I read this book about 27-Nov-2002. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 2001. This note was last modified Saturday, 19-Aug-2006 10:44:49 PDT.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
I first encountered Jane Lindskold as the person who completed two unfinished Zelazny novels after his death (Donnerjack and Lord Demon. I read them, but that seems to have been before I started keeping this book log. I have no direct knowledge of what the manuscripts looked like when she started, but if they'd been substantially complete, I don't think she would have been credited as a co-author. I felt like she did an excellent job -- they were good books, and didn't have a speed-bump I noticed indicating where she took over.
Of course, finishing another author's books is a very different challenge than writing your own. In many technical senses, it's much harder -- you have to write like someone else. You have to understand their characters and their style well enough to reproduce it. So this told me she was technically quite good, but told me nothing about what her own books would be like (beyond competent, anyway).
Meeting her and her husband at World Fantasy Convention this fall got me motivated enough to track down a couple of her books. I'm not actively looking for new fantasy to read, and a cover featuring a wolf and a waif (which, it turns out, are actually quite relevant to what's inside the book, even!) isn't what's going to really suck me in. Nothing against wolves, or waifs; but I feel there's a tendency towards woo-woo of a kind I don't like among people who are strongly drawn to combine those two elements.
Luckily, this book turned out not to affect me like that. It's a nice story of a human girl actually raised by wolves coming back into human society. It makes it much more believable that the wolves involved are the giant-size "Royal" wolves, which like the other "Royal" animals are intelligent and have language, and can speak with each other. Her name, in the pack, is Firekeeper. The leading wolves have taught her to make fire, which the wolves understand but can't do much with without hands.
She's brought into human society right in the middle of a succession crisis in one kingdom, which gets blended with ending an old on-and-off war with a neighboring kingdom. She has to learn a lot of stuff, fast. Luckily she has good friends. Oh, and she turns out not to be the lost heir to the kingdom, I'm pleased to say (told you there were spoilers).
In the background there's a set of older nations with great magical powers, which abandoned the colonies that are now these kingdoms over a century ago. There's also a mysterious entity that speaks to the main character a couple of times in dreams. Nothing comes of these hints in this book. I'm not sure I want them to be worked out; I may like the surface story-line better. We'll see what happens in the next book.