Companion of Eagles
by Regine Haensel
Published by Serimuse Books
Review by Michelle Shaw
$14.95 ISBN 9780993903229
Companion of Eagles is the third book in The Leather Book Tales, a fantasy set in western North America.
The book opens in Aquila, City of Eagles, where 14-year-old Samel lives with his father. One day, his mother’s cousin Thea arrives. She is headed to the mountains, to her childhood home in the city of Schönspitze. Samel is desperate to accompany Thea on her journey and experience a world outside his everyday life.
Thea is headed home because her grandfather, who had disappeared years before, has suddenly reappeared. When they meet him, he tells them a peculiar story. He was sucked down by the currents of a nearby lake into a deep enchanted cave where he lay for a long time. There he had mysterious visions and dreams until one day he suddenly found himself outside the cave. He tells them to call him Grandfather Frog. Grandfather Frog is consumed by the idea of finding his way back to the mysterious cave to try to understand what has happened. Samel and Grandfather Frog set off on their journey but are nearly killed in a forest fire and sense a dark presence trying to destroy them. Although they eventually make it back to Schönspitze, there they are faced with a new and frightening challenge.
Companion of Eagles is filled with fantastical elements including two magical silver bracelets that are able to trigger and enhance the elements of fire, wind, water and air and allow Samel and his sister to see and communicate with each other, and a magical old book which changes its stories depending on who is reading it.
My favorite parts of the book were the shape shifting elements. Thea has twin toddler boys who have a habit of changing into goats. Initially Thea changed them because it was safer for them but now they have spent so long as goats that she has to give them a potion to keep them in their human form. Unfortunately, they tend to change back into goats when they are agitated or overtired, which for toddlers of course is a fairly frequent occurrence. Samel’s camel Izmeer is also forced to change shape into a horse. This is, understandably a bit alarming for Izmeer. He frightens himself at first when he neighs, and he can’t quite walk properly because “camels move the feet on each side together while horses move their feet crosswise.” Izmeer also has an alarming tendency to start changing back into a camel, usually when Samel is riding him.
I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series. There were certain incidents in Companion of Eagles that seemed to hint at future importance, and I felt the book was slowly building to a crescendo which will presumably be realized in the fourth (and I think the last) book in the series.
Regine Haensel was born in Germany and came to Saskatchewan in 1955. She has written five books including two collections of short stories. Queen of Fire (2014), the first book in The Leather Book Tales series, was one of three finalists in the Young Adult Category of the 2015 High Plains Book Awards. She lives in Saskatoon.
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