Weathercock. The name evokes flames and chaos, and a mythic hero who will one day change the world. Young Kinner - betrayed by those he loves and sentenced to die - knows only one thing: in a world where women hold all the power and men are nothing but property, heroes are hard to come by.
Determined to find a life on his own terms, he flees execution only to discover he knows nothing about survival. Used to relying on others, he dreams of rescue. Instead of the Weathercock, what he gets is Rai and Bayna, mercenary soldiers on the run from the determined (and increasingly psychotic) Commander Remeg.
The last thing they need is to play nursemaid to a half-grown whelp, but a madwoman's dark secret soon ties their fates. For a while, things actually go their way until further treachery casts a dark wing over the travelers. Alone once more, Kinner must discover within the bravery and skill to save not only himself, but also his friends.
And what of Weathercock? Can someone who doesn't even exist appear when Kinner needs him most?
The author, Melissa Crandall, sent me a copy of Weathercock for review and I was more than happy to check it out. I'll start by saying what I didn't like about Weathercock, because it's such a small thing compared to all of the many, many aspects of this book that I absolutely LOVED. Okay, here goes….I absolutely do not like the title. I think it’s probably my aversion to that particular word, even though this time it is referring to a rooster, I still just don't like the title.
Now, with that being said, I thought that Weathercock was an AMAZING epic style fantasy. It started off a little slow as far as action-wise, but it didn't even matter because the world itself is so utterly fascinating that the author could have gone even further with the details of its inner workings. Think about it, this society is completely run by women, men are simply used as a means of conception and, in order to keep them occupied, the women allow them to do the household chores. If a man was found to be sterile, he was put to death. Here are a couple quotes that really showcase this attitude:
“Keeping a man after he’s gone blank is like feeding a dry cow just because you like it’s eyes. If a man can’t breed, what good is he? Better to put him out of his misery as soon as possible”
“Equal? Men are fragile. They’re emotional. Breeding babies and taking care of the home is what they’re made to do”
Few male children were born in this society, so each household that produced a boy were able to use him to breed and also to kind of rent out as a “stud service” to households who did not currently have a “husband” There were commonly several “wives” plus children and other family members centered around one husband. Those males who were sterile were either killed outright or sent to be priests of the Goddess. This was the situation that Kinner found himself in. His mother is supposed to be taking him to become a priest after he was determined to be sterile.
I found the relationships between the women so intriguing. This was in no way a sexually explicit book and while there was a couple sexual references, there was nothing graphic. The thing that fascinated me about the women’s interactions was, since the men in this world were treated more like pets than partners, the women understandably turned to each other for companionship. Again, I'm not talking about sexually, although that was implied as well. I could completely see how this would be a logical result in this type of society. Men were viewed as more of a tool to procreate, not in any way as an equal or that the women would even acknowledge as possessing an opinion.
I found the world building to be exceptional. I could almost see how this could have been written as a dystopian but it is equally as effective as an epic style fantasy. The world was not a pretty place, it focused on the dark, gritty, and violence filled lives of the common people and the soldiers in medieval type of setting with all of its hardships. Weathercock had all of the common elements of epic fantasy, a good vs. evil plot, a quest, a hero, secret societies, prophecies, etc. But there were twists and turns that were definitely not common. I mean, the prophecies were centered around a rooster! Where have you ever heard that in fantasy? I didn't know how I felt about the "rooster" thing when I first picked up Weathercock. By the end though, I was fully onboard with the idea.
I think that the author made some pretty bold choices in the world she created, the characters, and plot. For me, it was a wonderful read, both unique and enjoyable. The characters were fully developed and even the worst of the villains had incredibly interesting multi-faceted personalities. I thoroughly enjoyed watching how the main character, Kinner, as well as a couple of the secondary characters, grew and changed throughout the story.
Overall, I think Weathercock was phenomenal. While the world was my favorite aspect of this book, I was also impressed with the characters and unusual plot twists. As the author herself states, this is a book about choices. It also shows how a society can influence those choices and how difficult it can sometimes be to alter your perception and see how things could be different. I highly recommend Weathercock to anyone who enjoys fantasy. I would also recommend this to fans of dystopian themed books because this almost has that kind of feel to it. I can’t wait to read more from Melissa Crandall!
Rating – 5