps things open for the next novels to follow.


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