Samhain Publishing, $6.50, ISBN 1-59998-432-6
Fantasy Romance, 2007
This The Wolverine and the Rose that I am reading is an expanded and revised edition of the book by the same name published by New Age Dimensions in 2005. This is a romance story set in a rather generic fantasy sword-and-sorcery world and it has one thing about it that will affect your level of enjoyment of this story: it has a 19-year old heroine who at first behaves often recklessly for the silliest of reasons in face of real danger and subsequently like a wide-eyed very simple little girl constantly needing help and guidance from the brave strong men around her.
In the start of the story, heroine Arianna witnesses the Dark Knights of Darragh threatening to burn down her father’s farm if the man or any member of his family give shelter to three wanted refugees. Her father warns her and her cousin Meiri to stay at home but Arianna decides anyway to sneak off to the nearby village of Stollinshire to look for a husband. The sad thing is, she’s complaining at the same to Meiri that her father treats her like a small child. I don’t know what this stupid girl expects – what, she will go up into a shop in Stollinshire and purchase a husband, is it? Fortunately, she only encounters one situation and it’s a relatively benign one: a strange man calls her “Rose” and passes a scroll to her, telling her that he’ll come back for it in a few days.
Because he’s cute and all, Arianna happily takes the scroll home and then coos to Meiri that he must be one of the knights from the Order of the Wolverine due to the shape of the hilt of his sword and oh, he’s so cute, squee. And then she remembers the Dark Knights and starts to panic about having brought trouble to her family. Oh, Isaac, you really should have chained your daughter up to a post. Look at what happens when you let that stupid, stupid girl run wild. Needless to say, the stranger shows up for the scroll and the farm goes up in flames, giving Arianna a very rude wake-up call about what happens when you ignore real danger and choose instead of pretend that everything is a silly game. Meanwhile, the knight Geoffrey vows to “make things right”, which is only fair since he uses a naive and stupid young lady and causes her home and family to perish and all that.
The scroll turns out to contain the directions to a hidden powerful artifact called the Crystal of Mynos which can only be handled by a woman – men used the Crystal for nefarious purposes, you see, so the creator of the Crystal, a dragon called Mynos, made sure that only women can activate the Crystal’s powers since we all know all women are pure in the heart and incapable of evil. The Dark Knights want the scroll and now Geoffrey and his two sequel-bait buddies are trying to deliver it to King Brennan before it falls into the hands of the Dark Knights. Since Geoffrey deems Arianna his personal responsibility until he ditches her with the king – I hope he has the decency to leave a “Sorry I caused your family to be barbecued – no hard feelings, nothing personal, be happy that you served the King well!” note, at least – she’s coming along too.
The Wolverine and the Rose is a familiar fantasy story with elves and all. Let’s just say that it is a pretty generic tale with familiar sword and sorcery fantasy elements that won’t surprise anyone. The good thing about this story though is the lack of Magical Special Sex That Awakens Special Powers nonsense. Still, Arianna does turn out to be a Special Heroine. For the most part, nothing much happens in this story other than scenes after scenes of exposition where often Geoffrey is lecturing Arianna like she’s a child. Then again, she behaves like a child throughout this story, constantly needing to be guided, taught, or rescued by Geoffrey to the point that their relationship is akin to that of a patronizing father and his young daughter instead of that of lovers. It is only towards the later quarter of the story when the characters meet Mynos that things actually happen in the story. Then, The Wolverine And The Rose turns out to be a surprisingly enjoyable – if still predictable – read.
The bulk of the story revolves around Geoffrey’s patronizing protection of Arianna and her wild-eyed little girl act. Since I am not enamored of the relationship of the main characters as I’m not wild on heroines who behave like simple-minded little girls and the daddy figures who humor them, for the most part I don’t find The Wolverine and the Rose a compelling read. The last few chapters are fun and filled with all kinds of action scenes, but that’s about it, really. This one could have been a generic and familiar fantasy romance that is still readable but because the main characters aren’t my cup of tea, I’ll have to say this first installment of The Legends of Mynos doesn’t really do it for me.