by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
The Guardian Herd: Landfall, by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez. Illustrated by David McClellan; maps.
NYC, HarperCollinsPublishers/Harper, February 2016, hardcover $16.99 ([xvi +] 328 [+ 4] pages), Kindle $9.99.
The adventure grows more desperate in this third volume of The Guardian Herd saga. It might be described as a My Little Pony with savage teeth and razor-sharpened hooves in it.
The multicolored flying pegasi of Anok are divided into five rival herds that the young Starfire has been trying to bring together peacefully. As he said in The Guardian Fire: Starfire, first novel in the series, when the over-stallion of another herd proposed making an alliance and forcing the other herds to join them, “But that’s not uniting; that’s conquering.” The Guardian Herd: Stormwind, the second novel, ends with Star learning that Nightwing the Destroyer, the crazed, all-powerful black stallion of 400 years ago, is flying back to Anok to conquer the herds and kill him. But the five herds are still fighting among each other; Star is still untrained; and Star fears that he may turn as crazed and deadly as Nightwing is.
Landfall begins, not counting a dramatis personae of 40 important pegasi, with a 16-page battle to the death between Nightwing and Starfire. And Star dies! Horribly (but not too horribly; this is a Young Adult book). He’s saved by a ghostly deus ex machina that tries to make us believe that he wasn’t really dead, y’know, just in an exceptionally deep suspended animation.
Umm … no. Sorry; this isn’t believable. I’ll buy the talking, flying horses, but I won’t buy Starfire being not really dead. He’s killed too definitely, and his salvation by the equivalent of Tinker Bell showing up and waving her magic wand is too cheesy. It further destroys the suspense by showing that whatever hardships Star suffers in the future at the hooves of Nightwing, if they get too bad we can expect an unexpected deus ex machina to bring him back to life.