Author: Lynn Kurland
Release Date: Dec. 31, 2012
Publisher: Berkley Trade
The Nine Kingdoms #7
Format(s): Paperback (384 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher
About the book:
Aisling of Bruadair has lived a provincial life, removed from the evil creeping over her land. Her ordinary existence changes forever, though, when she is sent to the opposite end of the world to find a master swordsman. If she fails, her life–and her country’s safety–will be forfeit. She just never expected that swordsman to be a wounded elven prince masquerading as a simple soldier.
Powerless and scarred from long-ago conflict, Rùnach of Ceangail has spent years in obscurity, ignoring battles he can no longer fight. And although he has been drawn back into the world, he fully intends to live an unremarkable life far away from events he knows he cannot change…
Until Rùnach meets Aisling and realizes that she is far more than what she seems, that their alliance has attracted unwelcome notice, and that some battles must be fought.
What B is talking about:
Sold into a life of hard labor by her parents when she was only a girl, Aisling dreams of nothing but gaining her freedom on her next birthday. Fate has other ideas, however, and Aisling is forcefully thrust into the battle between good and evil that is threatening the Nine Kingdoms. Sent, under a curse of death, on a quest to find a savior for her country, she can trust no one, not even the kind, scarred soldier who insists on accompanying her on her journey.
Robbed of his magic by his own father years before, Rùnach of Ceangail wants nothing more than a simple life as a soldier of fortune, living out his extremely long life alone. But, when his path crosses that of a mysterious young woman in disguise, his curiosity overrules his better judgment, upending all his carefully laid plans.
As the seventh of the Nine Kingdoms novels, Dreamspinner relies so much on the series’ history that I would highly recommend it be read as part of the bigger story. References to minor characters, as well as those completely absent from this novel, left me feeling somewhat detached at times, and unable to appreciate all of the characters’ reactions within the narrative. This is entirely understandable, however, given that each novel of the Nine Kingdoms is substantial in its own right, and I imagine that devoting the required time to make every subsequent novel stand independently of the rest might weigh the story down considerably.
Aisling and Rùnach are very sweet together, the gradual slide the two make from being merely traveling companions to forming a real attachment as inevitable as it is endearingly awkward. Watching Rùnach’s consternation increase alongside Aisling’s awakening to the magic all around her is likewise extremely entertaining. Eventually, Rùnach gives in to his feelings without much of a fuss, going from comparing her to the beauties of the Elven court through much of the novel in an attempt to distract himself, to describing Aisling as being past “pretty” when a rival describes her as such. The pair’s protests become increasingly amusing to the other characters of the novel, resulting in quite a few smirks and snickers that leave Rùnach pondering his options to do them all violence for it.
I found Ms. Kurland’s secondary characters to be particularly enjoyable, Weger and Rùnach’s sister Mhorghain, most especially. These characters, as well as other minor characters, supply not just the only tie we’re given to the rest of the series, but the majority of the comic relief as well. They all seem to know exactly how to drive Rùnach thoroughly insane, which made for some of the funniest parts of the novel.
Dreamspinner is at heart, an epic tale of magic and adventure. Although I felt distanced from the story earlier on, I was able to connect more easily with the characters as their journey progressed. Aisling and Rùnach are both unwilling participants in a battle to save their world from darkness, each left embittered by the burdens they’ve had to carry. Together, they learn hard lessons about destiny and responsibility, but find purpose and happiness as well. Ms. Kurland makes visualizing the world she’s created easy, painting scenes rich in detail and texture. While the scope of the entire series is too intricate to be contained within a single novel, Ms. Kurland leaves her heroes with plenty to do in the next story, and it’s one I’m looking forward to.