Ashling (1995) is the third SF novel in the Obernewtyn series, following The Farseekers. In the previous volume, Elspeth was healed by the Agyllians. Gahltha found her on the plateau and took her back to Obernewtyn. There she saw the ruins left by a firestorm.
In this novel, Elspeth Gordie is a Misfit who leads the Farseeker Guild. She has many talents and has been told that she is the Seeker who will find the weaponmachines of the Beforetimers.
Allthis is the leader of the oldOnes, the Agyllian birds. He has Talents and some resources that Elspeth does not comprehend.
Maruman is a mutant cat. He has been with Elspeth for many years. He is getting old and lazy, but he is also her contact with Allthis.
Rushton Seraphim is the Master of Obernewtyn, leader of the Misfits. He has some latent Talent.
Maryon is the Futuretell guildmistress. She foresees futures, but what she sees is not necessaily foreordained.
Garth is the Teknoguildmaster. He supervises digs in the ruins of the Oldtimers. He passionately desires knowledge of the Beforetime.
Gahltha is a large black stallion. He often provides rides for Elspeth.
Domick is a Misfit spy in Sutrium. His bondmate is Kella, a Healer ward. Domick has recently become strange and remote.
Brydda Llewllyn is a Rebel leader in Sutrium. He has parents among the Misfits.
In this story, Elspeth rescues a gypsy woman from burning on a stake. Another gypsy helps by shooting down the Herder who had ordered the burning, another man who interfered with the rescue and a couple of soldier-guards. As Elspeth is starting to ride away with the victim, a Herder novice throws a knife at her and knocks her unconscious.
When she awakes, Elspeth is in the Obernewtyn infirmary. Matthew had brought her and the gypsy woman back home. The Healers treat Elspeth and the gypsy, but the gypsy is slowly dying.
When the gypsy woman awakes, Elspeth tells her that she has been rescued and asks directions to her kin folks. The woman suspects that the whole affair has been a trick. The Misfits learn that the Herders had tortured her mate to get her talk and she is still refusing to give any information.
Elspeth and the Misfits learn more about the woman through their talents, but she has a natural mind shield that deprives them of any detailed information. Maryon has visions about the gypsy woman. She must be returned to Sutrium within a sevenday and Elspeth must accompany her to the town.
Elspeth is surprised, but willing to go. She has other reasons to travel to Sutrium, including learning more about "swallow" and meeting with Brydda and Domick. So Elspeth, Matthew, Maruman and Gahltha take the unconscious gypsy woman to Sutrium.
This tale has Elspeth dreaming about Ariel and other topics. Garth shows Rushton and Elspeth some findings in the city under the Tor. And Maruman passes on some more directions from Atthis.
This novel extends the story, but obviously does not conclude it. The next volume is The Keeping Place. Read amd enjoy!
Highly recommended for Carmody fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of psionic talents, postapocalyptic societies, and unwilling love. For anyone who not yet read this series, the initial volume is Obernewtyn.
-Arthur W. Jordin