Dear Reader...When Chessa is kidnapped by Ragnor of York, Cleve sets out to rescue her. After all, he's the one who negotiated her marraiget to William of Normandy, and his word is on the line. When a storm blows Chessa and her kidnappers onto Hawkfell island, outrageous complications set in.In the third novel of this Viking trilogy, Cleve of Lord of Raven's Peak and Chessa of Lord of Hawkfell Island firs meet when Chessa is the princess of Ireland and Cleve has no memories of his native Scotland, Cleve's goal becomes to return to Loch Ness to reclaim his inheritance.But first, there is Chessa to be rescued and handed over to the rightful groom. When Cleve arrives at Hawkfell Island, he leanrs that Chessa not only refuses to marry Ragnor of York, she won;t consider William of Normandy either. She wants to marry him! Her stratagies to bring this about anticipate Machiavelli by 600 years.Chessa and Cleve may be bullheaded, but they're no match for Ragnor of York, who will have you laughing at his abominable antics.
Coulter can't seem to decide between fantasy and historical romance in this third title of her Viking series. Cleve, who was almost murdered at the end of Lord of Raven's Peak, is now an emissary for Duke Rolo seeking the hand of Chessa, Princess of Ireland, for Duke Rolo's son William. Lord Ragnor, future ruler of the Danelaw, is also interested in Chessa and kidnaps her when she refuses to marry him because she has fallen in love with Cleve. To escape her suitors, Chessa claims to be pregnant, and when this doesn't work, Cleve disguises himself as a woman to rescue her. After the two finally marry, they journey to Scotland to claim Cleve's inheritance, and it is in this last third of the book that Coulter turns to fantasy. Though Chessa is supposedly a wizard's daughter, she shows no magical powers until meeting Cleve's father, Varrick, also a wizard. When Ragnor's henchman kidnap Chessa yet again (a plot device Coulter uses far too often), Varrick uses a burra or magic stick to locate her. Even with an appearance by the Loch Ness monster, the pacing is slow, the multitude of characters from the first two books confusing and such names as Kerek, Kiri and Kerzog don't help. Though some background information from the earlier books is given, it would be best to read this series in order. (Apr.) -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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November 25, 2003
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Excerpt from Lord of Falcon Ridge by Catherine Coulter
CLEVE DREAMED THE dream the first time on the night of his daughter's third natal day. It was in the middle of the night in the deepest summer, and thus it never darkened to black until it was nearly dawn again. He was sleeping deeply in that soft gray dark of the midnight summer when the dream came. He stood on a high, narrow cliff listening, sniffing the warm, wet air.
Below him was a raging waterfall roiling through slick boulders only to narrow with the tightening of the banks before it shot out over a lower cliff, crashing far below beyond where he could see. A light mist fell about him. It was suddenly so cold that he shivered. He pulled his warm woolen cloak closer. All around him were thick stands of trees and bright purple and yellow flowering plants that seemed to grow out of the rocks themselves. Boulders and large stones were scattered among the low, scrubby brush. He followed the snaking path, making his way down through the narrow cut in the foliage.
A pony awaited him at the bottom: black as night with a white star on its forehead. It was blowing gently. Cleve knew the pony. Although it was small, it seemed right to him. He realized that just as he knew the pony, he knew this land of crags and misting rain and air so soft and sweet it made him want to weep. There was a single wolfskin on his pony's back which he knocked askew when he jumped onto its back. A moment later, he was racing across a meadow that was filled with bright flowers, their sweet scent filling the air.
The misting rain stopped and the sun came out. It was high overhead, hot and bright. Soon he felt sweat bead on his forehead. The pony turned at the end of the meadow toward another trail that led eastward. He pulled the pony to a stop, turning it away to the opposite direction. He felt sweat stinging his eyes, wet his armpits. No, he didn't want to go that way, just thinking of it made his belly cramp with fear. No, he wanted to ride away, far away, never to have to see . . . see what? He sat atop the pony's back shaking his head back and forth.
No, never would he go back. But then he knew he would, knew he had no choice, and suddenly, he was there, staring blankly at the huge wooden house with its sod and shingled roof. This was no simple home really, but a fortress. He realized then that he heard nothing, absolutely nothing. There was so much silence, yet men and women were working in the fields, carrying firewood, directing children. A man with huge arms was lifting a sword above his head, testing its weight and balance.
There was no laughter, no arguments, just a deathly silence that filled the air itself and he knew that was the way it always was. Then he heard low voices coming from within the huge fortress. He didn't want to go in there. The voices became louder as the immense wooden door opened. Through air that was thick with smoke from the fire pit he could see men sharpening their axes, polishing their helmets. He could see women weaving, sewing, and cooking. It all looked so normal, yet he wanted to run from this place, but he couldn't.