The last time we left the Tiger’s TongueThe princesses were shocked to learn that the battle would take place, instead of Kelindi taking the crown after their father. To prove their worth, the sisters would face a series of challenges. This was something they kept secret until this moment. Both were not pleased, it was obvious.
Aridani, because she has never sought the crown. Kelindi was her natural heir apparent, which she knew from the beginning. Kelindi was upset that she had put so much effort into preparing herself for the role of ruler. Only now to be told she would have to prove herself…again! Their father was able to understand, but the prophecy was to stand. It didn’t matter if either sister wanted it. Such was the way of the Tiger’s People and the Tiger’s Tongue.
Aridani spoke that night to the Grand Tiger Karion about the morning’s first challenge. Karion did not warn her, which she found a bit surprising. He said that he couldn’t because she and Kelindi weren’t to be informed until the right time. All of this did not ease her fears. Karion assured her that she only needed to follow his lead.
Trial of Mind
The Trial of Mind was the first task. They were also given maps of the forest. They were given maps of the forest, which is where their predecessors had fought river people to establish their kingdom. The ghosts and echoes of those warriors can still be heard in the woods. Their goal is to find the fang of the Grand Tiger, that was lost in the battle’s ruins. That was the start of their first challenge.
The Race was Begun
Kelindi raced ahead, naturally. Her body and mind had been trained for such tasks. Dani was unable to beat her. She was right in her reasoning. Dani began questioning her ability to find the right map in no time. Karion walked beside her but refused to help her with the challenge. It would be cheating to do so. Dani then asked him what he meant by following her last night, even if he didn’t intend to help her. Other than making sure she didn’t trip and die.
… a Newer, Better World
It was a fact he had to mention. Dani fell into a ravine after he had already mentioned it. As she struggled to her feet, Karion was there, telling her to follow…through their link. In the vision, Karion led Dani to the Tiger’s Crypt. The spirits of her ancestors were found inside. Her mother was also present. Daughter and Mother embraced as Dani was told by her mother that “Her reign would bring about a newer, better world.”
It was in the midst of Karion and Dani’s connection that Kelindi had come upon them. She was puzzled by what was happening. Dani emerged from the vision weeping. Kelindi heard her tell Kelindi about the vision and how she saw their mother. Upon hearing it, Kelindi exploded. This was a crazy situation. She had planned her whole adult life to rule. Dani did nothing. There was nothing more Dani did than talk to Cats or dream about dead mothers. She was actually so weak that she had to be rescued in a forest she should know.
Dani shed more this time. But these were not tears of joy. Her sister’s invective was like a slap to the face. Listening to Dani’s sobs and realizing how harsh she had been, Kelindi apologized. She also knew she SHOULD be the ruler. Dani is aware of this too. Dani could make things easier for everyone by allowing Kelindi to take over her role. Dani agreed. However, I doubt it would be so simple.
Kelindi wins the First Task
Kelindi found the fang after the first trial. She was given the first task. But still the people were skeptical of what would become of Kelindi’s rule. She seemed to desire peace with the River People. Instead of placing them in their place. That was at least what was said behind closed doors. Many cheered when Dani finally arrived. The King made it known that the second task, “The Trial of the Spirit,” would take place in 6 weeks.
Return to the Tiger’s Crypt
Dani fell into a strange sleep that night. Karion looked at her when she woke up, as they had once more entered a vision. Once again entering into the Tiger’s Crypt. The mother of her child appeared and asked her to come along. To end hatred and divisions. Her mother hugged her and a mist enveloped her, causing her intense pain. It subsided and her eye color, which was previously brown and blue, had become BOTH blue. Something had happened…. But what?
Olivia Stephens is a storyteller who has managed to wrap the reader in a captivating tale that mixes fantasy with social unrest. This is something that unfortunately many people can relate. The family dynamic is complex and often troubling. These results can lead to a conflict between the sister and their father. Not to mention the unrest between the River People and the Tiger’s Claw. Stephens wraps all this in a magical box that almost makes you want to continue reading the next chapter. It’s literary spellbinding at its best.
Artist Dianskhu Banton Perry keeps the story moving forward, while also showing growth as her knowledge of the characters and their settings grows. The story is told from a variety perspectives that emphasize the interaction between Kelindi and Dani. Kelindi sometimes seems to have the upper hand over her more reserved sibling. Her talents will continue to grow, which is something I look forward too.
Mad Cave Studios, The Tiger’s TongueIssue 2 will be available August 10th at all great comic shops. Plus, there is Mad Cave’s Subscription options for those who enjoy the digital version. You can find this here.