Thursday, 29 April 2010

Wyrmeweald: Returner's Wealth by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

29th April, 2010, Random House Children's Books

416 pages, (this edition proof copy, published edition Hardback)

Review Copy

Children's, 12+, Adventure

Cushions: 3

Daggers: 3

Paperclips: 1

Smiles: 3

Tissues: 4

Nayuleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Young pioneer, Micah, enters Wrymeweald full of hope to return home having made his fortune. But this is a land where wyrmes, fabulous dragon-like beasts, roam wild and reign supreme. In Wyrmeweald man is both hunter and hunted – and seventeen-year-old Micah may never return alive, let alone a hero…After a near-brush with death on the edge of a canyon, Micah soon finds a chance to prove his worth when he meets with Eli, a veteran tracker of Wrymeweald. They choose to defend a rare whitewyrme egg and its precious hatchling before it falls into the hands of a band of evil Kith. But the fledgling wyrme has its own guardian in the shape of the beautiful, brave and dangerous Thrace. Thrace, a Kin and a highly-skilled wyrme rider-assasin; and Micah, a would-be Kith, should never mix - but the magnetism between them is strong. Together they join forces on a mission to rescue the hatchling and seek vengenace for loved-ones lost at the hand of Kith bandits. Meanwhile the glorious whitewyrme colony of Wyrmeweald looks on as its land is encroached by gold-diggers and ravaged by bounty hunters. Is Exodus the only option? And if so, when - and where - will they flee too?

Here be dragons! Truly :) Wyrmes = dragons. Not just the big ones which fly in the sky. There are scavenging dragons, dragons in water, dragons used illegally for entertainment. I like dragons - which is why as I soon as I saw dragons mentioned, I said 'yes' to reviewing this book.

I haven't read any work by Paul or Chris before, and I like their style. They look at several characters' point of view. Admittedly I initially struggled with Micah - purely on the reason that I've only ever heard Micah used as a girl's name. It took about two chapters before I convinced myself that Micah, in this case, is a boy. For a while he wasn't my favourite character - he's a bit smitten with a girl, and in my opinion acts foolishly because of his feelings. However, he grew on me. I still thought he was a slight idiot for what he wanted to do on his quest, however there is great bravery in the way that he keeps his goal in mind, and does all he can to achieve it.

I liked the insight given by povs' from the kith - it heightened the danger knowing what was around the corner for Micah, and made me hate the antagonists even more than if it had just been from Micah's pov.

I had two all time favourite characters. The first, Thrace, is cool! As Wyrme Kin, she is highly attuned to her wyrme's feelings. Her weapon isn't restricted to what she holds in her hand. She's fierce, strongly loyal to her wyrme, and is also quite vulnerable. Events in the story show the softer side of her, a side which had me in tears when certain events unfolded. The 2nd favourite character is one who only appears a handful of times in this installment, but I have a feeling she will appear more in the rest of the series. Heppy doesn't have it easy (less so than Micah and Thrace), but my heart went out to her upon the first mention. I hope there's going to be a lot of room to develop her character.

The concept behind Wyrmeweald is awesome. It did have me thinking a little of Anne McCaffrey's Dragons of Pern series. I've only read one of the books, about 10 years ago now, and I loved it. I think this is a modern version, with a lot more twists in the new world. The harsh setting raises the already high stakes for Micah and Thrace.

The relations between characters: Micah and the wyrm kith, Micah and Thrace (which is bitter-sweet but not for the reasons you'd expect), Thrace and her wyrme - they are all much more complicated then they first appear. The range of human emotions, and roles which humans play in the world are examined thoroughly. Some nuances might be missed by younger readers, but for those readers who do pick up on them, it's a book with lots to think about.

Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell have a fun website, with info about their work here.

I recommended checking out Anne McCaffrey's books on dragons :)


Charlotte said...

Thanks for the review--I'll look for this one.

And I second your McCaffrey recommendation--epecially Dragonsinger...

Nayuleska said...

At some point I'm going to read all of McCaffrey's work.