Today's post is on 'The Naming' by Alison Croggon. It is 466 pages long and is published byCandlewick Press. This is a lush high fantasy novel in a richly imagined world and I just loved this book. In fact I went out and bought the whole series all in hardback. It is four volumes long, with beautiful covers. This series has been out for a little while but I read things as they come into my life no matter how old. The intended reader is YA but anyone with a love of high fantasy will enjoy this piece. There Be Spoilers Ahead.
Maerad is a slave. That is all she has ever known and after her mother died when she about seven she has been alone in Gilman's Cot. The only thing that saves her the rapes and other brutalities is that she is seen as a witch by the other's 'living' there. All animals she cares for do better, get sick less and give more meat, milk or wool. Maerad also has a great gift of music. She is only one in the Cot who can play the harp that her mother left her. One bitterly cold morning when Maerad has had just an hour of sleep because she was playing for the men all night she is tending the cows when she sees a man walk by. The man is bloody, stumbling and shocked that she could see him. Within a day Maerad is fleeing the Cot with Cadvan the man she saw. He is fleeing some great evil from the mountains to the north. He also tells her that she is a bard and so is he.
Bards the people in this world who have the magic. They help the sick, make harvests better and teach everyone how to read and write. But there is a sickness in the barding, some old evil is making its way into the world again. With the Dark chasing them Maerad and Cadvan have more mystries to solve than where Maered came from. Her history is dark and at the heart of the troubles in this first book. Along the way she meets people who change the way she looks at the world, the way she reacts to it and she does grow some over the course of the book but not much. Her growth is more like a flower coming into bud not just all at once. It is a little annoying but understandable for Maerad. The pacing is very fast, the writing is wonderful and the characters are memorable.
My personal rating is four and half stars and I read it in eight hours. Not because it is short but because I just could not put it down.