by Clare Bell
Clan Ground is the sequel to Ratha\’s Creature. If, like me, you become enthralled with the feline characters, it\’s hard not to immediately open this next volume to follow their struggle for survival. I breezed right through the book. It\’s full of drama, suspense and action.
To give a little bit of the plot: Ratha is the leader of an organized society of prehistoric big cats (something like cheetahs or pumas, I think). In Clan Ground she faces difficulties in her new role as leader after permitting a stranger to join their clan, a larger cat called Shongshar. He has a different lineage than the Named: longer fangs (like a sabertooth), a larger chest and shoulders. But it\’s not just his physical strength that makes Shongshar intimidating, it\’s his powers of persuasion and manipulation of the underlying fear everyone still has of what they call the Red Tongue- the power of fire which Ratha brought into the clan. The Named are still learning about the use of fire, and when Ratha\’s friend Thakur finds a way to handle it more safely, Shongshar\’s subtle acts of insurrection escalate into an outright battle for power and control. Not only does Ratha have to face Shongshar\’s threats to her authority, but also strained friendships and shifting loyalties among her followers.
One of the most interesting aspects of this story is how for some of the characters, fear of fire became awe, which turned into worship that overshadowed their rational thought and ability to reason. As animals imbued with intelligence, Ratha and her companions begin expressing a need to find something larger than themselves to inspire them… The storyline here is just as strong as in Ratha\’s Creature, but somehow personally I still prefer the story of Ratha\’s individual journey through her exile, to this one about clan politics and power struggles.
Rating: 4/5 …….. 258 pages, 1984