The crow king is dead, and in the field below all the creatures tremble as the Murder gathers to choose a new king from the rival sons Sintus, Milus and Nascus. When the crows drive everyone from the field to keep the reckoning secret, the quail Isyl, Cormo and Harlequin believe they must simply follow their elders to safety.
But when the crows turn against each other, the forest becomes full of danger. In the confusion the last wolf, Asmod, shucks off his isolation and begins to raise an army to claim the kingdom for his own. As hidden truths are brought to light and enormous sacrifices are made Isyl and his friends must make an epic journey and an unthinkable alliance if the lesser animals are to survive.
Nature is indeed red in tooth and claw in this epic animal adventure, musician and picture book author Cash's fiction debut. Reminiscent of the Redwall books and Watership Down, the story follows a variety of woodland creatures who are swept up in a brutal territorial dispute after the death of the King Crow leads to a power vacuum. While the crows descend into civil war, a ruthless wolf leads an army of predators in an attempt to seize power. Meanwhile, a small group of quail set out to find allies, including a legendary yet terrifying hawk, leading to an all-out battle for supremacy that will claim innumerable lives. Cash writes with an almost poetic style, his narrative mythic in scope and tone, though occasionally prone to purple prose. Furthermore, his musical background shows in the form of the rich oral tradition practiced by several species, even if some of the songs can come close to doggerel. It's a strong story with a high body count, some graphic scenes of animal-on-animal violence, and a sprawling cast. Ages 8 up.