follows Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon's two earlier novels about Darian Firkin, Owlflight
. By now the boy who ran from barbarian invaders is both knight of Valdemar and a master mage; he is governor of a small province and in love with Keisha who returns his feelings, but he still has problems and responsibilities. For one thing, he has never solved the mystery of what happened to his parents. For another, Keisha refuses to marry him lest his role as governor and hers of healer come into conflict--and there are still barbarians beyond the border who threaten one day to come back.
The story of how these problems are all resolved is told in a quiet tone unusual in this sort of epic fantasy. Darian has as much to look within for the solution to these issues as to struggle in the outside world. The woodland journey during which he does this is much of the time a celebration of the renewal of the human soul by the natural world.
Lackey and Dixon have found a courtly, meditative way of telling an attractively simple story. Darian's growth to final maturity is inevitable, but still fascinating. --Roz Kaveney, Amazon.co.uk
From Publishers Weekly
The latest collaboration between the creator of the Valdemar universe and her husband concludes the trilogy begun with Owlflight and Owlsight. Grown to maturity in the multispecies woodland settlement of k'Valdemar Vale, Darian Firkin has become a knight as well as a Master Mage to increase both his influence with neighboring tribes and his prestige within Valdemar. Darian's work in government gives way to travel when he finds hints that his parents, whom he believed dead, may be alive in the North. He sets off to discover their fate. Keisha, Darian's lover and a town healer, joins him, along with a crew of companions, but she remains of two minds about the future of their relationship because of her belief that marriage demands a woman's subordination. More action is provided by the lovers' encounters with various threats, including with a marauding tribe, the Wolverines, who are both vicious and intelligent. Valdemar is now an immensely well-developed world, and the book is full of dry wit and rich detailAabout, say, the bathing habits of gryphons and the sarcastic, telepathic dyheli, deerlike sapient beings. The effect is marred by too much New Age sensitivity and didactic feminism, however, making the novel cloying for all but Valdemar devotees. (Oct.)
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