"A fitting conclusion to an Erotic Fantasy Saga"
Note: As with Northlanders 1: The Way of the Wolf, book 2:
Song of the Bear introduces a new character's destiny in
each story. At the same time the saga continues to move
forward. Expect multiple points of view throughout. I did
not find this confusing but rather thought this helped to
build anticipation. It was difficult as the reviewer not
to spoil the previous story with the details of the next
one, although I did try to avoid it. Having said this, read
on knowing the risk.
The saga picks up where book 1 leaves off: The Fey
Changeling …landine had sacrificed his life to save his
lover, leaving the Warrior Tranorva of Wolf Clan
inconsolable. Her desolation had caused her mother Lady
Evalayna Lochinvar to petition their gods for a boon. She
had been told to gather those she held dear around her and
to travel to the source of …landine's life to ask his King
to grant their petition. They had been joined by Tranorva's
siblings Tyrell along with Lady Ayailla (Evalayna's mother)
and Cassadara with her new husband M‚kakao (Lord Yarishet),
her cousin Seanan (Lord Lindall) and his lover the Half-Elf
Ambassador Yarwyn. A member of the family long thought to
be dead, Roahr VinDahl of Clan Bear, husband to Evalayna
and father to Tranovra, Tyrell, and Cassadara hears the
Summons and rejoins his family.
Two other had joined the party out of a sense of duty,
Dahlai, a Half Fey/Half Dark Elf Childling, who is
bondswoman to the new Dark High Priestess Tranorva, and
Captain Balthain a member of the Bear Clan, guard to Lord
Yarishet and Guild contemporary of Lord Lindall.
The first story is "A Mecenary's Prize"
Dahlai knows her mission is to lead the party to Tir na
n”g, the Island of Faerie, to see Tranorva's boon granted
and to ask for one of her own.
Although Balthain had joined the party of his own volition,
he has yet to discern what his role might be. He is a
mercenary who had grown up in the streets, a sewer rat. In
this story we learn that as a boy he had been among the
members of the Bear Clan being held prisoner in the tunnels
below …lahandara following the war with the Dark Ones.
Balthain had followed …landine to freedom when the Mage had
rescued Roahr from their prison. To this day he despised
dark closed in places. He would avoid a return to
…lahandara at any cost.
Here on Tir na n”g he finds himself inexplicably drawn to
become Dahlai's protector. But at night it is another he
dreams of. She had often come to him in his dreams, ever
since his was a boy, his Succubus. She was the woman he'd
wanted for as long as he could remember. The dreams have
become more real, more desperate. Now she is pleading for
She is T‚kuri of the Fae, mother to the bondswoman Dahlai.
She had been assigned guardianship over the Bear Clan
before the War had broken out. T‚kuri had broken the rules
of her people and of the Dark Elves as well by falling in
love with a Dark male. He had been killed for this crime.
She had been imprisoned for decades beneath the city of
…lahandara along with their child. She and the aging and
ailing members of the Bear Clan and their children born as
slaves have despaired of a rescue. The time has come to
liberate them. Can Balthain overcome his fear to brave the
…lahandaran tunnels once more? The point is moot unless
they can convince the King of Sidhe to acquit …landine of
his own crimes.
The next tale is "A Prisoner's Desire"
In the mines beneath the city of …lahandara the remnants of
Clan Bear are enslaved. Few remain of those born in the
sunlight. Most had been conceived in captivity. This is the
only life they know, the only one they believe in. But one
man, thought to be mad, had dreamed of another life, a life
of freedom drawn from the race memories of his elders of a
time before the cataclysm.
One woman, Braunnan, Mistress of the fifth House of Clan
Bear dares to share the madman's dream and her bed with him
in a way that has been forbidden to members of the Bear
Clan since their enslavement. Determined that their cubs be
born in freedom, Cullaelon and Braunnan will brave the maze
of tunnels and the creatures that dwell in them in the hope
of realizing their dream.
T‚kuri continues to call out to Balthain via the dreaming.
He is more real to her than that which makes up her
prison. All that sustains her now is the hope that he and
his traveling companions with arrive to free her and the
others who have been held captive so long by the Dark Ones.
Will Braunnan and Cullaelon reach the sunlight before the
rescuers arrive? What will the strange new world above hold
for them? What will become of the Fae woman T‚kuri and the
remnants of Clan Bear?
The third story is "A Sentinel's Secret"
Calibeth of the third house of Clan Bear had reconciled
himself with his impending death, a sacrifice intended to
free his cell mates from the Dwarf slave trader, Argolyn.
His fate is altered forever when a Mercenary and thief uses
her skills to free them all from further fights in the
arena. Among the men is the Bard Donovan who sings a
prophecy which tells of a warrior queen who is to rescue
Clan Bear. Calib and the others go forth to seek sanctuary
in the Dwarven Monastary.
Anika was born to rule the Dark Elf city of Talandar as its
Spider Queen, but following her mother's death at the hands
of a Northland Warrior woman she had been robbed of her
heritage and forced to serve as a Sentinel at a remote
outpost. This would never happened but for her deformity,
the corruption of her blood, her inability to shift.
Mating with her Dark male pleasure slaves had not given her
the ability as it should have. But she has dreamed of a
shadow lover who could do what no …landra male had ever
been able accomplish. New hope is stirred when Calib and
his men take shelter within the tunnels of her outpost.
Alerted to their presence Anika entraps the men in her web
and choses Calib to mate with first. Once again he finds
himself in the position to sacrifice himself for the lives
of his men but only if he can keep the Dark One satisfied.
Calib is unprepared for his own response to her beauty and
her plight. He becomes determined to help her shift and
tells her that it will not come through force. Through his
generosity she finally does shift but her new form reveals
what she has known all along. She is an abomination. There
is only one thing left to do, end her miserable existence.
Or is there? Calib has succeeded in freeing his men, but
can he convince Anika that the shifting has opened a whole
new world of possibilities for her as well? It is clear now
what she truly is. Will Anika go above ground with Calib to
find her father's people or will she use her new abilities
to hide her secret from the Dark Priestesses and reclaim
her birthright? Calib's fate and the fate of Clan Bear
hang on her decision.
Braunnan and Collaelon have made it to the surface. They
are discovered sleeping in the sunlight by Giselle,
daughter of Maribeth who had taught the young man "Rat"
(Balthain) to make love within the walls of her Gentleman's
Club. Giselle is tall, like her father, a man she had never
known but who, if his feverish tales are to be believed,
had long ago escaped the tunnels of …lahandara himself. Her
home is no longer a whorehouse but members of his race
appear to gravitate to it nonetheless.
Collaelon's mad dreams have become clearer it is the
prisoner T‚kuri calling to him through the dreaming as she
has to others. She is showing him the future as it could be
and preparing him for the others who will soon join them.
The song of his mate, Braunnan, draws their people to them.
Among them is Donovan the Bard who tells them of the
prophecy. Braunnan is not the Warrior Queen they seek but
she can help to prepare them for her arrival.
Anika and Braunnan, two powerful women with one destiny,
the arrival of one more, the she-bear who will lead them
into battle. Will Tranorva arrive in time?
The final story is "A Bard's Prophecy."
…landine is furious; he's gotten his life back but for
what, after finally finding love to watch his beloved march
to her death through the gates of …lahandara? But then he
remembers that he need not go on without her, his bargain
with the gods had given him a way out. …landine shifts to
his pure form beating his wings to speed their ship toward
Portsmouth where unbeknownst to him liberated members of
Clan Bear wait to free their captive brethren. While the
Warriors and Mages on board discuss strategy, T‚kuri
reaches out from her prison cell to calm her distraught
kinsman. She assures …landine that Tranorva will not walk
through those gates alone.
She reaches out to Balthain too, in the dreaming, and asks
him to speak her true Sidhe name. It is enough to free her.
Shifting to her pure form as well she wings her way to the
ship bearing her true love.
What they find at Portsmouth forces Tranorva to change her
strategy. With an army at her back the element of surprise
will be lost. She will lead her people to the gates of
Ayailla, most powerful of the mages, a woman from another
time brought forward to fulfill a prophecy will lead a
small party into the mountain to liberate the prisoners.
With her go those who know the tunnels best, former
captives Roahr, Braunnen, Collaelon, Balthain, and Donavan
of Clan Bear, and the Sidhe sibilings …landine and T‚kuri
who have their own scores to settle.
They will reunite at the Pass of St. Gregory, the Dragon
who gave his life protecting his charges. The prophecy has
come full circle. How will the battle end and who will be
Wolves and Dragons and Bears, oh my! Erotic, suspenseful,
and filled with surprises at every turn, Song of the Bear
brings the enthralling saga begun in The Way of the Wolf to
an unexpected but fitting conclusion. Or did it? Their
world is stable for now, but what of the future? I guess
we'll just have to wait and see. I recommend that you read
these books in order or risk being hopelessly confused.
You'll be glad that you did!
Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted April 11, 2007