Sam Llewllyn's first book in the Lyonesse series might be one I consider purchasing if I have more insatiable fantasy readers next year, but I will wait for several reasons. The main character, Idris Limpet, is a bit young at eleven. While the cover promises monster attacks, the most exciting thing that happens in the first 26 pages is that Idris falls off a building into the sea and is rescued. Unfortunately, pages 30-55 are missing in the copy that the publisher provided to a "book look" I attended, and fearing more names like Spignold, Erys, Mawga and Cayo, (which should be added to my list of pet peeves) as well as mentions of the meals"zupper" and "nuncheon", I am ill-inclined to hunt down another copy.
9/2/09-- Mr. Llewllyn was kind enough to comment on this, and it is only fair to address his concerns.
"Sorry to have excited your pet peeves, though I am unclear as to what they are. Welsh names? Ancient Dorset meal titles? Lack of monster attack on page 1 out of 350? Got out of wrong side of bed in morning?As to the protagonist's age, in life as in fantasy people start young, and get older. If you are even vaguely interested in watching this process (seems unlikely from your general tone) you can witness it in a properly bound copy of The Well Between the Worlds and indeed even the second part of Lyonesse, Darksolstice, available soon."
My pet peeves normally include talking animals, quirky Southern settings, introspective navel gazing. Made up words, especially ones that are repeated ("P-mail" for "pigeon mail" in one book really irritated me.) also set my teeth on edge. It was not entirely clear that the names were Welsh, although I should have taken a hint from the author's name.
This blog is aimed at middle school students, and the protagonist was a bit young FOR MY SCHOOL. Elementary audiences would be fine with the age of the character. I did, in fact, check out a properly bound copy from my local library, and still was not moved to purchase it, although I will certainly look at Darksolstice when it comes out. Some series improve in second books; The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp is not very good, but the second and third books were very good. It's just good to be able to tell students that.
Unfortunately, it is my students who are very firm about the need for monster attacks on page one. This comes up again and again. While I personally can do without that, students are insistent that "things need to happen". I gave my copy of the book to several students, warning them about the missing pages, and asked their opinions. The final verdict did hinge on the age of the characters. As in many cases, this book did not fit the needs of my population. Other libraries may find that it fills a need in their collection.
Non-book news: The shelves are coming down today!