In a world where lycanthropy is a horrific and permanent curse, only one man has ever tamed the tvar, or beast within. Throughout the ages, sympathetic humans have sought to help those unwillingly stricken with this curse, to reach some sort of equilibrium between the man and the monster. Only one, with the sacrifice of a dedicated few, has achieved it. His name is Earl Harbinger.
Over a hundred years old thanks to his curse, Harbinger has obtained that balance. It is not without its disadvantages; indeed, with every full moon, he is forced to lock himself inside a sturdy steel cage until his transformation has passed. Fortunately for the rest of humanity, at other times he can control his transformation, and use it to fight the various forms of evil that plague our planet. Even in human form he is virtually indestructible, reliant only on a finite supply of body energy to help him regenerate. Of course, wearing a minotaur hide jacket helps. However, the hum of the moon follows him constantly.
Harbinger comes from a long line of monster hunters. His curse is his boon when it comes to his profession. In a small town in the upper peninsula of Michigan, during a fierce and relentless blizzard, he faces his greatest challenge, a foe that seeks to not only redefine centuries of lycanthropy, but also to destroy the world as we know it. Buried within this battle are mysteries that trace back to the dark beginning of lycanthropy, and the perverse and twisted magic of the Old Ones themselves. Teamed only with a young police officer, wayward freelance monster hunters, and a group of haggard townsfolk, Harbinger must find a way to stop a foe with decades of a head start on him. He will not only guide them through the struggle, but face the most basic question of what it means to be human.
Monster Hunter Alpha is the third book in mega-author Larry Correia’s series, but it is meant to be accessible to first-time readers. In this he succeeds greatly, and new readers should not be discouraged from picking it up independently from the others. With a taut narrative, excellent character development, and an eminently likable, tough-as-nails protagonist, this is a novel not to be missed. True to the series, there is no shortage of action, described in vivid and expert detail, involving not only the most epic of werewolf fights imaginable, but also firefights against scores of nasty lesser monsters, including some rather imaginative improvised weapons.
As I’m currently reading Monster Hunter Legion, the fourth in the series, I would hesitate to say that Alpha is the best. However, it does stand alone very well, and should be of interest to any reader who thinks that Twilight werewolves are better off gracing the mantels of hunting lodges. I rate it 5/5 stars.