Book Review: ‘The Naming’ by Alison Croggon

Posted: 15 August 2011 in Book reviews
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‘The Naming’ is the first book of Pelinor, a book series that my mother bought me ages ago. I’ve become a bit wary with the books that my mother buys me for even though the story might sound interesting, the writing usually leaves less to be desired. This one, while there are some major flaws, was one of the better ones I’ve read.

The story revolves around a young girl, Maerad, and the depressing existence she has. In the beginning she is a slave in the Gilman’s Cot in a region called the Landrost. She is a gifted musician and is thankfully not harassed to much by the people as they view her as a witch and are somewhat afraid of her.

Like most slaves, she dreams of somehow having her freedom while at the same time is afraid of it as she would have no idea how to adjust to such a life. Her dreams/fears become a reality when she encounters a Bard named Cadvan. Realising something quite profound about her, Cadvan persuades her to leave GIlman’s Cot and follow him to freedom. Unsure of whether his is trustworthy or not, she decides to trust him and after gathering her meagre belongings, leaves the only home she has known forever.

After a dangerous journey out of the Landrost and through the mountains, the arrive at Innail, a school of the Bards. Along the way, Maerad discovers that she is in fact a Bard from Pelinor, a Bard school that was destroyed when she was a child. She and her mother were the only survivors, which is unbelievable as everyone was believed to have died. Not only that, but Cadvan discovers that she is more powerful than he could have imagined.

Once in Innail, Maerad makes her first appearance as a Bard, impressing some while creating enemies with others. It is also there that she is accepted as an apprentice and requests Cadvan as her teacher. Taking in as much as she can before the leave Innail, she develops a love for Innail and the new life in which she now feels, albeit confused about, apart of.

From Innail they begin an arduous journey to Norloch to meet with the First Circle in order to get Maerad’s Bardic name as well as being instated as a true Bard. The journey is made that much more dangerous by the ever unwinding belief that Maerad is in fact the Fated one, the Fire Lily, who will destroy permanently the Nameless One. Through various experiences on their journey, she finds out more about her life and her heritage.

Once in Norloch, more resistance is found as the First Circle rejects claims from Cadvan about the rising of the Nameless One and rejects the instatement of Maerad. Cadvan is appalled at the realisation of how much the dark has tainted many of the Bards. Now on the run for their lives, Cadvan and Maerad must escape Norloch as they are now deemed traitors by the First Circle. And thus ends the first book.

Now, yes I found the story very intriguing. I truly enjoyed the plot and various characters and scened in the book. It is easy to see how much work went into creating the world and the backgrounds of the characters. Each location has been thoroughly thought out and plotted. All the behind-the-scenes work has been done very nicely, if not way too over the top (i.e. the appendices at the end of the book).

With that being said, with all the work done for the background information, there was something lacking when it comes to the actual written novel. The story has plenty of ‘surprises’ throughout but none of the feel like surprises. They are revealed at various points and you just accept them and move on.

The dialogue is also lacking. There is very little difference between the dialogue of the characters. Obviously the words are different, but the feel of how the words come across is similar. The description of verbal emotion is not apparent and the characters begin to feel one-dimensional and boring. Maerad eventually becomes very annoying, which frustrated me as a reader.

While the general story was nice, there felt like there was too much filler material. You’d get to these major scenes which would end relatively quickly and then have filler material that dragged on to the next big scene and then it would happen all over again. By 3/4 through the book, I just wanted it to be over. I liked the story but there was too much filler and travel parts keeping me from enjoying the intrigue of a world slowly being eclipsed by an overwhelming darkness.

To sum it up, it was an alright beginning. The story was interesting enough for me to want to read the next one (not to mention that I was given three of the four books so i have no reason not to continue). I just hope that the following novels progress and do not digress. Only time (and reading) will tell 😉

  1. Milena D. says:

    Thanks! So who would you reccomend it to? It seem like an interesting book, is it worth the time? I heard it is very long!


    • cetracy says:

      the books themselves are not so long. ‘the naming’ is 466 pages. it is a four book series though. i would recommend it to people who enjoy medieval fantasy. i would say give it a shot. i really enjoyed the story. sure there were things that drove me absolutely crazy, but overall the story was intriguing and the plot wasn’t too complex to understand. i would say borrow it from a library if you are able before you decide to go out and buy it. just in case you don’t like it 😉


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