If I am being frank, I am not the biggest fan of the Urban Fantasy genre. When it comes to subgenres in Fantasy, I’m more of a High Fantasy or Historical Fantasy type of person (i.e. Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, the Daevabad Trilogy, etc.). Stories that don’t necessarily have to fit into a real world setting, but can if it so chooses (in the case of Historical Fantasy). I wouldn’t say that Urban Fantasy is a bad genre, it just isn’t my cup of tea more times than not.
That said, there’s one series that I guilty pleasure in the Urban Fantasy genre: the Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs. It is by no means a perfect series, but it was one I stumbled upon a few years ago and fell in love with. As a guilty pleasure, I thought I would discuss this series a little bit.
What is Alpha and Omega?
Alpha and Omega is a series within Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson Universe. It coincides with the author’s Mercy Thompson series and both deal with the leading lady and their respected partners and roles in the North American tribe. Unlike the Mercy Thompson series, where the series focuses on the supernatural aspects of Aspen Creek as told from Mercy Thompson’s perspective, Alpha and Omega follows Anna, a rare Omega and her mate Charles Cornick, son of the North American pack’s head Alpha and only natural born werewolf.
After getting rescued from her abusive pack, Anna tries getting used to her new pack as well as her abilities as an Omega, which includes being a soothing presence to those around her. Each book covers missions/adventures she and Charles have to go on as well as building on the characters close to them.
As of this posting, this series has a total of six books. And while reading it alongside with the Mercy Thompson book (of which there is a timeline for when to read each book in the series), one could read Alpha and Omega separately.
Why Do I Enjoy It Over Mercy Thompson?
In my experience, people seem to either really enjoy the Mercy Thompson series or the Alpha and Omega series. Some may like both. While I have read both, I do enjoy the Alpha and Omega series more.
Part of why I like it more may have to do with picking the Alpha and Omega series up first. I thought I would give the whole Urban Fantasy a try and I just so happened to stumble upon this series. It sounded interesting enough, so I decided to give it a try. Along the way, I’ve read through all of this series and the Mercy Thompson series.
I think I also enjoy Alpha and Omega a little more because of the leading lady and the stories themselves. While Mercy Thompson certainly had good qualities as a protagonist, I do enjoy Anna’s calmer and approachable demeanor, and despite going through what she did, is trying to heal from it.
As far as stories, both have their positives and negatives. However, what I think I like more is how Anna and Charles’ conflicts don’t solely revolve around them. In the Mercy Thompson series, at times, it does feel like Mercy has a habit of being a magnet for the conflicts. And while that makes sense to a degree, it does feel a little too on her at times. With Alpha and Omega, conflict hits the pack and they are usually called to take care of problems that could be outside of the pack. Both have a supernatural feel and conflict, but Alpha and Omega doesn’t feel like it’s solely putting that on the members of the pack or more specifically, Anna and Charles.
While having a long series like the Mercy Thompson series isn’t a bad thing, I do think the Mercy Thompson series has run for quite a bit of time now. Not including little tie ins, the series has twelve main story books (as of this post) and a thirteenth on the way. While Alpha and Omega just recently released it’s sixth book this year (2021), again, not accounting for tie in stories.
As some one who can enjoy a series with multiple books (Lord of the Rings and expanded novels, Of Fire and Ice and multiple comic and manga series), how long a series runs isn’t usually a problem. But that’s just it. The Mercy Thompson series, while being the longer running series and having some good stories, at times feels like it drags on.
I also enjoy the point of view it is a bit better than with Mercy Thompson. While first person is a good form of perspective when writing, some cases are better than others. For example, I enjoy the Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley. In it, we get first person with the sister we’re following and third person with the person their late adoptive father tells them about. For me, this works well. hearing about each sister and how they grow from their perspective works well with the narrative. With Mercy Thompson, I don’t feel that. Sure, she does develop, but at times to feels like it trends on some thoughts and issues several times (feels repetitive).
With Mercy Thompson, I don’t feel that. Sure, she does develop, and hearing things from her perspective feels repetitive. I sometimes felt like it treaded on a few notes a few times (all the troubles she draws, how she’s different from the rest of the pack, and so on). That’s not to say that revisiting a plot point or moment isn’t bad, but I feel there is a fine line between fine and repetitive.
Alpha and Omega is told from the third person. And while it does focus mostly on Ann and/or Charles, their relationships feel natural along with their environment. I won’t say it doesn’t feel repetitive (I’m sure it possible even if I don’t remember), but I never felt jarred by it.
Does it Treat the Lore and Culture it’s Based off Well?
Now I will admit, I am not an expert on Native American culture and lore. From what I have read in regards to it, I don’t think either series did a horrible job at doing so. I could be wrong, but that’s just from my experience. It does use a lot of common creatures from various lore like werewolves, vampires and fae (fairies). Among others. How they approached them in both the Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega were done well enough.
While Alpha and Omega don’t focus much on Mercy or her father, there was one figure from Native American lore that I do remember seeing. That being the Coyote, an animal known for being a trickster. In the Mercyverse, the Coyote is Mercy’s father and a skin walker and is where Mercy gets her abilities from. I thought his character was addressed well enough.
I know I could be incorrect on how the creatures are presented in here, but I thought they were presented well enough for what both series were trying to achieve.
While by no means a perfect series, or for everyone, the Alpha and Omega series is one that I guilty pleasure. It’s by no means a perfect series, and there are valid critiques of the series. However, it’s a series that I can go back to, be it for the characters, the story, or the setting and still enjoy. Do you have a series or book that is your guilty pleasure? If so, what?