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The Riddle by Alison Croggon

The Riddle (2004)

by Alison Croggon

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1,152197,071 (4.18)24
  1. 00
    Voices by Ursula K. Le Guin (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: Second in a another fantasy series based on a west-facing continent, and involving a young protagonist gifted with supernatural powers.

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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Probably more enjoyable that Book 1 ('The Naming' or 'The Gift'). Good shifts in the plot, good new characters and good new fantasy elements. ( )
  devilish2 | Nov 8, 2017 |
While better in some ways than the first book, there were definitely parts that irritated the... well something out of me anyway. First was the concept of "love" in this novel. Do you seriously expect me to believe that this undefined emotion is really love? I mean what looks like desire (see Maerad's stay with the Winterking) was called "love", the "love" between her and Cadvan was so overstated and thrust down my throat (okay, eyes/brain) until it I was sure that the were going to get married (then divorced, because they argue way too much without reason). Now personally it doesn't matter if if books have this concept or not, but it's a double-edged sword. It could be a good thing, but like all things moderation is key. This novel doesn't show any restraint at all. In terms of plot however the book delivers. However Cadvan's death and subsequent return was way too obvious. I was simply wondering when he would return. Never did it occur to me that he had really died. Also Dharin's death was incredibly easy to predict. Still and all I enjoyed the book. ( )
  lafon | Mar 31, 2013 |
I have just finished to read the complete series and as I am a great epic fan I only can say that I loved these books and was finaly very sad when it came to an end. I thought all the books were very discriptive, the character development was great and the narrative of the books was wonderful. Alison Croggon is a great story teller as you could live the story with the characters. I have read the Lord of the Rings as well, but I've found no more parallels in this books than in any other fantasy novels. The books take you to very well described places and you can imagine them all as you go along, I found the books not boring at all and found it much more difficult to actually put them down. ( )
  drachenbraut23 | Jun 16, 2011 |
Maerad and her mentor, the bard Cadvan, must solve a confusing riddle if evil is to be averted, and Maerad herself appears to be part of that riddle and its solution. To begin to get answers she has to travel to the far north, across snow and ice and sea, with all the accompanying dangers, from humans, nature, and the supernatural. The task seems insuperable, especially when laid on such young shoulders, and in such a hostile world it seems increasingly difficult to know who to trust. And all she has with her is the lyre she inherited from her mother, an instrument which has an integral part to play in the drama that is unfolding.

Christopher Booker’s The Seven Basic Plots suggests that the more different archetypal narratives a novel includes the richer it becomes (Booker admires The Lord of the Rings for this), and on this basis Croggon’s Pellinor series must be rich indeed. The Riddle includes the themes of the Quest, Overcoming the Monster, Tragedy and Voyage and Return, while it is only a matter of time and two more novels before we must surely encounter Rags to Riches, Comedy (in the classical sense) and Rebirth. On this understanding alone The Riddle is very satisfying, even as a middle volume in a sequence.

But novel writing is more than just a matter of narrative structure. First and foremost must come characterisation. Maerad, the young heroine of the tale, would, in a modern context, be just another petulant teenager, a trait which some reviewers have found annoying but is here absolutely right, not just for plot reasons but because that’s exactly what teenagers are normally about. While she is the Chosen One with innate mysterious powers (and you could argue that this is an annoying motif in itself), she still has to rely on her human resourcefulness, her stubbornness, her quick-wittedness and her physical strength. I liked also the roundedness of many of the other characters, even those who appear for such a short time, and even those who don’t support Maerad’s cause.

Other important elements in a story are a sense of place and time, and here Croggon has thought long and hard about the nature of her secondary world. The journey Maerad takes is one we take too, from cold to warmth, from mountains to plains and from habitation to habitation, because her descriptions give us exactly what we require to imagine and sensually feel ourselves there. There is also a clear sense of the passage of time, marked by key dates in the changing seasons (the book ends on midwinter’s day, for example) and Maerad’s monthly periods arriving at the time of the full moon.

Finally, Croggon’s theme is about words (as the title of the book hints). Poetry (real poetry, mind you, not doggerel verse) suffuses both prose and song in her text, recounted in English; and for the linguist too there is much delight in her creation of the languages of Pellinor: the names of peoples, of things, of places, of concepts. And let us not forget the crucial dialogues that Maerad has with key figures in the story; for those who like their fantasy dished up with lashings of action this may be a weakness, but for those who love words, the to-and-fro of conversations and the subsequent conflicts or resolutions that arise from them this must surely be a strength.

A word about Cadvan: as a wizard figure he here has resonances with both Gandalf and Dumbledore, though it is clear that we are to think of him, despite the discrepancy between the aging of Bards and ordinary mortals, as a relatively young man. Like those other two wizards of modern writing he too disappears, and like them his dramatic loss through violence must be felt deeply by the reader, but it is for the reader to find out whether the loss is temporary, as with Gandalf, or permanent, as with Dumbledore.

http://wp.me/s2oNj1-riddling ( )
1 vote ed.pendragon | Mar 15, 2011 |
This book is was absolutly amazing! I can barely put it down and in my opinion it is a perfect sequel to The Naming. Maerad and Cadvan are characters that you come to love. I definatly recommend it. ( )
  platsdevil | Apr 26, 2010 |
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One is the siger, hidden from sunlight Two is the seeker, fleeing from shadows Three is the journey, taken in danger Four are the riddles, answered in treesong: Earth, fire, water, air Spells you OUT!--Traditional Annaren nursery rhyme Annaren Scrolls, Library of Busk
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Maerad was a being of the upper regions of air, bodiless and free, without self or memory or name.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 076363414X, Paperback)

"Maerad’s tale continues, luminous, desperate, and bold. . . . Brimming with archetypal motifs but freshly splendorous in its own right." — KIRKUS REVIEWS (starred review)

Maerad is a girl with a tragic past, but her powers grow stronger by the day. Now she and her mentor, Cadvan, hunted by both the Light and the Dark, must unravel the Riddle of the Treesong before their kingdom erupts in chaos. The quest leads Maerad over terrifying seas and glacial wilderness, until she is trapped in the icy realm of the seductive Winterking. There, Maerad must confront what she has suspected all along: that she is the greatest riddle of all.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:34 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The further translation of a manuscript from the lost civilization of Edil-Amarandah which chronicles the experiences of sixteen-year-old Maerad, a gifted Bard, as she seeks the answer to the Riddle of the Treesong and continues to battle the Dark forces.… (more)

» see all 7 descriptions

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Average: (4.18)
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Candlewick Press

2 editions of this book were published by Candlewick Press.

Editions: 0763630152, 076363414X

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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