Katharine Kerr
The Red Wyvern (Book 9 in the Deverry-series)
Doubleday 1997

This book is volume 9 in the Deverry-series. If you haven't read book 1 to 8, there will be spoilers in this review.

After what feels like many years, Katherine Kerr has finally returned to Deverry and the story so abruptly cut off in "Days of Air and Darkness". Gone are not only Nevyn but now also Jill, and the adventure has moved from the Celtic Deverry to lands in the far north-east. Remember? Well, I had almost forgotten, but the first part of the book is written as to remind the reader what's happened and what everyone's up to. It's necessary, but it's, to put it frankly, quite boring.

Fortunately, most of the book isn't like that at all: Kerr finally returns to the Civil War, a thread left open several books ago. Lilli is a young woman of the Boar clan. Her uncle is the regent, king of Dun Deverry in everything but name, as the king himself is only five years old. Lilli has grown up away from court, but now returned to her mother who has some use of her. Merodda has got some dweomer power, but her daughter has got much more natural ability. Scrying for omens is her most obvious talent, and Merodda uses her as a vehicle, forcing her to see things. Now she sees red wyverns attacking a herd of feeding swines. Well, who the swines are is fairly obvious: the Boar clan. But who are the red wyverns? And what can be done to prevent the upcoming catastrophe? Merodda and her brothers start preparing for a last, desperate struggle - but who can fight against his wyrd?

I think this is a great novel. The last few novels have mostly been about Guardians, elves, and not much about good, old Deverry. It's wonderful to be back, and I immediately recognized the feeling that made me love Kerr's Deverry books in the first place. Everything's oh so real. When you read it, you live it. The plot isn't in any way amazing, but it's filled with real (Celtic) people, who have real (Celtic) feelings and fears, fight real (Celtic Medieval) wars and use real (quite New Age-shamanistic) magic.

I had fun reading it, but I believe this is a also very serious book. Merodda's usage of her daughter, and her daughter's struggle to free herself from her mother's destructive influence, has everything to do with the situation of many young people today, and maybe some older ones too. I think especially of those who're victims of incest or other destructive parental relationships. But it's not only that Ms. Kerr touches an important subject, she also does it in a very positive and constructive way. And, which is important, with a grace that makes it impossible even for those who aren't the least interested in the problems mentioned above to lose interest in the story. This is without a doubt her best novel in many years. I loved it, and most of all the Civil War story.

Karl Henriksson

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Books by the same author:
The Bristling Wood
The Dragon Revenant

A Time of Exile
A Time of Omens
Days of Blood and Fire
Days of Air and Darkness

Katherine Kerr's personal home page
Deverry Home Page (fan page)

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Henriksson & Henriksson 1996.