In the short span of a. few years, Mercedes Lackey has risen from an exciting new talent to a reigning superstar of fantasy. Last year's Fiddler Fair was a showcase of the wide scope of her talent; ranging from fantasy to science fiction, from screwball humor to macabre supernatural terror. Now comes the successor to that top-selling volume; Werehunter.

Lope through the night with a young woman who has been given the power to transform herself into a leopard, but who now finds herself pursued by a hunter who is more than human: Follow the adventures of Skitty, ship's cat extraordinaire, and telepathic problem-solver. Ride with a late night driver on a solitary road who learns that what appears to be a piece of cardboard blowing across the road is actually something very sinister in disguise. Join Lackey's celebrated occult detective Diana Tregarde as she attends a gathering of romance writers and encounters a visitor whose passionate desire is for fresh, warm blood. Return to the world of the Heralds of Valdemar. And there's much more.

Lackey's many fans will know what to expect: unforgettable characters in spellbinding stories from a grand master of fantasy and science fiction. And readers just discovering her have a treat in store.

"She'll keep you up long past your bedtime." -Stephen King

'She sweeps you along and never lets you go." -Locus

"An undoubted mistress of the well-told tale."-Booklist

" . . highly, highly recommended . . . ." -Khan

Cover art by Bob Eggleton

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This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.

First printing, April 1999

Distributed by Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

Printed in the United States of America

ISBN: 0-671-57805-7

Copyright 1999 by Mercedes Lackey

"Werehunter" copyright (c) 1989 (Tales of the Witch World);
 "SKitty" copyright (c) 1991 (Catfantastic, Andre Norton, ed.); 
"A Tail of Two SKitties copyright (c) 1994 (Catfantastic 3, Andre Norton & Martin Greenberg, eds.); 
"SCat" copyright (c) 1996 (Catfantastic 4, Andre Norton & Martin Greenberg, eds.); 
"A Better Mousetrap" copyright (c) 1999 (Werehunter, Baen Books); 
"The Last of the Season" copyright (c) American Fantasy Magazine; "Satanic, Versus . .&npsp;." copyright (c) 1990 (Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, Fall 1990); 
"Nightside" copyright (c) 1990 (Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, Spring 1990); 
"Wet Wings" copyright (c) 1995 (Sisters of Fantasy 2, Susan Shwartz & Martin Greenberg, ed.); 
"Stolen Silver" copyright (c) 1991 (Horse Fantastic); 
"Roadkill" copyright (c) 1990 (Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, Summer 1990); 
"Operation Desert Fox" copyright (c) 1993 (Honor of the Regiment: Bolos, Book I, eds. Keith Laumer & Bill Fawcett); 
"Grey" copyright (c) 1997 (Sally Blanchard's Pet Bird Report October 1997); 
"Grey's Ghost" copyright (c) 1999 (Werehunter, Baen Books)

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.

A Baen Books Original
Baen Publishing Enterprises
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Riverdale, NY 10471

Production by Windhaven Press
Auburn, NH

Electronic version by WebWrights


Something very large occluded the light for a moment in the next room, then the lights went out, and Diana Tregarde distinctly heard the sound of the chandelier being torn from the ceiling and thrown against the wall. She winced.

There go my Romance Writers of the World dues up again, she thought.

"I got a glimpse," Andre said. "It was very large, perhaps ten feet tall, and—cherie, looked like nothing so much as a rubber creature from a very bad movie. Except that I do not think it was rubber."

What shambled in through the door was nothing that Diana had ever heard of. It was, indeed, about ten feet tall. It was covered with luxuriant brown hair—all over. It was built along the lines of a powerful body-builder, taken to exaggerated lengths, and it drooled. It also stank, a combination of sulfur and musk so strong it would have brought tears to the eyes of a skunk.

Di groaned, putting two and two together and coming up with—Valentine Vervain cast a spell for a tall, dark and handsome soul-mate, but she forgot to specify "human." "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

The other writer nodded. "Tall, check. Dark, check. Long hair, check. Handsome—well, I suppose in some circles." Harrison stared at the thing in fascination.

The thing saw Valentine and lunged for her. Reflexively, Di and Harrison both shot. He emptied his cylinder and one speed loader. Di gave up after four shots. No effect. The thing backhanded Andre into a wall hard enough to put him through plasterboard. Andre was out for the count. There are some things even a vampire has a little trouble recovering from.

"Harrison, distract it, make a noise, anything!" Diana pulled the atheme from her boot sheath and began cutting Sigils in the air with it, getting the Words of Dismissal out as fast as she could without slurring the syllables.

The thing lunged toward Harrison, missing him by inches, just as Di concluded the Ritual of Dismissal.

To no effect. . . .

—from "Satanic, Versus . . ."