As with all book reviews, this post will contain some spoilers, in this case my brief thoughts on book three!
One of my favourite series to read as a teenager, it’s one I would automatically recommend to anyone looking to read something in the young adult/fantasy genre. Strangely, it’s a series I’ve rarely seen mentioned, despite being a wonderful read; although it did once have an incredibly active section on the forum at sffworld.com while I was reading it.
The series, spanning four novels, focuses mainly on the life of a young adolescent girl named Maerad, who is rescued from a life of slavery by a Bard named Cadvan (a bard of the magical variety, not the poem-reciting kind that frequented courts in the Middle Ages), and discovers her destiny is entangled in the prophecy foretelling the coming of the one who will defeat the ‘Nameless One’. It follows her journey across the land known as Edil-Amarandh as she and Cadvan race to find what is known as the ‘Treesong’ in an attempt to be ready for the final battle in the coming days.
Fantasy has always been the most appealing of the genres for me; I enjoy the escape into a completely fictional world. The books of Pellinor have everything a lover of fantasy could possibly want. Set in a vast land with an intriguing prophecy to follow, the series moves at a steady pace, and rarely remains stagnant. At all times the characters, and the reader, is learning something of value. I have yet to read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (I know, shock horror!), but I have heard that the Pellinor series bears some resemblance to it. Some of the people who made the comparison made it with a sort of damning tone, as though Croggon had copied Tolkien in many ways. And perhaps she did in a sense, but in my opinion it is impossible for an author to pen a novel without taking some inspiration from other authors in their selected genre. An author of fantasy is very likely to lean on the pillars created by a man known as the father of modern epic fantasy. Crossovers occur all the time in fiction.
Alison Croggon has a beautiful, descriptive writing style throughout the series, and she creates relatable, easily liked characters. Throughout the series she never neglects to give the reader some humour to carry them through an increasingly darkening series, with the exception perhaps of book three, The Crow.
Spoiler alert! The third book, which follows the story of Maerad’s rediscovered brother Cai, now known as Hem, is much darker than the rest of the series, and my least favourite of it the first time around. On my second time reading it, however, I realised that The Crow was probably the most stimulating of the novels. Hem’s journey is in so many ways far more trying than Maerad’s, which in turn makes it a much better read at times. Croggon pushes him further as a character than she does any other in the series, and while Maerad’s story can be sad at times, Hem’s has the tendency to be heart-breaking.
Okay, spoiler alert is over!
At times the series can be predictable, in terms of relationships especially. But in no way does that take away from the fact that it is a really, really good read. Croggon isn’t afraid to kill off characters favoured by the readers early on in the series, something I respect in an author. The author has developed a rich sense of history and lore for the series, making it a selection of novels you can really sink your teeth into.
The Books of Pellinor was, and still is, one of my favourite novel series. It’s beautifully put together, well-written, and an all-round nice read, with some unexpected plot twists thrown in for good measure. If fantasy is your thing, or if you’re looking to get into fantasy, then Alison Croggon’s series is a brilliant place to start.