"It's true that the rhekaro has been given the semblance of a child, but another form radiates beyond the physical. I don't understand it, but what I see around him is the form of a young dragon."
Alec stared hard at Sebrahn, squinting his eyes, but saw nothing unusual. "A dragon? That's impossible! Sebrahn was made from bits of -- me!"
The White Road is the fifth book in the Nightrunner Series and continues immediately from where Shadows Return ended. Considering how much I enjoyed Shadows Return, I had high hopes for its sequel. The White Road was released just a few days ago, on May 24, and I pre-ordered it from The Book Depository (recommended!) - receiving it within days of the release and also reading it straight away. And... I have to say I was disappointed.
In the previous book, spies and nightrunners Alec and Seregil came into possession of a strange, white creature named Sebrahn, a rhekaro, "a child of no woman" created from Alec. Sebrahn has the skill to heal, but his song can also kill anyone whom he sees as a threat. In their attempt to find out who or what Sebrahn truly is, Alec and Seregil come across a group of Hâzadriëlfaie soldiers, whose mission is to find the dangerous "white child" and kill the half-breed ya'shel from which he was made.
Warning: minor spoilers ahead!
What follows is a bizarre escapade through mountains, forests and strange lands. The characters play around with transformations and wonder randomly from place to place as they try to find out the truth about Sebrahn. Friends and allies enter and leave the "stage" of the novel at suitable moments. There is no real presence of danger, as there was in the previous novel, or even real tension between the main characters, which used to make them more interesting. Alec has become an obsessed father-figure to Sebrahn, and Seregil's actions, especially at the end of the novel, make him appear irresponsible and reckless.
The characters have lost some of their chemistry and, in the end, Lynn Flewelling seems to be in an annoying hurry to finish the novel. Plus she seems to all of a sudden be afraid to kill characters. One of the surprise elements in the previous novels was that you could not trust the author to not let major characters suffer or even die. Not knowing what to expect was refreshing. But here, everything works out unnaturally well at the end.
It's too bad that what started out so well in Shadows Return did not last until the end of the fifth book of the series. The book is entertaining, yes. But not exciting or emotionally deep.
Lynn Flewelling: The White Road. Ballantine Books. 2010.
Lynn Flewelling's website
Wikipedia: The White Road
Wikipedia: Lynn Flewelling