The Spirit Stone by Katharine Kerr
The Spirit Stone is the fifth book in the Dragon Mage sequence by Katharine Kerr. The events in this book follow on directly from those in The Gold Falcon. The joint armies of Westfolk, Deverry men, and Mountain Folk are mustering in order to put Zakh Gral (the Horsekin fortress) to the sword. This time round we leave the stories of Branna and Neb, who remain behind at the dun. Instead Salamander and Dallandra come to the fore — dealing with a group of Gel da Thae who have been banished for using dweomer by those who follow Alshandra; finding and trying to discover the secrets of the black pyramid and the white; and trying to cure Rori’s wounds.
I enjoyed The Spirit Stone, finding a number of new story strands to enjoy and seeing how Kerr is filling some of the gaps from previous stories. For instance, we go back in time here to when Salamander was merely Evan (in his mother’s language) and Ebany (in his father’s), a child of only a few years. It was a time when Dallandra had already gone to the Guardians and her son Loddlaen was growing up, when Nevyn realizes that Loddlaen has suffered through being in Dalla’s womb when she first traveled with Evandar and went to different worlds. It was interesting seeing how Loddlaen turned from an odd young man who struggled with dweomer to someone who was prepared to commit murder (eventually becoming the deranged mage we met at the time that Jill and Rhodry first came together).
Speaking of that, Branna and Rori also experience a heartbreaking scene in which Branna only remembers that Jill was once friends with Rhodry before he turned dragon, and nothing more than that, while Rori knows what truly passed between them.
Another powerful scene was when Dalla tries to explain to Gerran the nature of war and the fact that no side will truly win since both commit atrocities in the name of what they believe in.
In fact, there were only a few bits to The Spirit Stone that I found wearisome. One was actually the “war” against the Horsekin in Zakh Gral. It has been built up over the last book and a half to be something huge and menacing, yet is over extremely quickly and with very little loss of life or danger to the Westfolk/Deverry men. I understand the war is not yet over, but I did expect more tension.
So, onto the next book in Kerr’s never-ending cycle — although I do see the finish line now! In the next book I anticipate more of Rori and the rediscovery of Haen Marn!
P.S. I’ve no doubt that to anyone who has not read the previous books in the Deverry sequence this review is a garbled mess of characters and storylines that don’t make much sense. For this reason I would urge people strongly to start with Daggerspell and move forward in written order. I cannot recommend this series highly enough. The Deverry novels are rich with details — realistic characters, political viewpoints, magic, adventure, romance, the Seelie, Elves, Dwarves, and Dragons — and truly deserves the description “epic.” Katharine Kerr is enormously underrated and has quietly put out one of the most accomplished long-running series in the field. Please don’t miss out!
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.
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