Copyright 2000 Tara K. Harper. All rights reserved.
"Tara Harper's novels of telepathic wolves, Wolfwalker, Shadow Leader, and
Storm Runner won her critical acclaim."
"Tara K. Harper is one of the most ingenious `animal-writes' I've read!
Her Wolfwalker novels are particular favorites of mine."
- Anne McCaffrey
Review by Sarah Starr
American Reporter Correspondent
This review is reprinted here with permission from
Review Copyright 1996, by Sarah Starr
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Tara Harper's novel, "Grayheart," gets your attention even before page one. A praise-filled letter by Del Rey's Executive Editor directly inside the cover offers an unbeatable guarantee: if you don't like the book, you can trade it in for another free of charge. I've never before seen a book that came with a publisher's guarantee, but I admire Del Rey's judgement in offering this one.
The book begins as our heroine, Rezs, is caught stealing glass vials of fungi from a competitor's warehouse. These molds and fungi and glues are what Harper's futuristic world revolves around--they, rather than electronics, are the world's technological tools.
The other difference between Harper's world and ours is wolves. Rezs is a Wolfwalker. Through Gray Vlen, the yearling wolf she has bonded to, she senses the world in a new way -- and through Harper's words, so do we: "The taste of the moist air was heavy on her tongue, and she licked the inside of her teeth, as if she could rub it off and experience it again." Imagery is one of Harper's strengths, and the human-wolf bond provides her with a good vehicle for sensory details.
Through Gray Vlen, Rezs also learns the name of her captor at the start of the book: Grayheart. Later, she learns a little of his history: the boy was extremely talented in everything he did, but loved music most of all. While he was studying with his violin teacher up in the hills, their whole village was killed by raiders. Though only 16, Grayheart left the village, his violin, and his life, closing himself off from his feelings and from the wolves -- for he was a potential Wolfwalker as well.
Rezs exults in being a wolfwalker, but it has created troubles in her family. Although most people give honor to both wolves and wolfwalkers, Rezsia's father sees her bond with wolves as a betrayal. The day she became a wolfwalker, he left home.
When Rezs meets several dozen Durn on the road at night and they don't bow to Gray Vlen, she knows there will be trouble. The Durn see Rezs as a symbol of the relatively rich life that everyone used to have, but that the Durn now do not. "The oldEarthers would let food rot before they would give it to the needy," a Durn tells her angrily. "They'd let buildings crumble before they'd allow their use as shelters. It was politics and religion--plain greed and bigotry -- that put the poor on the streets of oldEarth. But we left those politics and religions on oldEarth when we came to this world. ... Or did we, Wolfwalker?" Though she doesn't attempt to explain it to them, she blames their worsening situation on Rioci neGruli.
NeGruli is an A-1 antagonist, a selfish, almost evil bad guy. He cares only about power, not people. Like her family, he owns a laboratory, but his research methods are fishy: he creates bacteria almost out of thin air. "We need a more efficient bacteria to decompose our wastes? NeGruli strips funds from the reconstructions and comes up with one in six months. ... He's getting rich while people lose their homes, their jobs, and their lives." Too, he loses men, to one catastrophe or another, on each of his trips.
Almost all other labs have gone out of business. Rezsia's family, neGruli's remaining competitor, suspects a cache of biotechnology left by the Ancients who came from oldEarth. They believe neGruli is looting some hidden Ancient dome, and that the men he loses actually are lost to the plagues in the Ancients' buildings.
Rezs journeys into the countryside to try to find this cache. Through Gray Vlen, she hopes to access the wolf pack's memoires, and "track" neGruli that way. She meets a man and his grandmother in the forest, and the grandmother, herself a wolfwalker, guides Rezs through her bonding with Gray Vlen and helps her understand some of the issues affecting her family and her life.
As she learns to communicate better with Gray Vlen, Rezs hears the song of the pack, and the haunting music mixed in with it. This music makes her think of Grayheart, the man "whose center was as gray as the wolfpack." She doesn't know whether Grayheart is an enemy or a friend. She doesn't know what he looks like, since their terrifying warehouse meeting was at night, and she wonders about each of the men she travels with, whether one of them is him. NeGruli's villainous qualities are obvious; Grayheart's character is not so black and white.
A few twists of the plot are predictable, but not disturbingly so. Considering that this is a book I'll enjoy reading again, (Del Rey's "guarantee" gamble paid off), the plot is an insignificant portion of the whole. Harper's writing skill would make even a banal story worth reading, and Grayheart is far from that. I plan to look for more of Harper's other three Wolfwalker books, and I recommend this one heartily.
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Review by Jonathan W. Lartigue
Review Copyright 1996, by Jonathan W. Lartigue
Tara K. Harper returns to the world of the wolfwalkers as she continues her visionary Wolfwalker saga with her new novel, Grayheart. Harper's newest wolfwalker, Rezsia, is as new to the forest as she is to her telepathic bond with her wolf, Gray Vlen. Rezsia is young and inexperienced, but, haunted by the fame of her grandmother Dion (the heroine of Harper's first Wolfwalker series), she is driven by the need to make a contribution with her life. This drive pushes Rezsia to her limits, and beyond.
While Rezsia struggles with her own uncertainty of what she is capable of accomplishing, she finds herself facing more and more difficult obstacles in her journey. As Rezsia continues to succeed in the trials she faces, she gains more confidence in her abilities. But her experience and the lessons she learns from them only raise more questions about the unfamiliar world she is in and her role in it.
During her quest, Rezsia must learn to overcome the dangers of the forest, strengthen her bond with the wolves, and thwart the plans of a greedy businessman whose lust for power threatens both her and the livelihood of her city. The only assets Rezsia has to accomplish her seemingly impossible task are her wits, her bond with the wolves, and the lessons of her mysterious tutor and fellow wolfwalker, Coale.
Filled with suspense, adventure, and more than one shocking twist, Grayheart continues in the tradition of Harper's first book, Wolfwalker (and its sequels, Shadow Leader and Storm Runner), and is abound with both the deep characterizations and vivid attention to detail that surround the success of Harper's first works.
Harper's wolfwalker novels represent perhaps the freshest and most innovative new concept in sci-fi and fantasy literature. Both the original Wolfwalker series and Grayheart weave a captivating plot with superb character development and also portray a side of life that few in today's modern world would understand. Harper's world is one in which man has learned to achieve civilization in harmony with nature rather than at the expense of nature. Harper's strength lies in her understanding of the natural world and she pulls the reader into her story so well that he feels as if he is running trail right next to the heroine Rezsia and her wolf Gray Vlen.
Grayheart, like Harper's original Wolfwalker series, is a page-turner from beginning to end. Don't miss Harper's newest success, Grayheart, and the original Wolfwalker trilogy that started it all. You won't be able to put it down, and you'll eagerly await Harper's newest installment in the series!
Copyright 2000 by Tara K. Harper
All rights reserved. It is illegal to reproduce or transmit in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, any part of this copyrighted file without permission in writing from Tara K. Harper. Permission to download this file for personal use only is hereby granted by Tara K. Harper.
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