From the Publisher
"This is an epic fantasy in the Tolkien tradition, with a strong girl hero who is entirely believable in her struggles to master herself and learn the secrets of her identity. I couldn't put it down!" — Tamora Pierce, author of the Protector of the Small and the Circle Opens quartets — Quote
"A magical story that is reminiscent in many ways of Tolkien, this is a tale with passionate, inspiring characters, an enchanting protagonist, and vividly described landscapes. A powerful story that marks the beginning of a great series of fantasy novels." — THE BOOKSELLER — Quote
Sixteen-year-old orphan Maerad leads a miserable life as a slave until the Bard Cadvan rescues her from drudgery. In Annar and the Seven Kingdoms, Bards are the keepers of the Light, born with the Gift of the Speech wherein lies the knowledge and forces of good that help mankind and Nature. Groomed in the Schools, Bards are the forces of Light that combat the Dark's evil power. Traveling together after fleeing the settlement of Gilman's Cot, Cadvan realizes that Maerad is a Bard. Cadvan is journeying to School at Norloch to see his teacher Nelac; he hopes to have Maerad instated as a Bard. Through folktale prophecy, prescient dreams, and an ancient parchment, it becomes evident that Maerad is the Foretold, the Fated One, who will ultimately triumph over the Dark. As Cadvan and Maerad travel through Annar, they are beset by Hulls, wers, and a wight, all minions of the Dark. They also encounter an Elemental spirit and kind residents who help the voyagers on their way. Croggon creates a superb epic fantasy in this first book of the Pellinor series, which is evocative of both the Arthurian legend and The Lord of the Rings trilogy with the added twist of a female protagonist. Compellingly readable, the story offers the reader both richly developed characters and descriptive prose that sparks the imagination. A plentitude of action and plot surprises ensure a riveting read. Unbelievably fine, this book represents fantasy storytelling at its best. This exemplary novel is sure to appeal to all fantasy fans. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2005, Candlewick,528p., Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-In this first volume in a projected quartet, Croggon has created a world that is both authentic and exotic, welcoming and frightening. When 16-year-old Maerad meets a man named Cadvan, she is catapulted from her life as a slave to an epic destiny. Cadvan is a Bard, one of the magically gifted Starpeople, and he begins to teach her about her own gifts and abilities. He believes her to be the prophesied One who will oppose the Nameless, the dark power working toward the destruction of the Bards and the Balance of the world. As Maerad and Cadvan travel, they join forces with Hem, a mysterious orphan, and learn that the Nameless's influence reaches far into the world of the Bards. Encounters with great mythic figures of their world and threatening evil forces add to the epic flavor of their journey. Maerad's story is presented as a translation of the great epic of a lost civilization, and explanatory appendixes add to this fantasy's realistic feel. Maerad is a strong, bold, and appealing character, and her lack of knowledge about her world provides a framework for Croggan's background explanations. Supporting characters, including the Bards and those who oppose them, are given realistic traits and flaws. While some coincidences in the plot may stretch readers' belief, they are integral to the story. Maerad seems a kindred spirit to Tamora Pierce's Alanna, and her story will find a welcoming audience among readers looking for a challenging and fully realized epic adventure.-Beth L. Meister, Pleasant View Elementary School, Franklin, WI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
A lush, vivid epic fantasy about a slave who becomes pivotal to a vast land's survival. Sixteen-year-old Maerad toils with no hope of freedom or human connection until the day a strange man shows up in the cow byre. Though wounded, he arranges her escape. Cadvan's a Bard, one of the special people in this land who use learning and inborn magical power in the service of good. Maerad's one too, though she never knew it and is ignorant of its workings. Old enemies of the Light are reappearing and Cadvan senses that his discovery of Maerad is no fluke. Evil sweeps the land both blatantly and insidiously as Maerad and Cadvan journey through a grand School and across the wilds, seeking help and clarity and battling foes. Croggon's characters and environmental descriptions glow with a romantic sensibility and resonate beautifully with archetypal connections to Tolkien. Maerad's path to her destiny will be awaited eagerly. (pronunciation key, map, appendices, poems) (Fantasy. 12+)
Read an Excerpt
"Maerad," he said at last, "if the Dark knows what Dernhil knew, we are in worse trouble than I thought. By the Light, I wish I knew what happened last night."
"But what does it mean?" asked Maerad stubbornly. Cadvan gazed at Maerad earnestly, as if he were seeing her for the first time. She met his gaze and held it, and at last he laughed gently and relented.
"Maerad, I think you are the Foretold, the one who will come, the Fated One," he said. "Lanorgil was one of the great Seers, and he foresaw you. 'Seek then one who comes Speechless from the Mountains, a Bard unSchooled and yet of this School.' He meant you. The riddle is scarcely hard to answer, and Dernhil was right: it is not chance that it turned up at just this time. The Foretold, in the Lore, is the one who will defeat the Nameless One in his darkest rising. It is an ancient tradition, although now mostly forgotten, except by the Wise, who do not forget."
Maerad listened in tense silence, her heart thumping wildly. Cadvan's words filled her with a strange panic, the same panic she had felt when Dernhil had first shown her the parchment.
"It can't be talking about me," she said, laughing nervously to cover her confusion. "I'm not . . . I'm not important—"
Cadvan paused. "I think Lanorgil, when he speaks of the Fire Lily, means the Name of the One who will come." He quoted Lanorgil's words: "'Seek and cherish the Fire Lily, the Fated One, which blooms the fairer in dark places, and sleepeth long in darkness: from such a root will blossom the White Flame anew.' The lily is of course the sign of Pellinor. But they use the arum lily. The Fire Lily, Elednor in the Speech, that is a different flower."
"But my Name's not Elednor!" Maerad stood up in her agitation. "My Name is, my Name is . . ."
"Maerad, you don't know your name. No one will, until your full instatement as a Bard. And if your name is Elednor, then you are most certainly the One, as foretold by Lanorgil."
THE NAMING by Alison Croggon. Copyright (c) 2006 by Alison Croggon. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.