Whenever I think of a young woman’s journey to an uncertain destiny, I usually think of David Palme’s Emergence – especially if the girl is under 15, has the power to take a life and is a master of disguise, diplomacy and martial arts.
Patience is the seventh seventh seventh daughter of the space captain who first came to Imaculata (we are looking here at 249th generation, 7000 years of genetic material). She’s the daughter of the rightful heir to the kingdom, the Heptarch. But she and her father serve the current ruler as diplomats. And slaves.
“Your first responsibility is the greatest good for all the world. Only when that is secure can you care for private loves and comforts and power. The King’s House is all the world.”
Her entire life, her father has protected her from her destiny. But, when he dies and his head is harvested to serve the king, she’s must run for her life, and face a destiny that has been prophesied for generations. A destiny that that will save the world – or destroy it.
She was destined to mate with Unwyrm. When Heffiji was asked who or what Unwyrm was, he replied:
“It was a large wormlike animal with vestigial wings that fanned out just like geblings’ fingers, with a head as proportionately tiny as the head of a dwelf, and with a body as long and lithe as a gaunt. Its belly looked loose and open, as if loose sections of bowel were protruding.
When Heffiji at last quieted down, Angel spoke softly from his place by the fire. “Wyrms,” he said. “The earliest colonists called them that, and killed them all, even though there was evidence that they lived communally and buried their dead. They were too frightening, they awakened too many human fears. And now they’re extinct.”
“Except one,” said Patience. “That’s what Unwyrm is, isn’t he? The last of the wyrms.”
“Not quite,” said Ruin, who looked exhausted and defeated. “We geblings named him, didn’t we? Unwyrm.
Not-wyrm. Not our father; our brother. We didn’t remember that he looked like this, didn’t remember what a wyrm was. But now it’s clear enough. Just like the second-generation gnat that killed off the other gnats and waited to mate again with the Earth wheat. That’s what Unwyrm is doing. Waiting to mate again with a human being.”
On her journey she is accompanied by Angel, her tutor, a fat boat owner, two Giblins (who are the true kings of the Giblin race), River – a head in a jar who helps navigate the treacherous waters and his monkey and eagle. And Will, a Revolutionary and one of the Giblin’s slave.
I highly recommend this book. The story is compelling and well paced, the characters complex, and the world believable.