Wednesday 23 December 2009

Book Review: Alison Croggon – The Gift

I had this book in my reading pile although I cannot recall at all where it came from. It’s usually when I have nothing super-exciting on my bedside table to read that I dip into this pile, so after having ignored it for a long time, I decide to give it a go.

The book is about Maerad, an orphaned slave girl living in a brutal and wild settlement. Rumours about her “witchiness” have meant she is spared the rape and abuse endured by many of the other slaves, although not the life of hard labour. She dreams of life outside of her settlement as a free woman without ever really believing it is for her until she comes across a stranger hiding in the settlement who recognises that she may have great powers and offers to help her escape. This is the beginning of a dangerous and arduous journey towards finding her true identity and the origins of her powers. At the same time there are evil happenings in the world of Edil-Amarandh indicating that a much greater evil is threatening to

This book is very much in the style of Garth Nix’s Sabriel, with its female protagonist unaware of her own strength and its young target audience. It even has traces of Lord of The Rings with the journey theme and even a great vanquished evil, threatening to rise again.

The world of Edil-Amarandh is drawn effectively with its different people and cities, and you have every sympathy for the heroine, rooting for her throughout the book. I also liked the fact that the author touches on the racism and misogyny some of the characters have to deal with (including travelling people for instance). At the same time it feels predictable and there are few surprises considering that this is a fantasy novel and the author has free reign.

I enjoyed the book and was a bit irritated when the story stopped short at the end, the novel is the first in a quartet and doesn’t really stand alone, hence Kooky being harassed to find me a copy of the other three books (she is covering Council staff in the library). At the same time, having read Sabriel and LOTR’s, there was nothing much new here.

Book Review: Garth Nix - Sabriel

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