Heather's Reviews > The Crow

The Crow by Alison Croggon
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May 09, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: ya
Read from May 06 to 08, 2010

Unfortunately, Croggon steps away from Maerad's story for the third book in the Pellinor series, and focuses instead on her brother Hem, and I'm not sure that was the best choice.

Hem is certainly likeable, and his crow friend Irc ends up more charming than obnoxious, thankfully. But Croggon's old pacing problems are back in this novel, and they keep us from really seeing Hem in action for a sizeable chunk of the book, as he hangs out in Turbansk with his mentor-friend Saliman and waits for the Black Army to inevitably conquer the city. Hem's development as a healer during this time is an interesting twist, but it's bogged down in pages of tedium; Croggon wants us to feel the looming dread and boredom in a city under siege, and maybe she was a little too effectual with the boredom piece. I was dying for Hem to see some action.

And when he does, it's pretty horrible. The poor kid has already survived the murder of his parents and traveling companions, plus gruesome encounters with Hulls (evil undead Bards), and yet now he's got to be marched into the thick of the Black Army via a group of child soldiers who are terribly controlled and abused. So by the time the action picks up, it's so grim, you almost wish he was back to killing time in Turbansk.

I'm being a little harsh, perhaps. There are some great moments, both of action and relationship here -- especially Hem's explorations of the underground city, and the tender exchanges between Hem and Saliman. But the action is too few and far between, and Saliman is a little too ideal (he doesn't have Cadvan's hubris) to be completely realistic. I found myself hurrying through this book to return to Maerad in book 4.

The Crow is rather like one of Croggon's enormous appendices that she chose to develop into a book, and as it broke the good, solid pacing and suspense created with the Maerad storyline in book 2, I can't say I think that was a good choice. Hem seems to be a nod to the son Croggon supposedly wrote the story for, a male protagonist after all of Maerad's distinctly feminine conundrums, but his story may be a bit too disjointed from the whole to retain all her readers.
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