This week, our series on Tom Deitz’s David Sullivan books continues with Stoneskin’s Revenge.
Stoneskin’s Revenge is the fifth book in the David Sullivan series, but rather than following the adventures of the cycle’s titular protagonist, Stoneskin’s Revenge focuses on the adventures of David’s friend, the journeyman Cherokee shaman, Calvin McIntosh. The book is even subtitled “a tale of Calvin McIntosh,” the first time the subtitle had read anything other than “a tale of David Sullivan.”
And the book is true to its word. This is very much a tale of Calvin McIntosh, and David Sullivan’s appearances amount to a very small cameo in the prologue, the epilogue, and the first chapter of the book.
As it stands, I still do not see the trilogy links between the fourth book, Sunshaker’s War, and this one. The events of this book do, however, directly grow out of actions taken by Calvin in the fourth book. However, where the first four books were largely dominated by interactions with the Sidhe, the fifth book takes them out of the picture almost entirely.
That is not to say that there are not several links between the earlier books and this one; there are. In fact, the thematic links may be even more interesting than the plot links. The plot of Stoneskin’s Revenge revolves around an evil force from Galunlati, Spearfinger, entering the Mortal Realm when Calvin McIntosh opened a gateway to that world during the events of Sunshaker’s War. As the book progresses, Calvin must use all of his shamanistic skills to discover this evil presence, and battle it.
What is more interesting to me is the reasons why Spearfinger has chosen to enter the Mortal Realm. Feasting upon the livers of her victims is only a side benefit. Her main motivation is the same as that of the Sidhe in earlier books: David Sullivan and how he knows too much. By eliminating David, Spearfinger seeks to make Galunlati safe from the predations of humanity. Ironic in the extreme, considering her favorite food.
I have to admit that I had more trouble getting through this book than the previous four. Part of this is due, I think, to the feeling that the thrust of the story and the driving action was subverted by what appeared to be a departure from the main narrative. As I read more, though, and discovered the thematic links as well as the plot continuations, the book became more absorbing.
Calvin, of course, is just as interesting and fun a protagonist as David Sullivan, if not one I identify as closely with. Seeing his powers grow and develop throughout the challenges he is faced with was one of the most rewarding parts of the book.
And it looks like this trend will continue in the sixth book, Ghostcountry’s Wrath. I look forward to seeing to what degree David Sullivan and Calvin’s other friends (both old friends from the first four books, and new ones from this, the fifth) show up.
Time to crack open the next book and carry on!
Previous: Sunshaker’s War
Next: Ghostcountry’s Wrath