According to Clarissa Pinkola Estes who wrote the book Women Who Run with Wolves, women have much in common with the wolf. We are similar in our fierceness, lithe grace, and devotion to mate and community. I don’t know how much I buy into that – I clearly missed out on any of the physical attributes of a wolf like stealth, speed, cunning and any form of grace – but I do love fantasy novels, and many of them link women and wolves. This novel links the heroine with a wolf that is also something a bit more.
When shape shifter Aralorn returns home for her father’s funeral, she is deeply grieved. While she has not been home in a while, she loved her father and has missed her family. But while paying her respects to the Lyon of Lambshold, she makes a reassuring yet disconcerting discovery; her father is not dead, he is deeply ensorcelled. When she tries to use her magic to revive him, a shadow quickly envelopes the room, attempting to attack her. This is far more powerful magic than Aralorn and her limited knowledge of green magic can handle, but fortunately, she did not come alone.
Wolf AKA Cain is a wanted man for the murder of his father, Gregory the ag’Magi. But few know that on top of being a powerful black mage, he is also a shape shifter. In his wolf form he accompanies Aralorn to her father’s funeral. But it looks like the Lord of Lambshold had made a powerful enemy, for the Lyon is under a spell that it will take great magic to break. Can Cain free Aralorn’s father without betraying his identity? And what sacrifice will be required to make such a thing possible?
This is the second book about Wolf and Aralorn. I did not read Masques before reading this one, and had no trouble following the tale at all. The nice thing about coming in on this second book is that the two already have a comfortable, established relationship. When we begin, there has been a brief break between them as Wolf comes to grips with what he is feeling for Aralorn. Clearly, it is devotion; he follows her quickly into danger. The two understand each other well, with their powers a nice compliment to one another. Aralorn, a beloved daughter and successful spy, is good for Wolf. He was a horribly abused child, and her warmth, ability to love, and self-confidence serve as a good foil for his pain and insecurity. He is unnaturally, almost frighteningly gifted, and he needs the centering she provides. On the other hand, Aralorn, while cunning and talented, lacks the raw power that comes so easily to Wolf. And with the scrapes she gets herself into, she sometimes needs that power. Still, she is no shrinking violet and most often saves herself. I liked that she is one of those heroines who is strong physically from years of training, as well as being strong emotionally. And I liked that the two could depend on each other, rather than one of them providing everything for the other.
The fantasy world set up here is nothing new, filled with familiar medieval style kingdoms, knights, lords and sorcerers. It is well drawn though, and is a natural setting for the story being told. I liked that magic had waned in this world and then returned; it allowed for explanations of magical creatures that hadn’t been seen in decades to be slipped naturally into conversations. That Aralorn was a story teller also lent itself well to the tale, providing a reason for her to have great knowledge of old legends.
The mystery of who set the spell and why was interesting and well paced. It didn’t take the hero and heroine so long to figure things out that you began to question their intelligence, but it also wasn’t so easy that you had figured it out yourself by the second chapter. I liked that the author wasn’t heavy handed with her clues – they were there and you could pick them up as Aralorn did, but they didn’t jump up and down screaming “It was the butler!” or whatever. We had several possible candidates for villain.
While this was a good read – and one I would recommend to any lover of fantasy – it lacked that spark of brilliance that takes a book into DIK territory. I didn’t mind. This made excellent company for a cold winter’s night, reminded me of just how much I love the fantasy genre in general, and made me long for more books about this couple. If you are a fan of the Alpha and Omega series by Briggs, you will decidedly want to give this one a try. If you are a lover of fantasy with strong heroines, this would also be a great fit for you. It is not strong enough to be a conversion book, but it is definitely a delight for lovers of the genre.
|Review Date:||December 20, 2010|