The characters Ki and Vandien were first introduced in Megan Lindholm’s short story “Bones for Dulath,” published in AMAZONS! (1979; edited by Jessica Amanda Salmonson), which won a World Fantasy Award as best anthology. An Ace editor’s interest in the story led to completion of the first book of the Windsinger series. The series brings Ki and Vandien together in an unlikely way, then takes them through a series of adventures with various creatures and magical beings. The subplot follows the evolution of Ki from a woman embittered by tragedy to a woman who can embrace life and love again.
Harpy’s Flight opens with a compelling account of a woman climbing a cliff to reach a harpy dwelling. Sentient harpies killed Ki’s husband Sven and their two small children, and she plans revenge. The sight of tiny toys hung over the harpy’s eggs quenches her vengeance. A battle follows nevertheless. The female harpy is killed, the eggs are destroyed, and the male is burned severely. As Ki’s life continues, flashbacks show her struggle with her own pain and that of Sven’s family, which worships harpies.
The main plot involves Ki, with her wagon and team of two horses, transporting a freight of valuable jewels disguised by grain and salt. She makes a dangerous trek over a difficult winter pass. She meets Vandien, as he, sick and malnourished, tries to steal one of her horses. Although she wants no one in her life, she grudgingly invites him to travel with her. Together they face an attack from the vengeful male harpy, in which Vandien sustains a disfiguring wound across his face. A brush with the fey shadow of the mountain crushes Ki’s wagon, along with the last cherished belongings of her dead family.
Ki stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the bond forged between herself and Vandien. After learning that the jewels she is transporting are fake and that she was set up for the harpy attack by Sven’s family, she feels released from her pain. She has a new wagon built and seeks out Vandien. This book ends in the fond and life-affirming banter that is their trademark.
The title characters of The Windsingers are creatures whose songs control the weather; they are human...
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