Title: The Wayfinder
Author: Darcy Pattison
Winchal (Wil) is a Wayfinder, someone who can locate people or things magically, and find his way to them. But when an accident claims his younger sister, he’s devastated, and goes from one of the most promising apprentices to someone no one will trust. Then a caravan, a quest, a second chance—to go the one place no one ever goes. Deep into the heart of the Rift.
As much as I hate to say it, one character pretty well ruined this for me. The dog. Lady Kala is stuck up and pretentious (as might be expected from a breed practically worshiped), but also practically schizophrenic. She prods Wil mercilessly to continue his quest, and then she’s the one wasting time on side trails. She’s fiercely loyal to the prince, except when she’s not (and not just the wolves; I can understand/admire being tempted). I was actually hoping she wouldn’t decide to stay with Wil, because at this point I feel sorry for him having to put up with her. He does a whole lot for her, both through the journey and at the end, but I can’t help but see her as more of the liability on the journey. (Also, dogs who fight crocodiles in the water don’t end up with dead crocodiles. They’re lucky if they end up as live dogs. And despite significance having been given to the croc being albino, nothing is ever mentioned about this again.)
Second, the setting begins well, but doesn’t work for me throughout. With Finders being an obvious magical talent, it’s a little surprising no other magical talents seem to exist. I get not overloading the story, but it was hard to place what magic is to these people or how it works, especially when the opportunity to contrast it with a different people came along. The second village was of necessity quick and simplified, but I was puzzled that it was only two women fighting for rulership. None of the men wanted to put himself forward as the greatest hunter/future headsman? Given the competitive nature of many men, I find that surprising. (Though many things could have been clearer if the adventure hadn’t been hurrying through this—Wil has to get the water and get back in about a week to make things work.) And quite a lot of page space is wasted on a talking lizard that does nothing but taunt and nibble at Wil and Kyla, exposing fears which don’t lead to a resolution.
Well, at any rate, this wasn’t too bad, but nothing about it made it stand out either—except Kyla being excessively annoying. I rate this book Neutral.