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The Telling Pool Hardcover – October 1, 2005
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7-10–The late 12th century in England brought anguish to a divided land as King Richard led many of the ablest men on the quixotic and dangerous journey known as the Third Crusade. Rhodri, the son of Owen, master falconer on a manor in the Welsh borderland, is left in charge when his much-admired father follows their overlord to the Holy Land. Interweaving this historical fiction with a liberal dose of Arthurian legend, Clement-Davies creates a rich mixture of themes and metaphors. Two archetypal figures vie for Rhodri's soul: Tantallon, a Merlin figure who teaches the boy to look for answers in an ancient, magical pool deep in the forest; and Homeira, an evil-hearted Morgana figure who entraps his returning father's heart. Descriptions of Owen's behavior after experiencing the Crusade will ring true with anyone familiar with posttraumatic-stress symptoms. Rhodri's journey through the countryside to free his father from Homeira's enchantment tests the boy's courage, though a subplot involving an ostracized Jew and his daughter tests readers' credulity. The descriptions of medieval falconry, life on the manor, and Rhodri's interactions with other boys are carefully delineated, but those not steeped in Arthurian legend may find themselves confused by the context of Tantallon's teachings and Homeira's treachery. On the other hand, that could spur them to read further. The power of old legends to effect children's lives is always an interesting theme, one that is more fully developed in Kevin Crossley-Holland's The Seeing Stone (2001), At the Crossing-Places (2002), and King of the Middle March (2004, all Scholastic).–Connie C. Rockman, Stratford Library Association, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 6-9. A wizened crone at the village fair reads the cards for young Rhodri Falcon, revealing the suffering to come from a looming war. In his haste to escape from the crone's strange intensity, Rhodri is drawn toward a grizzled and blind blacksmith who speaks of quests, a true sword, and the mysterious Telling Pool. These ancients' interest in Rhodri, the son of a Welsh falconer who serves a Norman lord during the time of the Third Crusade, hinges on an ancestry of which he has no knowledge: Rhodri is descended from Arthur's Guinevere and has an important role to play in the dark times ahead. With the aid of the blacksmith, the powers of the Telling Pool, his beloved rock falcon, a wise young woman, and an infamous sword, Rhodri must walk a difficult path to save his family, king, and country from the forces of evil. Although it would have profited from increased tension in the final confrontation, this is nonetheless a satisfying and well-crafted story that through Arthurian lore, brings a steadfast young boy to manhood and adult understanding. Holly Koelling
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
I don't want to give too much away, but if you like real and imagined fantasies, then The Telling Pool will be a fun read. It wasn't too extravagant in its storytelling, but it gave enough information for my interest and imagination to repeatedly be piqued. At times, the story slowed a bit, but not too much for me to lose interest. I read it a little quickly; I had to tell myself to slow down and enjoy the book while I was reading it. I'm reading it again, though, and look forward figuring out more about the world in The Telling Pool. Novels like this often have to be read over and over to really understand the things that go on, but I think that is a good thing.
Which is somewhat how I feel about this book. I adored Clement-Davies's "Fire Bringer," and keep hoping for more of the same when I get his books. This was the furthest from my hopes. A complete focus on humans, and rather bland ones, as well.
Set during the Third Crusade, the book mainly follows Rhodri Falcon, who longs to follow his father to war. Left behind, Rhodri soon meets a hermit who shows him a pool which will allow him to see the past, as well as far away. Through this, he learns of the stories of Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot, as well as his father's own peril. The boy must undertake a journey just as dangerous as the Holy War to rescue his father from a force older than the legend of Arthur himself.
Overall, if you're an Arthurian legend nut, this might be an interesting read. It very nearly crosses over Arthur and Robin Hood, which is kind of cool. Unfortunately, as I said above, I was hugely let down, and can't recommend it beyond that certain subset of readers.
Set in late 12th century England, The Telling Pool tells the coming-of-age story of Rhodri, a young Welsh falconer whose father, Owen, is sent away to join the Third Crusade. During this time, he meets Tantallon, a blind, elderly blacksmith who leads him to a magical pool deep in the forest, where he witnesses the hardships his father endures on the battlefield, and his seduction at the hands of the evil enchantress Homeira. He's also able to see in the past, and he witnesses the fall of King Arthur and the tryst between Guinevere and Lancelot. When his father returns from war in the grips of a malevolent curse, Rhodri leaves home and embarks on a journey to free him, armed with the legendary sword Excalibur and his trained rock falcon.
Although it contributes to the coming-of-age theme of the novel, and parallels the affairs of Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot, too much time is spent relating the love triangle between Rhodri, his friend William and a neighbor girl named Sarah. This subplot quickly becomes tiresome, and the novel's pacing improves significantly once Owen's return sets the main plot in motion. The other, more effective uses of archetypes are the Merlin and Morgan le Fay figures of Tantallon and Homeira, respectively.
The strength in the novel's historical element lies in its educational content regarding the Crusades and the corruption of the Albion Christian Church, which young readers may consider a history lesson made fun. A subplot involving a Jewish girl, Rebecca, fleeing persecution with her father calls attention to the social issues of the time and place. Chances are this would be an effective book for middle and high school students studying British history and/or mythology, and it will likely spur an interest that will lead to reading works such as The Faerie Queen and Gawain and the Green Knight.
If you're looking for an entertaining escapist fantasy that draws on classic tales, The Telling Pool would provide some degree of satisfaction. David Clement-Davies has written better, yet compared to his other novels, this one is a pretty light read that can be enjoyed at a reader's leisure.
You can read this and other reviews at my blog: [....]
Most recent customer reviews
1. The book aims itself at twelve year old boys (and their interests)