Friday, November 29, 2013

The Crow

Book: The Crow by Alison Croggon (The Third Book of Pellinor)

Description: While Maerad journeys in the far north, her brother, Hem, is sent south to the golden city of Turbansk. There he learns the ways of the Bards and discovers a hidden gift when he rescues a white crow. But when the forces of darkness threaten, Hem flees with his protector, Saliman, and a young orphan girl named Zelika to join the Light's resistance forces. Soon Hem discovers that he, too, has a crucial role to play in the quest to solve the Riddle of the Treesong. (book jacket)

My Thoughts: The Crow is a hard book to review. It's beautifully, beautifully written, but also completely heart-wrenching (I cried twice last time I read it).

The Crow details Hem's journey since he left Maerad in Norloch in The Naming. As such, he begins the novel as a scared boy. Croggon did a wonderful, wonderful job at developing Hem's character as he experiences new places and cultures, sees the joys and sorrows of the world (especially a world at war), and takes part in that world himself. Hem makes a lot of choices--not always good ones, perhaps, but he learns from his mistakes and is always trying to do the right thing.

We also get to see more of the world around Annar, especially Turbansk and its surroundings. We also, for the first time, see Den Raven, the land out of which the Dark forces are coming. It is a land mostly of slaves, oppressed by the dark sorcerers and full of suffering and evil. Croggon never minimizes the suffering that occurs there or that the main characters go through there. Their journey there ends on a mixed note of hope and sadness, and there is a place in the story for the characters to begin to come to terms with what they have experienced and how that has and will change them. I never have the sense that it is a token scene of 'I feel sad because life is awful' that will be followed by the entire episode being forgotten.

Perhaps the only aspect of The Crow that I disliked was the violence and brutality, which I felt was just over the line of decency and necessity. However, it was completely necessary for the plot; it certainly wasn't gratuitous violence added just to have some violence. It was just a tad too much for me.

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