Category Archives: Reading together

Lindskold, Jane: Wolf Captured (Firekeeper Saga) (2004)

WolfCaptured
Wolf Captured
Cover art by Julie Bell

My 18-year-old son and I are still enjoying reading about Firekeeper together. There is something magic in being able to share in the joy of a well-written novel that cannot be had in reading by myself.

Jane Lindskold was at it again with the difficult-to-pronounce words. The worst one was the name of the temple at u-Seeheera: Heeranenahalm and the other two were Fayonejunjal (name of vessel) and jujundisdu (type of leader). We (or rather I) had to pause before pronouncing the words one syllable at a time.

This time my favorites have, if not all the parts, most of the attention of the author. Wolf Captured is for the main part about Firekeeper, Blind Seer and Derian and their adventures in Liglim.

That sounds so benign, doesn’t it? But getting to Liglim meant the capture of the three and their unwilling transport across the ocean. And why were they taken? Well that was thanks to their “beloved” Waln Endbrook – you know the guy that cut off Citrine’s finger. Yes, that guy. There is something fascinating about the mentality of the bully. I’m trying to figure out if Waln is actually a sociopath. According to this page on bullying he probably isn’t but he definitely shares some of the traits.

Harjedian mis-calculates in kidnapping our trio. I doubt he realised just how skewed Waln’s description of them was until he actually had them in his irons. Trying to hold captive something as wild as Firekeeper and Blind Seer takes a crazier person than I am, and Harjedian quickly realises his mistake. Which is part of the reason why Rhaniseeta is sent to care for the captives.

Rhaniseeta is Harjedian’s younger sister – the one he has taken care of ever since their mother died. When Harjedian showed himself to be a potentially talented diviner his status rose and the two of them were able to share an apartment in the snake temple. The Liglimosh tradition of animal-reverence (Wise beasts – yarimaimalom) makes him realise that his steps when capturing Derian were about as detrimental to getting Derian’s cooperation as anything could have been.

The reason Derian was captured was the thought that he was somehow Firekeeper’s keeper or possibly ambassador with the human world. Derian and Firekeeper do nothing to dissuade the Liglimosh from this thinking, but the Liglimosh soon discover that their relationship is way more than that. In Wolf Captured Derian ends up playing a much more visible role than we have seen thus far and I like the way Lindskold portrays him. He is well worth a main part.

Firekeeper and Blind Seer are wolves (although Firekeeper’s form continues to be human). She wishes desperately that things were not so, and is willing to explore any avenue that might make her truly wolf. Her ability to speak with the yarimaimalom have the Liglimosh suspecting that she is either a maimalodalum (would be serious spoiler to tell) or a yarimaimalom. The Liglimosh captured her for this ability in the hopes that she might teach them, but factions within their culture wonder how wise this would be.

In Wolf Captured we get to learn about the politics in a new system and their beliefs. We once again see how insane human cultures really are and the steps some of us are willing to take. Intrigue and secrets are a part of the story along with adventure, action and (this time) a touch of romance. Like I said, my son and I had a great time with Wolf Captured, fantasy creatures that we are.


Reviews:


  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (November 4, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076530936X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765309365

My reviews of Through Wolf’s Eyes, Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart and The Dragon of Despair

Lindskold, Jane: The Dragon of Despair (Firekeeper Saga III) (2003)

The Dragon of Despair - Julie Bell
The Dragon of Despair
Cover art by Julie Bell

The Dragon of Despair is about messed up families, people who get a kick out of manipulating others, the struggle of a people to be recognized as a nation, divided loyalties and about Firekeeper trying to learn patience.

In terms of messed up families we are talking about poor little Citrine and her mother Melina. When Citrine got her finger cut off it did something to her head. It wasn’t the fact of her finger alone but the finger added to her mother’s seeming abandonment. Melina must be a prime example of a psychopath/sociopath.

Melina has established her position as the wife to the ruler of New Kelvin, Toriovico. She managed to marry him through her usual machinations and has him and most of his Primes completely in her power. Her reasons for this marriage does, of course, have to do with magic although it would probably be more correct to say that she wants all the power she can get and will use any means to get it.

What does this have to do with Citrine? For her own good King Tedric sends her along with the gang on their jaunt to New Kelvin. This time they are allegedly looking into setting up a silk-line from New Kelvin to Hawk Haven through the Kestrel and Archer families. This is the excuse for the presence of Edlin, Firekeeper, Blind Seer, Derian, Elise, Doc, Wendy, Grateful Peace (in disguise) and Citrine (also in disguise). Their real mission is to see if they can stop whatever it is Melina is up to.

To get Firekeeper and Blind Seer to go to New Kelvin, King Tedric has promised her that he will take care of the problem that has risen west of the Iron Mountains. Otherwise Firekeeper and Blind Seer would probably have gone to aid their family back there. But King Tedric feels this would only damage Firekeeper’s case with the nobles and even more importantly to him, he needs Firekeeper and Blind Seers abilities in New Kelvin.

West of the Iron Mountains a group of settlers has tried to get Bardenville up and running again. The Royal Beasts do not like this and are discussing what to do with the settlers. Only Firekeeper’s reassurance that King Tedric means to keep his promises keeps them from taking terminal action.

Firekeeper’s introduction to the human world and her struggles to understand the distinctions we make between different qualities gives us a better look at how weird human societies truly are. She still remains my favorite character (along with her companion Blind Seer). Derian follows with poor little Citrine in third place. Citrine is a person I have no trouble at all identifying with.

I am still reading to my son and he is still enjoying the tales in the Firekeeper saga. In fact, he grows impatient if I have to wait for the next book to arrive. I rather enjoy having been able to pass on the joy of reading to my sons. Stories have always been such an important teaching tool in society and the Firekeeper saga does a great job in that respect. Not only is Firekeeper an interesting and fun example to follow but Lindskold also manages to convey her respect for nature to me as a reader.


Reviews:


  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (August 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765302594
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765302595

My review of Through Wolf’s Eyes and Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart

Lindskold, Jane: Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart (Firekeeper Saga II) (2002)

WolfsHeadWolfsHeart-hc
Hard cover for: Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart
Cover artist: Julie Bell
WolfsHeadWolfsHeart-pb
Cover artist: Julie Bell

As you can tell I had a difficult time choosing between hardcover and paperback cover art, so I added them both.

Having begun reading to my son about Firekeeper we kept on going. Believe it or not, but quite a bit of snuggle time goes into around 600 pages worth of story. 600 pages is a lot of words. Sometimes I think the two of us get so caught up in how words and sentences connect that we forget to pay as much attention as we ought to. In my world that is only possible when the writing is tight and attention is paid to how writing is similar to music. Sometimes we have to laugh when I have trouble figuring out how to pronounce a name or two. What we do then is have a discussion on pronunciation and come to an agreement.

On to content. The Firekeeper Saga is about politics and relationships and coming of age if it is about anything. Sure there is action and fighting, but this is not what the series is about. I love action fantasy and science fiction and I love stories like the Firekeeper saga.

Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart is still about Firekeeper and Blind Seer’s emerging role as ambassadors between humans and Royal kind. On that journey some of Firekeeper’s illusions about the superiority of the Royal kind are torn down. Blind Seer seems more of the adult than Firekeeper in this regard and is in fact one of the people who challenges Firekeeper’s previous beliefs.

Derian is another favorite of this tale. I imagine Lindskold has made certain that I be aware of him. Derian is Carter made Counselor, a role he had never imagined and feels overwhelmed by. He is easily Firekeeper’s favorite human friend and a very faithful one.

Waln Endbrook is a really good bad guy. He is the ultimate bully – afraid of letting go of power and ready to step on anyone who gets in his way – especially if they are weaker than he is. One of the more fascinating parts of Waln’s character was the mental acrobatics he was willing employ in order to avoid blaming himself for anything. It was always something the other person had done or said that brought about trouble. I hate meeting these people in real life because they scare the shit out of me. But I have also learned, the hard way, the necessity of seeming strong around them.

Elise and Doc are the “hopeless romance” carriers of the series. Poor guys. So in love and yet bound by the strictures of society from having any kind of romantic attachment. Politics sure do stink at times.

We are also introduced to Firekeeper’s adorable adopted brother Edlin Norwood. Hugh Laurie in Bertie Wooster exemplifies just how I imagine Edlin speaks.


Reviews:


  • Published: August 24, 2002
  • File Size: 1100 KB
  • Print Length: 620 pages
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003G93YE6
  • ISBN-10: 031287426X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312874261

My review of Through Wolf’s Eyes

Lindskold, Jane: Through Wolf’s Eyes (The Firekeeper Saga) (2001)

Through Wolf's Eyes
Cover by Julie Bell

My daughter and I have now started on the Firekeeper Saga. We had to try a few novels I have on my shelves before she found one that sounded right to her. Through Wolf’s Eyes by Jane Lindskold caught her ear. The deed is now done and I had to begin reading Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart right away.

As you probably understand, my daughter has given her wholehearted approval of the series thus far.

Rumours and stories of children raised by wolves have not been uncommon. In most of them the person found is wild and untamable. Firekeeper is certainly wild when she is discovered by Earl Norwood and his group of merry men. Not quite human, not quite wolf.

In the real world I imagine a child would not have survived living with wolves. To them we are prey and no wonder. But in Jane Lindskold’s world there are Royal Beasts. Royal Beasts are a step up from their cousins (the wolves we know). Several qualities differentiate the two. Royal Beasts are larger, more intelligent and even havea bit of magic. Nor is Firekeeper your regular human. She is able to understand the language of beasts, any beast. Her ability with human talk, however, has been lost to her – due to causes that become apparent as the series continues.

In this novel we get to see human society from the outside, Through Wolf’s Eyes. Human societies make little sense to me. There are strange rules and restrictions (written and unwritten). Sometimes it seems as if some person just said “let’s try this” one day and then that was the new tradition. To one who does not even consider herself a human, human society would seem even stranger. Yet Firekeeper slowly understands that similarities exist between her Royal Wolves and humans.

Lindskold writes pretty well. I felt at times that Through Wolf’s Eyes became a bit wordy and felt my daughter’s attention waver. Then Lindskold would get through the rough patch and off we went again. We struggled with Alistair’s recitation of monarchies – especially when it was impossible to spot a good reason for this. Although the novel is step shy of flowing it still reads well aloud.

Perhaps the reader should not be too young. The complexity of the novel is the only reason I say this. If you like political maneuvering, sub-plots and lots of threads to keep straight, this is the book for you.




Britain, Kristen: Blackveil (Green Rider) (2011)

Cover art by Donato Giancola / Cover design by G-Force Design

Both my son and I agree that Kristen is a cruel, cruel woman. Telling why would be a major spoiler, but keep in mind that Kristen Britain likes to torture her readers. Aaaaargh.

I love the cover that Donato Giancola has painted. Maybe it is a little cheerful for Blackveil, but it is still pretty bleak.

Usually Kristen writes in a manner that makes reading aloud a delight. This time there was one exception. The name “Gerlrand Fiori” was a tongue twister, but that was it. The rest of the words were fun to read.

Our adventure into the world of Blackveil begins with Grandmother and her crew. Blackveil is not a place one would normally venture into as it is filled with messed up magic as a remnant of Mornhavon’s attempt to establish Arcosian rule on the shores of Sacoridia. I consider the Second Empire followers to be nuts, but who knows who of us is?

My 18-year old was disappointed when we began our journey with some one other than Karigan G’ladheon. He likes her character, all of it. She tends to see the world in black and white although she has mellowed a bit after all this time as a Green Rider. One thing that has been difficult for her to mellow out about is her father’s acquaintance with prostitutes and his previous life as a pirate. She intends to challenge him about these two issues.

Children, no matter how adult they think themselves, have a scewed picture of what their parents are supposed to be like. If they have seen you in a certain manner losing that fantasy can be difficult. Let’s just say that Karigan’s confrontation with Stevic was an eye-opening one.

One thing that is certain in Karigan’s life is that her abilities bring trouble her way, trouble she tends to barely survive. Supernatural powers aren’t necessarily a gift.

Captain Mapstone meets up with the Eletians after a visit to an ex-Green Rider. This meeting is fortuitous for Laren Mapstone and perhaps so for the Eletians. Together they travel back to the Castle and King Zachary. The Eletians intend to enter Blackveil at the spring Equinox and King Zachary intends to send some of his people along. We all know who one of Zachary’s people is going to be. They agree to meet at the gap in the wall on the day of the Equinox.

One thing I find problematic with the Green Rider series is this ongoing desperate love between Karigan and Zachary. I guess that would be part of the attraction. In this insane world we live in forbidden fruit is always supposed to be soooo much tastier than the permitted. What I do like is that Karigan and Zachary at least have the good sense to not do anything about their feelings. Poor Lady Estora who is doomed to marry a man that loves another. On the other hand she is realistic enough to know that these are the risks of arranged marriages. I like her. Estora is kind, strong and gutsy. She tries to make the best of a difficult situation in spite of her own pain, and she will have plenty of that in Blackveil.

I’m wondering why Britain added the Amberhill story. To me it seems completely irrelevant and as if Britain has just added him to make her series longer?????

While the Green Rider books are a series, there is also a serial bit to them. You do not have to read the previous three novels to understand the story (I think) but it might help. I have enjoyed them all and enjoyed Blackveil as well. My son and I agree on the excellence of Britain’s ability to write novels that can be read as audio.


My reviews of books 1 (Green Rider), 2 (First Rider’s Call), 3 (The High King’s Tomb) and 4 (Blackveil)


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2012: Finalist for the David Gemmell Legend Award: Best book

Britain, Kristen: First Rider’s Call (Green Rider) (2003)

Behind the Wall by Special-Sari

Deviant Art has tons of fan-art for Kristen Britain. I found this gem depicting Alton’s struggle.

I just finished reading First Rider’s Call out loud to my son. Like Green Rider, First Rider’s Call is audio-friendly. Kristen Britain writes in a manner that makes it a delight to read aloud.

First Rider’s Call begins with the Journal of Hadriax el Fex. My son felt it would be more appropriate for him to save that story until its natural place in the book. It worked out well for him.

Leaving Hadriax el Fex’s journal for later had us starting the tale at chapter two. Karigan gets her call to return to the Green Riders, a call she has been resisting for a year. The manner in which she responds is well-thought out by Ms. Britain. From there on Karigan is thrown into one life-threatening situation after the other. I am so glad I am not Karigan. Along the way she is helped by Lil Ambriodhe – the First Rider. In Green Rider we saw Karigan interacting with ghosts and matters have not changed much in First Rider’s Call.

Blackveil wakes and sends its tendrils of magic into Sacoridia through the breach waking creatures better left sleeping. With this awakening we find the abilities of the Green Riders becoming unreliable. In Captain Mapstone’s case that causes trouble for the whole of the Green Riders. What will they do????

Like Green Rider, First Rider’s Call deals with a lot of loss and grief, but also with hope and friendship. Having to face their fears makes a difference in who various characters become. Realizing how far loved ones will go and deciding how to deal with them leads to difficult choices.

Life is like that. Yet, like many of the characters in First Rider’s Call, all we have to do is dare see ourselves for who we are. We might not be pleased with the result, but it does open up doors to new worlds.


My reviews of books 1 (Green Rider), 2 (First Rider’s Call), 3 (The High King’s Tomb) and 4 (Blackveil)

Britain, Kristen: Green Rider (1998)

I just finished reading Green Rider to my youngest son. When you have a dyslexic audience, reading to them is always IN. I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to love literature, yet be so hindered by something that I take so much for granted. Maybe it is somewhat like my need for a wheel-chair.

Anyways. Back to Green Rider.

green_rider__cover_art_by_pallanoph-d3j5tne

Check out this cover illustration for the UK edition of Green Rider by April Schumacher. WOW! It catches the spirit of the novel perfectly.

As I read this book out loud, there are a couple of things I want to point out. Kristen writes beautifully. Names like Karigan G’ladheon just roll off my tongue. Reading was a delight. Tension, fear, beauty and humour came through the translation from page to mouth. Wonderful! What a gift.

Karigan G’ladheon is a typical hero character. She is conflicted about the many challenges that come her way, but she desperately wants to do what is right for her country. Danger is drawn to her, or perhaps Karigan is drawn to danger. Action is practically thrown her way. Thank goodness Karigan seems to have a gift of getting out of all of the life-threatening situations. Like Captain Mapstone claimed. Karigan seems to survive due to sheer spunk. Gritting her teeth, Karigan gets on with whatever comes her way. Gray riders, militia, dangerous creatures or spirits is just part of what Green Rider has to offer.

The plot is easy to understand. Someone is out to take over the country of Sacoridia (they think). Someone else has another agenda. Karigan supports the throne and stability. Battle ensues between the “good” and the “bad”. Presentation is everything and Kristen Britain Excels at this. Good job. In fact, excellent work! Enjoy.


My reviews of books 1 (Green Rider), 2 (First Rider’s Call), 3 (The High King’s Tomb) and 4 (Blackveil)


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