Children's Literature - Amie Rose Rotruck
Oliza faces the greatest challenge of her life: choosing a mate. As heir to the Wyvern's Court, her choice can in either maintain the precarious peace between avians and serpientes, or result in bloodshed. She realizes how high the stakes are when one of her suitors is severely beaten. Shortly after Oliza is kidnapped and taken away from the court. She escapes and finds her way into wolf country. After meeting a mysterious outcast from the wolf tribe, she makes her way back to the court, where tensions have mounted in her absence. Oliza despairs of finding a way to accommodate all sides, much less being able to follow her own heart. While Atwater-Rhodes creates a masterful fantasy world, it gets lost with all the politics. Oliza appears to be on her own without any guidance from her parents in choosing a mate, which seems rather unrealistic given the stakes we are told exist. The ending manages to be both predictable and unsatisfactory, and Oliza is an extremely flat character for one with such a predicament.
Amelia Atwater-Rhodes's fantasy series follows the world of shapeshifters, where those who shift into snakes and those who shift into birds maintain an uneasy peace under the reign of young Oliza Shardae Cobriana, a young woman who is both snake and bird. In this fourth volume, time has come for Oliza to marry, but the weight of that decision is heavy with uncertainty and guilt. If she chooses a snake, the birds will complain; and if she chooses a bird, the snakes may revolt. She has suitors from both camps, but when a snake is violently attacked by birds, Oliza sees the undercurrents of prejudice and hatred within her own realm. Kidnapped by mercenary lions, she escapes and has to make her way in the forest where she comes into contact with a wolf pack. The pack is led by Velyo who, though he tries to take advantage of Oliza, also shares her wisdom about leadership. She also enters into a relationship with a young wolf hunted by Velyo. In the end, Oliza makes a hard choice, but one she believes will serve her people well. The detail, the uncertainty, and the decisions that Oliza faces make this a compelling story for those who enjoy fantasy. Atwater-Rhodes is a master at integrating the needed details from past volumes without losing momentum in the narrative she is telling. The characters ring true despite the fantasy world of their existence. This novel does deal with sexuality and homosexuality as Oliza comes of age. (Kiesha' ra, vol. 4.). KLIATT Codes: JS--Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2006, Random House, Delacorte, 192p., $14.95 and $16.99. Ages 12 to 18.
Princess Oliza Shardae Cobriana has "wings the color of sunset, scales black like night, garnet eyes, a hawk's vision, and a cobra's poison." The time has come for Oliza to choose a mate and to begin ruling Wyvern Court. Her reign will mean the "union of two worlds that warred for two millennia." Oliza knows that her parents' marriage was intended to stop the war, but Oliza feels it is her duty to stop the hatred that still exists among her people. Because she has yet to find love, she feels obligated to do what is best in order to maintain peace among the Avian and Serpiente. Tension looms over Wyvern's Court and escalates when a Serpiente is attacked by Avian. Before she can calm her people, Oliza is abducted. Once Oliza escapes, she is befriended by a wolf named Betia, who helps Oliza find food, shelter, and eventually her home. Once she is safe at Wyvern Court, Oliza's parents force her to choose her mate to settle the unrest. Oliza struggles, knowing that whatever her decision, it will start another war. This fourth entry is the most suspenseful book in The Kiesha'Ra series. Oliza's abduction sparks a thrilling chain of events that leads to a wildly unexpected conclusion. Atwater-Rhodes is a fantastic storyteller, and Oliza's story could not have been better. It is a fast-paced fantasy, full of adventure, mystery, and magic yet thin enough to give to reluctant readers. The book is a must-have for all public and school library collections serving teens. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Delacorte,192p., and PLB Ages 11 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-After a war that raged for many years, Oliza Shardae Cobriana has become the heir to both the avian and serpiente thrones. As a symbol of peace at Wyvern's Court, she is expected to choose a mate who will become her king, but how can she choose between the serpiente, Urban, and the avian, Marus? When the princess is kidnapped and a note is found claiming she has abdicated the throne, mistrust erupts again between the races. Characters from Hawksong (2003), Snakecharm (2004), and Falcondance (2005, all Delacorte) are mentioned but no prior knowledge of the previous books is needed to understand the plot. A novel about the difficulty of bringing together two very diverse races and the sacrifices inherent in ruling, Wolfcry is a tale of the spirit and love that this ruling class has for its subjects.-June H. Keuhn, Corning East High School, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“A tale of the spirit and love that this ruling class has for its subjects.” –School Library Journal
“The most suspenseful book in The Kiesha’ra series. A fast-paced fantasy, full of adventure, mystery, and magic.”–VOYA“A compelling story.”–KLIATT
Read an Excerpt
The northern hills of Wyvern's Court were filled with the trills of tiny bells, the lilting words of storytellers and the songs of choruses. Enraptured children sat in front of me, waiting for me to begin the story of the first avian queen. Blatantly out of place among them was a friend of mine, a serpiente dancer named Urban, who was lounging near the back, managing to look bored and nervous at the same time.
"Many, many years ago, our ancestors were a collection of small tribes, each led by a different captain and each squabbling with its neighbors over food, water and shelter. When drought caused famine, they became afraid and so were more protective of their scarce belongings.
"In the middle of the worst winter, when early snows had destroyed too many of the crops, a woman named Aleya gave birth to a daughter. She loved her child, but she knew she could never take care of her. So Aleya brought the beautiful golden girl to the mountains and left her there, praying that the wild spirits would care for her.
"The infant began to cry, and soon a pair bond of hawks landed beside her. They cared for the child as one of their own, teaching her the language of the forest and giving her their most precious gift: the skies. They gave the girl some of their magic and taught her how to change from her human form into that of a golden hawk."
I paused there, looking into the wide eyes of my young audience. One of the children had moved closer to Urban and was trying to examine the silk scarf he had tied around his waist--a melos, one of the accessories worn by professional serpiente dancers. Urban glanced at her and she jumped.
"But there comes a time when every chick must leave its nest, and as she grew older, the hawk-girl began to wonder about her true mother. Finally, when she was thirteen, she returned to her homeland. She found her mother and her younger brother, whom she had never known, but was horrified by the conditions in which they lived, by the fear and anger that seemed ever present among humans.
"The girl led first her family and then the rest of her mother's tribe into the woods and taught them how to reach the skies. She showed them better ways to hunt, with a hawk's vision and talons, and so they became healthy and well fed once again.
"Later, other tribes joined them, and each took a form from the wilderness--ravens, crows and then sparrows. For the first time, these tribes lived peacefully together, led by the young queen they named Alasdair, which means protector."
The children clapped happily, making the bells hanging from their wrists jingle.
I smiled, enjoying the story almost as much as I had during my first Festival--until one of the adults who had been nearby noticed her child reaching for Urban's melos again and darted forward to scoop her up and away from Urban. Urban pretended not to notice, but I saw his back tense.
I had told the story of Alasdair the way my mother had used to tell it to me, but I knew that some of these children had learned a darker ending from their parents.
Just twenty years before, the myth always would have included the death of Alasdair at the hands of the serpiente. Tales such as these fueled avians' hatred from the cradle.
I tried not to let the avian mother's reaction to Urban ruin my mood. I knew that many people did not approve of his presence there; Urban was not just a serpent--an apprentice dancer, at that--he was widely known to be my foremost suitor among the serpiente. As such, he faced the wrath of mothers with eligible sons, and of course the jealousy of avian men our age, in addition to the general prejudice of avians against serpiente.
Still, I was glad he had come. Suitor or not, Urban was one of my closest friends. We had grown up together. It meant a lot to me that he was willing to be there even though he knew how the avians might react.
"Bit of a dull story," Urban remarked as he came to my side, trying to keep a careful distance between himself and the avians around us. "Lacks intrigue, danger, scandal."
"Well, I'm sorry that the way my ancestor saved her people from starvation and war isn't racy enough for you," I said, teasing.
Serpiente history--which, unlike the avian stories, was regarded as fact, not myth--involved the brave leader of a clan known as the Dasi seducing a powerful creature called Leben, who had impersonated one of their gods to demand their worship. The story, which was told each year in the dance named after the winter solstice holiday Namir-da, described how Leben had given all of Maeve's people second forms to try to win her favor. Maeve had been given the form of a white viper. Kiesha, the high priestess of Anhamirak, had been given the form of a king cobra. Seven others had been given serpent forms, and four, the followers of the god Ahnmik, had been given falcon forms.
The Namir-da did not tell the falcons' story. It also did not include the part about the Dasi being torn apart by a vicious civil war shortly after the gifts had been given. Maeve and the four falcons had been exiled on charges of black magic. The white vipers still lived on the fringes of our society even in modern day, while Cjarsa, Araceli, Syfka and Servos made up the royal house of the falcon empire. Kiesha's people became the serpiente; my family were her descendents.
"Unfortunately," Urban continued, his tone making clear that he found nothing unfortunate in it, "I need to run to the nest now. I'm hoping to catch Salem before he is surrounded by people." Only the full members of the dancer's nest had been invited to Salem's initiation ceremony, and though Urban had grown up in the nest, he had not yet taken his vows. However, the reception that night would be open to anyone who wanted to attend, including apprentices and wyverns. "You will be there later, right?"
"Of course. I think my parents have already headed over."
From the Hardcover edition.