Sorry, that was kind of an epically busy week I didn't plan for. Note: Read All The Newberys will be on a more official hiatus August 6-15 while I'm offline, in case I don't post again before then.
Standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, books are not, Newberys belong to the ALA. No profit is being made from this endeavor. Anonymous commenting is enabled, IP logging and CAPTCHA are on, anon comments are screened for review.Summary:
Dickon, the teenage son of a lord in feudal England, meets Cedric, the teenage son of a yeoman or forester, who is a crack shot. Adventures ensue.Reaction:
Well, the language is fabtabulous. Mr Marshall balances readability with accurate quasi-Shakespearean English better than anyone else I've encountered. All the characters are well-drawn, most of them are likable, and Dickon manages to be a hotheaded teenage boy without making me want to knock him over the head at any point. :D
The plotting is INCREDIBLE. Wikipedia (warning: major spoilers in the book's Wiki summary, that's why I don't link it) mentions that the author was compared favorably to Sir Walter Scott but also quotes a critic disagreeing with this assessment. I have to say - the only way in which Mr Marshall falls short of Sir Walter's standards, imo, is that things HAPPEN in this book, at breathtaking speed. XD Every time I thought I'd figured out what the main story arc might be, it was wrapped up in the chapter and another one introduced. My liveblog post
(spoilers at link!) is full of "I'd predict such-and-such, but I'd probably be wrong".
The research isn't the best, though; I'm pretty sure crossbows - a major plot fulcrum - don't work that way, and I'd've sworn the book was set in the 15th century till most of the way through. ( SPOILER )
For me, the excellent writing made up for that. YMMV. I especially liked the way not everything turns out perfectly but the book isn't a paean to bleakness either; it seemed very realistic to me.Conclusion:
Four stars out of five. I'd have given it five, but I hated the ending, which altered historical events in a way that had some pretty awkward implications. And I refuse to bog myself down in partial stars. ;P
Still highly recommended. To quote my liveblog post, "This is the kind of fast-paced excellent writing I expected from the much-adulated G.A. Henty; why is this book not better known?" Read it here!
Talk to me about it! Seriously, fantastic book, I want to read his other four novels now. (Well, not right