Book Review: ‘The Crow’ by Alison Croggon

Posted: 3 December 2012 in Book reviews
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I finished this book some time ago, but as I mentioned needing to write this at the beginning of my review of ‘Eragon,’ here it is.  The thing that sucks about trying to write a review a long time after you’ve read something is that the story isn’t fresh in your head.  You have to reread prior reviews to make sure you are being somewhat accurate and also skim the book for the same reason.  Oh well right?

This is book three in the series ‘The Books of Pellinor.’  This book revolves around Maerad’s brother Hem, who was found in the first book.  He and Saliman travelled down to Turbansk just before the battle in Norloch the Maerad and Cadvan narrowly escaped from.  While Hem is not happy to be leaving his newly found sister behind, he is very excited to go to the Suderain.

Life there wasn’t very easy for him.  For one, he is light-skinned and everyone else is dark-skinned (no I’m not trying to be PC).  He also has problems with the language.  He didn’t have any friends and was constantly getting into fights.  After one particular embarrassing day at school, he rescues a which crow from the attacks of other crows.  He and the crow become quick friends and Hem learns of his ability to communicate with birds.

Shortly thereafter, news of the fall of Baladh reaches Turbansk.  It would be only a matter of time before the Black Army reached them.  Most the people were being evacuated, including the younger students at the Turbansk School.  This included Hem, which he immediately refused.  He didn’t want to leave Saliman, who didn’t force him to go.  Then he meets Zelika, a survive of Baladh and a child like himself.  She refuses to evacuate and seeks to gain revenge for the destruction of her home and family.  So they stay.  They use the time to help the wounded in the hospital before evacuations officially began.  There Hem developed skills as a healer quite quickly.

Though Turbansk had survived many attacks, this was not to be one of them.  Battles were waged , including a fight between the deathcrows and a battalion of fowl, but in the end Turbansk fell.  Their only escape at this point it through the caves of Lamarsan.  They traverse through the caves until the arrive at the mostly forgotten underground city of Nal-ak-Burat.  To enter the city, they have to pass through three gates: The Gate of the Dead, The Gate of Dreams, and The Gate of Water.  Inside the city they meet a group of bards and survivors, including a bunch of children.  When it is learned that the dogsoldiers don’t seem to notice children, Hem and Zelika enlist themselves as spies.  Saliman is not happy about it, but relents.  They are trained by Hared, whom Hem dislikes, before they venture back above ground.

While Saliman and Soron, a soldier who has been travelling with them, travel north, Hared, Zelika and Hem travel south into Den Raven to investigate the rumours of child soldiers.  When they arrive at the Glandigur Hills they find the camps containing the child soldiers.  Hem and Zelika are watching them gathering information when suddenly she freaks out and seems to attack some of the kids.  Her brother who she thought was dead has become one of the child soldiers.  She tried to get him to recognise her but he didn’t.  The children had been bewitched.  A skirmish broke out and Zelika got captured and taken into the camp.

Disguising himself as if he was from the Suderain, he infiltrates the camp.  He has to try and save Zelika.  He uses Irc (the bird) to relay information back to Hared, who is none to pleased at them.  He soon discovers that the kids have been ensorcelled by something in the food, which he has not been able to eat.  Try as he might though, he was not able to find Zelika.  He even inflitrated the Blind House, but to not avail.  Before he could do much else, the children were rounded up to march to Dagra.

I’ll end here.  To be honest, in the beginning i was quite perturbed because I had been really getting into Maerad’s journey.  Now I had to follow her brother who I hadn’t really had much exposure to.  Otherwise there isn’t much else to say that I haven’t said in the prior books.  The story is enjoyable and well developed.  The characters are also well developed with exception to their dialogue.  Most the characters voices are similar which is really annoying.  I like Zelika though.  She adds some much needed drama to the story.    I can’t say anything more about her though as not to give away the ending of the book.  I really like the addition of the bird Irc (although the bird on the cover looks more like a pigeon than a crow).  It is unique and different and a great addition like Zelika.  The grammar is also not the best, but like with ‘Twilight’ (which I will be reviewing shortly as I finally read them for one reason which I will reveal in my review) you kind of forget about it after a while.

If you have read the other two, keep reading.  ‘The Crow’ is intriguing and gives more clues to the mystery of the Treesong and the relationship to the siblings and the elemental beings aiding them.  Look forward to the review of the final book ‘The Singing’ to be written in the next week or so.  Enjoy 😉

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