A Wonderful Epic Fantasy
Alison Croggon’s THE NAMING: BOOK ONE OF PELLINOR is a high fantasy tale that draws from and rivals some of the classics in the genre. The book’s central character, Maerad, is a sixteen-year-old slave, and she has resigned herself to that fate—until she’s found by Cadvan, a Bard who discovers (much to his surprise) bardic talent in her. Cadvan helps Maerad escape the land where she has been enslaved, and their flight and subsequent adventures are the beginning of a four-book series that promises to become one of my favorites.
THE NAMING incorporates all the themes that make the fantasy genre wonderful. Good battles Evil, magic and power both heal and corrupt, seemingly simple characters discover amazing abilities, and nature and the land are characters in and of themselves. Rather than make the story seem formulaic and tired, Croggon adds new dimensions and twists that keep the plot fresh and the world she has created vibrant. The action scenes are well done, and the world of Annar is one I look forward to revisiting as I make my way through the rest of the books in the series—including a prequel that has just been released! I have few complaints about THE NAMING, but if forced to come up with a negative it would be that some of the descriptions run overlong. Feeling that way could just be a result of wanting to rush to get to the action sequences though.
Fantasy is one of my favorite genres, and I’m astounded that this series was first released fifteen years ago, and I haven’t had a chance to read it until now. I really wish it had been available when I was a teen and immersing myself into the worlds of Tolkien, Brooks, and LeGuin because I love that the hero of prophecy and the main character in THE NAMING is a young girl who promises to be a Bard of previously unheard-of power. I’m also thrilled that the book doesn’t bog itself down in an as-yet unnecessary love story. (I have nothing against romance in my epic fantasy novels, and I suspect one will evolve through the course of this series, but I can’t think of a way it wouldn’t have felt forced in THE NAMING.) The world building is well-done, and the premise that the story was drawn from real ancient texts from an almost-forgotten land allows Croggon to offer supporting “documentation” at the end of the book that helps flesh things out in a creative way.
My thanks to the publisher and YA Books Central for a copy of the book in exchange for my unbiased review.
Great world building