Owlknight (Mercedes Lackey)

August 26, 2015 Book Reviews 6 ★★★½

Owlknight (Mercedes Lackey)Owlknight by Mercedes Lackey
Series: Owl Mage #3
Published by DAW Books Genres: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Source: my personal collection
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also in this series: Owlflight, Owlsight
Also by this author: The Serpent's Shadow, The Gates of Sleep, Phoenix and Ashes, Home from the Sea, Steadfast, Elemental Magic:, Blood Red, House of Four Winds, The Fairy Godmother, The Lark and the Wren, Owlflight, From a High Tower, Owlsight, Closer to Home, Hunter, Closer to the Heart, Take a Thief, A Study in Sable

From fantasy legends Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon comes the third and final volume in a powerful saga charged with war and magic, life and love.... Two years after his parents' disappearance, Darian has sought refuge and training from the mysterious Hawkbrothers. Now he has opened his heart to a beautiful young healer. Finally Darian has found peace and acceptance in his life. That is, until he learns that his parents are still alive-and trapped behind enemy borders....

Review

The third and final book in the Owl Mage trilogy takes us into uncharted territory – literally – as Darian, Keisha, and several of their friends head into the lands north of Valdemar to search for Darian’s parents. First, though, there are a number of tests and ceremonies for Darian to undergo.

Gone are the pacing problems of Owlsight. Even before the search party leaves, there is plenty going on, from Darian’s Mastery trial to the arrival of a permanently-assigned Herald and the festivities surrounding his appointment to the region. Following that, Darian’s search for traces of his parents turns up evidence that they may not have died, and the pace picks up even more.

Lackey doesn’t neglect character development in this book. Darian and Keisha both grow and mature, and we also see development in Shandi (Keisha’s sister, now a full Herald) and even Hywel, a young warrior from Ghost Cat who accompanies them as guide.

But it’s the lands and people to the north that fascinate me the most. Lackey bases them on the Pacific Northwest and its indigenous peoples, from their social structures to their art. (This has been evident since Owlsight, given what we know of Ghost Cat tribe.) “Borrowing” elements from other cultures is hardly new for Lackey; I think the Tayledras or Hawkbrothers are based at least in part on Algonquian peoples, while their Shin’a’in cousins to the south are loosely based on nomadic horse-loving tribes of the Eurasian steppes. But Lackey’s borrowing (or appropriation?) of Pacific Northwest indigenous art and traditions is a bit more blatant. Nonetheless, it works here, and Lackey manages to avoid characterizing her fictitious northern tribes as either “noble savages” or “ignorant barbarians” (although not all the characters in the book do the same, which adds realism.) Nor does she idealize the northern tribes, portraying both the strengths and problems in their cultures.

Exploring other cultures is one of the aspects I really love about SF/F, so I always enjoy this chance to visit a part of Velgarth that we haven’t experienced before. On the other hand, every time I re-read, I’m sorry to reach the end of Darian’s story. I’ve become rather fond of him and of Keisha, but they’ve both fully come into their own, and that’s where Lackey usually leaves her characters. While I wouldn’t be surprised to see them appear as minor characters in a future book someday, I’m not holding my breath. Lackey has spent the last six years delving into Valdemar’s past, and I don’t think she’s ready to return to Valdemar’s future until she finishes the Herald Spy series.

 

three-half-stars

About Mercedes Lackey

Mercedes Lackey is perhaps best known for her bestselling Valdemar, Elemental Masters, and Tales of the 500 Kingdoms series. Her books now total well over 100, not counting anthologies. She writes (or has written) several other popular series as well as stand-alone novels, both on her own and with collaborators including Larry Dixon (her husband and illustrator), Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, Rosemary Edghill, Marion Zimmer Bradley, James Mallory, Roberta Gellis, and others.

Lackey graduated from Purdue University in 1972 and worked as a computer programmer before quitting to write full-time. A strong storyteller and a prolific writer, she turns out four to six books per year. She has also written lyrics and recorded songs (many of them based on her stories) for Firebird Arts and Music. Music is a prevailing theme throughout her work, and a major element in the Bardic Voices and Bedlam’s Bard series.

Mercedes Lackey lives with her husband in Oklahoma. She keeps parrots and has been active in raptor rehabilitation. She has also been active in the Society for Creative Anachronism and the MRPG community.

(sources: Goodreads, author website, and Wikipedia.)

6 Responses to “Owlknight (Mercedes Lackey)”

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      I liked the Diana Tregarde series but tired of the Bedlam’s Bards series rather early on. But I’m definitely with you on the fairy tale retellings – she’s very creative with those!

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Valdemar has had a special place in my heart for about 30 years now. I first discovered the Arrows trilogy when I worked in a bookstore, my last year in college. It’s been one of the homes-of-my-heart ever since.

  1. Rita @ View From My Home

    I have great respect for Ms. Lackey though apparently she can be uneven in her pacing and plots. I love to disappear into well-done world building and need to figure out which of her series I should start with.

    I’m at the moment reading an unusual book (for me anyway) in that it starts off in the future as sci-fi and then MC is sent back into the past, 900 AD,in Iceland with the Vikings– Beautiful Wreck by Larissa Brown. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Just about all her series start out strong. I’m working on a post about where to start with Lackey – maybe I’ll finish it during the Blog Ahead challenge. 🙂

      The book you’re reading sounds interesting – I hope you’ll review it!