It’s been a while that I finished reading this book, but to be honest I had forgotten half the plot shortly after I’ve read it anyway. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like it or that I don’t like the author, Jane Lindskold, or her style. In this series the characters and the world are just far more interesting than the stories they tell. Seems odd, but it’s working somehow.
I enjoyed it immensely to follow Firekeeper around once more. Her views of the world, the people in it and the Royal Beasts that are her true family are brilliant. Yes, maybe she’s just a bit too stubborn and single-minded now and then, but you can be sure that Blind Seer steps up then and tries to reason with her – in his unique wolfish way. There is always something new to discover about her, too, which is the real reason why those books stay interesting. This time she realized that her life-span is probably longer than that of her beloved Royal Wolves. So she's prepared to even sacrifice some years of it, to become more like them. It was also heartbreaking to see how much defeat can affect this young woman who is more feral wolf than human in many ways.
It was a nice surprise to learn that there is in fact real and powerful magic in this world. There had been glimpses of it before, but most of it could be regarded as a special talent or a rather subtle supernatural phenomenon. So I really didn’t know for sure if there really was a dragon or if it just was an exaggerated legend and had great joy in discovering the truth together with the characters only at the very end of the book.
The rest of the world and its characters grow more and more multi-layered, too. Sometimes you wonder, if that information or side-story really is relevant now, but usually it actually gets connected with something else and thus earns its place in the book. It’s like the picture slowly grows bigger and bigger, gaining more and more details.
I would love to create a character like Firekeeper. The basic idea of a human child being raised by wolves (or any other wild animal) is nothing new, and yet the way that you gain insight into her mind and her struggle to find a place for her in this world is much more compelling and certainly more realistic than any Mowgli or Tarzan.
I also like it, when a character has more than one set of behaviour. In this case, it's just brilliant how eloquent and civilized (in their way) the Royal Beasts and Firekeeper act when among themselves. And then you see her among humans, where she can barely make herself understand and understands even less of their ways and how she should act when among them.
On the other hand, I fear that some of the stories I began are not much more than background noise, like in this case, too. I’m curious how this will develop in the remaining books of this series.