Thursday, May 29, 2008

A shaggy dog story

"Through Wolf's Eyes", by Jane Lindskold, would have been a chunky great doorstop of a novel, had it not been another of Tor's free ebooks that I read on my phone. It's your average girl-raised-by-wolves-goes-on-to-great-things-in-fantasy-land-by-using-her-wolfish-ways-and-her-straight-talking-to-the-nobles story.

Firekeeper, the wolf-girl, is well-written, as are most of the characters. She's believable, once you accept that wolves wouldn't just eat her. The world they live in is a slightly different take on standard mediaeval fantasyland, but only slightly. It's still kings and queens and castles and nobles and commoners, but this time women get to be knights and they worship their ancestors instead of dodgy gods. That's about all the differences.

The plot is pretty good, concerning itself with aging King Tedric's choice of an heir. His own children having died in nasty ways, he is forced to select an heir from a wide variety of nobles and their children. Cue lengthy infodumps on family history and lines of succession. These were pretty tedious and I skipped them whenever I could, and it didn't affect my understanding of what was going on. The book comes with a family tree diagram and a glossary of characters, detailing their siblings and line of descendancy from Queen Thingy the First. I don't want to invest that much time in these people, they are essentially background. If the book were trimmed of these sections, which add very little except weight, it would be lot more gripping.

All in all, a diverting if not spectacular read. Ho hum.

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