The Golden Swan by Nancy Springer
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The worlds of Isle and Vale collide as crippled, lovesick prince Frain from the mainland washes up on a beach and is discovered by Dair, the wolf-form son of the King of Isle. The book follows the same format as the previous volume, three (roughly) equal first person sections, with the character who is the driving force (in this case, Frain) taking the final portion. Maybe it's because it was new in the first book but is a deliberate echo here, or maybe it's because the three characters can't freely and mutually communicate for most of the book, but it doesn't work quite as well.
The flaw that plagued the earlier volumes are also in evidence here. Prophecy and destiny are used as motivations and explanations; mysterious, inexplicable events feel less like the markers of an invisible world than randomness or convenience. (This latter is, again, a product of its time. Nowadays, fantasy readers expect more rigorous logic underpinning the worldbuilding.)
I had trouble pushing through this book because none of the main characters really seem to have solid motivations to drive the plot. They are carried along, instead, by the vision of one, to a conclusion that is equal parts sorrow and joy, and could be more poignant and affecting with stronger desires driving it. It feels more like a product of the world and its cosmic forces than the characters' efforts.
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