Book Review: ‘The Riddle’ by Alison Croggon

Posted: 6 November 2011 in Book reviews
Tags: , , , , , ,

‘The Riddle’ is the second book in Croggon’s Pellinor series. It has taken me ages to finish this book as I started it so close to when I needed to be getting my dissertation finished and submitted. That was done nearly two months ago. Since then I have been trying to organise my time in such a way to get everything done that I want, including reading. It has taken two months, but I think I have finally figured at least part of it out.

So on to the review. As I remarked about the first book, the grammar is abysmal in places. There appears to be no true understanding of how and when to use various grammatical models. The same goes for the dialogue. How is it logical that a 16 year old girl and a much older man use the same vocabulary? Especially when the girl grew up as a slave and he as a bard? It drives me insane. But that aside, the story itself is riveting.

The book begins with Maerad and Cadvan aboard a ship called the White Owl. They are on their way to Thorold to escape the clutches of Enkir, the First Bard of Norloch who has become subject to the Dark. On their journey to the island kingdom of Thorold, the encounter a sea creature known as an ondril. It is some sort of sea snake and was mostly likely sent after them by Enkir as it’s behaviour was erratic. Easily defeating the creature, they had no other delays on their journey.

Once in Busk, the main city of Thorold, the two meet with Nerili, the First Bard of Busk and possible ex-lover of Cadvan. Once Maerad identity is revealed to Nerili, she undertakes the task of teaching her various lessons as well as having other bards teach her. Despite the threat of the Dark during the Midsummer Festival and the near failure of the Rite of Renewal, their time in Busk is relatively uneventful, other than Maerad’s lessons. It is not until an emissary from Norloch arrives that their stay there is interrupted. Not long after the emissary leaves, failing his mission, Cadvan and Maerad are informed that their time in Busk has come to an end.

After a short stay with the grandfather of Nerili,the two meet of with Owan, the owner of the White Owl, and begin their journey north to the land of Zmarkan. On their way, they encounter a Stormdog, which Maerad abates with a lullaby, and various bards. It is not until the Gwalhain Pass that the worst tragedy happens. Despite a quiet albeit dramatic journey through the Pass, a storm hits as well as an attack by two iriduguls, creatures of snow and ice. Regardless of their power, the creatures are too strong. Imi, Maerad’s horse, runs off in terror. While making a dash for safety, Maerad falls off Darsor, Cadvan’s horse, and can only watch in horror as an iridugul produced rockslide buries both Cadvan and Darsor, leaving her truly alone.

In her sorrow, she plays a song on the pipes given to her by Ardina, an Elidhu (elemental), unknowingly calling for her help. Ardina ultimately saves Maerad by helping her reach the home of Mirka, a humble if not partly crazy Zmarkan woman. She nurses Maerad back to health until she is ready to continue her journey to Murask. Once their, she is introduced to the First Bard of Murask who is subsequently her aunt, Sirkana. She decides to keep Maerad’s identity a secret (she having introduced herself as Mara) in case of spies. Maerad stays there for a while before continuing her journey to the deep north in search of the Wise Kindred spoken about by Mirka.

On her journey she is joined by her new found cousin Dharin. He is an expert dogsledder and with him she arrives at the Labarok Isles relatively quick. She also loses her fear of dogs while with him.

After arriving at the Labarok Isles, Maerad learns that she must meet with Inka-Reb, a man that walks between the worlds of the living and the dead. She must first purify herself and then after offering a gift he might choose to speak with her. In her speaking with him, she learns that half of the Treesong of which she seeks has been with her the whole time in the form of the rues on her lyre. While revealing this to her, he does not tell her how she can decipher them, but dismisses her.

On their way back to Murask, they are attacked by Jussacks resulting in the death of Dharin and the later loss of some of Maerad’s fingers. The Jussacks take her to the palace of the Winterking, Arkan. While angry with him at first, in the short time she is there, she gets him to reveal the meaning of the runes and ultimately falls in love with him. Despite her feelings, she knows she cannot stay and that he was keeping her against her will anyway. Through trickery of her own, she escapes the palace and with the help of another wolf, escapes Arkan’s mountain sanctuary.

And this is where I leave off the rest. As you can read, the story has grown much more complex and intricate. The more I read, the more I enjoyed the story, despite the ridiculous dialogue. As I have already mentioned the dialogue and the grammatical issues, there is only one other thing that I have to mention: Sirkana.

As Maerad’s aunt, this discovery bothers me. Sure it is wonderful that Maerad finds a part of her family and now doesn’t feel quite as alone, but it is how they are discovered. Maerad only knows her father’s first name and that he was Pilani. She has no amulet’s or distinctive marks to determine their relationship. Instead, Sirkana had a vision ages ago that determined that her brother’s daughter was going to be the chosen one. It is about as crazy as when Maerad determines that Hem is her brother because she has a feeling. All the family relation discoveries are mere probabilities. Although they are great in helping Maerad not be alone in the world, them saying they are related is no more real than my saying I am a reviewer, as there is no tangible proof to back up the claim. Now I may be looking to much into it with my 21st century eyes, but it makes sense right?

Well all in all, chapter XIII is truly a diamond chapter and is my favourite of the entire book. It is so beautifully written and raw. Overall the book got better as the story went on. It is now on to the third book and I hope it continues to improve (although I can say now that the grammar is still rubbish). Enjoy 😉

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s