Second book of 2023 down.
If you’re an old-school fantasy lover, this trilogy is for you.
Published in 2001, The Lesser Kindred is the second of the Tales of Kolmar Trilogy. Tor is one of my favorite fantasy publishers, so I often have high hopes for their books. Then again, my thoughts are a tad more biased because the first book of the series, Song in the Silence, also happens to be one of my absolute favorite books of all time. It’s one I pick up every few years and reread, seeing the characters with different eyes each time.
In Song in the Silence, we meet a young Lanen Kaelar, who was left by her mother as a baby and raised by her adopted father, a horse breeder. In her early twenties, Lanen is filled with wanderlust and eager to leave home and explore the lands of Kolmar. And maybe, if she’s lucky, find the legendary dragons she’s always dreamed about.
She finally gets her chance when her adopted father dies and she learns the circumstances behind her birth, and her mother’s departure, from her closest friend and truer father, Jamie. Mainly, she’s at the center of an old prophesy predicting the end of the world as they know it, and that she was promised to demons even before she was born. Together, Lanen and Jamie set out from their old home and Lanen is able to gain passage on a boat bound for the Dragon Isle, where she meets the creatures of her dreams and even falls in love with none other than the Dragon King. It’s this sense dreaming and fulfillment that draws me back to Song in the Silence time after time.
However, The Lesser Kindred is another story. I tried reading it before, when I was in my teens, and can honestly say that I understand it more now, in my thirties, than I did at fifteen. I can’t even remember if I finished it the first time, though it has lingered in the back of my mind for well over a decade and a half. In the second book, Lanen is more mature due to the struggles she, and her new husband Varien, have faced. Meanwhile the danger to her life is ever more present as the two set off to escape the demon master looking for them and fulfill a promise to Varien’s people. Not only this, but Lanen finds herself pregnant and facing an internal battle that further puts her life in jeopardy. Will her children be monsters? Will she really bring about the end of the world?
Definitely heavier themes to digest. Along with the themes of displacement from one’s home, human greed, and human resilience in the face of adversity. I can more relate to Lanen’s fear of an unknown future, and her frustration at others daring to try and control the course of her life. Motherhood is a great, often rewarding, thing. But how many mothers have wondered what kind of people their children would become? How many people have wondered if their actions would bring more evil than good?
In all, I really enjoyed picking The Lesser Kindred back up, and revisiting beloved characters (like old friends). The final book, Redeeming the Lost, is already on my bookshelf, waiting. I don’t think I’ll pick it up immediately because I am still digesting the rest of the second book. But once I do, I will take my time with it because I hate endings and especially endings of beloved stories. It’s only taken me about twenty-or-so years to read all three, so what’s a few more months, right?
Anyway, if you’re a lover of classic fantasy, I highly recommend the Tales of Kolmar trilogy. You won’t be disappointed, especially if you’ve ever felt a longing for magic and adventure.