This debut novel for Sasha Lord is a powerhouse tale of myth and honor. The medieval setting is perfect for a story which has so many roots in lore. Young Kalial is the protectress of Loch Nidean, a golden princess who holds the fate of the forest in her hands. Raised to assume this role, she has been set apart from other young people, immersed in the legends and trained to be one with both creature and woodland. She must stop all who enter the forest and keep the lake at its core undisturbed.
When the evil Lord Lothian attacks Castle Roseneath, seeking the treasure called Scottish Gold, he slaughters the family McTaver. Only young Ronin escapes, making his way into the Loch Nidean forest hoping that the tales of enchantment keep Lothian’s soldiers out. There he encounters a rag-tag army of woodsmen, led by a young boy. Taking the mud-encrusted lad as hostage, Ronin hopes to gain safe passage to the sea, where he can meet his kinsmen by boat. He must raise an army to defeat Lothian and protect his family's key to the Scottish Gold!
While the device of young women dressed as boys is not a new one, Under a Wild Sky is a fine example of how to write it best. While Kal discovers more about her captor, Ronin decides that the young scamp in his care would be a fine squire. He is bright, and has good skills for woodland fighting. His ability to “speak” to the creatures is a big plus. As they make their way to the sea, Ronin and Kal encounter plenty of adventure and many memorable characters.
I really enjoyed this book. The length, over four-hundred pages, read quickly, and it was easy to become attached to the main characters. Knowing that much of the “myth” of the story is grounded in fact, made some of the more unusual aspects perfectly believable. With a debut like this, I hope Ms. Lord has some more stories in process. I will be watching for them.