Hello! Spring’s finally arrived, people! We’re on our second lawn mowing, prepping gardens, and venturing forth on bike rides (almost got lost the other day . . .) With so much to do, it’s a wonder we have time for everything. But then, all we can do is one thing at a time and just keep plugging along, right? Like Dori says: “Just keep swimming . . . just keep swimming . . .”
But don’t forget to stop and smell the roses, or you’ll find that they’ve faded and you missed them altogether, and that would be sad.
I know that in my last review I said I would be reading volume two of the Tales of the Otori: Grass for His Pillow. Well, I did. I’m glad I did, because I liked this one better than the first ─ enough to encourage me to keep on (I’m currently working through volume three, Brilliance of the Moon). The story develops more and so do the characters. Takeo finally gets some insight and direction about who he is and what he wants, with a dash of foretelling thrown in ─ which was a good call. I suppose I’m in for the long haul with this one, so I’ll be back with an overall review when I’m finished.
As for this week, I’m sharing some thoughts about another book/series on my shelf ─ the shelf of Ultimate All-Time Favorites. Seriously people, this story is so good. You know those books where you can just keep rereading them without ever getting bored? (They do exist) This is one of them.
Title: Rowan of Rin
Series: Rowan of Rin
Author: Emily Rodda
My rating: 5 of 5
Bravest heart will carry on when sleep is death, and hope is gone.
Rowan doesn’t believe he has a brave heart. But when the river that supports his village of Rin runs dry, he must join a dangerous journey to its source in the forbidden Mountain. To save Rin, Rowan and his companions must conquer not only the Mountain’s many tricks, but also the fierce dragon that lives at its peak.
I can’t remember when I discovered these Rowan of Rin books, but it was ages ago, and I am so very glad I did, because they’re all beautiful. Yes, they’re directed toward a younger audience, and perhaps a bit more ‘simplistic’ than the longer storylines and convoluted plots of other novels, but there is a beauty in that simplicity. This series is one of my all-time favorites, and I picked this first book up after finishing a longer novel while waiting for the next to come in at the library. It only took me a couple hours, but once again I was transported back to that wonderful place called Rin and the characters I’d come to love.
In this first book we’re introduced to young Rowan, our hero throughout all five books in the series. He’s the ‘small and timid’ type of protagonist, unaccepted by the bigger and stronger people around him and struggling with finding his place and worth. The story provides a test of courage for Rowan that will prove to everyone ─ including himself ─ that even skinny rabbits can have brave hearts, too.
I have to say, it was a good time for me to read this, in light of the challenges I’m facing with writing this next book of mine. My own protagonist is struggling with many of the same issues as Rowan, so reading this has actually offered some insight and redirection about how to handle the problems facing my own characters. It’s amazing, how things work together like that.
So, not only is this test of courage a worthy tale, and Rowan a sympathetic a likeable guy, but there are other aspects that I loved about this story, such as the implied history, giving depth to the world we’re in but not going into lengthy and unnecessary expositions. There’s also the wise woman, Sheba (who for ages I kept getting confused with Shelob of Lord of the Rings . . . both are pretty creepy). She’s an enigma even to the villagers, with somewhat strange, uncanny powers of foresight and prophecy. The quests that Rowan undergoes always are accompanied by lyrical oracles instigated by her, providing warning and direction as he and his companions move forward along their way.
These books are an inspiration for my own writing and a reminder of why I love the fantasy genre so much. I highly suggest you give this story a try; it’s a quick read but wholesome in heart and cleverness, a definite ‘job well done’.