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Wren to the rescue by Sherwood Smith
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Wren to the rescue (original 1990; edition 2004)

by Sherwood Smith

Series: Wren (1)

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263443,310 (4.03)5
Member:infiniteletters
Title:Wren to the rescue
Authors:Sherwood Smith
Info:New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : Firebird, 2004.
Collections:Your library, Ether
Rating:****
Tags:verify, children, children's, fantasy, magic, orphans, friends, royalty, princesses, teleportation, telepathy, escape, shapeshifters, talking animals, dogs, travel, quest, series, Wren, from Bookmooch, small paperback

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Wren to the Rescue by Sherwood Smith (1990)

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A fairly simple read and a semi-classic fantasy. Prisoner taken, questors head off to the big-bad fortress to rescue said prisoner. But still, it was a fun, and fairly light read. The children were a bit younger than I expected, but they came across well enough to be able to handle the adventure, and when the main character gets shape-changed things take an interesting little twist. Good ending, and all comes right, as a proper story should. Nothing to heavy or dark in the story, so it was quite enjoyable for a light read. I did find the 'modern' speech of the children a little bit odd, given the 'medieval' type world they were in, but it did make it easier to follow rather than stiff speech that one might otherwise expect. ( )
  Elentarien | Feb 9, 2011 |
This book starts one of my favorite YA fantasy series. Wren is an excellent heroine. I like that she is not the most beautiful or the smartest, but she is clever and brave and full of surprises. I read this when I was a kid at my library and was so excited to find there were sequels. This started my love affair with Sherwood Smith. A fun and satisfying read. ( )
  SockMonkeyGirl | Aug 19, 2010 |
Wren to the Rescue is the first in a young adult/children's fantasy series by Sherwood Smith (who, by the way, is a woman, not a man). I usually enjoy books of this genre, but this one was a bit of a chore to get through.

Wren is an orphan living in the Three Groves foundling home with her friend Tess. It turns out that Tess is a princess in hiding because of a threat made by Andreus, the evil sorcerer-king whose country borders Meldrith. When the girls are summoned to the palace, it takes about a day before Tess is spirited away by a servant of Andreus. Wren is determined to rescue her friend, and along the way picks up two accomplices: Tyron, a gifted student of magic whose involvement in the rescue mission has endangered his standing with his master; and Connor, a wellborn magic student with no gift for magic whatsoever. Many clichéd happenings ensue before the happy ending.

What struck me most about this book was how derivative it is of Tolkien. So much is borrowed from Middle-earth — and not very well borrowed, either. I started writing down all the likenesses because there are so many:

• The girls' heroine from legend, Eren Beyond-Stars, bears an alarming resemblance to Lúthien
• Twice the party travels underneath mountains through dark, ruinous caves (can you say Moria?)
• They eat sustaining "traveller's cakes" that smell suspiciously of lembas
• They are able to travel on "chraucans," which bear an alarming resemblance to Tolkien's Eagles
• They are chased by "warries," which bear an alarming resemblance to Tolkien's Wargs
• They are spied upon by "gryphs," which bear an alarming resemblance to Tolkien's crebain
• The characters indulge in lots of scrying, with effects very similar to both Ring and Palantirí use

I understand that Tolkien is a cornerstone in the fantasy genre, but if you're going to copy him, don't do it so obviously. Have some creativity, at least!

Besides all this, the characterization is very poor. Wren never comes across as a believable heroine. Somehow she was born with pre-highlighted hair; no doubt this hints at her incredible magic skills. She's a brat. And she's way too cutesy and perky, annoyingly so. She calls the bad guys "baddiepeepers," which is apparently the funniest thing Tyron has ever heard. Magic students must not get out much.

Andreus is very one-dimensional. Evil and violent, muwhahahaha! He even spills his plans of conquest to Tess, his prisoner, like every stereotyped bad guy to ever terrorize a poor countryside. His henchmen are amazingly stupid (who would not notice a dog slipping into a cell right behind the nightly dinner delivery?). And there are so many holes in his guard spells and tracers, I was really starting to wonder about his supposed prowess as a magician. Mmhmm.

The only halfway-interesting person in the story was Idres, the bitter magician who betrayed and escaped Andreus many years before. But even she fell a bit flat, with her constant "wintry smile" and leave-me-alone-I-am-bitter attitude. Predictably enough, she does join in the quest before the end, saving the children from some very stupid mistakes just in time.

I didn't much care for the writing style either; it was awkward in its attempts to be memorable. Take this example from page 126:

"Tears blurred her vision from the icy strength of the wind."

So the icy strength of the wind was blurred in her vision so she couldn't see it? Is her vision blurred by the wind or by her tears? Wouldn't this be so much better as, "Tears from the icy strength of the wind blurred her vision"? Even that has plenty of room for improvement. Some of the other descriptions were similarly clunky. And why does Smith try to make up words to make her fantasy world seem like it has more of a distinct culture? Combining two words into one ("slimeslug") does not constitute creative slang.

The dialogue was okay most of the time, but there were some howlers. Consider this event that happened in Moria*cough* I mean under the mountain:

"A distant hissing noise, too uneven to be water, came to all their ears. As it got louder, they noted an odd, dry quality to the hiss.
'A serpent!' Tyron choked. 'Let's hide.' "
(page 133)

Brilliant plan, Tyron!

The plot was predictable and riddled with convenient happenings. Connor just happens to have been born with the ability to understand animals (great for when Wren gets herself turned into a dog). Grown men — trained soldiers — can be easily beaten if you throw pepper in their faces, or even dirt at a pinch (who needs weapons, anyways?). There is always a poor cottager of some kind or another who will take in travelers for the night, give them a nice warm meal, and load them with useful gifts at parting. Oh, and there are language spells so you don't have to waste time actually studying the language; you can just magically attain it.

With the poor characterization, sometimes laughable dialogue, predictable plot, clunky writing, and just generally unimpressive everything, Wren to the Rescue will very likely be the only Sherwood Smith book I'll ever pick up. Can't recommend this one, except as fodder for snarky review-writing. ( )
6 vote wisewoman | Oct 16, 2009 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Janis Marie Robinson because long ago, when she was eight and I was eleven, I promised.
and to T.K.K. in affection and gratitude for twenty-five years of friendship, laughter, and Belief.
First words
Wren stared at Tess in amazement.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Be careful what you wish for!

All her life, little, irrepressible Wren has hoped for an adventure. Growing up in an orphanage, she even playacted being a hero. But when her wish becomes true, Wren find herself totally unprepared. The adventure involves a kidnapped princess, a handsome prince, and a magician. What does it matter if the princess is only Tess, her best friend from the orphanage; that the prince is a youngest son with no chance of becoming king; and the magician an apprentice? Wren has the chance to be a real hero at last - and she leads the other three over mountains and past killing spells, fighting battles with warrie beasts, warriors and the wicked wizard-king Andreus. But then she finds herself up against some shape-changing magic that may end her life as a human forever...
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142401609, Paperback)

All her life Wren has hoped for an adventure. Now she has one-with a kidnapped princess, a handsome prince, and a magician. What does it matter if the princess is only Tess, her best friend from the orphanage; if the prince is a youngest son with no chance of becoming king; and the magician is an apprentice? Wren leads the other three over mountains and past killing spells, fighting battles along the way. But then she finds herself up against some shape-changing magic that may end her life as a human forever!

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:05 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

With the help of a prince and an apprentice wizard, Wren strives to rescue her best friend, a princess named Tess, from the fortress of a wicked king.

(summary from another edition)

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