Everyone in the Valley has brown eyes--except 13-year-old Jonathon. Ugly rumors about Jonathon's beautiful red-haired mother are surfacing among the self-righteous Valley folk, as are whispers about her son. He's beginning to worry that he's a "loony-blue," one of the blue-eyed, red-headed Dalriada--the much-feared mountain people who have magnificent horses, mystical powers, and horns growing out of their foreheads. After his mother's sudden death, the whispers grow to angry threats, and Jonathon escapes the Valley and goes in search of his heritage, his manhood, and his true love. In the mountains he experiences a mystical rite of passage that takes him to the Dalriada encampments, through caves echoing with his own spirit voices, to the very top of the world. From the mountain peak he carries back one of the legendary Firegold apples--a gift that brings reconciliation with his father and his rightful home among the Valley people.
Fantasy lovers will enjoy the vivid images and original ideas of this shimmering tale, with layers of philosophy about bigotry, narrow-mindedness, and true identity adding emotional depth. This complex, imaginative first novel bodes well for future titles by Dia Calhoun. (Ages 12 and older) --Patty Campbell
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From School Library Journal
Grade 6-9The girl is hiding behind a large boulder across the river when Jonathon Brae first spots her. Her cap seems to have little horns, her hair is flaming red streaked with gold, and her eyes peer at Jonathon with the same blue sparkle that his have. Then, in an instant, she disappears. Jonathon is terrified. A Dalriada! What is a barbarian doing so far from the Red Mountains? Are they raiding the Valley? He runs home to his loving parents, brown-eyed like the rest of the Valley people, and steps into the middle of an argument. His mother wants his father to wait until Jonathon is 14 to take him to the Red Mountains to hunt; Brian thinks that 12 is old enough, but he leaves without the boy. When he returns, Karena is incensed at the gift he has brought for his son: a black colt with gold streaks in his mane and tail, Rhohar or king of the Dalriadas horse clans. The arrival of this animal changes everything in Jonathons life as he strives to understand what it is about the colt and the Red Mountains that calls to him, why dark ridges have appeared on his forehead, and if he is going crazy as the Valley folk claim. In an all-consuming search for identity, Jonathon sets forth to face any obstacle to become whole. In the tradition of Robin McKinleys The Blue Sword (Greenwillow, 1982) and Lloyd Alexanders Prydain Chronicles, Jonathons quest evokes a timeless struggle for identity amid vivid imagery, heartbreaking loss, and a subtle weave of fantasy.Melanie C. Duncan, Washington Memorial Library, Macon, GA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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