Read for the YA 2009 Reading Challenge.
The Books of Pellinor center around Maerad of Pellinor, who was sold into slavery with her mother at a very young age. In the first book of this series, after she has escaped from slavery, and in the course of her adventures, she finds a young boy, who turns out to be the younger brother she barely remembers. They’re separated at the end of the first book. In this book, which is the third of the series, Hem’s story after the separation is told.
Hem was sent south to live with the Bards in Turbansk, the greatest city in the south of Edil-Amarandh. All too soon, this beautiful city is drawn into the war with the returning forces of the Dark. Though he’s still a child, Hem ends up journeying far into the face of this terrible darkness.
I was initially a little leery of this book, because until now, I’d been following Maerad’s story, and wasn’t sure how a diversion into the life of a thirteen-year-old boy would end up comparing. However, Hem has to grow up rather quickly (and frankly, due to his childhood was fairly grownup to begin with), so it wasn’t as jarring a difference as I’d feared. This part of the story was also much less Lord of the Rings-esque than the previous two books, probably because of the differences between of the cultures of the northern and southern portions of Edil-Amarandh. It was a remarkably fast read, mostly because there was a lot of action packed into a fairly short period of time.
One thing this book has that I've really enjoyed in the previous two books is the Appendix notes, set up as if this were a true translation of a lost work only recently discovered. (The author presents the series as the translation of documents found in Morocco that came originally from a continent lost long before our current civilization rose.) I actually enjoy scholarly appendices, and she’s done a great job doing these with a completely straight face. They’re a joy to read.
I’ve been really enjoying this series, and can’t wait to get my hands on the final volume, though I think I’ll be a little sad when it’s all over, and I don’t have any more to look forward to.