“The Innkeeper’s Song,” written by Peter S. Beagle, author of the enchanting “The Last Unicorn,” is a tale of love, loss, and adventure. The novel begins with a tragedy that strikes a young man named Tikat and his love Lukassa. After an unfortunate incident of falling into the river, Lukassa is quickly swept away with the current; lost within the riverbed. After a desperate search, it is soon determined that Lukassa — the love of Tikat’s life — has drowned. Shattered and completely distraught by this terrible tragedy, Tikat has given up — for there is simply nothing left to live for. However, all that changes when something strange happens — something beyond words. Just when all is lost, a strange woman approaches the riverbed, and in a mere moment, pulls Lukassa from the river, resurrecting her. As soon as it occurs, they are gone — leaving poor Tikat behind — confused and alone. This then begins the adventure, as Tikat follows them on a long and desperate journey, hoping to reunite with his true love once more.
In truth, I was really excited upon ordering “The Innkeeper’s Song,” Not only did the description of the book completely grab my interest, but it was by Peter S. Beagle…author of “The Last Unicorn.” Being fairly impressed by The Last Unicorn, I couldn’t wait to jump in and read this — especially after the vast majority of positive reviews it had received. Unfortunately however, after reaching the end of this 340 or so page novel, I can’t say that I was as impressed as I had hoped to be — as I had a lot of issues with it — ranging from story progression, to character development, and beyond. Along with that, no matter how much I wanted to feel and connect with this novel, I just couldn’t.
The biggest issue for me here, was the story. While the idea of the plot was certainly interesting — the resurrection of a loved one — a desperate search to find her and win her back, to resume the life this young couple once had — I couldn’t help but feel that the execution of the story was a bit of a mess. There was so much going on — so many different events, that I never really felt like I knew what the story was really about. Was it about Tikat, and his journey to find his love? Was it about the two women that found and resurrected Lukassa? Was it a battle between two wizards (that was a part of the story)? Was it about the Gash and Slasher Inn, where these people’s lives intertwine? Was it about the Innkeeper and his stableboy Rosseth — a boy with a tragic past of his own? I honestly wasn’t sure, as I felt that the story never really had a solid direction — for it did far too much meandering from one thing to the next.
Aside from the aimless wandering of the plot, I also had issues with the characters. The main issue being, I simply couldn’t connect with most of them — and the ones that I did, really didn’t have very large roles. Written in a multiple point of view fashion, “The Inn Keeper’s Song” follows the momentary lives of several characters…Lukassa, Lal, Nyatenari, Tikat, Rosseth (A stable boy), a Fox, The Innkeeper, and others. While each of these characters surely had potential, the fact is that the multiple point of view — different character different chapter type of style just did not work for me here. I felt as though there were too many characters doing separate things..and while there are a handful of chapters for each of them, it was like I never REALLY got to know or understand them. It was simply all over the place — a little here, a little there, but never enough..
With that said, while I did find the multiple point of view style to be distracting, and the majority of the characters underdeveloped, I still had a few favorites that drew me in. Unfortunately however, they were more “side-line” characters that really didn’t have a lot of involvement — at least, not as much as the three women. Those would be the stable boy Rosseth, The Innkeeper, and Tikat. Lukassa also grew on me as the novel progressed, but I still felt that I didn’t get enough from her as a character. None-the-less, I will say that despite the character flaws, the development for Rosseth and the Innkeeper was excellent, and by the end of the novel, I felt far more for them than any of the others — even though their impact on the story itself was quite small. Strangely, I would have found more enjoyment in this story if it had focused more on them rather than anyone else.
All in all, I found “The Innkeeper’s Song” to be a novel with a lot of potential — yet always falling short. From the wandering story, to the lack of direction — to the underdeveloped characters, I found myself wanting more but never getting it. There were so many times — especially in the middle — where things just dragged on and on..and I kept thinking, “should I really continue?”. In the end however, I did, and as it progressed towards the conclusion, some things came together, and there was an improvement. Infact, there were a few chapters near the end that totally had me, but that doesn’t make up for the rest of it. Despite this.. I can’t honestly say “don’t read this!” because if you look at the reviews on Amazon, clearly others have found enjoyment in “The Innkeeper’s Song.”. I can say, however, that I was immensely disappointed, and after reading the magically beautiful, “The Last Unicorn,” I simply expected more.
(3 out of 5)