Read for the Young Adult and Once Upon a Time II Reading Challenges.
I’ve found a new fantasy series to follow. I’d almost bought The Naming and The Riddle (the second book in the series) last Christmas, based on the cover illustrations and short descriptions in the book. However, I was good, and once I discovered my library had them, held off getting my hands on them until now. I may still have to buy them.
I love the author’s style. She has an incredible gift of description, and the places that Maerad and Cadvan (the two main characters) encounter are absolutely breathtaking. She also has a gift of characterization. I found myself rooting for Maerad almost as soon as she was introduced, and I loved the mysteriousness of Cadvan. I’m really hoping the second book is at the library today, because I really need to know what happens next! This first book is very much a beginning, and holds a lot of promise for a meaty story to come.
I also really liked the forward to this book, which portrays the story to come as a story from a lost land, like Atlantis, that existed here in our world, but in the distant past.
My only slight criticism is that the author is clearly very influenced by Tolkein, as first evidenced in the two blurbs on the back of the library hardcover edition I read (one by Tamora Pierce). I do realize that it’s pretty hard to find a fantasy writer that isn’t influenced by Tolkein (I’ll raise my hand and plead guilty to that, and I haven’t even been able to get through the Fellowship of the Ring, despite trying three times). Croggon’s naming conventions, especially for the more magical aspects of this land, are straight out of Tolkein, and since he made up the languages for his story, it’s a little jarring to see something so similar somewhere else. The other really obvious similarity is Cadvan’s friend, the horse lord Darsor. I don’t want to say this made me not enjoy the story, but there were a couple times where I was temporarily pulled out of the flow, and for a writer as lyrical as Croggon, that’s a pretty impressive feat to accomplish.