Echofrost, Shysong, and all of the Storm Herd are finally free, but their freedom came with a price. Sandwen Rider Rahkki Stormrunner has been captured by the Gorlan giants, who are quickly losing their patience with the Fifth Clan. With Rahkki in grave danger, the Storm Herd must join forces with the humans they have long feared to save him.
As sweeping monsoon rains threaten to ravage the region, enemies, friends, tame steeds, and wild steeds will have to engage in one final battle to decide the fate of all three groups—the Sandwens, the giants, and the pegasi.
The third installment of the Riders of the Realm Series focuses more on Rahkki’s experiences in the giant’s world. Even though Rahkki isn’t free to leave, the giants treat him as a welcomed guest. The giants hope to make a peace agreement with the landwalkers. Soon Rahkki realizes that many of his ideas about the giants are incorrect. In the end, Rahkki’s misconceptions prevail and end up destroying a chance at peace.
I’Lenna and Rahkki’s brother, Brauk, also plays a dominant role in the story. Unfortunately, a large part of the story focuses on Rahkki, Brauk, and I’Lenna attempting to find each other. Even though the publisher recommends the series for readers as young as eight, younger readers may be frightened by some of the story’s events. At one point, Rahkki is almost killed by giant ants and a giant spider. Another frightening event is when I’Lenna’s mother has her tied up as a sacrifice to a giant lizard.
Alvarez expertly weaves the important events from the past books into Beneath the Weeping Clouds, which will help readers keep track of the large cast of characters. Readers who have read the previous books will emotionally connect to the characters, especially Rahkki. Readers will root for Rahkki as he tries to bring peace to his world. The events of the conclusion are exciting and show the importance of not making assumptions about others. However, the conclusion also leaves many unanswered questions.
Beneath the Weeping Clouds is full of danger, adventure, and even ends with an epic battle between Rahkki’s family and the Queen’s supporters. The story reinforces the importance of communication and forgiveness. The Riders of the Realm Series will entertain readers. However, the long descriptions, the large cast of characters, and the complex storyline make the story suitable for strong readers. Beneath the Weeping Clouds explores the themes of friendship, freedom, and forgiveness and will leave readers wishing that they could bring Rahkki into their world.
- I’Lenna thinks about Rahkki who “kissed her.”
- When an unfamiliar Kihlara rushed Echofrost, “She reared up just as Graystone thrust his large body between her and the charging steed. The chestnut smacked into Graystone’s chest and rocked backward, smashing into Hazelwind, who bit the chestnut’s neck and tossed him onto his side.” Echofrost stops the fight.
- I’Lenna is tied to a sunstone as an offering to Granak. On the third night, I’Lenna hears “a tree crack and topple over.” She tries to escape. “Bracing herself, I’Lenna yanked against the iron manacles at the ends of the ropes, rubbing her flesh raw on the hard metal.” I’Lenna dislocates her thumb in order to get her hand free.” In order to free I’Lenna, some of her friends distract the dragon. Koka “snatched at Mut’s dagger and stabbed the dragon in the leg. The reptile twisted around, teeth flashing.”
- I’Lenna’s friends set a herd of goats free. “As hoped, the easy prey drew the dragon’s bright eyes. . . In two mighty steps, she reached the goats and bit one, then two more. She lowered herself, waiting for her toxic venom to take effect.” The group hides and most people assume the dragon ate I’Lenna. The dragon scene takes place over five years.
- Rahkki throws a fish in the giant’s soup. Then, “three giants grabbed him and began to pull his limbs in opposite directions. Rahkki howled as pain shot through his body.” Rahkki is then thrown in a cell.
- Rahkki’s brother says that an ancient race was probably “exterminated.”
- Rahkki is trapped by giant monsoon ants. Rahkki’s dragon tried to help him. “The golden burner soared through the raindrops and dived towards the insects, shooting blue flames, his hottest. Ants caught fire and exploded. Their disembodied legs and shells spiraled into the sky.”
- Rahkki tries to run from the ants, but the ants “swarmed his legs. He drew Miah’s dagger and attacked, knocking the ants off his skin and skewering them. . . They scurried up Rahkki’s legs, clamped their mandibles around his flesh, and then jammed him with their stingers.”
- Rahkki tries to climb up a tree, but vultures “attacked and pecked his arms. Rahkki fell backward and slammed onto the ground again. The savage ants flowed over him. He flailed.” Unexpected help arrives and saves Rahkki. The scene takes place over five pages.
- Rahkki’s brother, Brauk, breaks into a guard’s room. When the guard appears, “Brauk shot up and struck the guard with the back of his elbow, knocking him unconscious before he could draw his weapon. The man toppled.”
- A black magna spider traps Rahkki, who “tries to kick the silk away from him, but it stuck to his legs.” Brauk tries to help by throwing a dagger. “The dagger slammed into the spider’s belly. Blue blood squirted from the wound and splattered Rahkki and the tree.” Rahkki is saved. The scene is described over two pages.
- After ripping out the spider’s venom sack, someone “gave the spider’s head a hard, fast jerk, killing it instantly.”
- Divided over who should be queen, the villagers begin fighting each other. A blacksmith “raced toward the soldiers, hammer lifted over his head. The adult villagers charged with him. They swarmed the soldiers, who seemed frozen with shock.” The soldiers attacked and “lit firebrands and tossed them at the huts, setting thatched roofs on fire.”
- During the battle, Brauk “twirled and thrust his sword. Kol reared, clubbing soldiers with his hooves.”
- Both the wild herd and the tame herd fight the soldiers. “The flying armies collided. Riders swung their swords, hooves struck hides, and teeth tore into skin. Grunts and snorts, squeals and shrieks filled the sky… The Riders hollered to one another and slicked at the wild pegasi with their glinting swords.” Several of the pegasi are injured.
- Brauk fights Harak. “As his sword clanged to the ground, Harak kicked, striking Brauk again in the spine. Brauk crumpled into a lifeless pile. . . Then a fist rose from the crumpled pile that was Brauk. He drove it straight into Harak’s nose. Blood burst out and streaked the blond man’s face.” During the fight, Harak’s stallion, “dived down and kicked Brauk in the back, flattening him to the ground.” One of the wild herd “glided past Harak Nightseer, [and] she kicked him soundly in the head. Harak crumpled, knocked out cold.”
- The Queen is accidently stabbed with a dagger. “She dropped to the floor. . . Her eyelids fluttered, her lips pursed.” The Queen is gravely injured, but it is not clear if she lives or dies. The battle scene is described over 51 pages.
Drugs and Alcohol
- In a previous battle, Rahkki “soaked his darts in poisonous dragon drool after first boiling out all the toxins, leaving only the anesthetic properties intact.”
- The Queen’s Elixir heals people. The Elixir is made from “black magna spider venom.” “Unlike most poisonous creatures, this spider’s venom didn’t injure or kill—it healed its prey, rapidly curing disease, knitting broken bones, and restoring damaged tissue and organs.”
- “Bloody rain” is used as an exclamation frequently.
- Bloody is used as an adjective several times. For example, someone said the soup was “bloody disgusting.”
- Rahkki thinks he is an “idiot.”
- The clan believes in omens. They think an early monsoon is “another bad omen.”
- Rahkki’s brother implored his clan’s protection from “Granak and the Seven Sisters” when he prays, “watch over me.”
- I’Lenna prays, “Granak, Father of Dragons. Please protect your people.”
- When the giants attack, I’Lenna prays, “Granak protect us.”
- Rahkki yells, “Granak! As a bloodborn prince of the Fifth Clan, I command you to protect us. . . Rahkii believed in Granak. Why did his people feed the huge lizard if not for his protection? Please, Rahkki thought, hear my call!”
- “Lands to skies,” “sun and stars,” and “by Granak” are all occasionally used as an exclamation.
- “By the Ancestors” is used as an exclamation once.
- Someone says, “Praise the wind!”