Monday, March 13, 2006

The Mistmantle Chronicles, Book One: Urchin of the Riding Stars, by M.I. McAllister

(hb; 2005)

From the inside flap:

“On a night of riding stars, a tiny squirrel is found abandoned and close to death on a distant beach. Adopted and raised by a kindly squirrel, Urchin has no idea of his powerful destiny or of the way he will influence the island of Mistmantle.

“The rule of the good King Brushen and Queen Spindle is threatened by an evil plot from within the court. When their young son is found murdered, the isle is thrown into turmoil. Behind the scenes, the wicked Lord Husk and Lady Aspen are determined to take control. But to underestimate the power of the islanders and the ancient prophecies is a mistake...”

Review:

Rousing, swift-moving adventure, this, with hiss-worthy villains (especially the eugenics-minded Lord Husk and Lady Aspen), cheer-worthy heroes, tragedy, romance, medieval fantasy and humor as its defining attributes.

One might be tempted to pick Urchin of the Riding Stars apart for elements culled from the Harry Potter series, The Lord of the Rings, the Redwall series, et cetera, but to do so would be to deny oneself the pleasure of reading an exuberant children’s book, full of classic heroics, flashy swordplay and memorable, often endearing, characters.

The denouement, true to fantasy-series form, is open-ended with not-so-subtle hints of things to come (especially in regards to Urchin), while providing a finish suitable for a stand-alone novel.

A highly gratifying read. Can’t wait to read the next book (thus far untitled), whenever it comes out.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Yep, Mistmantle has a Watership Down influence running through it, but Mistmantle's setting, a medieval castle/tower, etc, differentiates it from Richard Adams's landmark fantasy.

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