This week’s book review features The Naming by Alison Croggon.
Quick plot synopsis: Maerad lived a slave’s life in Gilman’s Cot, a dismal hovel deep within a forsaken valley. While tending to the cows one day, a mysterious man appears, whom only she can see. The next day, the man tells her she has a powerful gift and if she chooses to leave with him, she can live a free life and learn the ways of Barding magic, since he sees Barding potential in her.
Thus begins a dramatic journey wrought with danger and friendship, covering a myriad of fantasy themes including a vicious war between good and evil, love, conquest, prophecy and coming to terms with your identity.
My thoughts: For young adult fiction, I felt that Croggon does a admirable job of writing an intelligent fantasy story. The magic system surrounded by Barding and “The Speech” is an interesting enigma that develops well in the later novels from the series. The Naming is the first in a series of four, and I believe Croggon expertly lays the foundation and blueprint for the upcoming conflicts and additional developments in the stories to come.
Character wise, I have to say Croggon relies on a series of well accepted fantasy tropes. Maerad’s rescuer and mentor, Cadvan plays the wise, old mentor role, Maerad the naive Chose One, etc. That being said, I found the characters so engaging and endearing, I did not mind the stereotyping.
While I would not say this an incredibly original fantasy tale, I found it a very enjoyable one. If you have a love for young adult fiction, especially fantasy, I’d be more than willing to recommend The Naming.