My reviews of The Chronicles of Ealiron by F.T. McKinstry conclude today with the most recent installment: Book Three, Crowharrow. It is just as good as Book Two, developing a similar plot in a new direction.
Set in the forests of Loralin, a young maiden named Tansel has been tending her garden for several years since her mother’s death. When she encounters the powerful wizard Caelfar, Tansel learns about a new threat to her life: the immortal crowharrow, an immortal predator with incredible powers of seduction and a savage bloodlust. While taken under Caelfar’s protection, Tansel must come to terms with her heritage, the curse under which her family lives, and the loss of her innocence as a maiden.
Much like Hemlock from Book Two, Tansel is our new protagonist. As a young woman, she knows little about the world of magic and gods, but understands a great deal about herb-lore and healing. And unlike Hemlock, she is more proactive and defiant when it comes to facing to dangers like the crowharrow. And by the end of this book, she proves to be worth her salt as a healer, tending to more than just physical wounds.
Characters like Lorth and Eaglin return in this story as deuteragonists, trying to sort out the chaos in Loralin and stop the crowharrow from preying on any more innocent lives. Other wizards like Caelfar and Aradia are more mysterious, with their own agenda and a very twisted kind of sympathy toward Tansel.
The crowharrow himself is an interesting villain. While he’s less human than the villains from Hunter’s Rede, he is far more tangible and menacing than the loerfalos from Gray Isles. With his seductive qualities and thirst for blood, he’s quite similar to the mythical archetype of the vampire, but far more primal than the likes of Count Dracula or Lestat de Lioncourt.
As for the plot and tone, while the first half reads similar to Hunter’s Rede, the second half is surprisingly explicit. Tansel is at risk of losing more than her innocence about the secrets kept in her family. Her own virginity is at stake while the crowharrow is on the prowl. And while at first the sexual themes and content might seem out of place, F.T. McKinstry does a fine job of weaving it into the greater system of magic on which her Chronicles of Ealiron are based.
As the third book of an ongoing series, Crowharrow provides another fresh look at a fantasy landscape. It is a quiet but powerful tale of innocence and maturity, broken promises, and the value of a well-kept garden.
Bibliography: McKinstry, F.T. Crowharrow (The Chronicles of Ealiron, Book Three). Markham, Ontario: Double Dragon Publishing, 2012.