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“You and Brauk must focus on the path in front of you. Don’t bend your eyes toward what should be or you will stumble,” Darthan. –Through the Untamed Sky
Through the Untamed Sky
Riders of the Realm #2
by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez
After winning the wild Pegasus mare named Echofrost in a contest, Rahkki Stormrunner is officially a rider in the Sky Guard army. Rahkki is terrified of heights though, and Echofrost doesn’t want to be tamed. But with Echofrost’s herd captured by the giants and a fierce battle looming on the horizon, the duo will have to conquer their fears if they want to fly with the army and free the herd.
Meanwhile, back in his village, Rahkki learns of a growing rebellion to overthrow Queen Lilliam. Unfortunately, the queen suspects Rahkki’s family is behind it, and she places him under intense watch.
As Rahkki and Echofrost escape to Mount Crim to save Storm Herd, Rahkki worries that the greatest danger may not come from the impending battle against the giants, but from within his own clan.
Through the Untamed Sky continues the story of Echofrost and Rahkki. In order for Echofrost to free her herd from the giants, Echofrost joints the Sky Guard with Rahkki. However, it soon becomes apparent that none of the Landwalkers (humans) care whether Rahkki lives or dies. To make matters worse, someone is actively trying to assassinate Rahkki. In a world where political power can only be gained by killing the current Queen, danger lurks in the shadows.
Although Echofrost’s desire to be free is understandable, she never thinks about Rahkki’s needs. Echofrost’s selfish behavior continues to the very end of the story. It takes a battle with the giants for Echofrost to see that “freedom meant choosing her bonds, because a Pegasus could not live alone or act only for oneself.”
The second installment of the Riders of the Realm Series shifts its focus away from Echofrost’s conflict and focuses more on the political unrest. As the story unfolds, Rahkki remembers the night his mother died. Even though the flashbacks help explain the political structure, readers may become upset that someone would kill a pregnant woman in order to gain the throne. The death of Rahkki’s mother is not the only violence in the story. An epic battle is fought and many lose their lives. Although the descriptions are not gory, there is blood and violence that may upset sensitive readers.
Through the Untamed Sky will entertain readers. However, the long descriptions, the large cast of characters, and the complex storyline make the story suitable only for strong readers. Like the first book in the series, Through the Untamed Sky ends with a cliffhanger that will have readers reaching for the third book in the series, Beneath the Weeping Clouds.
- The princess and Rahkki are talking when the princess “placed her hand in his, and a jolt of heat shot through his body.”
- During the battle, Rahkki “leaned forward and kissed [the princess’s] lips. She tasted sweet, like peppermints.”
- As part of a ceremony, Rahkki and Echofrost are branded. After the branding, Echofrost’s “eyes bulged and her breath came in rapid bursts as she absorbed the pain of the branding. Rahkki’s body had gone numb except for his throbbing shoulder.”
- The giants come to talk to the queen, but the queen upsets the giants, then, “The Sky Guard ascended. Guiding their pegasi with their legs, the Riders fired arrows at the Gorlanders. . . Led by the two elephants, the Gorlanders rushed out and their huge strides carried them swiftly toward the jungle.” The Gorlanders’ dragons “dived down, shooting hot jets at the new pair. Rahkki cringed when the flames licked the back of his neck.” The scene is described over three pages. No one is seriously injured.
- A giant lizard, Granak, chases after Rahkki and the princess. In an attempt to hide, the two “quickly pushed vines and leaves over their bodies, but Granak reared back and uprooted their tree with his massive clawed foot. Thick roots popped out of the soil, throwing Rahkki and l’Lenna into the air.” As the two run, their pegasi “swooped down, attacking like angry birds. Echofrost landed a barrage of kicks to Granak’s head. Shysong kicked him hard across his ear hole. . . The lizard’s huge foot swung at the roan, just grazing Shysong’s wing. She spun out of control.” When I’Lenna gets to the fortress, the guards close the gate, locking Rahkki out.
- When the lizard catches up to Rahkki, “Granak swiped his huge paw and slammed Rahkki’s chest. The boy tumbled across the yard. . . Rahkki tumbled across the soil, his body vibrating from the power of the dragon’s paw. His armor clanged, protecting his skin. . .” Rahkki throws hot pepper spice “straight into the dragon’s open mouth. Granak reared back with a roar and shook his great head.” The lizard flees. Some people believe Rahkki defeated the giant lizard with magic. The chase scene is described over eight pages.
- Rahkki remembers the night his mother was assassinated. His mother’s Pegasus was injured as he tried to fly the kids to safety. “A long sharp sliver of wood was embedded in the stallion’s chest like a spear. . . [Rahkki’s] tears dripped onto the stallion’s face. They mixed with the rain as he [his brother] stroked the boy’s cheek and listened to his soft breaths.”
- Giant spiders attack and try to wrap the pegasus in their web. Rahkki’s brother, Brauk, tries to help. “Brauk picked up a sharp stick. The closest spider had reared back and shot a band of silk at them. . . then he charged the waist-high spider and smashed it across its fangs.” The spider is able to grab Brauk with its web. The pegasus is able to help. “Drael stomped its head, and pale-blue blood squirted across Rahkki’s nightdress.” The spider scene is described over three pages.
- Someone tries to kill Rahkki with a poisonous snake. “A pillow slammed onto Rahkki’s head. He tried to shove it aside, but the person pressed it into his face, cutting off his air. Meanwhile, the serpent bumped against his thigh.”
- When Echofrost tries to find her herd, giants see her. “A small tree spiraled up from the Gorlan party, thrown like a spear. It struck her between the eyes.” Echfrost and Rahkki fall to the jungle floor. “Hot blood trickled from Rahkki’s hairline. He ran his hands along his body, checking for injuries; but other than his raw skin, a few cuts, his throbbing ear, and a pulled muscle in his thigh, he was undamaged.”
- A giant finds Echofrost. “Suddenly, a rock struck her flank and she whirled around.” Echofrost saw “an adult Gorlan male, squatting and facing her . . . Reaching into a bag strapped to his back, the giant threaded out a long rope. At the sight of it, Echofrost pinned her ears back. He caught her, tugged hard, and rolled her onto her side.”
- Rahkki finds the captured Echofrost and fights the giant, who is a prince. “Desperate, he sliced the prince’s arm with his dagger.” Then a huge python reached the giant and “it sank its teeth into his short neck. The giant roared and toppled onto his back, and the snake’s great weight pinned him.” Feeling sorry for the giant, Rahkki helps. “He reached the base of the python’s skull and drew his dagger. . . Then he tightened his fists around the pommel and drove the sharp blade straight into the python’s brain.”
- When the Land Guard is commanded to attack the giants, Rahkki is forced to go with them. The army is supposed to steal the wild herd from the giants. While trying to get to the pegasi, “screams and shouts and smoke filled the valley.” The tiny dragons use their fire and “several Land Guard soldiers rolled across the grass, trying to snuff out their burning tunics. Others swiped at the burners with their sawa blades, cutting them out of the sky.”
- The giants use their saber cats to help them fight the battle. “The first saber cat reached the captured wild herd, and its long fangs punctured a mare’s throat, severing the vein.”
- A saber cat attacks Rahkki. The cat “galloped at him, tail lashing, jaws wide.” Echofrost threw Rahkki out of the way. Rahkki “grabbed his sawa sword instead. The cat turned on him, muscles rippling, lips curled back in a snarl, whiskers bristling. . .” Echofrost goes to help and “kicked the cat in the head, knocking it out. It tumbled onto Rahkki, pinning him to the ground.”
- When the princess claims to be “the rightful Queen of the Fifth,” the head soldier Harak tries to kill her. General Tsun helps the princess, then “Harak loosed the arrow, and the shaft plunged straight through Tsun’s throat. His breath cut short, the general collapsed and his life force pooled atop soil. . .”
- When the giants take the princess captive, Rahkki jumps in to help her. “Rahkki sliced the bindings around I’Leanna’s wrist. . . the king roared at the sight of I’Leanna being cut free, and the line of ten giants loosed their stones at the princess. Rahkki clutched her close, blocking her body with his.” Rahkki is injured when a stone “slammed into his anklebone. Another stone struck his helmet. He released I’Lenna and crumbled to his knees, his ears ringing.”
- Harak shoots an arrow at Rahkki, but Echofrost “darted between the arrow and Rahkki’s neck. It slid between her armor and into her rib cage. . .”
- During battle, a mare named Rizah “tossed the man across the field and then kicked another.” A young soldier shoots an arrow at Rizah. “The arrow lodged deep in Rizah’s neck . . . The golden mare pinwheeled toward land and struck the grass. She toppled over, wheezing.” The battle scene takes place over 50 pages.
Drugs and Alcohol
- When Rahkki’s brother is injured, he is given “medicine to keep him asleep.”
- An animal healer explains how she uses dragon drool to make a medicine that puts people to sleep. “Boiling the venom removes all of the toxins but leaves the anesthetic properties intact.”
- During a meal, the Queen’s table has food and rice wine.
- A merchant sells food and rice wine to shoppers.
- After Rahkki gives a girl his food, she was found “convulsing in the dirt. Another groom screamed for help as white froth poured from the girl’s mouth.” It turns out that Rahkki’s food had been poisoned.
- During the battle, Rahkki uses “drool-soaked” darts to put giants to sleep.
- Bloody rain is used as an exclamation frequently.
- Lands to skies, sun and stars, and by Granak are all occasionally used as an exclamation.
- Rahkki’s brother says, “My brother’s an idiot.”
- By the Ancestors is used as an exclamation once.
- When a group of boys was wrestling, a boy calls someone a “Gorlan-blooded freak.”
- Each clan “claimed a different mascot, and the queens fed their respective beasts live animals to keep them content, then stared at the gnawed bones as if their futures were written in them.” In one clan, the queen’s adviser “oversaw the sacrifices to the clan’s mascot, read omens, and made predictions.”
- Someone tells Rahkki that curiosity calls the kaji spirits. “Kaji spirits harassed the seven clans, causing people to trip and slip and blunder where they were otherwise sure-footed and agile. Kajies came in flurries when Sandwens were either up to no good, full of pride, or curious about things that had nothing to do with them.”
- When attacking a python, Rahkki says, “Granak protect me!”
- After winning Echofrost in a contest, Rahkki goes to talk to the queen. When he returns, he climbed onto her back, “with a small prayer to the wind spirits.”