There is a great story in here, but
the book takes so long to get to any of it, the author uses such
difficult language to describe every single thing, that it was a great
struggle to get through it at all. There were actually only a few scenes
in the whole book, but it took an entire novel to get there.
very first chapter, this book felt long. While the prologue managed to
convey a new sense of the world for Willow, riding on the dragon in a
dream, it also set the stage for the disaster to come. Willow certainly
seemed like he was abstaining from his duty to Elora, but it allowed him
to survive. After the disaster, Willow takes his new name, Thorn, and we
don't see the two human characters from the movie ever again.
It's interesting reading this book for the second time, knowing how it
ends, and why the Deceiver tore the places of magic from the world, and
tried to kill the baby Elora, and ensnare her when she turned thirteen.
Many of the comments that Thorn makes, such as the Deceiver knowing both
him and Elora better than they knew themselves, make more sense now.
But the book takes forever to get anywhere. The language is scripted
with elaborate descriptions of the scenery and emotions, and just simple
observations, most of which mean absolutely nothing. They would be nice
to have if they weren't so difficult to read through. Thorn spends
dozens of pages investigating the hollow left by the cataclysm, almost
turning to stone himself, as the mountain tries to regain a measure of
itself through him. He is only saved by the brownies and eagles. There,
he fights off death dogs, thought to be extinct by about a year after
the movie, with the help of an Angwyn pathfinder soldier, Geryn.
Geryn reminds Thorn of Elora's impending Ascension, her thirteenth
birthday, so they travel back to Angwyn, where Elora was magically
transported as a baby after the cataclysm (thanks to Willow's gift of a
magical bear that very night), through nasty weather on the river by
Thorn is immediately thrown into jail, the most deep and
dark cell in the city, which also happens to be haunted by a demon.
After being threatened, he escapes thanks to the brownies, and makes his
way to Elora's tower. She is portrayed as a spoiled Princess throughout
this part of the book. It is obvious that everyone treats her like
glass, so she thinks of herself in that way, also, sharp and pointed,
and totally reliant on others to do anything she thinks is beneath her
status. It's pretty funny to see the way she reacts, throwing food and
so on, when she first sees Thorn. She doesn't remember him at all.
It's only later that she grows up, and I find she matures much too
fast for the attitude she has learned over the last dozen years. At
first she fights Thorn, but very soon learns to accept him. Before that
happens, however, Thorn whisks himself out of Elora's tower, through
stone, back to his cell, just in time to be tortured, and almost turned
into a Death Dog himself. But he is saved by the Demon's strength, and
in return, must merge the Demon's offspring into the body of a woman
which has been preserved down in the dungeons. The taint of the Demon
brings the wrath of the brownies and eagles down on him later, but they,
too, forgive him quickly, especially after seeing him heal one of the
As the leaders of the thirteen realms gather
to welcome Elora as their Sacred Princess, the Deceiver, posing as
Willow, begins his enchantment. Elora and the dragon representative are
immune to the enchantment, but are hard-pressed to escape once it
begins. The dragon gives up his life to help Elora escape, and Thorn
wastes no time getting her out of the city with Geryn and the Demon's
offspring, now called Khory.
The Deceiver turns all of Angwyn to
ice, and the lone remaining Princess, Anakerie, believes it is Thorn who
caused it, because he alone appeared to escape.
There is another
very long sequence where they try to escape by boat again, but the
Deceiver's storm pushes against them, and they end up shipwrecked
because of it, having made no headway at all. Both Thorn and Elora try
to use their magic, but the river doesn't respond well to being told
what to do, and the Captain of the ship ends up dying because Thorn has
to choose between saving her and keeping the ship out of Angwyn.
They escape through Cherlindrea's forest, which is set to burning by
fire drakes. While Thorn keeps the group from burning, Elora manages to
calm the fire drakes and send them away. This is where Thorn, after
having healed so many of his group already, decides to heal the magical
stag that comes to them, burned and ragged. It guides the group into a
hollow mountain, an ancient seat of power, where they are to be judged
by the magical animals of that realm.
But Anakerie and Geryn
arrive with the Thunder Riders, and attack, killing the stag, and
separating the group so the Deceiver can work his magic again on Elora.
But she shuns him, and Thorn traps him momentarily as they escape
through the rock. Modhri, the leader of the Thunder Riders, is nearly
killed, but the Deceiver takes his body as a corporeal form of his own.
He and Thorn face off inside the rocks of the mountain, where Elora is
nearly captured also. But Thorn unleashes ancient volcanic vents,
turning the ancient mountain into a roiling volcano, and they manage to
The magic in this book is different from most
magics I've read, in that it is persuasive, instead of simply imposition
of change. When Thorn works magic on wood, he has the wood recall its
early days as a tree, alive and malleable, so that he can transform it
into something that he needs or wants. The mountain at the beginning of
the book does the same thing to him, giving him their memories of a vast
and spectacular range. At the end, he wakes the old mountain, which
recognizes the Deceiver's malice, and decides to do something about it
The story itself is interesting, and has some very
memorable moments. The characters, for the most part, are engaging and
fun. I especially liked Khory, who has no fear, super strength and
amazing learning abilities, thanks to the Demon that inhabits her. But
going through pages and pages to get from moment to moment was plain
difficult, and I wonder if it was really worth the effort.