MLR Spoiler Logo

Maintained by Jerry Cullingford (Click here to mail)

This page contains spoilers, typically details of the plot, which may spoil your enjoyment of the story if you know them in advance.

Select 'BACK' on your web browser now if you want to return to the previous page.

Jerry Cullingford ( 1995:

Is the Brat Back?

Judge for yourself - here's the most relevant bit:
[Elspeth discovers that the Companions ganged up to have her allowed to go]

:It had to be done,: Gwena replied firmly.:You had to go. It was important.:

"That's not all," Skif said, looking particularly hangdog. "For one thing, they absolutely forbid you to be told what they were doing. For another, they're the ones that suggested Quenten in the first place. They said he was the only way to an important mage they could trust."

[snip - Elspeth wants to go to the Shin'a'in instead]

:We don't know anything about the Shin'a'in Goddess,:Gwena said, alarm evident in her mind-voice. :She's not something Valdemar has ever dealt with. We're not sure we can trust Her.:

"You can't manipulate Her, you mean," she replied flatly.

:No. She could be like Iftel's God; She could care only for the welfare of Her own people. That's all. We know some of what She is and does - but it's not something we want to stake the future of Valdemar on.: Gwena's mind-voice rose with anxiety. Elspeth cut her off.

So there you have it - the Companions obviously think this is a major issue, critical enough to the survival of Valdemar for them to intervene, they've told Elspeth that this is something she's staking the future of Valdemar on, and Elspeth doesn't care.

Not because some ForeSight has told her that going to the Shin'a'in is a good idea, not even because of some vague hunch that it will turn out to be better - but just because people want to get her to a particular place for vital training, she rebels and effectively puts the entire country at risk?

And she's supposed to be a herald - people who're willing to risk their lives for a slightly better chance at getting information home? And a royal Heir, who's presumably had duty to her country drilled into her for Years?

I can understand her being annoyed at being manipulated - but I find it hard to believe that she'd risk the whole country just to spite them. Complain a lot, yes, pay them back for it, quite possibly - but risk the country? and without even arguing over it first?

Especially when it would have been so easy for Misty to work a more plausible reason in - for example, a bit of foresight, or the death or illness of the originally intended teacher. Maybe the intention was "Elspeth is human too" but the result - in the absence of any other justification - is closer to "the irresponsible brat is back and she thinks getting her own way is worth risking the kingdom for".

And What About Skif?

In case you're still wondering, Skif is the cause of the other half and the background rumble I mentioned in my main review. While there's nothing in his behaviour that seems as unlikely as Elspeth's decision, a lot of it seems atypical. His infatuation with Elspeth just doesn't quite ring true to me - Skif's streetwise, experienced, and not a stranger to the opposite sex, and he gets quite shoddily treated in this book. If he were still the age he was when he met Talia, maybe this would make sense - but given that he's now a fully qualified, field experienced herald, it doesn't.

But It Does Get Better...

Fortunately, in the later books, things return more to normal - having set the desired situation up, things return to normal, and they both start acting more like we'd expect them to act.
What do you think? Why not mail me your comments - see link at top of page.

click here to return to main review, or

click here to return to reviews index...

Jerry Cullingford