Monday, February 7, 2011

Ascendant -- by Diana Peterfreund

Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund

This is the sequel to Rampant so it may will contain spoilers! In Rampant we meet Astrid Llewelyn and her unicorn-obsessed mother, Lilith. Astrid once thought that unicorns were imaginary and that her mother was just a little crazy. However, a chance encounter with a small unicorn known as a zhi takes Astrid into a world she wished never existed.

In Peterfreund's world, unicorns are savage, poisonous beasts and virgin women like Astrid are unicorn hunters. They are actually the only humans who can sense and kill the powerful and intelligent creatures.

In the first book, Astrid learns about the hunters' connection and ability to sense and connect with the unicorns. Whenever they are around unicorns their senses and skills improve. The unicorns and the hunters share an uneasy, strange bond. In the first book, Astrid uses this bond to her advantage to destroy an entire mega-herd of angry kirin unicorns.

In Ascendant, when Astrid encounters and helps a member of the Gordian drug company manage a captive herd of einhorn unicorns, she finds that not only is she able to sense unicorns, but she's also able to feel "transcendent." Astrid describes the feeling of being surrounded by creatures she normally would be hunting like this: "I caught my breath and reveled in their nearness, suddenly hungry for the feel of them, the scent, the strange comfort their nearness brought me. I wanted this," (p. 169).

Astrid is working for Isabeau Jaeger, who is now head of Gordian pharmaceuticals. Astrid feels safe for a while under her care. Her work managing Isabeau's captive herd of einhorn allows her to take college classes and make money for the other hunters back in Rome.

A lot of strange things are happening around Europe, however. Every time a hunter is found, she loses her eligibility (read: virginity) almost immediately. Also, Cory is losing her ability to sense unicorns. Working with Isabeau helps Astrid understand more about what the Remedy isn't and keeps her hoping she'll find out what it is.

In Ascendant, we also see Astrid think she's found herself only to see her losing her sense of self over and over again. The things that Astrid wants for her life are tragically just out of reach. Over all of this is the sense that Alexander's powerful and dangerous karkadann, Bucephalus, is still watching her and reaching through her dreams. What he wants from her is alien and uncertain.

I can't wait to read another book in this series. I'm tentatively hopeful it will be out in the next few years. (Fingers crossed!)

For more information:
HarperTeen with a great book trailer
Diana Peterfreund's website

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