Following front matter–including another list of characters–and an exchange among bird-keepers in Bingtown and Trehaug, the prologue of the second volume of the Rain Wilds Chronicles begins with Sintara musing on the activities of the humans that accompany her and the failing health of the copper dragon in their midst. Sintara notes Mercor’s vigilance and nurses her grievances against him, including the revelation of her true name. She also reflects on the circumstances that force her into prolonged company with humans.
The progress the dragons and their keepers have made up the Rain Wild River towards Kelsingra is noted, and Sintara considers the absence of Elderlings from the world. Noting the departures of Jerd and the mistrusted Greft, Sintara arrives at an idea she settles in to contemplate.
The present chapter does a number of things, and it does them well. For one, as explication, it functions admirably; readers are reminded or informed of the previous novel’s events in a manner that seems authentic and sensible instead of forced, and enough information is given that re/reading the previous volume in the series is not necessary to enjoy the current. (It should be noted, however, that details matter; doing the reading rewards.)
Too, as the prologues and epilogues of the Liveship Traders novels do, the prologue reminds readers that the intelligences at work are distinctly nonhuman. They may be able to communicate, but their orientation and understanding are different; that difference needs to be kept in mind as the reading proceeds.
Finally, there is no small amount of foreshadowing at work in the prologue. Major conflicts are already being suggested, and some indication of the specific nature of some of them is given. How much happens when, the continuing rereading will tell.
And I will note that I am glad to be able to put some time to getting back to this project. I’ve missed it!