Title: The Naming (Book One of the Pellinor Quartet)
Author: Alison Croggon
Genre: YA Fantasy
Challenge: The 2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge
Synopsis: (from back of the book) Maerad is a slave in a desperate and unforgiving settlement, taken there as a child when her family is destroyed in war. She doesn't yet know she has inherited a powerful gift, one that marks her as a member of the noble School of Pellinor and enables her to see the world as no other can. It is only when she is discovered by Cadvan, one of the great Bards of Lirigon, that her true identity and extraordinary destiny unfold. Now, she and her mysterious teacher must embark on a treacherous, uncertain journey through a time and place where the forces of darkness wield an otherworldly terror.
Okay I'm going to come right out and say I loved this book. I'm not sure where to start so I guess I'll start with the actual story and characters. The first book is all about journeying from one place to another and is a beginning to quite an epic tale. The main character, Maerad, is a teenager who finds out she may be the Fated One, the one who will save everyone from Darkness. I really loved her. She is realistically 16 years old, yet throughout the book she grows and faces her many responsibilities. Her mentor, Cadvan, is another character I fell in love with. Their relationship is something you don't see often; it's an intimate friendship between a man and a young woman who have decided to do their best to combat the coming darkness.
There is magic in this book which can be described as a type of magery by people who are called Bards. Yes, they are musical and they sing, but it's more than that also. It's unique but traditional at the same time. I found it fascinating and refreshing.
A major part of the success of this book is Croggon's writing. She is a poet and it really shows in her writing. There's a flow to her prose and the characters are so intricately drawn that you really feel like you know them. Their interactions are so precise and real that I think they are some of the best I've read. There were many emotional moments that were written quite beautifully. The Pellinor series is long, each of the four books around 500 pages, which might be daunting for some young adults. But I hope that many young readers read this series because I wish I had read something like this when I was a teenager: a story with strong, likable female lead, relationships that just aren't about obsession and infatuation, and a real quest that is sure to intrigue.
There are some criticisms about this series being a little too much like Lord of the Rings, but I think it is only in some basic archetypes. Then again, what epic fantasy doesn't owe something to Tolkien? Anyways, I want to say that this book is a lot more than that and is definitely worth checking out. I warn you though: once you start you might not be able to stop. This story continues in The Riddle, The Crow and finally The Singing. A+
Currently Reading: The Riddle by Alison Croggon