This review is part of Stacie and Maia’s Random Reads
Publisher: Chicken House
Release Date: First Published September 28th 1999
Summary (From Goodreads):
Welcome to a world from another time — where legendary half-creatures still exist. A world where nature itself can be controlled by unearthly music. A world where the forces of good and evil are held in harmony by the Singers who have mastered the secret Songs of Power. A world on the brink of destruction, threatened by a dark lord whose evil knows no bounds. Rialle and Kherron, two novice Singers, are all that’s left to stand in the enemy’s way. Stranded in a strange land with only one another to rely on, these former rivals must work together if they are to survive. In a timeless coming-of-age journey, Rialle and Kherron discover the strength of spirit that lies within them in their quest to help good triumph over evil.
I picked this book for Stacey as part of our Random Reads feature. I feel like I should announce my bias towards it, as it’s one I’ve loved since I first read it (probably about 14 years ago) and I’ve tried to read it with fresh eyes, but I know part of me is just loving revisiting that world that enchanted me so much as a child.
That said, I’m just going to gush and say I adored it all over again.
The fantasy world that Roberts introduces you to is well developed and just beautiful. Blue haired Singers who use magical songs? Check. Playful but abused fantasy creatures? Check. Creepy priests and warriors with bones in their hair? Check.
Apparently that’s all I need for a good fantasy story.
Well, not all I need. I love the dual point of view, and how different they are. Rialle has always been my favourite, as the ‘good girl’ and just the fact that she was a young girl, like me (or not so much like me now!) but this time round I really appreciated Kherron’s version of events. A bit of an anti-hero, he manages to fight for the right side in the end, but it doesn’t feel like he changes too much as a character – not in a bad way, he just keeps his personality while adjusting his actions.
The relationship between Rialle and Frenn, and Rialle and Singer Toharo are some of my favourites, as are the interactions with the half-creatures. While there might be some romantic undercurrents, it’s great to see a book that doesn’t revolve around that kind of thing. I find friendships more interesting than romances.
There are so many wonderfully fleshed out characters, I can’t go into them all here, but favourites for me include the Khizpriest, our villain who wants to destroy the Singers (and gives me the chills), and Lord Javelly, a young lordling who eats half creatures and thinks he can trick the Singers.
The treatment of the half creatures is a really interesting issue. When Rialle is horrified at people eating merlee eggs, I am too, and think it’s awful to eat their unborn children, but then I remember I do that to chickens on a weekly basis…interesting (though probably not the place to go into that kind of thing).
This is a fantastic start to a trilogy that introduces a world full of magic and possibilities, and sets the foundations for the next two books, which skip ahead a generation so we see what happens to the Singers and their Isle over a longer period of time (which I love). As a book from my childhood, it brings a lot of nostalgia, but all that aside, I think it’s a fantastic fantasy novel that anyone could enjoy.
You can pop over to Stacie’s blog and see her review here.