- Author: Kyra Halland
- Genre: Fantasy / Weird West
- Cover images link to each book’s page on Goodreads
I read the first book in this series a year and a half ago, and I’ve been thinking ever since that I ought to get back to it. It’s a great little story, in a setting that’s new to me, and with some interesting twists. Unfortunately, fate had other plans, and it wasn’t until Trudi told me that we’re doing #FebruarySheWrote that I finally got my ass in gear and picked up book two.
It took me less than a week to finish the remaining five books.
I don’t consider myself to be a fast reader, so that should tell you how much I enjoyed this series. I didn’t do much else but read this past week. Okay, the books are fairly short, but they’re still a good few hours worth of reading each.
Daughter of the Wildings follows Lainie and Silas Vendine, a married couple, and both of them mages, as they try to make a living in the Wildings. It’s a harsh and hostile land, reminiscent of the North American Wild West – or what I remember of it from movies I watched as a kid.
The Wildings is full of miners and cowboys, there are strange and mysterious natives in the hills, and everyone carries a six-shooter. It’s a place settlers have come to in order to escape Granadaia and the tyranny of the ruling mage class. As a consequence, everyone hates mages.
Naturally, this leads to complication for Lainie and Silas, and they face everything from lynch mobs to the evil spirits of the very land itself, when what they really want is to just settle down somewhere in peace and quiet.
From time to time, things get brutal, and while this isn’t a violent action fest, the book doesn’t shy away from it.
What I’ll whine about
I’m used to reading books about capable women who are able to look after themselves and hold their own in a fight. In the world where this book takes place, just like in the wild west (I assume), the roles of men are women are clearly defined. This doesn’t mean Laini isn’t a strong mage, a good shot, and a master at cards – rather the opposite.
What got on my nerves was Silas constant need to protect Laini and try to make sure she was out of harms way, to the point of wanting to leave her behind and going out on his own against overwhelming odds. It’s probably realistic, and it works within the setting of the story, but it still annoyed me.
The other thing I want to bring up is the scope of the story. A conflict runs through the entire series, where the first four books slowly build it up and the last two books round it off. The first four books felt like a solid progression building up to something, taking their time to establish the setting and the characters, and making sure I’m familiar with how the world works. By comparison, the last two books felt much more compressed, like there was too much story trying to fit into too few pages. I still enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t have minded at all if the story had played out over two additional books.
What I’ll gush about
The setting. As a kid, western movies were really cool and awesome, and it was a big treat the few times I was allowed to stay up late enough to actual watch an entire movie with my parents – especially the gunfights. By the time I was old enough to make my own decisions, westerns weren’t really popular enough to be shown on television, or my interests had changed.
Pretty much all my experience of the setting comes from the perspective of a boy who was ten in the mid-eighties. As such, getting to explore a magical fantasy version of the wild west through these books was an experience filled with nostalgia and wonder. Half-forgotten images of old movies, characters, and landscapes helped fill out the imagery supplied by the story.
The problems. Despite the traditional setting, the issues raised throughout the story still felt like relevant reflections of the real world. Segregation and discrimination being just a few of them. These things, while unpleasant, are woven in as a natural part of the story, and a natural part of the problems Lainie and Silas have to deal with. It’s well done, but if you want a total escape from reality, this might not be your best option.
The magic. I enjoyed getting to know and explore the magic system of the story. It’s not overly complex or detailed, but there’s still more to it than it might seem. I won’t go into details here, though, read it yourself.
The romance. Lainie and Silas may be a married couple, but that doesn’t mean they’ve got it all figured out, or that romance isn’t a factor anymore. There’s still romantic tension between them, but from a different perspective than most other books where romance is a factor, and I very much enjoyed that.
A character driven fantasy series in a harsh and magical version of the Wild West.