Another reread, still a favourite. It’s like a hot bath after a long day, because the main character is a good person — not someone without faults, but someone who is aware that he has faults and that he has human feelings, and tries to be mindful and generous despite suddenly gaining power over people who have harmed him. It’s not really about conflict — although there are several serious ones — or about any particular endgame. Maia just wants to be a good person, and to rule his people well. He hardly considers turning away from the responsibility, even though it is unasked and unwanted and he’s totally unprepared. It has to be him, so he does it.
And he does a good job. That might be the most unrealistic thing about it, but it’s just difficult enough and involves just enough of building a support network that it works for me. I love the characters around Maia and how they help him, and how they all gradually warm to him or, in some cases, not — and why they warm to him, or not.
I also love the thought that goes into the complexities of the language, including the non-verbal language involving their ear positions. I don’t always follow the patterns, but it seems consistent and commensurate with long-existing languages. It’s a secondary world Tolkien would find a fascinating start toward building a rich and complete world, I do believe.