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The Ash Spear Paperback – June 10, 2009
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The neat, dove-tailed fit of each story/chapter makes each both a stand-alone tale and part of the larger adventure. That dovetailed fit applies to the novels within the series as well as to the chapters within each book. This would allow the reader to experience The Ash Spear without first reading the other two books of the series, but I don't know why anyone would want to do that. Each novel is so fascinating, you're bound to want to follow Young Gwernin's tale from the beginning.
The consistent high quality of these tales continues to amaze and delight me. The consistent high quality of these tales continues to amaze and delight me. I found the well-written novel easy to follow, and hard to put down. Each chapter left me eager to read more, and this book has left me on the edge of my seat while I await publication of the 4th book in the series. Let the adventure continue!
This ebook was provided to me by the author, free in exchange for review. This review is simultaneously being published on Dragon Views, LibraryThing, Amazon.com and anywhere else I deem appropriate.
Once again we follow Gwernin Storyteller on his quest to learn the trade and lore of the bard, and once again Grove crafts a rich portrayal of the lands, people, and culture of 6th century Britain. As she did in adding a bit more action in Flight of the Hawk, Grove adds another element to the story, balancing the inclusion of a larger sense of the more spiritual or supernatural elements of British lore with the flow of characters, culture, and action already attained in the series. Also, to this reader at least, the wonderful flashes of humor used throughout the series really hit at the right moments in this book, both cutting and creating tension in the tale even more so than in the previous volumes.
Overall, I think this is the best of the three Storyteller books.
The series follows Gwernin, a young storyteller in the generation after Arthur as he travels across the land, much of the time with Taliesin the bard. In this book the story becomes an adventure filled with dispute and rivalries and many a self contained short tale. It culminates in a thrilling adventure, through which the young storyteller comes of age. Whether that is the end of his tale is not clear, but it wraps things up in a satisfying manner for this book at least.
The research is as good as the story here. We are treated to snippets from early medieval writings, and allusions to others. The Gododdin feature in this story, and there are also allusions to Anglo Saxon literary tradition and just a snippet of Old English. All this adds wonderfully to that sense of place I mentioned.
The author's historical note makes clear on one area where the story departs deliberately from the more commonly accepted view of the 6th Century bardic tradition - but again, as the notes say, the literary tradition is nevertheless not always supported by the archeological evidence. They don't call this the dark ages for nothing! So for the purposes of a good work of fiction, no one would quibble with the digression I think.
So this book was an enjoyable read. It may be hard going for anyone unfamiliar with Welsh names and pronounciation, but that all adds to the flavour of the book. Anyone enjoying historical novels or celtic themes should enjoy this variation on the coming of age theme.