Owlsight: Adds a new protagonist to Darian’s story

Owlsight by Mercedes Lackey fantasy book reviewsOwlsight by Mercedes Lackey fantasy book reviewsOwlsight by Mercedes Lackey

Owlsight (1998) is the second novel in Mercedes Lackey’s DARIAN’S TALE, a trilogy set within her VALDEMAR universe. DARIAN’S TALE is a fine place for newcomers to begin reading the VALDEMAR books, but you should start with the first book about Darian, Owlflight. If you do start with DARIAN’S TALE instead of the first VALDEMAR book, Arrows of the Queen, there are a few passing references to people, places, and events from previous books that you won’t understand, but I don’t think it will affect your enjoyment of the story. This review will contain mild spoilers for Owlflight.

When we left the orphan Darian in the previous book, he had run away from the village that mistreated him, joined up with the dreaded Hawkbrothers, learned a new way of life, and returned with his new friends to save the village from the barbarian horde that had enslaved them.

Owlsight begins four years later and with a new protagonist. Keisha is a young lady who acts as the healer of Errold’s Grove, the same village that Darian grew up in. Errold’s Grove prospers now that the barbarians are gone and the Hawkbrothers are allies. When Keisha’s sister is unexpectedly chosen to be a Herald and leaves for the academy, Keisha begins to question her own place in the village and to become more assertive with her domineering and patriarchal family. She would like to go to the Collegium for training, but she doesn’t want to leave Errold’s Grove without a healer.

Owlsight by Mercedes Lackey fantasy book reviewsMeanwhile Darian has returned to the Tayledras vale after being away on a trip for four years. His next project involves creating a new vale outside Errold’s Grove that will serve as a sort of embassy. He also hopes to continue his studies in magic with a powerful mage.

As any reader would predict, eventually Keisha’s and Darian’s storylines converge and, near Owlsight’s halfway mark, a new threat to Errold’s Grove arises that our two protagonists will face together along with their friends and allies, including the talking gryphons.

As with the previous book, the story takes a long time to get going as Lackey spends an enormous amount of space detailing the mundane events of her characters’ lives and the mundane things they’re thinking (e.g., cleaning up after a party, dying thread, planting seedlings, soaking beans, washing clothes, hanging clothes on the line and mentioning which items get hung in the shade and which get hung in the sun, etc.). How well readers react to this will certainly depend on how much they like Lackey’s characters. To tell the truth, I find them a little shallow with few thoughts that are interesting, imaginative, or that challenge me in any way. I think that’s one reason I continually have the sense that I’m reading a story for kids. Another is that these books are filled with little life lessons that seem rudimentary and simplistic (e.g., almost everything worth doing is hard at first, keep a balance in life so you can enjoy both your work and your pleasures, you need to understand what people want so you can negotiate with them effectively, war is not glorious). The plots are similarly uncomplicated. Yet these books have sexual elements (and sometimes horror elements such as torture) that are not appropriate for a young audience. It’s hard for me to know who to recommend them to.

Lackey’s magic system is well-organized and interesting, though, and many of her characters are likeable and worth rooting for. If you’re looking for an easy unchallenging read after a hard day at work, this may suit. Those who are already fans of VALDEMAR will surely enjoy Darian’s story and they’ll be pleased to meet some old friends in Owlsight.

Kevin T. Collins continues to do a good job narrating Tantor Audio’s new edition of Owlsight. I liked him better in this second book and thought he performed the female parts pretty well. The recording is 16 hours long but, because I thought Collins’ pace was too slow, I listened to it at double speed, making it only 8 hours long.

Published in print in 1998 and in audio in October 2017. It has been four years since Darian saw his village sacked and burned by barbarians. Taking refuge with the Hawkbrothers, he soon finds his life’s calling – as a Healing Adept. But even as he learns the mystical ways of this ancient race, Darian cannot escape the dangers threatening his future. Another tribe of barbarians is approaching. The time has come…to stand up and fight.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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2 comments

  1. I haven’t been able to get into these, but I need to reconsider, because who doesn’t love a talking gryphon?

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