01 December 2008

Picnic Review: Ratha's Courage

Ratha's Courage, the fifth book of the Named series by Clare Bell, was recently offered by the Picnic-Basket. The description sounded interesting, so I decided to request a copy.

I found the characters interesting and the descriptions vivid.

The meadow was large and irregular, with smaller areas fenced off by brush and low trees. In one such corner, Ratha found Cherfan guarding a herd of three-horn deer while his partner for the day, red-gold Bira, tended a watch fire nearby.
Bira was an unusual and striking color for the Named, who tended to be shades of brown and tan, some with faint spots that lingered from their cubhood. The hue of Bira's long fur was most intense down her back, deep gold tipped with reds and oranges. Her one vanity was her beautifully plumed tail.

However, I couldn't get over the fact that I had no idea what was going on in this story. This is the FIFTH book in a series that I am not familiar with so references to Ratha's cubs were confusing at best. I also found Ratha's relationship with Thakur mystifiying; clearly there is a past, but I don't know what it is.

Obviously, my lack of understanding is my fault as I attempted to read this story without having read the previous four. Therefore, for the unitiatied I would only give this a 2 (recommend under certain situations) because the reader has to deal well with ambiguity in a story (which, apparently, I don't). However, for fans of Ratha, I would say this is a 4 or 5. Clearly there is great depth in this saga, but I think it's more for fans of the story from the 80's and 90's. Those of us who haven't read any of the Named series need to start with Book 1!