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The Ropemaker by Peter Dickinson
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The Ropemaker (2001)

by Peter Dickinson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Ropemaker (1)

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Printz Award. RGG: Fantasy fiction. Slow; overly detailed writing.
  rgruberexcel | Oct 15, 2012 |
Printz Award. RGG: Fantasy fiction. Slow; overly detailed writing.
  rgruberexcel | Sep 22, 2012 |
Printz Award. RGG: Fantasy fiction. Slow; overly detailed writing.
  rgruberexcel | Sep 2, 2012 |
Peter Dickinson is the grand old man of young adult fiction, and The Ropemaker - mostly - is a good demonstration of why. His tale opens with a bang and the pace rarely lets up, though this does lead to some slight structural issues near the end.

Talja has lived in the valley her whole life. Sandwiched between a glacial mountain range and a forest impassable to men, the valley has been at peace for twenty generations. But something is wrong, and Talja - along with her grandmother and two others - is going to have the leave the valley before their peace is irrevocably shattered.

Something I really loved about this book: Dickinson doesn't condescend to his younger readers, and his prose is mature, cinematic, and free of the heavy exposition, genre fads, and patronising that can sink lesser YA writers. His characters are believable and well-drawn, and his world feels tactile and established - something the characters fall into, rather than a hasty construction built on spec just for them.

There's a lot of magic in The Ropemaker, and whilst it lacks the meticulous detail of Nix's Abhorsen trilogy, for example, I really enjoyed its power and immensity. Magicians are nothing short of demigods in The Ropemaker, and they protect their power zealously. These political undercurrents added a richness and maturity that I really appreciated - all the more so because it wasn't lost on its young protagonists.

Unfortunately, there is one issue that lets the book down: its ending. Dickinson has trouble with his climax; it's preceded by so much spectacular and exciting action, it's difficult for him to establish that _this is the one that really matters_. It's over very quickly, with a drawn-out denouement that's neither necessary, nor helpful in separating it as the final climax.

These issues are compounded by a practically deus ex machina villain and the feeling that it couldn't go any other way for the protagonists. There's a point two-thirds of the way through the book where the real climax happens, and everything after that lacks the immediacy and pleasurable surprise of what's preceded it.

A kid probably wouldn't notice or perhaps care about this so much, but I couldn't help feeling a few rewrites would have helped The Ropemaker finish at the level it started on - a very high level indeed. It doesn't invalidate the pleasure of this book, but it does lessen it somewhat, and bring it down from an excellent, to merely good. ( )
  patrickgarson | May 15, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter Dickinsonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Andrew, IanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dinyer, EricCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
The Cost of Living

For Robin

Go then, adventurer, on your vivid journey;
Though once again, of course, I cannot join you--
That is as certain as your happpy ending.
The one-armed captain in the pirate harbor
Would know me in an instant for a Jonah.
No gnome would ever speak with me for witness,
And so let slip the spell-dissolving answer
Before you'd even heard the sacred riddle.
I, as it happens, know it from my reading,
But the blind queen would ask it in a language
Not in the syllabus of my old college,
But which your loved, illiterate nanny taught you.

No, I will stay home and keep things going,
Conduct the altercation with the builders,
Hoe the allotment, fix the carburetor.
I'm genuinely happier with such dealings;
It isn't merely that they pass the seasons
Until I hear your footstep on the threshold.
The I will sit and listen to your story
With a complacently benign amazement,
Believing it because it's you that tell it.
And when you've done, and I have asked my questions,
I for the umpteenth time on such homecomings
Will say what's happened to the cost of living.
First words
It had snowed in the night.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385730632, Paperback)

Tilja has grown up in the peaceful Valley, which is protected from the fearsome Empire by an enchanted forest. But the forest’s power has begun to fade and the Valley is in danger. Tilja is the youngest of four brave souls who venture into the Empire together to find the mysterious magician who can save the Valley. And much to her amazement, Tilja gradually learns that only she, an ordinary girl with no magical powers, has the ability to protect her group and their quest from the Empire’s sorcerers.


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:52 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

When the magic that protects their Valley starts to fail, Tilja and her companions journey into the evil Empire to find the ancient magician Faheel, who originally cast those spells.

» see all 2 descriptions

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