Title: The Jargoon Pard
Author: Andre Norton
Series: Witch World
In a bid for power, the Lady Heroise schemed to bear a son, for her son would be heir to the House of the Car Do Prawn. But a twist of fate brings her a daughter—so she steals a stranger’s child, names him Kethan, and claims him as her own. Then begins the long plot of raising him to be amiable to her bidding. Then the gift of a belt with a jargoon pard changes everything . . .
This was a decent read, although not one I’m likely to ever read again. Kethan tells the story of his life, from the events surrounding his birth to the present day, where he as a young man is being set up as heir, much to the wishes of his mother and against the wishes of his aunt. Most of the story is Kethan recognizing that the people around him are trying to manipulate him, but not being able to wiggle out of their traps.
He gets some relief when he gains a belt that triggers him to change shape to a pard, and his mother’s careful scheming starts to fall apart. Shapechangers are not welcome, and his aunt and cousin would like nothing more than to disinherit him. I wish more of the story had been spent with him in cat form, as it would’ve been nice to see him come into his own outside the presence of those who would rule him (or simply those who refuse him aid).
There is a good amount of history in the beginning, likely to help orient readers where this takes place in the history of the world. It gives the story a layer of depth, but ultimately I found the tale nice but forgettable. I rate this book Neutral.