This collecting of unlikely allies into community — often in ways the various factions had never before envisioned — is nicely done in the Cassandra Palmer stories as well. Off the top of my head I remember one incident where Cassie had vampires, a ghost, some rogue White mages, three witches, and even some fae, all united for her protection. Their reasonings were all wildly different, of course: some of them loved her, some had been rescued by her and felt they owed her, some were friends, some were employees of others helping her — and some were helping simply because they too felt it was the right thing to do. That's what makes crafting community so fascinating to me: the gestalt of it. You never know when former enemies might become allies (even if grudgingly so), or maybe even friends and lovers.

The other thing I enjoy within this category of my proposed Heroine's Journey is a heroine who isn't the biggest and baddest, and knows it — and is instead happy to be the smartest, or most talented, or whatever, of the community they're crafting. I'm not really interested in "good guys" who just have the biggest punch, who rudely insist they have to be the center of attention and lead the team and be instantly obeyed and all that crap. Physical prowess in protagonists is easy and, frankly, wildly overdone. It's brains that really makes me sit up and take notice; writing clever heroines who can really pull a plan together takes, in my opinion, far more skill.

As an example, Cassie is happy to let others lead when they're more qualified than her to do so. She's also quite willing to lead when it's her area of specialty. Mercy too is neither the biggest and baddest, nor ashamed to go for help when she needs it. As an example, at one point she's attacked by a fae creature that wishes to kill and eat her. It outweighs her by almost ten times, it's almost as fast as she, it packs one hell of a punch, and she can't do much damage to it. She doesn't stick around in the hopes that she can wear it out — she takes off for help!

Even then she's careful: as she approaches the house of her allies she shifts back into human form so she can shout a warning to them — despite the fact that being in her human form endangers her. She doesn't stop there, either; she does her best, while her allies are attacking the monster, to hastily arm herself with cold iron so she can return to aid in the battle. When she later surveys the damage done to a nearby car, and the window broken in the fight (both done by others, not her personally), she ruefully notes to herself she needs to pay for those — despite her knowledge of both the wealth of her ally, and her own dire financial straits. The damage occurred in a battle she started, and therefore she considers herself responsible.

I found this fascinating, and not just because it demonstrates to me a level of personal integrity and independence I greatly admire. I also found it amusing to contrast this care for the property of others, even at one's own expense! -with Harry's devil-may-care attitude about damage incurred in battle. His (rather ill-considered) attitude seems to be that it's always someone else's fault — to the point that a friend has to practically berate him about the damage he's brought down on the property of innocent bystanders, in order to get him to realize he can't simply assume someone rich (who was also present) would pay for all repairs. I was even less impressed when — even when faced with the possible bankrupting of the innocent store owners! -his decision was to not actually pay for the damage he'd drawn down on them — but only to try and be more careful next time about where the damage went! Frankly, that's just not heroic — it's self-serving.

Mercy's heroism, like Cassie's and Kitty's, means she too has unlikely (and sometimes unexpected) allies. I loved the discussion she and her dear friend Samuel (who is a werewolf) had with the Crow — a powerful fae — at one point. The Crow had been tasked with covering up some fae murders by framing another fae: Mercy's friend. Needless to say, Mercy wanted to find out the truth, and save her friend from being needlessly sacrificed — despite his assuring her he was all right with that. The Crow understands Mercy's desires, but gently informs her that Mercy really isn't tough enough to be pushing as hard as she is against the desires of the fae lords. Mercy is nervous, naturally, but insistent that right should be done — and it is at that point that Samuel calmly points out to the Crow that attacking Mercy will mean war between the fae and the werewolves. Mercy is as surprised as the Crow to hear that — and the Crow is rather pleased as well, since she too would prefer to see justice done, rather than simply what is expedient for the fae lords.

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