Second installment in Lindskold’s epic fantasy about a young woman of royal descent raised by wolves starts even more slowly than Through Wolf’s Eyes , 2001) as Firekeeper becomes the salvation of, and hero to, a bewildering array of human and animal characters. Having warred with each other previously, King Tedric of Hawk Haven and King Allister of Bright Bay want to seal their truce with the wedding of Princess Sapphire Shield and Prince Shad Oyster (Lindskold’s use of common nouns as aristocratic family names becomes even more precious when we meet, at the wedding, twins Minnow and Anemone Oyster). After helping to save the bride and groom from assassins, Firekeeper and her wolf sidekick Blind Seer are summoned by the peregrine falcon Elation to a faraway meeting of animals, where she’s told (having been reared by animals, Firekeeper can converse easily with them) that a human has discovered three magical objects so powerful that they threaten the animals’ uneasy relationship with mankind. Firekeeper must find the objects. What could have been a simple story in which Firekeeper, who feels she’s more animal than human, learns more about the eerie relationship between these not-so-separate kingdoms, becomes far too complicated as Lindskold piles on stuffy subplots detailing romantic and political entanglements, and as the conniving Queen Valora, who stole the objects from Bright Bay’s treasury, recruits the easily corrupted Lord Waln Endbrook and some nasty seafaring smugglers. Valora forges a secret alliance with Hawk Haven’s Queen Melina, who magically manipulates four of her five children by touching the jewels on her necklace. Valora then tries to enlist sorcerer types in the nearby kingdom of New Kelvin to unleash the objects’ power. It all concludes with Firekeeper becoming the epic’s strong but even more alienated moral center, with enough villains left on the loose for a third volume.
Firekeeper remains Lindskold’s only compelling character in a story buried in monotonous subplots and overly familiar high-fantasy intrigues.