Bored with the everyday chores and sheep herding, he can't help himself from playing practical jokes on everyone, from Eyjolf the old servant, to his brother and sister. But when he plays a trick on Ragnor of the House of Hakonsson, he goes too far, setting in motion a chain of events that will forever alter his destiny.
Because of it, Halli will have to leave home and go on a hero's quest. Along the way, he will encounter highway robbers, terrifying monsters, and a girl who may finally be his match. In the end, he will discover the truth about the legends, his family, and himself. Jonathan Stroud's new work is a hero's saga and coming-of-age, as well as a surprising look at what bravery really means.
©2009 Jonathan Stroud; (P)2009 Listening Library
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
This is an entertaining, fresh take on the pseudo-Icelandic saga fantasy genre, filled with believable and very human characters (even the "villains"), unexpected plot developments, suspenseful and yet funny scenes, and a well-realized world. Author Stroud deftly adapts that genre to the young adult market, depicting an appealing young underdog protagonist struggling to find his place in his world: short, stubby, swarthy, homely, brave, clever, resourceful, and witty Halli. The relationship between Halli and his girl friend Aud is wonderful, for they are well-matched and feisty with and loyal to each other. Aud is a great female character: independent-minded and at least as intelligent, spunky, and humorous as Halli. The interplay between the scary, comical, and imaginative heroic legends that begin each chapter and the real world heroism that Halli must learn and attempt is fascinating. I listened to the book with a delicious sense of not knowing what would happen next but being sure that whatever did happen would be interesting and just right. There is at one point, for example, a brilliant showdown featuring a fever, a lost voice, a revelation, and a fight to the death with a poker, crockery and food-stuffs, a pair of skewers, a fireplace, and tapestries that is worth the price of admission alone.
Reader David Thorn is perfect, reading the story with a rich, dry, almost tongue in cheek tone that makes it feel as if a favorite uncle were telling you exciting legends by the fireplace. All in all a pleasurable and rewarding audiobook.
My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.
He secreted himself, Your apology is threadbare and She had a voice that loosened earwax are just a small example of the creative language used in this story. I found myself listening just to hear how things where described. JS is a master of the English language.
The book starts out with this line, Listen Then, and I'll tell you again of the Battle of the Rock. The book is filled with several of these stories and the main story is a story being told to children. The book started with the promise of being about Heroes fighting what I thought they said was Trolls. The hard copy spells it Trows. It ended up being mostly a story about a coming of age Prince? who wants to be a hero, only he is very short and squat. He is not exactly hero looking or princely looking. With out giving the story away, let me say this does not stop him or slow him down.
I liked the character development, the main story, the humor and the vocabulary. In the middle it did get a little boring and there was not as much exploring out of the valley as I would have liked, but I found I did enjoy the book has a whole very much. Not quite enough to give it a fifth star, but enough to want to read more Jonathan Stroud. There is also a strong female character in the book, sometimes stronger then the hero.
This is supposed to be a young adult, but that is only because it does not have sex in it. I believe because of how well it is written that adults will like it more then kids.
Narrator does an excellent job.
An epic adventure fit into one book, this story contains many twists and surprises that would be spoiled by giving any details - Other than that the main character and his befriended ally, a girl his age, discover the truth of a great mystery of their people despite fearful dangers and murderous enemies. The author skillfully plants clues throughout the story which so involves the reader in the unfolding adventure that it practically creates vicarious memories. You actually feel as if you have been through the experience yourself and leaves a definite impression on your thoughts afterwards. I only hope when "they" make the movie "they" don't screw it up, but considering the track record - I definitely recommend not waiting for the film and getting the experience first from the real thing.
5 stars for youth and adult alike.
An epic adventure fit into one book, this story contains many twists and surprises that would be spoiled by giving any details - Other than that the main character and his befriended ally, a girl his age, discover the truth of a great mystery of their people despite fearful dangers and murderous enemies.
Not much of a writer myself, but stroud should be ashamed of publishing this one. I've read his bartimeaus series, and thought this might be reasonably the same. One word, dissapointed, that's sums it up.
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