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By Singing Light

Pretty much everything here originally appeared at my actual blog: By Singing Light. I particularly focus on upper middle-grade and young adult books. I also enjoy adult genre books, especially speculative fiction.

Currently reading

The Lost Tools of Learning and the Mind of the Maker
Dorothy L. Sayers
The Seventh Bride
T. Kingfisher
Hope in the Dark
Rebecca Solnit
Outrun the Moon
Stacey Lee
Midnight Thief
Livia Blackburne
The White Hart
Nancy Springer
The Great Wall Of Lucy Wu
Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Jim C. Hines
Elizabeth & Leicester: Power, Passion, Politics
Sarah Gristwood
The Seer and the Sword - Victoria Hanley by Victoria Hanley

Opening line--"In the castle of Archeld, Queen Dreea sat at her loom."

Sometimes I go through Amazon's recommendations page, just to see what they think I would like. Every so often something catches my eye and I put it on the TBR list. That was the case with this one.

From the front flap: "Princess Torina lives a charmed life in the kingdom of Archeld. Then her father, King Kareed, seizes the peaceful kingdom of Bellandra--and its legendary sword, rumored able to defeat any enemy. On his return he offers Torina two gifts: a beautiful crystal and the defeated king's son, Landen, as a slave."

Overall, I felt like Hanley took what could have been a fairly stereotypical fantasy and somehow made it feel like it had integrity. There were some very interesting and nuanced characters, as well as a pretty standard baddie. I did feel like I never got a real sense of what distinguished the different countries. Oh, sure, Archeld is warlike while Bellandra is full of art and peace. But what about the smaller, everyday things--language and food and dress? I do really wish that authors would think about these things more often. Still, despite a couple of eye-roll moments (of course Torina has red hair and green eyes), the story felt engaging.

I did notice some fairly clunky writing, however, which definitely pulled me out of the flow. I'm not finding a specific example at the moment and I think it did even out as the book progressed. PW says it's for ages 12 up, and I felt like it was in some ways because Hanley was trying to write for a younger audience and wasn't quite sure how to do it. Just as a final note--there is a LOT of death in this book, more than I would have expected for that age group.

Book source: public library
Book information: Holiday House, 2000