There are many ways to discover new books to read. You can wander through Barnes & Noble, enjoying the smell of new paper and coffee, wishing that you could buy every book that catches your eye. Perhaps you’ll come across an antique store with novels that existed before your grandparents, the pages having long ago turned honorably yellow. Or maybe you notice them wherever you are, be it a friend’s home or the house you happen to be cleaning.
I spent eight or nine years of my life as a housekeeper, the first few spent in cleaning people’s homes, and the last five as the head housekeeper of a Bible camp. Whether I was vacuuming floors in South Carolina or bringing in fresh towels to a cabin in Pennsylvania, I had a hard time resisting the sight of a new book. At camp, I rarely had time to stop and look at books, so I made sure that no book was left open, face down, with it’s spine in danger of breaking, while I was nearby. I’m sure plenty of people found their books closed, with a piece of facial tissue stuck in them for a bookmark, and wondered what crazy person had been in their room.
It was in a house in South Carolina that I cleaned for a family that liked to read fantasy books. Of course, I read plenty of fantasy, at that point, so I wasn’t to be lured into reading just any book. If you start a new novel, get hooked, and find it’s part of a series, you might just be in trouble. And so, for several months, I attempted to ignore the stack of Jane Lindskold books that were scattered between the bedroom and the living room. Sometimes I dusted them, willing myself to not pick them up. They probably wouldn’t be any good, I told myself.
Eventually, I gave in and read the blurb on the back of one. From there, I probably looked them up on Amazon, curious to see what the reviews had to say. And then, I ended up at Barnes & Noble, where I bought one after the other. Thankfully, there were only three of the Firekeeper series, at that point. Now, there are six of them.
I opened the pages of Through Wolf’s Eyes, and I’ve never looked back. Perhaps you think that a story of a girl raised by wolves will just be a silly, modern version of The Jungle Book. This is no slam against The Jungle Book, but I don’t remember there being excessive details of the lives of the wolves and what it’s like to be part of a pack. To my mind, there’s no doubt that Lindskold did her research on how wolves think and behave.
Firekeeper has been raised by wolves, thinks like a wolf, and believes that, except for her two legs and a few other human characteristics, she is a wolf. She has been able to survive, partly because of the love and care of the wolves, but also because she carries a Fang, in its leather sheath, at her waist, and carries a small bag with the stones to create fire. This is where she got her name, because in the winter, she needed the fire to keep herself alive.
She has no memories of knowing any humans or even being a human, so when an expedition across the mountains brings a small group of men to her hunting grounds, she is astonished by the reality of others that look and act like her. With the blessing of the One Male and One Female of her pack, and the companionship of Blind Seer, she goes to investigate, and eventually reveals herself to them.
Earl Kestrel’s expedition is looking for the king’s son, and his lost settlement, in the hopes of bringing back an heir to the throne of Hawk Haven. The king’s other children have died, and there is plenty of infighting among his siblings and grandchildren, as they all strive to prove themselves fit to rule. Kestrel believes that if he can bring back Prince Barden, or his children, he will receive glory for having returned the heir to the kingdom.
Instead, he finds the burned out remains of Barden’s settlement, and nothing else… until Firekeeper steps into their midst. She does not trust them, so while Blind Seer watches, on the alert, from the forest, she starts to learn about her own kind. Kestrel and his men know that she is a wild woman, but they don’t yet know that she considers herself a wolf, or that there’s another wolf watching them.
Derian Carter, the member of the expedition that was brought for his knowledge of horses, becomes the man that Firekeeper trusts, so he becomes her “keeper”, teaching her how to talk, and making sure that she doesn’t attack anyone, as they head back towards civilization. Earl Kestrel believes he has found the daughter of Prince Barden, and returning the heir will give him more power. But Firekeeper is a law unto herself, and most of them don’t know what they’re getting into, bringing a two-legged wolf home.
If you’ve been looking at the cover picture of this book, you’re probably wondering why Blind Seer looks so huge, when wolves aren’t really that big. In Firekeeper’s world, beyond the Iron Mountains, the Royal Animals are larger and smarter than the Cousins, the smaller animals that we’re familiar with. Another Royal Animal, the falcon Elation, also accompanies Firekeeper on her journey to meet and understand humans.
Back in Hawk Haven, the descendants of the king continue to scheme and try to establish precedence over one another. We meet Elise Archer, the only daughter of the Baron Archer, who agrees to an arranged marriage with her cousin, Jet Shield. Jet’s sister, Sapphire Shield is another rival for the throne, and she feels betrayed by the engagement between Jet and Elise. But unbeknownst to everyone, it may be Melina Shield that pulls the strings of her children, Sapphire, Jet, and her other Jewels, for isn’t Lady Melina rumored to be a sorceress? What would happen if a Shield became king or queen, and a sorceress rules from behind the throne?
The first book in the series takes Firekeeper from being just a wolf, to a wolf with a growing understanding of mankind. She still sees things through a wolf’s eyes, but she begins to understand friendship, love, and loyalty, among her fellow men. With Blind Seer at her side, she travels from forest to palace, and begins to move among both royalty and commoners. Her understanding of the inner workings of the pack even gives her some insight into the politics of the palace. But what if the king decides to make Firekeeper (known publicly as Lady Blysse) his heir?
I find Firekeeper’s story to be fascinating, from beginning to end, and it doesn’t end with this book. There are five more books in the series, so be warned that if you start, you may have to finish the rest. The following stories delve a little more into the fantasy realm, but it still revolves around Firekeeper’s learning more about humanity, while still remaining a wolf at heart. So, if you never found Mowgli’s life among the wolves to be detailed enough, then you’ll definitely want to consider Through Wolf’s Eyes.
(Side Note: By the way, this book has one sex scene, so parents can be warned, depending on how you shadow your kids’ reading material. But I have no recollection of any more sex scenes in the rest of the books, so I don’t know if this makes the first book odd, or just not preferable.)