Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Protector of the Flight by Robin D. Owens

Calli Torcher is a rodeo rider with a problem. A few months ago, she suffered a riding accident that broke her pelvis in three places. She's returned to her father's farm to recuperate, but he's unwilling to support her, and even sells her rodeo stallion, telling her that if she's not going to support the farm with money from her rodeo career, she can act as cook, or she can be disowned, her choice.

Calli is devastated by her father's selling of her rodeo mount, and retreats to her favorite place on the farm, where a huge microcline crystal juts out of the face of a cliff. In it, she has always been able to see flying horses, and she can spend hours here, sleeping on the crystal and dreaming of a land with flying horses. But today, she is actually drawn into that land, Ladrana, to become the ambassador between the Volaran, or the flying horses, and the humans.

Calli, because of her long association with rodeo horses, has the powers of a horse whisperer, and in Ladrana, she can talk with the Volarans through a kind of telepathy. The Volarans have been withdrawing from the fight against the darkness because of how they are being used by humans, and rely on Calli to intercede on their behalf with the humans.

Calli, having achieved her dream of a flying horse, never wants to return home to earth, and goes forward with tying herself to a Ladranan husband to anchor her spirit to the planet of Amee. Although she wants to have children, she tells her new husband that previous injuries on the rodeo circuit have made her unable to have children. Luckily for her, he agrees to adopt children who are orphans, and a pair of them almost literally fall into their laps.

Unluckily, their duties in wartime conspire to keep them apart, so that one is helping the armies fighting the dark, while the other is at their estate, looking after the children. This causes them much grief during the earlier days of their relationship.

But when Calli and her husband Marrec are snapped back to Earth, Calli will have to make peace with her father and his new wife and adopted son while insuring they both return to Amee and Ladrana to pick up the shattered pieces of their new family, as well as accomplishing a duty for the Volarans while she is on earth.

But when the Ladranans use her to scout the place where evil rests in Amee, can she survive the trip?

This was another interesting visit to the land of Ladrana. So far, all the characters who have been drawn to the planet of Amee have been brought there for the concerns of humans (Alexa for the Marshalls, Marian for the Mages), but Calli is the first to be drawn there for concerns that are strictly non-human, i.e. the Volarans. Despite that, Calli's concerns are refreshingly human and ordinary, from wanting to have and find a man who loves her to starting a family of her own, even if they don't share her blood. With the current state of the war in Ladrana, she will certainly have no shortage of orphaned children to adopt and care for.

Readers will share Calli's concern when she is drawn back to earth and the father she would not have minded never seeing again. But because she is forced back to earth, she is able to make peace with her father and his new family, even if his remarrying so quickly angered her. This book was another interesting look at Landrana and the characters we are already familliar with, and how, to quote Robert Burns, "the best-laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley."

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