Book Review: Owlflight by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon

Posted April 8, 2022 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Owlflight by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Owlflight by Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon
Genres: Fantasy
Published by DAW on March 2, 2004
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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Also by this author: Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill, Victories, Blood Red, The House of the Four Winds, Closer to Home, Changing the World: All-New Tales of Valdemar, Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar, Winter Moon, Moving Targets and Other Tales of Valdemar, Elementary: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters, No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar, From a High Tower, Hunter, Closer to the Heart, Silence, A Study in Sable, Elite, Closer to the Chest, Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar, A Scandal in Battersea, The Hills Have Spies, The Bartered Brides, Dragon's Teeth, Eye Spy, Breaking Silence, Pathways, The Case of the Spellbound Child, Jolene, Passages, Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise, The Serpent's Shadow, The Oathbound, The White Gryphon, The Silver Gryphon, Beyond, Spy, Spy Again, Oathbreakers, The Lark and the Wren, The Gates of Sleep, Phoenix and Ashes, The Wizard of London, The Robin and the Kestrel, Oathblood, Exile's Honor, The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley, Exile’s Valor

First in The Owl Mage Trilogy, a.k.a. Darian’s Tale, a fantasy subseries set in Lackey’s Valdemar Universe of 1404 AF. The focus is on the orphaned Darian Firkin. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Valdemar books on my website.

My Take

It’s an interesting village in which barter rules. It’s also a terrified village that is freaked out by anything or anyone different from them, especially now that the Heralds so rarely come. And their fear of the Firkins is out of this world. A fear they take out on young Darian, through whose perspective we see most of the story through Lackey’s use of third person global subjective point-of-view.

It’s a brutal treatment of the boy, and I can’t blame him for how he reacts. These people are also the greediest bunch. At the end, Lilly has her own righteous cause and those villagers do NOT like it. Go, Lilly!! Nor do they treat Justyn very well, which negates any good impressions Darian may retain about magic. How the Hawkbrothers treat Darian makes a tremendous contrast with those villagers and would be a great tip for parents.

We get Justyn’s back history and it goes right back to events that began in Lackey’s Mage Winds subseries. We also learn more about the Kaled’a’in whom we first met in Mage Wars and how they split into the Shin’a’in and Hawkbrothers. It’s definitely a question I’ve had for most of the series, and Lackey has been dribbling out bits of their background for ever!

I am confused about the militia that goes out. It sounds as if it’s from an estate upriver, but later it sounds as if it’s the village militia. Which is the first I’ve heard of the village having an armed guard.

Lilly certainly has the right idea about surviving the coming battle. I do have to wonder about the Hawkbrothers though. They know about this invasion and they don’t do much of anything about it. Sure it makes sense that they’re not going to attack, but surely they could warn Lord Breon as soon as they knew anything???

I sure would like to have my own hertasi. Just two. I would only need one, but it would be nice for them to have each other. And, of course, I’d love to learn languages from the dyheli . . . I’m also envious of the tree road, but I don’t really feel the need to follow it.

There’s a cute bit about Snowfire’s envy of those who bond with crows and ravens — for the entertainment value.

It’s a cozy tale packed with action with characters that are more about character and people in general, not specifics. And I definitely felt good when I finished it.

The Story

Apprenticed to a venerable wizard when his hunter and trapper parents disappear into the forest never to be seen again, Darian is difficult and strong willed — much to the dismay of his kindly master. But a sudden twist of fate will change his life forever, when the ransacking of his village forces him to flee into the great mystical forest.

It is here in the dark forest that he meets his destiny, as the terrifying and mysterious Hawkpeople lead him on the path to maturity. Now they must lead the assault on his besieged home in a desperate attempt to save his people from certain death.

The Characters

Darian Firkin is an orphan who’s good with a bow and one whose hunter-trapper parents brought amazing hides into the terrified village.

Errold’s Grove is . . .
. . . on a small part of land on the very far western edge of Valdemar on the edge of the Pelagiris Forest on the River Londell and near Lake Evendim. Wizard Justyn, a hedge-wizard with a touch of mind-magic, suffered through the wars and has been assigned to Errold’s Grove as their herbalist, surgeon, and bonesetter. He does a good job of Weather Watching and Finding as well. A beat-up, scruffy black tomcat appears to be Justyn’s familiar. Kyle Osterham is the village woodcutter, doing nothing but cutting wood with the villagers supplying him with what he needs. Harris and Vere Neshem, brothers and cousins to Kyle, are a pair of local farmers. Old Man Makus had been the official cobbler. The tanner works hides in the fall. Jakem, the blacksmith, does all the metal work and really hates Darian. Leander is the miller and also the baker. Backet is another farmer. Widow Clay has a bad leg. Old Man Gulian is the rudest man in the village, while Erna Dele appears to be the rudest woman. Every three or four months they all chip in to make dishes. Lilly is the barmaid at the inn, which is owned by Hanbil Brason. Nandy and Derrel Lutter are merchants. Saffy is Ida‘s daughter. Ananda Pellard has an evil rooster. Stella Harthon is someone’s pretty little daughter.

Tom Kalley works at Riverford Farm, an estate upwater. Ado Larsh is the youngest member of the militia. Lord Breon is based at the fortified Kelmskeep.

The Hawkbrothers, a.k.a. . .
. . . the Tayledras, split off from the Shin’a’in centuries ago after the first Mage Wars. Snowfire k’Vala, of the k’Vala clan, is a scout and hunter and a Master of magic. Hweel, an eagle owl, is his bondbird. Huur is Hweel’s mate. Kuari is Hweel and Huur’s youngster. Nightwind, a Kaled’a’in that’s one of the k’Leshya, a.k.a. the “Lost Clan”, is Snowfire’s lady love, an Empath, and Kelvren’s trondi’irn, a gryphon tender. Kelvren Skothkae is a young gryphon-scout and an unranked member of the Silvers. Wintersky is the youngest scout and bunks in with Snowfire. Tiec is Wintersky’s bondbird. Starfall is an Adept and in charge of the magical contingent. Skyr, a great suntail hawk-eagle, had been Starfall’s father’s bondbird. Skyshadow’s bondbird is Eere, a suntail. Sunleaf is bonded to a forestgyre. Rainwind and Daystorm are more scouts. Sunstone will trigger the avalanche.

The Hawkbrothers are allied with the expedient dyheli that includes Sifyra, Pyreen, and Tyrsell, the king stag; the meddling and efficient hertasi that includes Ayshen (Drusi is his mate); the bloody-minded gryphons; the tervardi; and, the kyree.

The northern barbarians
Shkar was in command. Cor is one of the soldiers. There’s a Yip Dog and an Attack Dog that scent magic.

Selenay is the queen of Valdemar. Kyllian is a great wizard and a Fireflower mage. Grimkin is/was his feline familiar. Herald-Mage Elspeth, Darkwind Hawkbrother Quenten of White Winds, and Adept Firesong serve Valdemar as magic revives in the land. Herald-Captain Kerowyn had led the Wolfstone’s Pack. Ancar had been a miserable king of Hardorn. The truth behind the Forest of Sorrows was discovered in Winds of Fury, 3.

Urtho had been a good Adept (the Dhorisha Plains are where his tower had been located) at war with Ma’ar, a bad Adept (whose tower had been where Lake Evendim is). Their final clash resulted in the Cataclysm that created the first mage-storms, created the Pelagir Hills and the Pelagiris Forest, both uncanny places and worse since the the start of the mage storms. And a Cataclysm that split the k’Leshya clan from all Kaled’a’in. The Star-Eyed is the goddess revered by the Hawkbrothers. We first met the Haighlei in the Mage Wars subseries. Tadrith Wyrsabane, Skandranon‘s son, became his own legend.

The Cover and Title

The cover is bright and busy with primarily purples and golds. The background is the purple of the Pelagiris Forest with the golds of Hweel, an owl bondbird representing the Hawkbrothers, behind the young Darian, his red-brown hair fluttering in the wind and wearing a highly decorated vest, shirt, and pants in blues, yellows, and greens. He has an intent look on his face as he prepares to shoot the arrow with his bow. At the very top is an epigraph in white with the authors’ names below it, also in white. The title is immediately below that in orange.

The title is Darian’s introduction to bondbirds and Owlflight.

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