Monday, April 25, 2011

The Ropemaker (MG/YA)

The Ropemaker. Peter Dickinson. 2001. Random House. 384 pages.

It had snowed in the night. Tilja knew this before she woke, and waking she remembered how she knew. Somewhere between dream and dream a hand had shaken her shoulder and she'd heard Ma's whisper.

The Ropemaker reminded me of all the reasons I love reading fantasy. Did I love it? I didn't want it to end! I wanted to savor every moment of it. Why? Well, because I loved not only the characters, not only the story, but the world Peter Dickinson created! My favorite character happens to be our heroine, Tilja.

Tilja's valley has almost always--twenty generations--been protected by magic. Protected from its neighbors--those who would love to tax, tax, tax in the name of "providing protection" and those who would invade and plunder and conquer. There is a story passed down through the generations--a story some scarcely believe these days--about how the valley came to be protected. A story about two people on a quest for a magician named Asarta. We learn this story in chapter two. Here is how it starts:

There was time in the Valley, of course--how could there not be? But there was no history. In all the rich farmland between the northern mountains and the forest there were no wars, or reports of wars, only days, seasons, generations. No kings or other rulers, only parents, grandparents, ancestors. For eighteen generations nothing had happened in the Valley that anyone would have thought worth putting in a book, or setting up a memorial stone to record. So, no history. Only time. And the story of Asarta. (17)

Did I mention I love the writing?! Well, I did!!! Anyway, Tilja, our unlikely heroine, joins three others on a quest to "save" the magic that protects them. For they know the magic is fading, that soon unwelcome guests might invade--when they realize the truth. So Tilja and her grandmother, Meena, and Tahl, and his grandfather, Alnor, set out on a dangerous and uncertain journey. Their quest is to find the magician, Faheel, the magician who first helped the Valley all those generations ago. Is he still alive? Can he be found? Does he want to be found? Will he help them? Can he help them? Has his powers grown stronger or weaker through the years?

The Ropemaker is about their journey, their quest, as they face countless dangers, as they meet many, many people along the way. This journey will require them to be wise and courageous and diligent. To protect the Valley, to protect their families, their homes, their villages, they may have to risk it all.

I enjoyed this one very much! I'd definitely recommend it.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

3 comments:

mouseprints 8:44 AM  

I was so glad to read your review of this book, as I recently acquired it, but haven't had a chance to read it yet.

Lena Sledge 10:18 AM  

Sounds like a great book. I really love the cover of the book. It's beautiful.

Ladybug 1:14 AM  

Wonderful review, Becky. This sounds like a story I might like :)

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
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  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
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  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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