Greg Keyes is a little bit of a confusing author for me. His 'Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone' series is magnificent, but then I read one of his Elder Scrolls novels, and was completely unimpressed. I've got no interest at all in the 'New Jedi Order,' so I'm skipping those. But this is an excellent book. His first published novel, it's not as excellent as 'Kingdoms..' but it feels like the same author, also doing high fantasy. It's got some close-to-stock characters, but it's also intriguing, with appealing drama and a world with convincingly different cultures interacting.
It parallels the story of Hezhi, a sheltered, isolated princess coming of age in a family with strange powers, with the story of Perkar, a young cattle-herder who is selected for a mission to try to gain his tribe more pasture lands. Gods and spirits entwine themselves with their destiny, and it's got some interesting commentary on what it means to be a hero, or a princess. Well-crafted and structured, I'd recommend the book.
I couldn't really get into this book and I really like Keyes. I doubt I'll read the rest of them in this trilogy.
This is a re-read I started before Fool Wolf and the Hounds of Ash arrived in the mail. I finished it yesterday and am pleasantly satisfied.
Its neat. The world is literally riddled with gods - gods of streams, tree, hill, forest, etc. And not all of them are friendly. Among the most powerful is the great river, or the Changeling, and he's not all that friendly or benevolent.
For me, what makes the book is that is not a bog standard fantasy novel. For one, no elves. For another there are alwa (neanderthals?) and giants (gigantopithecus?), as well as other prehistoric fauna. Another is the cultures - the Cattle People (who seem a bit like the Maasai, mixed with the Japanese in Anglo clothing), the Nhol (think Aztecs/Maya+India) and the Mang (Sioux+Mongols+Scythians). They really bring some life to the setting and make it different. By the way, there is more of this in Fool Wolf and the Hounds of Ash with a polynesian influence.
Then there are the characters- Perkar and Hezhi. I find them likable and sympathetic despite they do carry the idiot ball periodically. I attribute that to puberty and their inexperience. The supporting cast is good too, especially the librarian Ghan and one of the bad guys (though they don't really begin to shine until the next volume Blackgod).
Its a great book folks, please seek it out and read it.
And as to the previous reviewer, well, I'll agree that its not to everyone's taste, especially if you're expecting a Tolkien derived fantasy. If you want something that's a bit different and interesting, check out The Waterborn.