With The Gold Falcon, Katharine Kerr is starting a new phase in the Deverry series. We move on fifty years or so from the climactic ending of The Fire Dragon, and times have changed. The Horsekin have started marauding the Deverry border, killing the men and enslaving the women. There is a fragile alliance between the Deverry folk, the Rhiddaer, and the West Folk (Kerr’s version of elves). And Alshandra’s repute as a goddess is growing, Raena now considered a martyr to the cause.
Our main dweomer workers who hold the book together here are Dallandra and Salamander, who has fought hard to retrieve his sanity. The latter rescues two young lads from the slaughter of their village by Horsekin, and takes them to the sanctuary of Tieryn Cadryc’s dun. Neb, the older of the two, is a very familiar soul to Salamander — finally the soul of Nevyn has been reborn. In the same Dun he discovers the reborn soul of Cullyn (now called Gerran) and Jill (now called Branna), and realizes that fateful times are coming.
The Gold Falcon fits well into the overall sequence of Deverry novels, but on its own is not that entertaining, since it is mostly setting up future events and giving us hints of the doom that waits if the Horsekin cannot be stopped. It was interesting, though, to see Neb and Branna being drawn to each other and discovering their potential dweomer power. And it’s frustrating and heartbreaking to read about Rhodry’s current plight (as the dragon Rori).
Kerr writes fantastically well about the medieval life of Deverry. Every little detail reinforces the fact that she has enormous skill at world building, such as hearing about each gwerbret’s hall having an honour side (for the nobles) and a riders side (for the common born). We hear about the women having to make marriages for the sake of bloodlines and needing to be above reproach so that no one can doubt the parentage of the heirs to come.
Kerr gives us a completely different and equally realized culture when we ride with the West Folk on the plainlands. Here the women have much more freedom and there is a casual approach to leadership. The marked difference between the two people is emphasized well.
I did enjoy The Gold Falcon, but it took a good fifty pages before I relaxed into the new characters — especially with Nevyn and Jill carrying different names and essentially being fresh to the story. In some respects it is great having familiar characters turn up again in the Deverry novels — it lends the books a feeling of comfort — but in other respects it can be hard to invest in the new character as much as you did in the old. I like Neb, but I liked Nevyn more. On the other hand, I far prefer Branna to Jill, so I guess it runs both ways!
The Gold Falcon is a decent enough entry into the Deverry sequence, but certainly not a standalone novel, and slightly disappointing after the brilliance of The Fire Dragon.
Deverry — (1986-2009) Publisher: Even as a young girl, Jill was a favorite of the magical, mysterious Wildfolk, who appeared to her from their invisible realm. Little did she know her extraordinary friends represented but a glimpse of a forgotten past and a fateful future. Four hundred years-and many lifetimes-ago, one selfish young lord caused the death of two innocent lovers. Then and there he vowed never to rest until he’d rightened that wrong — and laid the foundation for the lives of Jill and all those whom she would hold dear: her father, the mercenary soldier Cullyn; the exiled berserker Rhodry Maelwaedd; and the ancient and powerful herbman Nevyn, all bound in a struggle against darkness… and a quest to fulfill the destinies determined centuries ago. Here in this newly revised edition comes the incredible novel that began one of the best-loved fantasy seers in recent years — a tale of bold adventure and timeless love, perilous battle and pure magic.
Act one: Deverry — In the UK, the third book is Dawnspell: The Bristling Wood, and the fourth book is Dragonspell: The Southern Sea.
Act two: The Westlands — in the UK, the third book is A Time of War and the fourth book is A Time of Justice.
Act three: The Dragon Mage
Act four: The Silver Wyrm — in the UK, these are continuations of Act Three: The Dragon Mage.