Hey there bookworms,
I know it’s been a long time since I’ve done a review. I would like to blame classes, but in all honesty this summer I just haven’t been in the reading mood for some reason. However, since I had a lot of conflicting feelings about this novel I thought it would be a good time to start reviewing novels again. So without further ado *drum roll*
Genre: Fantasy and Young Adult
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Maerad is a slave in a North Settlement that is not known for it’s hospitality or its kindness. At the age of sixteen and an orphan, the only thing that keeps Maerad relatively safe is that the Thane believes that she is a witch and is scared that she will curse him and his land if anything happens to her. True, she has performed minor magic, but it is not something that she can call on at will, it just happens. This doesn’t stop him from working her like all the other slaves, but it does keep the guardsmens’ hands off her for the most part. However, no matter what powers Maerad has there is no escaping her life as a slave.
Until Cadvan, a mysterious traveler, shows up tired and wounded in the cow byre. Maerad keeps him hidden, though she doesn’t know why, and he offers to take her away from her life as a slave. As they travel together Maerad discovers that Cadvan is a Bard, one who can harness the power of the Light to perform magic. Bards are supposed to protect the Balance which keeps famine and disease at bay in Annar. However, Bards are neglecting their duties to the people and a stronger evil is starting to engulf the land.
Soon Maerad and Cadvan are on the run from the powers of the Darkness and Maerad discovers that she too has the Gift of Barding. What’s more, she is more powerful than any Bard Cadvan has ever met even without training. As they travel and the secrets of Maerad’s past are revealed, it becomes obvious that Maerad was destined for things much greater than being a slave or even a simple Bard. A destiny that she wants no part of. With the Nameless One gathering the forces of the Dark around him, it becomes a race for Cadvan to find who they can trust and Maerad to come into her power in time to help save the Light from being extinguished forever.
I have to admit that for about the first three hundred pages of this novel I felt like I was reading the “How To Write High Fantasy” manual. While Croggon put A LOT of time and effort into her world building (making an entire language is something I always applaud because it is something I could never do) I honestly wasn’t invested in the story or the characters until well into this novel. At the beginning of the novel Cadvan just made everything so easy, he just knew what to do and where to go all the time. Every bit of tension was magically solved with little or no readl danger to the characters. I never really feared for them no matter what enemy they were facing.
As the novel progressed I couldn’t help but notice that parts of the novel were very similar to the adventure of Frodo and the Fellowship in Lord of the Rings. Now I am not sure if I was just looking for them after the first similarity I noticed or if they were evident to everyone, but it pulled me out of the story. This really isn’t a fault of Croggon, but my own brain. When you write High Fantasy, you are going to be compared to Lord of the Rings (or The Song of Ice and Fire now that that is so popular). The one place that it really bothered me was the city of Rachida and Queen Ardina which was very similar to Lothlórien and Galadriel. Again, it might just be me, but I found myself more interested in finding these similarities than the plot.
I actually wasn’t really invested in the novel until Cadvan and Mearad found Hem about three hundred and fifty pages in. This is where I felt like the novel actually started. Hem had a much more appropriate response to his traumatic childhood and discovering that he was a Bard than Mearad did in my opinion. Even though he didn’t talk much, just the addition of another character seemed to flush out Cadvan and Mearad’s characters. It might also be that Hem wasn’t good at everything and almost got them killed. I’ll go into that more under the spoilers cut for those who are interested.
However, out of all the characters Saliman of Turbansk was by far my favorite. He is a secondary character that is first introduced in Innail and reappears in Norloch. He is smart, funny, and yet ferociously loyal without being full of himself. I liked him in Innail, but when he took Hem under his wing in Norlock I really fell in love with him (once again it has to do with Hem, maybe I just really like him and can’t see it yet). I hope that in the future novels we get to see more of him and his back story because he was the most developed character in the novel.
The end of this novel really pulled me in though, to the point where I am probably going to finish the series. It honestly felt like the first half of the novel was a prologue to the second half. The characters seemed a lot more realized at the end of the novel. It wasn’t through character development, but more that I finally understood their personalities. Hopefully this is a sign that everything that bothered me in this novel will be less prevalent in the other three books. Also, since the main driving point of the series has finally emerged as an actual threat I will be more invested in the plot.
*More opinions and spoilers*
Hey there bookworms,
The Naming by Alison Croggon
Cadvan of Lirigon The Naming by Alison Croggon
The Naming by Alison Croggon