by Peter Dickinson
Delacorte Press, November, 2001.
Hardcover, 375 pages.
The beautiful and bucolic Valley has been hidden away from the dangerous outside world for over nineteen generations. But the powerful magic that protects the Valley from the marauders and the crooked tax collectors of the nearest big city is beginning to fail. The two types of magic which protect the people of the Valley are inherited: one type through the female line who sing to the trees, and one to through the male line, who can understand what the rivers and lakes have to say. In order to find the powerful magician who can re-charge the magic of the Valley, a very odd foursome set out on an epic journey: Tilja, who is saddened by the apparent lack of the magic that runs in her family, her cranky grandmother Meena, Tahl, a young man, and Tahl's equally cranky grandfather, Alnor. Their quest is full of danger, adventure and meetings with some very odd people indeed. Over the course of the journey, everyone of the travelers will grow and change in interesting ways, and Meena herself will find that, although she does not possess the traditional magic that runs in her family, she does possess some very potent powers which make her a force to be reckoned with.
The Ropemaker is set in an interesting fantasy world, where magic is (literally) in the air, and the majority of the people you meet seem bent on either robbing you or destroying you. The main characters are certainly full of flaws, but they are multi-layered and interesting. Most fascinating of all is the magical system, which seems almost organic in nature. The interplay between Meena, Tahl and their somewhat obstreperous grandparents is most entertaining -- especially when the grandparents go through some very funny changes, indeed. This is a well-imagined and offbeat fantasy tale which should delight thoughtful and educated readers.
The Ropemaker is available for purchase on Amazon.com
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This review was published in the Dec. - Jan., 2002 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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