1/07/2011. Contributed by Jill Roberts
pub: TOR/Forge. 400 page hardback. Price: $25.95 (US), $31.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-1433-9.
check out website: www.tor-forge.com
‘An Unexpected Apprentice’ begins in a small village hamlet and a farming family known as the Summerbees. It had been an ordinary June morn, until grey-winged creatures known as Thraiks,descended, killing and maiming everyone that had ventured outside to help bring in the hay harvest. As Tildi Summerbee is only seventeen and not able to run the farm on her own, the village elders decide she will be married off. Outraged, Tildi leaves the meeting, she decides to take her brother’s place at Overhill and become apprentice to the great wizard Olen, taking his old parchment page as a keepsake. It is a slow trek, but she is comforted by the runes that appear on the trees as she passes by. Once there Olen immediately sees through her disguise of short hair and her brother’s clothes but accepts her as his apprentice anyway.
Over the months that follow, Tildi settles into her magical studies and learns much under Olen’s tuition. A messenger arrives with grave news for Olen, The Great Book Of All Runes has been stolen from its hiding place, the thief must be caught and the book returned. Olen calls a meeting and it is arranged that a small hunting party, will set out with Tildi acting as guide because it was the old parchment she had which caused the tree runes to glow.
Tildi’s companions are a mixture of centaurs, dwarfs, mages, soldiers and trackers. Their trail is long and arduous as they pass through many different kingdoms. Eventually they catch up with the thief, in the land of Orantae. Here, Nemeth, the thief, seeks to have his revenge on Solandir, the present king of Orantae, for the previous humiliation he suffered. With the aid of The Great Book Of All Runes, Nemeth alters the ancient ruins of Oron Castle into a much more complete, habitable castle. It is up to Tildi that gets to save the day and get the book back. I turn the page to read on, only to find the story stops there.
I found ‘An Unexpected Apprentice’ to be a most enjoyable, exhilarating, empowering, refreshing and engaging pager-turner of a book. Definitely a book to get your teeth into.
What I found most refreshing was that it was a young female that shows great courage and determination in setting out into the great unknown. That it wasn't a young lad and just about sword fights and monsters. There was some humour, also lots of character development, fleshing out the people’s personalities along the way, making them solid, tangible people that you cared about.
I have to admit feeling that the climax had been built up so much that I expected the story to resolve itself, not to end suddenly at the conclusion to their quest. I was furious, to me there was so much more to tell and lots more I wanted to read about, this was only half the story, I wanted to read more.
Is this the sign of a great book? That you are angry when it ends? To enjoy and be so enthralled that you don’t want it to finish ? To say that I enjoyed reading this book is an understatement, more accurate to say that I devoured it hungrily, the chapters passing by like the seconds on a clock face. I can't wait to read volume two.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA