- Age Range: 10 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 5 - 7
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (February 28, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0547370253
- ISBN-13: 978-0547370255
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 26 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,345,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Star Shard Hardcover – February 28, 2012
|New from||Used from|
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
About the Author
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Set in the sort of fantasy world that could be Tolkien or Jordan elementary school-level, the story is geared toward the kiddie audience with no effort to be hip or more mature. He tells the story of Cymbril, a slave on board a traveling market who befriends Loric, a kidnapped boy of the Fay race. Determined to escape, they lead a story that is thoroughly enchanting. Beyond the Sidhe fairies there are all the best elements of magic: strange other-wordly creatures, enchantments, spells, allusions to classic mythology and fairy tales.
The characters are well-developed and interesting to read, as well as being quite accessible to the younger crowd. The writing is wonderful, simple and fluid and spot-on in its wording. To me, it's the kind of writing young readers should be reading.
"The Star Shard" is one of those rare books that just aren't seen that often anymore. It's simply wonderful.
Delightful adaptation from the novella Durbin did in Cricket magazine. I really can now visualize the vast Thunder Rake and the characters(both new and old). The idea of a mechanized wagon city mixed with fair folk and magic really made for a lot of fun. I like how all the things came together at the end. Such examples as to the Curdlebree sisters, the cats, and other critters around the Rake.
I like how Cymbril feels a sense of loyalty and dedication to helping her friends and (even her enemies at times). She may not likes some, but she wins even the haters' respects. Seems like more though could be said about Brigit's knowledge of our heroine, and the feared Lady Wildhair. Perhaps that part will be for another tale waiting to be told (a sequel maybe?).
However, despite getting off on the wrong foot, Frederic Durbin managed to win me over. "The Star Shard" is an engaging, delightful, and even in an odd way, believable story filled with likeable, understandable and well-developed characters and enough action to keep you turning the page.
Cymbril is a slave who travels aboard the Rake, having been purchased long ago under rather mysterious circumstances which she can only vaguely remember. Her parents are no longer around, apparently having died in an epidemic, but they left her two treasures, a glowing stone and a hairpin, which seem to have magical properties. The master of the Rake, Rombol, a cunning entrepreneur who knows a commodity when he sees one, discovered that little Cymbril could sing like a bird, so he made her the "Thrush of the Rake", singing at each market stop to attract visitors/buyers. Because of her value, Cymbril is given somewhat more privileges and freedom of movement than other slaves, but a slave she is nonetheless. She spends much of her free time prowling the Rake's lesser traveled corridors and hiding places, discovering magical rooms, communing with the Rake's cats, and sitting peacefully with the gentle Armfolk who tell her bits of news and history of the Rake and the world outside the Rake.
Cymbril's restless life continues apace until the day she happens upon a captive Fey boy, Loric, being brought aboard the Rake and sold to Rombol by a mysterious woman of the wild. The boy is chained and forced to use his ability to see in the dark to help the Rake navigate at night to make better time. Cymbril pities the boy and is oddly drawn to him. She makes excuses to meet him, and eventually the two are bound together in their desire, even need, to escape the Rake.
Several disparate threads of the plot weave in and out, often seemingly randomly. Cymbril's brushes with the vain, empty-headed Curdlebree sisters, her venture to the Night Market, hints of Cymbril's true lineage, a grotesque frog that seems to show up all too often, the master's Dog Bale, and whispers of a terrible evil brought on board. But eventually all of these random threads weave neatly into a complete tapestry, converging on the night Cymbril and Loric attempt their desperate escape to the Fey world. There is more than enough mystery and action to keep you flipping pages until you've finished all 303 fast-pace pages.
In the end it comes down to time-honored themes of freedom, love, loss and sacrifice. Although she is a slave, owned and controlled, and although she knows she doesn't fit in, Cymbril has come to love the Rake in a way - can she leave it behind for good? And what else will she sacrifice for the one she loves?
There is nothing terribly new or unique about "The Star Shard". With the possible exception of the Rake itself, pretty much every element can be found in other fantasy books: a child of unknown parents, a magical world, communication with animals, baleful creatures, scheming witches - it's all in there. But Durbin breathes just enough freshness into the book to set it above most fantasy books. The names he choses for people and places are all pleasing and evocative. His descriptions of marketplaces - whether the usual stops along the Rake's journey or the Night Market - are vivid enough that we feel we're there. Even the Rake, for all its very unbelievableness, becomes a real and believable place.
But most of all I think what really pulls this book off are the characters. All the characters are real, complex and believable. None are caricatures of good or evil. Several are in many ways unlikeable, but nearly all have redeeming qualities which make them truly human, even the non-humans. Rombol, for instance, is a slave owner, but he's an honest merchant and a fair dealer. Wiltwain is a slave overseer, but he is fair and he cares for his people in his way. Even the vain Curdlebree sisters and the revolting frog have their good points.
There are a couple petty annoyances which keep me from giving the book a full five stars. While most of the threads of the story are neatly wrapped up, there are a few left dangling. For instance, we learn very little about Cymbril's parents, and the wild woman who brought Loric aboard makes a few mysterious appearances, but remains a shadowy question. And there's much more to be learned about the the Rake's original magician Ranunculus, the disgusting frog, and the "Eye Women" who seem to connect them. I suppose that's to allow for a possible sequel, but nonetheless, it distracts from the tapestry of this current book.
These minor criticisms aside, "The Star Shard" makes for fine, light-hearted magical reading. In the book Cymbril finds an old Monk's Door, the only door on the Rake carved with pictures. An inscription reads, "Wise is the one, and truly free,/ Who makes a friend of an enemy." This pithy quote is rather apt, considering how my initial disdain for the book turned into genuine liking. Recommended - 4.5 stars.
Most recent customer reviews
Also, this book would do good for 3rd and 4th graders