Claidi and her husband, Argul, have been separated and Claidi must find him and reconcile with him. This is the third book of the Claidi Collection. Claidi, former servant of the House, has escaped her boring life, had many adventures, fallen in love with Argul, and on the day of her wedding, was kidnapped and dropped off at Argul's half-brother's hidden manor in the jungles.
Click here to see the rest of this review
The story starts off with Claidi traveling on a Starship back towards the Hulta camp after a long adventure to reunite with Argul. The Starship finds the Hulta camp and Claidi, rather than being embraced by the Hulta, is chased off by her former Hulta friends. Apparently Argul has left the Hulta camp because he was so heartbroken that Claidi had left him and the Hulta are now hostile towards Claidi, treating her like a traitor. Claidi tries to clarify what happened but they don't believe her because someone had planted a fake diary which said that she was in love with someone else and had run away to be with him. One of the Hulta who believes Claidi tells her to look for Argul at a city called Panther's Halt where Argul's mother had a house.
Claidi travels to Panther's Halt on the Star-ship but mid-way it fails, forcing Claidi to have to make the remainder of the journey on foot. As she travels, she meets a talking Panther who shows her to a way to the valley through a cave that leads to Panther's Halt. Somehow it knows her name but before she can get any answers from it, it disappears. When she arrives at Panther's Halt, she finds it is a city under one vast tent. The people of Panther's Halt don't speak Claidi's language so she's finding it hard to get information and help about Argul's whereabouts. Claidi finds she is hungry and tired and can't find a job to earn money to pay for her stay. One day, she meets a tall, lanky, stranger in a creaky leather coat who can speak her language. She keeps running into him around Panther's Halt and he keeps mysteriously disappearing after having short conversations with him. Claidi feels like the man, named Jelly, might be suspicious of who she is. Later that night, as Claidi attends a wedding between a goat and a panther, she sees a glimpse of Argul disappearing into a house. She bangs on the door and tries to get Argul to come out but he refuses - Claidi thinks Argul won't forgive her for what he thinks she's done.
The next morning, Claidi awakens just in time to see Argul ride off on a horse. She gets on a graffapin creature and chases after him. After a few days of riding, she sees Argul again in the distance. To her dismay, she also sees the strange man, Jelly, riding a distance behind her. Eventually, Jelly catches up with Claidi and proposes that they travel together but Claidi, suspicious of the man's motivations, rides off. She finally catches up with Argul and is shocked by how mean he is to her. Jelly catches up with them and there is tension between everyone which results in Argul and Claidi riding off. Argul tells Claidi that he hasn't forgiven her but he will let her follow him to the North where he will leave her. Claidi feels like this is not the Argul she remembers but she feels it is her fault that he became like this.
Once she and Argul reach civilization again, she decides to tell Argul the entire truth. At the end of the conversation, Argul is completely unreactive. Claidi gets upset and angry at him and flings a bucket of rotten beer at him before fleeing the scene. The next morning, someone knocks on her door - it is a beautiful girl name Winter Raven. Winter Raven claims to be from the Raven Tower family, which Claidi had formerly believed to no longer exist. Winter Raven tells Claidi that she must come with her and also that she has caught Jelly who she thinks is Claidi's friend, as leverage. Jelly tells her that Claidi was lead into a trap by a false Argul that was actually a mechanical doll. During the trip to Raven Tower, Winter Raven is brutal to Jelly, allowing the men to kick him around. Claidi tries to protect Jelly however she can't do much. Later on, Winter Raven tells Claidi that her mother is Twilight Star - the woman that Claidi thought was her own mother!
Winter Raven takes her to the city of Chylomba which is famous for its giraffe-like creatures. Here, Claidi is treated like a guest though she is a prisoner. Jelly, however, is to be interrogated. At the guest house, she meets her former abductors Hrald and Yaz who seem to be living well. The two take Claidi out to explore the town. They learn that Wolf Tower is preparing for war against Raven Tower and that is why Jelly was being interrogated, because he might be a Wolf Tower spy. Claidi also learns that Jelly has escaped and she feels glad for him even though he is the enemy.
One night, Claidi awakens to hear scratching noises and she sees someone at her open window. It turns out to be Jelly. Jelly delivers a letter from Ironel of Wolf Tower (who also happens to be Argul's grandmother). Ironel tells Claidi that Argul had found his way to her and told her that the fake diary didn't fool him for an instant. She adds that Argul has been living with her at Wolf Tower and now he has been made Prince and that the man who delivers the letter can be trusted. Before he is caught, Jelly escapes again.
One day, Claidi finally gets to visit Lady Raven who claims to be Twilight Star, her mother. Lady Raven reveals that Claidi is not her daughter and never was and the name "Claidi" is actually Winter Raven's name. Lady Raven explains that she fell in love with her slave, a match that was forbidden back at the House. They were banished to the Waste for their love but not before the House found out that Twilight was pregnant. They forced Twilight to give birth to the baby first before they banished her. Twilight's mother found a way for Twilight to keep her baby, by exchanging her real baby with a slave's baby and pretending the slave baby was actually Twilight's baby. This slave baby was Claidi and Twilight's real baby is Winter Raven. Lady Raven allows Claidi to keep her name since Winter Raven doesn't want it back anyway. Lady Raven continues on to explain that she and Argul's mother were very good friends, both brilliant scientists in their day. Because of their friendship, Argul's mother made a promise that Winter Raven could marry either Argul or Venn, Argul's half-brother when they reached of age. But, Claidi screwed up the whole plan because she met both Argul and Venn and both of them like Claidi and Winter Raven hates being second best. Lady Raven finishes with the idea that she is okay with Claidi marrying Argul because their child will be a Queen of the Wolves, in other words, rule over the Wolf Tower, their enemy.
One night, Claidi finds out who Jelly really his - her beloved, Argul in disguise. He tells Claidi that he thinks she is in trouble. Before they can do anything, they are caught. No one is hurt however, and the outcome is that Argul will now be married to Claidi to solidify the alliance. The wedding is an elaborate affair but Claidi and Argul aren't left to themselves, they are under the control of Raven Tower. Claidi and Argul plan to run away and be married on their own terms.
Eventually, Claidi and Argul will disentagle themselves from all the politics between the Towers and live life on their own. All of Claidi's questions regarding her parentage and Argul's parentage are answered.
Best part of story, including ending:
I like the surreal, strange landscapes and places that Tanith Lee incorporates in the story.
Best scene in story:
My favorite part of the story is when Claidi tosses a bucket of rotten beer on the fake Argul - it was funny because he was so unreactive to her explanations.
Opinion about the main character:
I like that Claidi is quirky and unexpected and that she's a great underdog type character.