Cindy's Reviews > Heroes of the Valley

Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud
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Aug 28, 09

bookshelves: must-reads
Read in August, 2009

A younger son, Halli Sveinsson rebels against his parents' and village's expectations through a series of endless (mostly harmless) pranks and escapades. But when his beloved uncle is murdered by a rival house, Halli sets out to avenge his uncle, a quest that will have startling repercussions for all of the residents of the valley.

I love Jonathan Stroud's books. He's the king of the snark, and he doesn't disappoint in this one. Halli has turned insult into an art. The dialogue brought tears of laughter to my eyes. The medieval, vaguely Scandinavian setting is also incredibly detailed.

I love the narrative structure here, of stories within stories. Each chapter is prefaced with a story of past heroes of the valley, their epic deeds and misadventures loosely foretelling what's to come. I also love the continual setup of cliffhangers that resolve themselves to be anything but--Stroud has mingled suspense and comedic timing beautifully.

There's also a true element of horror winding throughout the book. Halli's people and those of neighboring villages have long confined themselves to their valley, safe behind rock walls and cairns, for fear of the man-eating Trows that roam the mountainsides. Halli and his friend Aud(a spunky and appealing heroine) doubt the stories--no one, after all, has ever SEEN a Trow and lived to tell the tale. Surely they're only stories...or are they? Stroud leaves you guessing 'til the end. The two's attempts to push the boundaries of their peoples' beliefs, to break with tradition, and to find a place for themselves could lead ultimately to bloody death by tooth and claw.

I'm hoping this may be the start of a series--while it's utterly complete within itself, there's room to expand on Halli's story and what lies beyond the valley.

A coming of age story. An epic fantasy adventure. For any fans of Eragon, or Ranger's Apprentice, or even Sea of Trolls this one's a must-read.
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