The Book of Ond

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The Lament of Abalone by Jane Welch  

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Three years have elapsed since the culmination of Welch’s first series, The Runespell Trilogy. As The Lament of Abalone opens Morrigwen, the Crone, still clings to life but is fading fast. Hal has, perhaps somewhat rashly, pledged to marry Brid and Spar has become almost completely obsessed with the Druid’s Egg, Necrönd. Hooded wolves have overrun the southern lands, bringing with them death and terror, and the Torra Altans are being blamed for the destruction.

In order to maintain the integrity of the Great Trinity, a new Maiden must be found so that the Crone can release her hold on life. When a trapper kills a sacred Yellow Mountain mother wolf, it is interpreted as an omen relating to the Maiden. The search for her orphaned cubs sends Brid and Caspar on a quest that will have unimaginable consequences. Meanwhile, Hal and Ceowulf have journeyed to Farona, capital of Belbidia, at the King’s request. There they are surprised to find that they will be part of an honor guard assigned to escort Princess Cymbeline, newly betrothed to the King, from her home in Ceolothia to Belbidia.

As is typical of many journey or quest-type adventures, nothing is as simple as it sounds. Each of the groups become split and separated by various means, both mortal and supernatural. However, despite their wandering paths, the groups are somehow being led to a space and time where many of their conflicts will be resolved. Along the way they will all learn things about their companions and themselves that will have life altering consequences.

With this novel, Welch begins a second trilogy revolving around the original trio of characters, Spar, Hal and Brid. She also introduces a variety of new characters, some of whom take on important roles as the novel progresses. One of the more interesting characters is a woodwose named Fern. A being caught somewhere between man and deer; he adds a bit of humor and lightness to some rather heavy scenes. It seems as though Welch has also taken on a more mystical angle with this series. She relies much more on the supernatural this time around and leads her characters into some very gruesome escapades. This wasn’t a bad novel, but I did feel that Welch may have been trying too hard at some points. The story lines tend to get pretty convoluted and it was sometimes hard to keep track of the different characters. There is no doubt that this novel sets the stage for the one to follow. Although Welch brings the most pressing difficulties to a head, the underlying problems are definitely left unresolved. Like the old Perils of Pauline, we’ll have to stay tuned for the next installment.

Reviewed by Diane

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