Draven’s Light by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
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When the chief’s son comes of age, the tribe presents him with a prisoner. He is to kill this man and take up a new name as a man. He refuses and instead earns the name Draven, or “fainthearted.” Draven lives as a recluse, a shadow among his people with only his fierce sister Ita as a companion. The drums of war take the men of the tribe to battle, but Draven stays behind. A strange plague follows the warriors home, and when it strikes the one Draven loves most, he vows he will find a way to save her.
This short (less than 200 pages) tale is framed as a story repeated to a little girl as she battles her own fears. Before the end the author ties both the present and past together neatly. Stengl brings her usual powerful story-weaving ability and packs action, danger and romance into this tale, keeping it both moving and exciting. Perhaps the most beautiful part of the story is the relationship between brother and sister, Draven and Ita. Ita seems to understand instinctively when to push her brother, and he knows equally well when to respect her independence. While Draven’s Light isn’t saturated with the story world fans of the Tales of Goldstone Wood books have grown to love so well, they will recognize the mysterious Wood itself as well as two brothers from myth – Akilun and Etanun – and the little wood thrush who often leads heroes seeking aid.
Profanity and Crude Language Content
A couple brief references to “the airy gods.”
In Draven’s tribe, young men must kill an enemy prisoner in order to be recognized and honored as men. A fatal plague causes its victims to foam at the mouth and writhe on the ground.