lady_schrapnell: (Default)
[personal profile] lady_schrapnell


Unlike Frances Hardinge's Gullstruck Island, about which I seem to be virtually the only person enthusing -- raving! trying to push!! -- there's been quite a bit of buzz over Heroes of the Valley. Fuse #8/Elizabeth Bird found it extremely enjoyable. Kathryn Hughes at the Guardian was stunned by it.* [livejournal.com profile] chilperic was enthralled from beginning to end.

I agree with almost everything said by every one of them - but also found it just a bit irritating at times. After several times having an 'I am so over this kind of boy hero' thought flit through my head, I tried to figure out what was causing it. I loved the fact that Halli was short, not at all heroic in the style of heroism he thought the only proper sort, and generally as far from the 'chosen one' type as you could imagine. I loved the portrayal of his growing from self-absorbed, uncontrolled kid thirsting for the glory of adventure (read killing) to relatively thoughtful, questioning and more truly heroic character. And his counterpart, Aud, was fine too, if not much more for my taste. There was a lot of real humour in the book which I enjoyed, but not so much for the interaction between Halli and Aud. It was very reminiscent of Taran and Eilonwy in the Chronicles of Prydain, but lacking a certain something, not to be overly technical about it. Sparring, the boy being hugely emotionally blind and not 'getting' why the girl gets bent out of shape, leading to a quarrel, and another quarrel, and yet another -- interspersed with Danger! Rescuing! Trust! It probably didn't help that I'm listening to Eoin Colfer's Airman on audiobook atm, and enjoying it less and less**, as it has another similar relationship (in Part 1, at least) between Conor and the princess. Then I thought of lovably clueless Percy Jackson and how he doesn't annoy me at all and -- well, who knows why behaviour that drives you crazy in one character seems endearing in another.

My favourite thing about the book was the very skillful way in which the short legends at the beginning of each chapter about Svein, Halli's family's ancestor, gradually change. At first the stories reflect the bravery and sacrifice of the heroes, who've paid with their lives to ensure the safety of everyone in the valley from the terrifying Trows. From mid-way through they become increasingly disturbing until the reader is suddenly struck with the realisation that Svein was a freakin' psychopath. And the people living in the valley's hero-worship of him (or the other heroes - each family group portrays their ancestor as THE hero of the same stories) says some unpleasant things about them.

The ending was wonderful, with Halli and Aud's having become the 'heroes' of a legend themselves - though it left me feeling that this is a surprisingly bleak book for one with so much humour. But I think that the bleakness part may be true of every book by Stroud I've read, which is all of them except The Last Seige.

*Some child lit people were stunned by her comment about children's fantasy of the past 30 years. Personally I think "laced with" is an appropriately vague measure which might keep her out of hot water.

** Disclaimer: This is another I should have read instead of listening to the audiobook, which is doing NO favours to the story - jumping perspectives at tense moments are extremely annoying in this format. The book may well deserve more appreciation than it's getting.
From:
Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
User
Account name:
Password:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
Subject:
HTML doesn't work in the subject.

Message:

 
Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.

Profile

lady_schrapnell: (Default)
lady_schrapnell

April 2009

S M T W T F S
   1234
5678910 11
12 13 14 15161718
192021 22232425
2627282930  

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Oct. 17th, 2017 05:55 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios