I could feel reading fatigue coming on after 900+ pages of Stephen King’s The Stand, so I searched my bookshelves for something simple and fun. I grabbed Tamora Pierce’s Wolf-Speaker, the second in her YA fantasy series the Immortals.
Pierce’s books are quick reads and were among my favorites when I was a teen. Similar to my plan for Stephen King’s books, I intend to read all of Pierce’s novels based in Tortall, and Wolf-Speaker was the next one due for a read.
The Immortals, book 2
When Daine is summoned to help a pack of wolves — dear friends from her old village — she and Numair travel to Dunlath Valley to answer the call. But when they arrive, Daine is shocked to learn that it’s not only animals whose lives are threatened; people are in danger, too.
Dunlath’s rulers have discovered black opals in their valley. They’re dead set on mining the opals and using the magic contained in the stones to overthrow King Jonathan. Even if it means irreversibly damaging the land—and killing their workers. Daine must master her wild magic in order to save both her animal friends and her human ones. (Goodreads)
This was a welcome change after The Stand, and I quickly swept through it. If not for work and other responsibilities, I would have completed it in less than the 5 days it took me to read.
Wolf-Speaker sees us back with Daine, who is travelling with Numair this time to respond to a summons from the wolf pack in Dunlath Valley. Turns out that Daine is old friends with these wolves. But it’s odd that a pack of wolves would seek outside help for their problems, even if their prior interactions with Diane had made them smarter than the average pack of wolves. It’s not until Daine sees what the real issue is in Dunlath Valley that she learns what her true task is.
I didn’t enjoy this as much as I did Wild Magic, but it was still an enjoyable read. I liked Daine’s interactions with Numair and loved that I got to learn more about Numair’s background. In Wolf-Speaker, we encounter mages who are familiar with Numair from their time spent at the University in Carthak. I’d forgotten than we get some background on him in this book, but it was a nice surprise to encounter it. It makes me even more eager to read Tempests and Slaughter, a recent novel by Pierce that’s all about Numair.
Numair himself is a likable character. He is a powerful mage but is goofy and fun and doesn’t take himself too seriously. It’s obvious that he cares for Daine and though he doesn’t understand animals or hold them to the level of regard that Daine does, he respects Daine and thus shows respect to the animals.
Much as I enjoyed reading this, the story wasn’t very exciting. Except for Numair, the characters weren’t appealing in any way, so I didn’t care much for them, and Daine fell a little flat in this one. She was almost unlikable because she came off as too bossy sometimes. There wasn’t much to the plot. Nothing happens for much of the book except for Daine practicing her magic, playing with wolves, and sleeping. I don’t think she receives much character development overall, and the plot only picks up at the end because a battle was right around the bend. It was actually a bit boring.
I think it would have been better if Daine had encountered some difficulty in her pursuits that weren’t easily overcome and wrestled with a moral dilemma. Pierce tried to include this by making Daine debate her perception of the Stormwings with other characters, but it wasn’t believable. I think it would have been more interesting if there was something she really had to do, something necessary to save others, but when she asks an animal for access to its mind and body to do it, the animal refuses and then Daine has to wrestle with whether or not to take the animal’s freedom of choice, something she says she’ll never do.
A similar situation occurs in Wild Magic, but Daine wasn’t strong enough to force the animal to do as she wished. I wonder how she would feel and what she would think if she was strong enough, or had to force a squirrel to serve her.
It was okay. It’s boring in some spots and issues are easily resolved, but it was the quick, easy read I wanted at the time.
Btw, I highly recommend it to animal lovers.