Verdict: THE WOLF, THE WIZARD, AND THE WOAD is an original story with appealing characters. Although a prequel to other books by this author, it is complete as a standalone story with a satisfying ending, set in an area of great wild beauty.
Ragnar, a sailor from the islands near Scotland, arrives on the Atlantic Coast of North America. With sickness aboard the ship, he sets his young daughter, Brigid, ashore and leaves her there, telling her that others will find her and care for her. He tells her she is destined to deliver her people from suffering. He leaves Rakki, a wolf, with her.
Brigid is known as Ci-Cero by the native tribe that finds her and cares for her. She’s adopted by Ooma, the tribe’s medicine woman. After years with the tribe, she leaves to find the teacher she has been prophesied to study with. Rakki, her wolf, and Toes, her ferret, go with her. In a well-hidden cave, she finds Wabi, an old man who says he has been meant to be her teacher.
Ci-Cero studies with Wabi but is briefly kidnapped by Soaring Eagle, a man who is desperate for her medicine woman skills, as his tribe is suffering from a horrible illness (from the description, probably smallpox). Ci-Cero helps his people and, despite being angry about being taken, is also attracted to Soaring Eagle. But when the sickness is past, she insists on returning to Wabi for further training.
In a long flashback, the story is told of Wabi’s relationship with Anora, Soaring Eagle’s mother. He finds her alone in the forest and invites her to live with him. When she discovers she’s pregnant, she leaves the cave without telling Wabi, knowing that his life’s work doesn’t have room for a traditional family. After Ci-Cero returns to Wabi from Soaring Eagle’s tribe, Wabi realizes where his lost love has gone and sets out to visit the tribe. Anora finally tells him he’s Soaring Eagle’s father, but after visiting for a few days, Wabi rushes home when he receives a mental call from Ci-Cero, who has been injured in a fall. One of the strengths of the book is the setting, which is the East Coast of North America after European settlement.
However, one drawback to the story is that Ci-Cero doesn’t have many faults; although the reader is told she’s meant to become a leader, we don’t see that part of her future, and other than a bit of stubbornness, she seems so good that she creates love and devotion from everyone she meets. The villain of the story is actually a foe from Wabi’s past who attacks Ci-Cero mostly because she’s an easier target. The story is original enough to keep the reader interested, but a more central conflict for Ci-Cero might have added to it.
THE WOLF, THE WIZARD, AND THE WOAD is an original story with appealing characters. Although a prequel to other books by this author, it is complete as a standalone story with a satisfying ending, set in an area of great wild beauty.
~Elizabeth Jewell for IndieReader