Book Review: Arvia: Wings of the Wild, D. H. Willison

Book Review: Arvia: Wings of the WildTales of Arvia Book 4, D. H. Willison

Wings of the Wild

Fantasy: Arvia: Wings of the WildTales of Arvia Book 4, D. H. Willison

 

When I was a teenager, I began reading the Xanth novels by Piers Anthony. Set in the fantasy world of Xanth (which not coincidentally looked a lot like Florida), the world features quirky characters, lots of puns, and interspecies romances that defy both genetic and physical compatibility. The series was (I believe) originally to be a trilogy. For all I know it may still be churning out new books lo these many years later–I think it was around 30 sequels when I stopped grabbing them as soon as they were released. (My math might be off, but it was a lot of them.)

 

I do not know how many potential books are in the Arvia series, though author D.H. Willison seems to be following the path of a certain billionaire author of a wizarding fantasy more than the road paved by Anthony. The most recent book in the series, Arvia: Wings of the Wild is well over 500 pages. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a good book. I enjoyed it. I don’t regret reading the 572 pages, or the following charts, or the author’s note. Just, know going in that it will be a while before you get out again.

 

Darin, a young man from our world who was transported to Arvia in a previous novel, has psychically and emotionally bonded with a harpy, Rinloh. Harpies are apex predators in Arvia, while humans are often prey. Thus, their relationship is not one easily understood by humans or harpies. The harpies wonder why Rinloh is not eating her human, and the humans are actually wondering the same thing. But, love does not pay attention to things like your girlfriend being ginormous, having wings instead of arms, claws instead of feet, and enjoying simple games like catch–that is, catch a crocodile and throw it to another harpy. Not everyone’s princess wears ball gowns.

 

Darin and his human-friend Fogmort set out on a journey to secure new trade relationships for their town. They are traveling with the town’s sorceress, Oolandra, a mysterious woman who keeps many secrets. One of those secrets reveals itself very early in the book: Oolandra is not entirely human. Her shape-shifting creates a number of awkward situations for the humans traveling with her, as her other form is not welcome in every community. Still, they arrive at the starting point of their journey, where they intend to recruit a group of adventurers to travel as a unit through dangerous areas, making the journey transform from impossible to difficult.

 

Along the way, they are betrayed, attacked, and abandoned, and would not have made it to the meeting were it not for Darin’s empathic connection to Rinloh who comes to their rescue. This could create a problem, though, since human/harpy friendships (or more) are illegal and although Fogmort and Oolandra are friends, they are now covering up an ongoing crime of fraternization.

 

The danger does not stop when they get to the meeting. Monsters from all over Arvia are present: ogres and trolls and griffins, along with “littles” that include elves and humans. Even though there is a moratorium on hunting other people during the gathering, that does not mean that any of these groups will find common ground. 

 

Unless that common ground includes killing Darin and his friends, which does seem to unite the interests of various factions.

 

Willison populates Arvia with quirky creatures that do not follow the standard monster tropes. A troll who loves to explore and meet new people. An ogre who is very friendly, though quite willing to smash people who need smashing. A naga whose primary interest is seeing his daughter make her way among humans. And a harpy who loves to kiss her human, although her mouth is large enough she can more easily eat him than smooch him. Fortunately for that human, though, she is not interested in any nutritional value he may provide.

 

This is a long read, but not a difficult one. If you are ready to take a deep breath and enter a world full of friendly monsters and often unfriendly humans, if you are ready to take flight with improbable friendships and impossible romances, then Arvia: Wings of the Wild is ready for you.

 

Our thanks to The Write Reads (and to the author D.H. Willison) for our copy of Arvia:Wings of the Wild, provided so we could review it as part of this blog tour. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives, check out the other bloggers on this tour.

 

Wings of the Wild

Book Review: Arvia: Wings of the WildTales of Arvia Book 4, D. H. Willison

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