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Theo and the Forbidden Language

(The Book of Theo #1)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  61 ratings  ·  30 reviews
An alternate cover for this ASIN can be found here.

In the isolated rabbit village of Willago, introverted Theo has a secret. Even though reading and writing were long ago outlawed as sorcery, Theo can’t resist the books hidden in the family cupboard. When a mysterious owl arrives with a priceless collar, all the rabbits try to unlock it, but fail. Theo is the only one to
Kindle Edition, 271 pages
Published November 19th 2014 by Writing Rooster Media
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E.A. Walker
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Excellent animal fantasy comparable to Watership Down, Duncton Wood or Redwall. It has a distinctly dark aspect, which I personally enjoyed, and in that respect most reminded me of another of William Horwood's books, The Stonor Eagles, in regard to those sequences that were set among the sea eagles.
The characters are beautifully rounded, the protagonists particularly but also some of their enemies. There's enough mystery to keep the reader engaged, and a lot of adventure with a story that
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Reading is forbidden among Theo's kind, but that hasn't stopped him from learning. When this skill lands him in trouble, the ordinary rabbit finds out he has a big destiny to fulfill.

First off, I enjoyed very much that Theo is a fat little rabbit who doesn't stand out much at all among his kind. He isn't a great warrior, and he's not a great wizard. He's just a regular guy who is easy to relate to for any type of reader. Of course, he has a big quest ahead of him since this is a fantasy story.
I received this book from the author for an honest review, and I'm really glad she asked me. I absolutely loved this book, it seriously reminded me of Redwall and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh. It also had some tones of the Sword of Truth series as well. It focuses on Theo, who at the beginning seems to be a bit of an outcast. It follows him on his adventure from there. I can't wait for the rest of the books in this series to be released. If you're a fan of books like Tailchaser's Song, ...more
Bill Tillman
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Theo and the Forbidden Language

This is the best rabbit story since Watership Down. This tale is high fantasy like Redwall but with its own mix of animals and humans. Looking forward to the second book.
Ruthie Jones
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle-book
Theo and the Forbidden Language is an explosive tale of love, loyalty, greed, jealousy, and vengeance. But that's not all. This story's hero, Theo, is a meek little rabbit who will never be a warrior. As the story progresses, Theo's talent for healing (even as an apprentice) and his forbidden talent of word catching and releasing more than make up for his lack of fighting abilities. The problem? Theo doesn't realize just how important he is, even after he leaves his village (under dire ...more
Lora Shouse
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is not your typical rabbit story. Melanie Ansley’s YA fantasy, Theo and the Forbidden Language tells the story of a world where civilized animals can talk and farm and do most of the things humans can do. But of the humans in their world have found a way to ‘pacify’ the animals – causing them to lose their abilities to think and to talk. The remaining civilized animals are engaged in a struggle to defend their lands from these evil humans.

Theo is a rabbit of the village of Willago in the
James Maxstadt
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fun read! This book is a good fantasy, involving anthropomorphic animals and the fight to keep their intelligence and their lands safe. The main character, Theo, is a rabbit who has the gift of being able to read, or “catch words”, which is forbidden. Thus, the Forbidden Language of the title. He’s a smart young rabbit, living in the shadow of his larger, older, and stronger brother, in an isolated village.
But war comes to the village, and Theo flees just in time to avoid being captured by the
Anna Fantabulous
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
What a delightful tale! Alvareth is a land where females are taught to be warriors, learning skills in sword and axe while the males cook, clean, manage the home and wards. Its princess Indigo, is next in line to the throne and is on the run from Urzoks - the bad guys. She is aided by bodyguard bear Kuno as they circumvent their way beyond home.

Theo of the Forgotten Lands sees his good-looking brother Harlan marry his crush Keeva. He lives a quiet life in Willago with his grandfather Oak and is
Kristine Hall
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Prepare to be blown away. Not only is this a riveting storyline, the writing is of the highest quality. Truly one of the best books I have read in a very long time and I cannot wait for more. Fabulous!! Full review on Hall Ways
Brin Murray
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’m a little torn on how to review this story. It is well written, with a terrific sense of place, a clear well-worked out plot, and some charming characters.
Two things threw me a little. One is, the choice of animals as main characters. There is a theme in here of genocide, where the evil Urzoks (humans) are exterminating, eating, “pacifying” all other species – but of course the animal species in this story are sentient. They use language, clothes, tools and weapons. The main character is a
Kasey Bennett
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
DNF @ 18%

Okay, I really wanted to like this, but I just couldn’t. The writing is mostly well done and the premise is interesting. I had a few major issues with the story.

One: The characters sometimes aren’t described well. There are humans and animals in this world, and most of the animals are described well enough to be distinguished from the rest. However, the humans are not really characterized well — there just ... people! Another character is introduced early on who is a hunter, but is
Steve Pillinger
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I agree with another reviewer that its language and content are more adult than the targeted audience or the talking animals setup would suggest; but the story and the characters drew me in, the build-up to the climax was steady and inexorable, and the time-honoured theme of the wimp making good really worked for me.

Add to that the looming disaster of 'pacification'—the process whereby the evil Urzoks (humans) reduce intelligent talking animals to dumb beasts of
Wayne McKinstry
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When I started to read Theo and the Forbidden Language I was expecting a children’s book. I was pleasantly surprised when I found it was an excellent drama about cultural imperialism, racism, war, genocide and similar topics. What I just said makes it sound way too “serious” because there are also the themes of love, coming of age and learning about the larger world.

This book reminds me of Animal Farm in that animals are the oppressed and humans are the oppressors. The united animals (who talk
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Note: I received a free copy of the Kindle edition of this book through the Goodreads giveaway program.

While the basic premise of the story is one likely already quite familiar to fantasy readers (unlikely hero is called into action), I like that many elements of the book felt new to me. If you enjoy fantasy novels with animal protagonists, I think you will likely enjoy this book. Be forewarned, though, that this is not a children's fantasy novel as it does contain several violent scenes.

Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent fantasy that keeps you engrossed until the very end. I can't wait to see what the next book brings.
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, own-digital
The middle grades kid in me that inhaled Watership Downs and the Redwall series loved this! If you (or your kiddo) loves anthropomorphized animals with very human problems, this was a fun read!
Jack Anderson
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I always appreciate this author's ability to articulate her vivid imagination into a well-written tale. The characters, who happen to be animals, are developed very well. This is a very good book for young readers as well as those who just like a good story.
Rachel Jones
Mar 05, 2015 rated it liked it
I always enjoy reading fantasy stories that involve talking animals, and this book was no exception. I loved the idea of reading being a forbidden language, as it seemed like the animals had been brainwashed to stop them from making themselves smarter. Stories with an animal protagonist are usually intended for young children, but I loved that even though the majority of the characters were animals, the novel was overall quite dark, with themes of death, imprisonment and starvation. I l thought ...more
Kerry Reis
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle-version
In a fantastical land under the divine guidance of Aktu, vast communities of animal realms are under a vast attack and consolidated conquest by armies of two-legged hairless beasts, whom other animals have called “Urzoks,” but who have labeled themselves after the vast land they have overrun, Mankahar. These beasts have used knowledge gained from the forbidden language of Aktu to “pacify” other animal species into soulless entities under their control. However, the Order, a council of animals ...more
Rabid Readers Reviews
Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The author, Melanie Ansley, gave me a copy of this book for my review.

I adore “Theo and the Forbidden Language.” There are certain stories that children read that changes the way they see the world and Melanie Ansley has written one of those novels. Composed in a classic style Ansley maintains an elegance that may seem sophisticated for the intended audience but I think will encourage the reader to embrace the depth of character and plot.

Theo, a stout little rabbit, is an uncertain hero. He’s
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review-requested
I have to say, I enjoyed this story immensely.

It brings images of the animal driven adventures Watership Down and Secret of Nimh, but coupled with the drama of Dragonriders of Pern and the scope of Lord of the Rings.

Some fantasy writers try to create a whole world and creatures to populate it. While that can be successful, the nomenclature and lack of visual reference sometimes holds the reader at a bit of arm's length.
In this case, we are easily immersed in the world that Melanie Ansley has
Dec 08, 2014 added it
In Theo’s world, reading is forbidden but his grandfather has taught him the ancient tabooed art. Theo’s a little fat rabbit who is in apprenticeship to be a healer. When a strange owl arrives in the village, it is collared with a beautiful and priceless choker. The villagers decide whomever can unlock the jeweled collar will be able to keep it, but all the rabbits fail to uncover the secret. Theo is the only one who realizes the lock is a word puzzle and when he opens the collar, the owl flies ...more
Underground Book Reviews
Jan 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Theo and the Forbidden Language by Melanie Ansley is the tale of a rabbit and the beginning of his quest to save his world and all sentient animals, except he doesn’t quite know it yet. Theo is an ordinary rabbit in his community, even a bit lackluster perhaps, except for his special talent of word catching, which is forbidden and lands him in trouble. Retrieved from the verge of expulsion from his community by a bear named Brune, our hero learns he has been selected to become an
Caroline Szumowicz
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Theo and the forbidden language is a wonderful book that was hard to put down. Theo is a farming rabbit training as a healer in a village that only knows peace. That world changes for Theo when it is discovered that he can read. This unlikely rabbit is exiled from the only home he knows straight into a war he is I'll prepared for. His companions are a protective bear, an adolescent monkey and a bunny princess trained to be a warrior queen. Theo's path of self discovery have him learn difficult ...more
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
While the author wrote an engaging book that held the readers attention for the most part, I was beyond surprised that this would be considered a children's book or even early teens. There are many scenes that I believe are not well suited for individuals in that age group. This is easily more of an adult novel.

The author writes with crispness and in great detail, which allows the reader to connect to the story. While this is not a typical genre I read, i did find the book relatively enjoyable
Dec 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Denise by: 45
It's so exciting to discover a new fantasy writer (Melanie Ansley), especially when her first book is full of talking animals! I was hooked from the very first scene between a bear and a rabbit. Theo, the main character, is a rabbit who refuses to stop reading books, even when written language has been deemed a very punishable offense. The tale is a classic journey of good vs. evil, with lots of interesting characters; a very fun read. This is excellently written from a grammar standpoint, too, ...more
Peter Gulgowski
Feb 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Where do I begin? Theo and the Forbidden Language is a brilliantly told, nearly classical, tale of an adventure among animals. Dark forces threaten their very existence, and our lead, Theo--a rabbit--has discovered a rare language, which is forbidden in their world. The story speaks to the power of language, and how knowledge is oftentimes power. Ansley created a world that is so believable, you could almost see it being real. From various locations, such as the Petrified Sea or the forests our ...more
Brendan le Grange
Dec 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
A beautifully written fable that succesfully weaves fantasy and adventure as it tells the at times violent and at times inward-looking tale of an unlikely hero - though he is perhaps a bit close to the 'unlikely hero' mould. That said, the characters are all rich, original, and likable.

My only dissapointment with this book, then, was that when I went straight to download the sequel I found it wasn't available yet :-)
Jan farnworth
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was a great read, i totally love the concept of reading being a forbidden language and that theo is a scared little rabbit who has no clue how powerful he really is. I loved how their where bits and pieces that reminded me of some of favorite talking animals books from my child hood. Watership down, secret of nimh, dragon riders of pern and just a hint of lord of the rings. This is a great debut novel from this author and i am so glad i got the chance to review it.
Mar 17, 2015 rated it liked it
A journey to a magical land of mighty rabbit warriors,muscular bears and cruel vultures.Read my complete review here.
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Melanie Ansley is the author of the animal fantasy "Book of Theo" series. She was born in Windsor, Ontario, then bundled off to China at the age of five. Her fascination with mythical talking animals started in Shanghai, where she'd buy Chinese comics like "Journey to the West". In the 1980s she spent most of her lunch breaks in her Hong Kong primary school's library, where she developed an ...more