Reviewed by Marta Tandori for Readers' Favorite
The Feathered Crown is a beautifully written novella that is another volume in the Windflower Saga by talented scribe, Aleksandra Layland. Keholani’s seventy-three-year-old uncle, the High Chief Kahutane, is near death. He is considered to be the beloved father and mother to all the Kimbrii people. Forty-four-year-old Keholani has rushed to her dying uncle’s side, leaving behind her own family. She is the daughter of Kahutane’s sister, Aolani, the last of her nine children. Kahutane has raised Keholani since the age of eight, when personal tragedy left her an orphan. Keholani’s mother, father Rongo, all her siblings as well as Tua, brother-in-law to her mother’s youngest sister, had left Kimbria for the Kingdom of Illurgia thirty-six years earlier, leaving Keholani to be raised by Kahutane in their absence. Tragically, Keholani’s entire family had disappeared, never to be heard from again. Their fate has remained a mystery, serving to strengthen the love between Keholani and Kahutane. She reluctantly leaves her uncle’s bedside so that he can rest, and eventually comes across an accounting of her uncle’s life story which has been written down. Fascinated, she begins to read…
The Feathered Crown is rich in imagery and beautiful in prose. The setting for the story is provided by the following lyrical – albeit somewhat cryptic – few words: “In a time not now, and in a world not of our own…” The author has created this mystical world inhabited by proud people she has invented, envisioned, and then effectively conveyed on paper. She has given each character, especially Kahutane, three-dimensionality and humility that can only be achieved if the author is an effective scribe. And there certainly is no doubt that Aleksandra Layland is such a scribe.
In her introductory commentary, the author states that it’s best to read Ansgar, the first volume in the Windflower Saga, before reading The Feathered Crown, although it’s not necessary. This is true. However, the novella is chock-full of detailed information about Kahutane and his extensive family which is somewhat confusing and can be overwhelming, especially at the beginning of the book. Having created each character and figured out each character’s place in her world, each character’s role and relationship to the others in her story is clear to the author. However, for the rest of us wanting access into her world, her introduction of the many characters and their relationships to each other are somewhat overwhelming, especially at the beginning of the story. For this reason, a reader would be well-served having had some initiation into the family’s history by first reading Ansgar. However, like Layland’s character Keholani, readers will be enthralled to learn about Kahutane, a man of honor whose life was defined by his culture, shaped by tragedy, and influenced by his family. For lovers of the fantasy genre, especially those who enjoy detailed sagas, The Feathered Crown beckons and is sure not to disappoint.