Today we bring you our review of the historical novel The Legacy of the Lynx, by Clio Gray. Yes, this book has a lynx in its title, but there are no actual lynxes in the text, so don’t get too excited about the prospect of reading a great book about wild cats. What this book does have is a puzzle of a plot set against a historical background, and some pretty good characters. There is also a fair amount of violence, so be warned.
The basic plot
The Legacy of the Lynx is set in 1798–99, primarily in Ireland and the Netherlands. “The Lynx” is a society formed nearly two centuries ago to pursue mostly scientific knowledge. Its considerable library was long ago broken into segments, each moved to a separate location for safety. Now one Golo Eck wants to resurrect the Lynx and bring together the knowledge contained in its entire library. But not everyone thinks this is a good idea, and when he sets out from Scotland with young helper Ruan Peat and the older Fergus, Golo does not know that the wheels are already turning to stop him at any cost.
A storm wrecks the ship Golo and Ruan are on, and Golo is killed, leaving Ruan to carry on somehow. Meanwhile, Fergus has been sent to Ireland to find the part of the library kept in Wexford, but he lands right in the middle of a revolution, with the United Irish fighting English oppression. He meets up with Greta, a teenage girl who is…well, let’s just say you shouldn’t mess with Greta.
The book concludes in Deventer, the Netherlands, where Ruan and, eventually, Greta land and meet up with one Hendrik Grimalkin, a scholar. Ruan, who has been more or less a jerk through much of the book, begins to mature into someone respectable under Greta’s appraising and unflinching stare. The question, though, becomes, will any of them survive this quest to resurrect the Lynx?
The Legacy of the Lynx is set against a historical background, and Gray includes a brief note at the end to let you know what parts are real. The Lincean Academy was real, founded in 1603. Galileo (yes, that Galileo) was a member. The battles in Ireland actually happened, though Fergus’s and Greta’s parts of course are fictional. One of the most interesting parts to us was the South American connection (in the form of a khipu, a stringy thing with various beads and knots, used to record information), which we did not really believe until we read the historical note. Now we think it’s possible, though improbable.
We have left out much of the plot and several characters…because the book is complex, and this is a short review. Know that we were only a little bit disappointed by the lack of an actual lynx in this book, because it is so filled with rich, evocative writing that puts you right in the scene. Gray’s descriptions of characters and their emotional states, as well as the physical scenery, are so well done, we were sorry to leave this book’s people and places.
A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good read; two paws is for a great read. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!
We received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. We wouldn’t tell you it was good unless we really liked it!
The link below is an Amazon Associates link. If you purchase the book through this link, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account. Thank you!