Outside the Frame

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Novel Review: The Song of the Silvercades

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A wonderfully tender tale, with an indefinable quality that is both poetic and unique. 


Kira, the young leader of a healing community hidden for generations within the deep forests of Allogrenia, makes her way north out of the trees on a desperate mission to save her people the Tremen. Their forest home has been breached for the first time since its inception, and the intruders are not friendly. Kira, has to find her way through unfamiliar territories on her journey to seek aid from her ancestor’s kin the Terak, a people who follow the way of the sword rather than the way of healing.

Palansa, wife of the recently killed chief of the Cashgar Shargh struggles to keep her newly born son’s position as future leader of her people from those who want to usurp the chiefdom. The Shargh are facing strife from within, as there are those who wish to lead them to reclaim the lands taken from them so long ago, no matter the cost to their people.

The Song of the Silvercades, is the second book of The Kira Chronicles by K.S. Nikakis. It continues the story of Kira and her struggles through the lands outside her home of Allogrenia as she looks for help against the Shargh who attacked her hidden homeland. As in the first Kira Chronicles book, The Whisper of Leaves, the narrative focuses mainly on heroine Kira but is interspersed with the perspectives of other characters. The story is also expanded in the second book as we encounter, along with Kira, new lands and new people, and we discover that the antagonism between the Tremen and the Shargh is but part of a larger conflict.

The book is one that fits within the fantasy genre yet is not your typical fantasy story. The author has managed to carve out her own bit of originality within a genre that is usually heavily reliant upon northern European mythology and where the term “Tolkienesque” is rife. On The Kira Chronicles website, Nikakis does state Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy as a major influence on her writing, and we can see it in her use of landscape as a driving force behind the narrative and the creation of a history and mythology for her world. However, unlike many fantasy authors today, she is refreshingly restrained in this respect and really makes the mythology her own, one with a unique Australian flavour to it that is grounded on the earth rather than in the skies.

In both books of The Kira Chronicles, Nikakis infuses a connection between the landscape and the narrative in such a delicate yet powerful way that humbly enriches the story for the reader. In The Whisper of Leaves, the author created a claustrophobic tone that reflected the forest of Allogrenia, within which the majority of the narrative took place. In The Song of the Silvercades, she generates a much more open feel to the story, this time reflecting the open plains that have become the new landscape upon which the narrative is written as well as the expansion of the world of The Kira Chronicles.

The characters that inhabit this imagined world of K.S. Nikakis are complex in their emotions and actions, and the author confidently fleshes out their distinct personalities without ever falling into the trap of cliché. She also bonds these characters with their world in an elegant way where they are connected to their surroundings, to their history and to their community. And it is here that Nikakis reveals the motivations for each character, in a way that is graceful in its simplicity. Kira, Tierken and Caledon are the standout characters in this aspect and as the story of The Kira Chronicles unfolds, it will be intriguing to discover where their choices take them.

The Song of the Silvercades is an excellent continuation of the series. K.S. Nikakis has carried over the best aspects from The Whisper of Leaves and expanded the story into an intriguing fantasy epic. A tale that is dream-like in nature and poetic in its unfolding narrative. A recommended read for all and a must for fantasy fans.




Written by Dale Weber

Tuesday, 12 August, 2008 at 2:06 am

One Response

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  1. Sorry … my message rushed off into cyberspace!

    Just thanks once more,


    Karen Simpson Nikakis

    Wednesday, 13 August, 2008 at 8:08 pm

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