Book Review : Grey Stone
By Jean Pace Knight & Jacob Kennedy
In the land of the great red sun, dogs sing, wolves kill, humans serve, and wolf-shifters rule with magic and menace. Pietre is a human boy who has spent the last thirteen years afraid of the sunset, the Blødguard, and the wolf-shifting masters who rule his world. Wittendon is a werewolf prince who has spent the last nineteen years afraid of his father, his inability to do magic, and the upcoming tournament he’s sure to lose. But when Pietre finds an orphaned pup in the woods and Wittendon is forced to arrest the boy’s father soon after, both of them begin to realize that keeping the rules might be just as terrifying as breaking them.
Now serf and master must learn to cut through their own prejudices and work together in order to turn their world before it turns on them. Grey Stone is a story of dogs who talk, wolves who kill, and a stone that-for better or worse-can change all that. (Courtesy of Amazon.com)
Adult Point of View
While at a writing conference, I met Jean Pace Knight, one of the authors, of Grey Stone. Even though we didn’t have the chance for an in-depth discussion on life, books or writing at the time – I look forward to interviewing her in the future.
I laughed when she told me that if you love dogs, this is a book you’d enjoy because I don’t love dogs (though rest assured, I do like dogs so long as someone else takes care of them), but I decided to read it because I haven’t read a werewolf book in a long time.
Another hint from the author explained that the hierarchy in this world:
1- The werewolves, call the Verander, are the top dog (terrible pun intended). They are NOT benevolent rulers.
2- Next in the hierarchy are the wolves. They work as the henchmen for the werewolves.
3- Wild dogs are next. They live in their packs and value their freedom.
4- And finally, the humans landed at the bottom of the heap. They are no better than slaves and live in squalor just barely surviving. Half of their crops goes to support the Verander. Their lives are without value in society.
All four species speak, which is important to know.
The Verander (wolf-shifters/werewolves) have a king, who is the embodiment of a dog eat dog world. He would definitely betray anyone to retain his power. The Verander have the ability to shape-shift between their powerful werewolf form, less powerful wolf form and finally into their weak human form. They are the only carriers of magic.
Sometimes I had to double check if it was a wolf speaking, or a Verander in wolf form, however, pretty much if a wolf is speaking it really is a wolf. Whew! The wolves might be bad, but they’re not as ruthless as the king. Even so, I don’t want to converse with either.
The wild dogs and humans are easy to keep separate. The dogs have a very playful nature in their games and speech. The poor humans mostly dwell on survival and there are really only three humans to keep track of – Pietre and his parents.
I was a little overwhelmed in the first twenty pages of the novel because they were many new terms and ideas to wrap my head around. I considered re-reading it, but felt like with the tips from the author I had a good enough grasp to continue. I’m glad I moved forward because everything became much clearer as I became accustomed to the new world. In addition to a lot of creative ideas, the characters were interesting and believable. I felt like each approached their problems in a logical way stemming from their background.
Pietre: He is a compassionate child, who rescues a dog. His family supports him in this even though they understand the deeper ramifications of doing so. I enjoyed Pietre because he isn’t too wise for his years. He truly feels like a little boy, one who has a special relationship with his dog.
Pietre’s mother speaks these words of wisdom to him before she embraces both him and Humphrey. I imagine they both draw comfort from her words.
“No matter what the color the sun might come to, I’ve never known life to be anything other than terrible and wonderful wound together in different ways.” (p. 94)
Pietre has an awakening to the potential power of humans. As part of the downtrodden race he had never questioned his position in the world.
“It was illegal for the humans to own or form weapons when not under the supervision of a Veranderen master. Pietre knew that, but until now, he hadn’t thought that the very tools for form devices and weaponry might be used as weapons themselves.” (p. 126)
Humphrey: Pietre and Humphrey develop a bond with each other quickly. Initially the dog, Humphrey, is also young as a pup, but he quickly grows into a mature dog in his thinking and actions. I thought it was interesting how Humphrey had so much angst over his father and defining himself. This added a level of complexity to his character.
Humphrey shows the advantage of being a dog, the inherit freedom.
“Humphrey did not hesitate. Pietre could feel him running – his feet pounding the ground with a freedom that seemed to surge through him – a freedom at being neither dog nor wolf, a freedom at being bound by non of their laws or restrictions.” (p. 144)
Wittendon: He is the heir to the Wolken kingdom, which had been conquered and subdued by his ruthless father. His mother passed away when he was a young child and he has a younger brother – who is more like the son the kings wants.
I felt like he was one of the most complex characters. Not only is he trying to please a tyrant father, but he is dealing with the loss of his mother, the lack of magic and figuring out his love life. The layers are slowly revealed and Wittendon’s true power is found as he discovers his past and understands the world around him. He is often walking between the accepted lines of society, which causes him to better understand the other races. As the future ruler, he has been trained to understand politics, even if he feels ill-suited for the role.
Wittendon isn’t valued by his father, he is different than the others of his race. He is more likely despised, but he exudes strength they aren’t aware of until much later.
“For most Veranderen, practicing on the hill was exhausting. Wittendon, on the other hand, found it exhilarating. The grass and sky and fresh air, even if it was filled with cracks of thunder – it worked on his nerves to make him feel stronger than he ever felt in the stone-walled pavilion below.” (p. 55)
The prince sits on an edge of decision, and must make a choice – a choice that determines more than the kind of leader he will be, more than he knew was possible. The crux of his decision comes in a moment speaking to Sadora, the woman he loves.
“Whittendon realized suddenly that he had made very few choices in his short life and none of any importance.” (p. 156)
Whittendon stands in contrast to his father.
“If not loved, King Crespin was respected. If not honored, he was feared. And each Verander depended on the king’s strength, his cunning, and his talent in government. He was a masterful politician, a perfect swordsman, and a magician like none had ever seen.” (p.24)
I’ve tried to be careful and not include any big spoilers. There are big pieces of the puzzle that I haven’t included, and some of them are game changers. I had never considered my life if werewolves ruled, but after Grey Stone I’m convinced I wouldn’t want them as my government leaders.
I recommend this book, it would be considered a clean fantasy and you’ll never look at your dog the same.
4 out of 4 stars
I would love to hear your thoughts on Grey Stone, did you find it convincing? Were you surprised with the twists?
If you liked Grey Stone I would recommend trying:
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman – she has a new take on dragons in this book.
A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr – he has a new way for prophecy to be revealed.