Friday, May 04, 2007

Book Review: _The Red Wyvern_ by Katherine Kerr

The ancient Celts and their culture fascinates people today. Historians do not have a complete knowledge of them due to their oral traditions and their destruction by the Romans. Many authors use what information that is known to create imaginative books in the subgenre of Celtic Fantasy. Katherine Kerr created her own fantasy world of Deverry. The Red Wyvern is a strong addition to her world and the first book of the “Dragon Mage” series. A richly detailed setting, memorable characters and suspenseful plot makes the book an entertaining read.

The richly detailed setting brings the story to life. Ms. Kerr weaves Celtic culture, magic, elves and dwarves together for her world of Deverry. Characters move through a land of duns at war to restore a rightful king. Souls are reborn again and again to work out wrongs from past lives. There is a vivid history of clashing peoples sharing a world with strange magic and creatures. Dweomer is a magic that is done by masters for both good and evil by calling on spirit creatures to enact spells. All of these details creates a strong believable setting for the book.

Next, the author brings the story to life with memorable characters. Strong women characters and brave warrior men are part of the story. Lillorriga is a young girl being used by a conniving mother exploiting her magic gift. She is more attached to her foster mother Bevyan from another clan and finds herself in a struggle to save lives. Merodda, Lillorriga’s mother, is an ambitious woman striving for power in a male dominated society. These two women find their struggle linked through several lifetimes. The male characters are memorable too, ranging from brave warriors to vicious killers. Burcan, head of the Boar clan, refuses to give up his power at any cost, even by committing atrocities. His cruelty is balanced out by the brave warriors of the Silver Daggers, serving the rightful King.

Finally, a suspenseful plot makes the book entertaining. Ms. Kerr writes the plot tight with intervals of intrigue between battles that keeps the reader hooked. The plot is split into two stories. It begins with Rhodry spending time in a northern kingdom. Niffa gets married in this time, which throws the story into the past during a civil war. This is the story of the characters’ struggles in one other their past lives. The Boar clan is trying to maintain power as regent of a young boy while the rightful king fights to regain his throne. This creates tension among the nobles as they must choose sides. Most of the story hinges on the young girl Lillorigga of the Boar clan and the choices she makes.

The Red Wyvern by Katherine Kerr is an exciting addition to her world of Deverry. A richly detailed setting, memorable characters and suspenseful plot brings the story to life and makes the book entertaining. The book is a welcome addition to the subgenre of Celtic Fantasy. Readers should enjoy this book.

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