Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wind Follower - First Chapters

WIND FOLLOWER by Carole McDonnell is written in alternating first person points-of-view. Each unnumbered chapter bears the name of its subject, a la George R. R. Martin. The point-of-view characters are Loic and Satha, who are, according to the cover blurb, soon to be husband and wife.

Many fantasies try to steep a reader into the alternate world by means of language. Few do it well. With WIND FOLLOWER, you can feel the culture through McDonnell's voice. Although it is in English, of course, it feels foreign. It feels like something utterly alien from modern-day western culture. You can almost smell the dust.

In the first chapter, young Loic watches his young friend and "age brother" stoned to death for refusing to worship the spirits. This chapter is very short and feels like a prelude. The second chapter switches to Satha, whose mother wishes to cause an "accidental" meeting with her husband's old friend. Her intentions are not difficult to guess; they are poor and the friend is rich. Satha is unwilling to go, but she must obey her mother. The friend has a young son named Loic, and the story picks up again at his point of view, where we see their first meeting through his eyes.

Normally, I don't find renditions of "love at first sight" to be very convincing. However, read this:

I must have been handsome in my younger days. Or perhaps it was merely my father's wealth. For many, many girls--oh, girls without number--would let their gyuiltas fall from their shoulders as I passed, allowing them to trail along the ground for me to retrieve. Such flirtations fascinated me, but my heart never leaped for any of those girls, pretty though they were. No, not until I saw Monua's daughter did my heart leap. As an Ibeni poet has said, "My heart leaped then, for love had leaped into my eyes." It was my first taste of love, and after such a small sip I was intoxicated, speechless, wanting nothing more than to devour her.

So far, WIND FOLLOWER is full of bold language like this. Not bold as in shocking, but bold as in emotions laid bare.

At first, I thought the characters' tendency to speechify was a flaw. However, by the third chapter I realized that this was intentional. The speeches invariably come from an older character to a younger. In the case of an old man speaking to Loic in a disrespectful manner about Satha, you can feel his impatience and anger. Indeed, as the reader, I felt it myself. Move on, old man! Let me go about my business! I have no wish to hear your drivel! In a culture where younger people must respect their elders, it appears that many elders take advantage of having a forced audience.

It's not a start that grabs you by the throat. However, I especially liked Satha and I'm especially curious to see how she responds to certain events that Loic just set into motion . . .


Carole said...

oh gee! Woman!! You have me on pins and needles here. So far -- aside from loving friends who think I can do no wrong-- this is the first (THE VERY FIRST) time I'm actually seeing a review by someone who is going to review it analytically. I'm a reviewer myself and I'm absolutely ruthless about badly written books. Aaargh, I see that same integrity in you. Which is simply freaking me out here!!! ::nervously grinding teeth together and biting lip:: Whatever you say I'll take as absolute truth..cause i trust your intelligence. Dang! I hope you like it. -C

Tia Nevitt said...

Gosh, I hope you don't find this too agonizing!! I'm not really very ruthless, but I am honest. Just look at my other reviews on the sidebar under "previously featured debuts".

Carole said...

ah puhleze!!! I agonize over everything... I find everything agonizing.

It's fun to learn what's in the book though. And i know that whatever you discover and uncover will only help be become a better writer for my next novel.

I'm one of these people who go through life very happy to learn anything that makes me better. So truly I'll appreciate everything you say...good or bad.

Tia Nevitt said...

Thank you!! It's very enjoyable so far!

Katie said...

I've heard a lot about this one. I'm looking forward to looking into it. If I do a post on my blog about it do you mind if I link it up to yours?

Tia Nevitt said...

Of course not! I'd love it!