Book Review by Debbie Winkler
Target Age Group: adults
My Rating:4/5 stars, She Had the Power to Whistle Up the Wind…
The Wind-Witch is the second book in the The Warhorse of Esdragon Series, but the story stands independent from the first book. This is the story of one of Leith and Kess’ (the hero and heroine of Prince of Ill Luck) descendant, Druyan. Druyan is the youngest daughter of a large family and has always done what she is told: she married a much older man, repressed her magical abilities and has resigned herself to being childless. When her husband is killed by the sea raiders, she is suddenly faced with a choice: go back to her family (who will marry her off to someone else) or try and freehold her farm. If she can pay all of the tithes and keep the farm going for a year and a day, the farm is hers. However, all of the men are away fighting for the Duke against the sea raiders and she needs help to run the farm. So she bargains with Kellis, one of the raiders captured and imprisoned in the attack on her farm. He agrees to help her in exchange for his freedom. It soon becomes apparent that Kellis has magicial abilities – including the ability to see the future and/or the past. The problem is, he never knows if he is seeing the future or the past and he cannot really control what or when he sees. When Druyan finds out about his abilities, she is skeptical at first. But then Kerris’ vision about the attack on her farm comes true. She then urges Kerris to try and “see” when the raiders are coming so she can warn others and keep the sea raiders from conquering her homeland. The legendary Valadan, a wind-sired stallion who can communicate with his rider (if he chooses), whisks Druyan throughout Esdragon to warn the people of coming danger and plays an integral part in saving the people of Esdragon.
I must agree with other reviewers that this title was not as good as Prince of Ill Luck, the first book in the series. The plot is not especially original: normal person required to do extraordinary things to rescue their country and become a hero, but it is always kind of fun to read this type of story and think that normal people can make a difference. It has a pretty slow, methodical pace until the last 100 pages or so. Kerris and Druyan’s relationship was also slow in developing, but love does not always happen at first sight. Still, the country of Esdragon is a fascinating place and it was interesting to see it through a “farmer’s” point of view instead of from a Duke’s daughter. This gives the reader the opportunity to learn about how to harvest barley, thatch a roof, or weave cloth as opposed to breeding horses, swordfighting and the like.
Dexter’s strong female characters will please many readers – it is unfortunate that her male characters, in this book, are not quite as strong and believable. Still, there was good character development and maturation throughout the story. The characters grew in maturity, strength and confidence through the story and seemed like real people. I also enjoyed the different magical abilities of the heroine: the ability to whistle up the wind and storms. The hero is a more traditional magician and can see the future/past and shape-shift. It was nice to see both characters get strong magical abilities instead of just one or the other.
This book contains some fantasy violence including hostile raids, fighting, magical battles and more. Still, it is really quite clean and is appropriate for readers ages 14 and up.