David Clement-Davies,
The Sight
(Dutton, 2002)

Like the bunnies of Richard Adam's classic Watership Down, the wolves have their own hierarchy, religion and language. They also have their own legends, including one surrounding the Sight, a clairvoyance to feel and see through other creatures and know the future. And a wolf with the Sight could be the undermining or the salvation of the species.

Set in the Transylvanian wilderness, David Clement-Davies' sophomore novel, The Sight, recognizes the interconnectiveness of species by showing the power struggles of the wolves' matriarchal societies. The wolves are forced to choose between two ruthless leaders. Morgra hopes to bring the legend of the man-wolf to fruition by bonding with a marked infant human. Slavka organizes the free wolves into a huge pack to challenge Morgra's hunters and intends to kill the baby and anyone who believes in the Sight. A family pack is caught in the midst of this strife as their pups, Larka and Fell, each show promise of developing the supernatural abilities foretold in the legend.

Clement-Davies' themes of light and dark, good and evil, love and hate reverberate throughout his pages, but it's the wolves' oral traditions that are fascinating. Storytellers and fortune tellers earn high respect and young "vargs" beg for stories from their elders. Many of the stories focus on a trio of deities including a daughter wolf sent to redeem the earthbound souls through suffering. The central legend involves Wolfbane, the equivalent of a fallen angel. Other stories parallel Roman, Greek and Norse mythology. Romulus and Remus suckling from the wolf have a prominent role. A phoenix of sorts rises from ashes. A four-legged version of Odysseus visits the Netherlands. And a girl in a red cloak strays from the path amidst the wolves in one fable.

The storytellers from sundry packs and regions also chant the verses of the legend that drives the main plot in the novel. The variations offer clues to the final showdown and remind us that oral history is open to nuances and interpretations. The Sight is a fascinating look into a society that reflects our own -- with a shared history of the world and a magical spirituality.

- Rambles
written by Julie Bowerman
published 30 August 2003

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