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The Singer of All Songs, The: Chanters of Tremaris, Book One: Chanters Of Tremaris Book One (Chanters of Tremaris Trilogy) Hardcover – March 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews Review

Aussie author Kate Constable has brought a music inspired fantasy to the States that is on a par with celebrated works like Edith Pattou's East, and The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman. In The Singer of All Songs, young Calwyn is a Daughter of Tarsis, an order of priestesses who have mastered the ice call--a singing power over cold and frost. She lives with her sisters behind an enormous wall of ice that separates their small valley from hostile neighbors in the tensely divided lands of Tremaris. This seemingly impervious barrier is breached by a wounded "Outlander" named Darrow, who comes to the priestesses with a wild tale about an evil Sorcerer named Samis who has sworn to learn the Nine Chantments of the separate lands of Tremaris so that he can rule them as the powerful Singer of All Songs. When the elder priestesses dismiss his rantings and ord! er his sacrifice to the Goddess, Calwyn becomes determined to save his life and join his quest. Together, the two new friends travel into dangerous territories, assembling a rag tag crew of comrades along the way who agree to help prevent Samis from mastering the Nine Chantments. Constable has bewitchingly reinterpreted pagan lore for a new generation, and Singer will easily find an appreciative audience amongst devotees of Tamora Pierce and Garth Nix. Although the pacing of the novel is decidedly measured in places, it only helps the reader appreciate the author's rich characterizations and imaginative settings. Young fantasy fans will find much to sing about in this first installment of a planned trilogy. --Jennifer Hubert

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 7-10. Tremaris is a broken world, whose peoples "were divided by the gods, each against the others, into their separate lands." It's also a magical world, but its magic has been likewise divided; each realm has been granted one of eight "chantments" (powers worked through song). Cloistered behind a wall of ice, Calwyn is a novice priestess in one of the last remaining realms to practice its ancient chantment: ice-call, the ability to control all things cold. When a man breaches the wall and brings news of a sorcerer who aims to rule Tremaris by becoming the Singer of All Songs, a master of every chantment, Calwyn becomes a key member of a small band determined to thwart his plot. The villain meets his end in a confrontation that is too swiftly resolved to be wholly satisfying, but Constable's detailed vision of her world, the precise way its magic operates, and her extremely likable cast help the story transcend the rather familiar parameters of its primary conflict. Fans of Ursula K. LeGuin will recognize echoes of Earthsea (especially The Tombs of Atuan) in Tremaris, but instead of objecting to the similarities, they will welcome Constable's respectful reinvention--and eagerly anticipate the next two installments in her Chanters of Tremaris trilogy. An impressive debut by an author who clearly has much to contribute to the fantasy genre. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 910L (What's this?)
  • Series: Chanters of Tremaris Trilogy (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (March 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439554780
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439554787
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #320,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Mo VINE VOICE on October 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I've reached a point where the thought of reading about yet another fantasy heroine who is a) sixteen, b) spunky, c) beginning to discover a vast amount of magical potential, and/or d) of mysterious parentage, makes me groan and reach for another book. It is a sort of compliment to Kate Constable that, in spite of endowing her heroine Calwyn with all four qualities, she has written a book I enjoyed and think I'll probably read the two forthcoming sequels to.

The plot of The Singer of All Songs, reduced to basics, involves the quest of a small group of young people trying to prevent a power-hungry prince from achieving world domination through the mastery of magic. This should sound familiar to all fantasy readers, and it isn't necessarily a discommendation-- after all, everyone from Tolkien to Lloyd Alexander has used something similar. The details, of world, characters, and magic, are what determine merit, and Kate Constable's aren't quite up there yet. The Singer of All Songs is a very readable YA fantasy that falls short of true excellence.

The magic of the world of Tremaris is based on sung 'chantments' in nine disciplines: ice, iron, wind, fire, tongue, beast, seeming, becoming, and a final ineffable one related to the Goddess. Differing vocal range and pitch have something to do with the practice of each, but exactly how the chantments work and why is largely left unexplained. It's an interesting idea, but as a previous reviewer has pointed out, there aren't enough guidelines to govern the magic. Similarly what details are provided about the lands of Tremaris are wonderful, from the way honey is integral to Antaris's culture and used at breakfast and in the sickroom alike, to the unvocal speech of the tree people and the university at Mithates.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Herman HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Sixteen-year-old Calwyn has lived almost her entire life behind the ice walls of Antaris, never seeing the rest of the world of Tremaris. Her mother had left Antaris as a young woman and brought baby Calwyn back shortly before her death, but she knows little of her father, only that he was an outsider. She is one of the ice priestesses of Antaris, working to keep their home safe from intruders. But one day, while inspecting the wall, she finds a stranger from the outside, a man named Darrow. By rescuing Darrow, she sets off a chain of events that will take her far from Antaris and lead to a showdown with an evil sorcerer who wants to take over all of Tremaris.

I really loved this book, and found it to be a unique fantasy compared to others I read. The story kept my interest all the way through, I really liked the characters, and I loved the world Kate Constable has created in this book. I loved the second book in this trilogy as well, and I cannot wait to read the conclusion. I highly recommend this book to teens who love fantasy.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Greta on August 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Kate Constable's first book is an overall pleasant read. It tells of Calwyn, who lived in Antaris where women learn the chantment Ice-call. This magic is performed by singing, and is one of nine forms of chantment in the world. She leaves the cloistered Antaris and goes on a voyage with the Sorceror Darrow, travelling to many places in order to defeat Samis, who is trying to take over the world by mastering each of the nine forms of chantment.

There were two major flaws in the book. This first was that the minor characters lacked depth. Even though a good part of the book centered on the death of a minor character, I did not feel attached to him or sad about his death. This is common for first novels, and I expect it to improve in the sequel. The second flaw was that the plot resolved itself fairly predictably. Veteran fantasy readers will find no suprises in the last hundred pages. However, I expect that as Constable gains confidence, this, too, will change in the second and third volumes.

Overall, the prose is enjoyable, and the main characters are likeable. This book is recommended for light reading during down time.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mollie Marie on March 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I'm an avid reader, but lately tired of magic. It was all the same, and bored me to death. As I read The Singer of All Songs, the flame was instantly relit. It's a wonderful book, and caused me to excercise some of my computer knowledge and start a fan club. The only board ready at the moment is


But I'm working on extending it. The book is amazing and a definite read for anyone looking for a wonderful fantasy book. My only complaint is that there are only three books!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Book and Music Critic- All Genres on May 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If it were possible to rate something a three and a half, so I would have rated this. Since I cannot, I went with the higher number.
"Singer of All Songs" is a wonderful introduction to the fantasy genre (though I would not go so far as to say it's on a par with the Golden Compass). I especially love Constable's emphasis on music in the world of magic, as they're something I've often felt go hand in hand. Hardcore fantasy readers may find that some of the elements are overused (which is difficult to avoid in fantasy), though it's still an entertaining read.
My main complaint is that, as the book progresses, there seems to be a lack of development as far as the laws of the magic go. I began to feel as if pretty much anything were possible, which is a nice idea until one realizes that there can be no real challenges for the characters to overcome if they can do everything. The magic in the story is not consistent with what the author wants us to believe. For instance, in the beginning we are lead to believe that learning the different chants and magical modes is something extremely difficult and rare. Yet, Calwyn runs into so many master enchanters completely at random, and then herself learns so many modes in a matter of days and with little effort, that one begins to doubt that there is any difficulty to learning the chantments at all. In a nutshell, Constable is a little to impressed and self-indulgent with her characters to fully satisfy those readers who look particularly close at the story and are not satisfied with being only partially convinced (me).
That being said, I feel I should point out that the above is a magnified close-up of my critical opinion, and the book is by no means lacking merit. It kept my interest the entire way through, the descriptions were good, and it was overall an enjoyable book. And I would certainly be interested in reading the next book in the trilogy... when will it be published?!
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