Fantasy Realms

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Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Naming

Title: The Naming (The Gift, in Australia), The First Book of Pellinor
Author: Alison Croggon
Pages: 492
Rating: @@@@@
Price: $17.99 (Hardcover)

Maerad is a young girl, living as a slave in a worthless mountain village. She’s barely able to remember her mother; all she knows about her father and younger brother is that they died. The locals think she’s a witch, and they’re more right than they think. While she’s milking the cow, a man comes into the barn who seems astounded that she can see him. The man, Cadvan, urges her to leave with him. Soon, she’s ready with all she owns: a harp from her mother. After making it through the dangerous mountains, Cadvan reveals that she has the power of a Bard, the last Bard of Pellinor. The first School they come to is like a heaven to Maerad; everyone is kind, there’s food, and best of all, hot baths. Circumstances insist that she become a Bard as soon as possible. Unfortunately, many Schools are more corrupt than Cadvan believes. Who is the orphan Hem, and what are Enkir’s true motives?

Once you get past the huge, phone-book intimidation, this book is something you can get into. I personally pick out books on the basis that they’re phone-book sized (I like something that lasts more than a day) but The Naming went quickly because I read it in every spare moment. Maerad is just a girl, and she’s thrown into drastic, extreme situations that require important decisions. The kind of decision that decides the course of the world. And the best part is, she reacts like a normal girl. All too often, authors give characters incredible powers of judgment and perception, but not Maerad. She’s unsure, she makes mistakes, and she works through them. She’s able to fix most of her errors.
One of the major factors in choosing this book was the crucial mini-reviews on the back. Only a sentence or two, but the name struck me. Tamora Pierce, the all-time girl-hero standard, liked this book and recommended it. I know from prior experience (a mini-review quote on the front of Crown Duel) that her recommendations are good. Top-of-my-favorites-list good. This book is now, predictably, one of my faves. (If anyone knows of strong girl fantasy – feminist fantasy? – please post a comment with titles and/or authors.)

Reviews probably coming soon:
The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray -by Chris Wooding
Thief of Time (Discworld) -by Terry Pratchett
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince -by J.K. Rowling (If anyone didn't know that...)
The Wee Free Men -by Terry Pratchett
Protector of the Small -by Tamora Pierce (Possibly her new book, depending on release, how fast I get it, etc.)
The Riddles of Epsilon -by Christine Morton-Shaw
Chanters of Tremaris -by Kate Constable
Wicked -by Gregory Maguire (Probably not, because of...past PG-13-ness.)

Notice a pattern with these books? They have strong, female, leads. I think I've cleaned out every bookstore within ten miles, plus a couple in neighboring cities, of every feminist fantasy. I truly would like suggestions (as long as they're appropriate for teens, because I work closely with teen readers and suggest lots of books for them; there would be conflicting opinions from parents).

I'd also like any suggested websites/blogs for book reviews. Quality book reviews. And if you point out anything wrong with my writing, post away. I personally can't keep from correcting grammar/spelling of my friends. If you have a conflicting opinion of your own, say so! I may (if it's thought out, written correctly) post it in my next review. Suggestions, complaints, comments, opinions, anything! Make this a quality blog, with many different opinions and views! - A book review blog I like.


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