The Windsingers by Megan Lindholm

The second in the adventures of gypsy teamster Ki, hired by a wizard to reunite his head with the rest of his body, which have been seized by the menacing Windsingers. Meanwhile, Vandien has contracted himself to a fool’s errand retrieving a treasure of the Windsingers, trapped in a sunken temple.

As I mentioned in my post on Harpy’s Flight, it doesn’t seem like Lindholm will be developing an overall mythology, though she is using some recurring characters, and might be continuing some of the Windsinger conflict in the next book, Limbreth Gate.

The Windsingers is fantasy that’s more in the Patricia McKillip/Ursula K. Le Guin camp, with wizards and magic and metaphysical traveling. Lindholm does a masterful job bringing the visual element to life, but she grounds the magical elements in a realism that helps keep the story moving along. And, as always, the characters roil to life, flaws and all–perhaps my favorite part of Lindholm’s writing. She has such a keen perception of human nature that even slighter books like these feel big.

The disembodied wizard is a marvelous creation, but the best scenes in the book belong to Vandien. He’s been enticed to retrieve a box from a flooded temple that only emerges once every three years. He arrives to find that no one in the town still believes that the box exists, save Janie, who no one believes because she comes from a family of drunks. The town enacts the search for the box whenever the tide recedes, but it’s only a pageant. Nevertheless, Vandien has given his word, so he has to carry it out–and he’s starting to believe that Janie might know the truth. This story line achieves tastes of the epic, and as the plot plays out the community grows more and more alive. By the time Janie unfolds her story, it’s been so anticipated that you hang on every word. And Lindholm gives her such a beautifully written tale to tell.

It makes me really sad that these books are out of print in the US.

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