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The Gift

(The Books of Pellinor #1)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  23,165 ratings  ·  1,503 reviews
Maerad is a slave in a desperate and unforgiving settlement, taken there as a child when her family is destroyed in war. She is unaware that she possesses a powerful gift, a gift that marks her as a member of the School of Pellinor. It is only when she is discovered by Cadvan, one of the great Bards of Lirigon, that her true heritage and extraordinary destiny unfolds. Now ...more
Paperback, 494 pages
Published May 3rd 2004 by Walker Books (first published January 1st 2002)
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Elowen No. Only a reference to attempted rape that happened before the story starts, but nothing explicit.
Julia Adams I would agree with about 13. So you know though, someone attempted to rape the protagonist once, before the story begins. As you'd expect, she still…moreI would agree with about 13. So you know though, someone attempted to rape the protagonist once, before the story begins. As you'd expect, she still has the emotional scars from that, and it's referenced more than once in the series.(less)

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4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  23,165 ratings  ·  1,503 reviews

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I really enjoyed this book, and I look forward to reading the next book. It is a fairly standard fantasy story - orphan is rescued from a horrible life and is found to be the holder of great power and the possible savior of the nation/world. There are bad guys and treachery and so on. It is a bit uneven in places and there is a bit more repetition that I would like, but otherwise quite good.

My biggest quibble is not with the book but with the many reviewers, here and elsewhere, who compare it to
Remember when authors talked about landscapes, and you could tell that they might have actually stepped outside once or twice in their lives?

Remember when the male lead and the female lead in a YA book were allowed to develop a strong friendship and partnership, and any romance was left for the later books in the series?

Remember when male characters admired the beauty of female characters but didn’t act like pigs about it?

Remember when not every YA novel featured a love triangle?

I remember two s
Apr 10, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great read, I thoroughly enjoyed it and have gone straight onto Book 2 in the series.
A tale of a young woman rescued from slavery, who is found to be someone special with hidden talents. Her rescuer helps her find out who she is and to develop her skills and talents. Their journey is arduous, thrilling and fraught with danger at times.
A thrilling magical fantasy story and a great start to the series.
Nov 13, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, fantasy
This book is very slow paced. Most of it is a travel log of the scenery, and the level of detail is much more than is needed. Any potential tension is completely lost in these sections.

I didn't feel like I knew or understood the world very well by the end. We're told a great deal about the landscape, a bunch of intricate but insignificant objects (furniture, etc.), and some ancient history, but very little about the current history and politics which are supposedly driving the character's action
Feb 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I truly loved reading this book, and I re-read it constantly. The plot is teased out through out the book in an expert manner with characters that are believable and loveable. With so many twists and revelations it would be easy for a lesser writer to waver, and yet The Naming (or The Gift as I know it in the UK) is an amazing work of fiction which captures my imagination and heart every time I read it.
A once slave is liberated from her morbid life and thrown head first into a battle between go
C.L. Walker
I LOVED these books. If I could give them 10 stars, I would. The writing was BEAUTIFUL. I have never felt so at home in a book before as I felt in these. Rich, vibrant descriptions and characters and amazing story!!
Jul 08, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone really into high fantasy
Recommended to Kumakani by: Good reviews
I admit, I kind of judged a book by its cover with this one. The cover art was pretty and the spine design was also pretty. The blurb on the back cover made the book sound intriguing and I went home and read reviews. The reviews for this book were mostly positive, so I thought, "Hey, why not?"


In a word, this book is: boring. So extremely slow-going. The book clocks in at nearly 500 pages. While fantasy is known for its longer books, I've read some books where
The Naming is a traditional style fantasy with many familiar fantasy elements that are regardless fresh (to my mind), although others might not think so. This is an epic tale of the sort that made me love fantasy in the first place, and I can't say I mind the nostalgia for classic fantasy that this familiarity evokes.

In many ways it did remind me of the LOTR - in the formal tone of the language, the songs, the descriptions of nature (particularly woods), the mood that presses in on you from the
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: teen-fantasy
The pace is not too slow, but not too quick. The characters are not too bland, but not too unique. The writing is good but not great. But instead of being the baby bear of fantasy novels, this one ended up being very run of the mill. I felt like I'd read the story before (the danger of reading too much in one genre), with nothing in this book making it really stand out. I eventually got bored with it and stopped reading about two thirds through.
Jan 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Maerad is a slave in a desperate and unforgiving settlement, taken there as a child when her family is destroyed in ar. She is unaware that she possesses a powerful Gift, a Gift that marks her as a member of the School of Pellinor. It is only when she is discovered by Cadvan, one of the great Bards of Lirigon, that her true heritage and extraordinary destiny unfolds. Now, she and her teacher Cadvn must survive a perilous journey through a time and place where the dark forces they battle with st ...more
Harkeerat of the Apollo Cabin
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
I greatly loved reading this one, I kept it on hold for a little while, but now I'm glad I decided to finished it!
Now, this is what I call High Fantasy!
“There is no shame in not knowing something,” he said gently. “The shame is in not being willing to learn.”
Wow....just wow!
We follow our protagonist, Maerad, a very helpless slave desperately trying to stay alive in the world of evil, with lovely hidden talents. Then comes Cadvan, who's character is the most inspiring in the entire book! He
Mar 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: teenagers
Not only was I seduced by the pretty uk version cover of this book (which i listened to in a pricey audio format) but it came highly recommend, so I really wanted to like this book and its fair to say I did like this book...
but only for a little while.

I liked this book very much at the start. The setting in particular. One cant help but wonder how our young Maerad, will escape and what clever way she will find to do so. I found myself imagining the slave settlement a bit like the setting in the
Mar 25, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Naming is from the "coming of age" genre, but is more the "I've gotten through puberty and now am trying to figure out who I am and it would be easier if I were someone magical or famous or something other than I am now". I suppose it is a book of self-discovery, though that isn't quite right either.

The story is fairly straightforward and Potterian. Maerad is an orphan slave girl with some unusual qualities that have kept her from being victimized as most of the young female slaves are. The
Rusty's Ghost Engine (also known as.......... Jinky Spring)
2.5 stars

This one's going to be a tough one to review!

This book was very well written with incredible world building and even an appendix at the back explaining the history of the world further. Which I liked as I always love to get into a good fantasy world, but I felt things could have been edited down a bit. Like the descriptions, I felt this book described non-magical everyday situations in far too much detail when only a brief description was needed. I also felt the characters could have h
Catherine Ford
Aug 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This book had a very old-fashioned feel to it. By that I mean it was written in a similar fashion to Lord of the Rings. I quite enjoyed it. Full review to come!
Nov 30, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
** This is just a QUICK REVIEW of my thoughts on the book **

Largely boring and very typical: orphan girl of mysterious parentage discovers she has magical powers, is shunned by her peers, goes on a journey with traveling mage/warrior and lives at his house. Maybe not quite exactly, but I remember it was very cliché, largely uninteresting and the journey went on FOREVER (“look at this tree, there's another tree, oh see another tree”). Gave it up as not worth reading; couldn't understand why every
Jonathan Terrington
This was an interesting series to me when I read it. It contained intriguing characters and despite having been set in the YA fiction section it read more like it was targeted at a slightly older readership. Its monsters, its world, its villains and its prophecies were like The Lord of the Rings but were their own creature.

I still remember the creatures that were so well described. And the idea of how the titular character's gift worked was fascinating compared to magic systems I've encountered
Originally reviewed on The Book Smugglers

Ana’s take:

I’d seen The Naming around Goodreads and was intrigued by it but not enough to actually pick it up. I was glad when this showed up in the OSW recommendations.

The Naming was a weird book for me to read. It had tons of potential: tropes and scenarios I am familiar and comfortable with plus the fact that the main character was a girl (when often boys happen to be Chosen Ones). But I had a really hard time with the book because it was so boring and
Alicia Huxtable
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I enjoyed this book, I found it didn't hold my attention like I thought it would. The story was great, the characters were well written but in places it felt like the book dragged a bit. I know that occasionally it needed to so the finger details could be intended with the story but the are the parts where my attention waned. Still a good book and I will continue the rest of the series
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy

This, folks, is a specimen of what I believe is termed 'high fantasy'; and like most high fantasy of the twenty-first century, it seems to pretty much be a rip-off of Tolkien. HOWEVER, this is a really good rip-off of Tolkien, so . . . I'll take it. ;)

Was it absolutely flawless? No. Were the similarities to Middle-earth always well-disguised? No. (I, mean, "Star of Evening"?! Is it even worthwhile to try, at that point?!) Was the style of dialogue always consistent? No. Was it always well-p
Shaun Duke
Dec 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Naming is the beginning of Alison Croggon's well received Books of the Pellinor, a young adult fantasy trilogy centered around the land of Edil-Amarandh. Reading through the appendices reveals that Edil-Amarandh precedes Atlantis as a mythical continent that simply disappeared (presumably, of course, this is all Croggon's creation, but at least it's an interesting way to bring the Books of the Pellinor to the real world). As the first book in a trilogy it does a fine job establishing the plo ...more
Lindsay Stares
Apr 18, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Premise: Girl has never known anything but the life of a slave. when a mysterious man claiming to be a Bard offers to take her away to a new life, she leaves without another thought.

Urgh. This is only sort of a review. I didn't finish this book. I was skeptical from the start, when the prose lurched awkwardly between too cliche and too purple. The mixed metaphors made me wince.

“Freedom was a fantasy she gnawed obsessively in her few moments of leisure, like an old bone with just a trace of meat
Jul 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter
I found this book by chance at the university book store and cannot express how happy I am that I did! I have been craving a good series since the end of Harry Potter and this book definitely got me hooked.

This is a fantasy/adventure novel that reminds me in many ways of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. However in this series you have the young Bard, Maerad, as the heroine who follows the classic plot line of a "diamond in the rough" destined to save her world from the utter destruction of the Nam
Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Basically every fantasy owes its existence to Lord of the Rings, but some take it to a whole new level. The Naming is straight up LOTR with Chosen One plot. Most of the characters and settings have direct parallels to LOTR, and not even in the archetype-way. You can say that Dumbledore and Gandalf fill the same mold, but Lady Ardina and Galadriel are the same person. Also Hulls are Black Riders. And Nameless One? Psssshhhaw his name is Sauron. And Cadvan's past comes beat for beat from Wizard of ...more
The Naming has some great adventure and I like the characters, though they're not as developed as I'd like. It felt like this book was more of an introduction to the coming books, a setting of the scene introducing the many characters and the conflict. It's a sloooow-moving book, to be sure.
Nice vocabulary but an overuse of exclamation points! And you know how I am biased towards those who overuse exclamation points! This is a book for adolescents... I wonder how well it goes over with them. The
Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard
This is such a detailed high fantasy that could've been too dense for me if the writing was different. I really liked this author's writing. it just flowed so well for me.

I know some of the politics, relationships and magic went over my head so I'll have to reread it once I pick up the sequels. I think this book and most other fantasies use very similar tropes (orphaned slave who thinks brother is dead) but I didn't find myself rolling my eyes or anything. I did laugh though when she used the "
Sarah Windsor
I think this story is a conversation with Tolkien, as though the author read LOTR and thought about what she disagreed with and what she loved. It's an interesting conversation. I like Maerad's sullen mistrust and fear of intimacy. I like Cadvan's dark past. The story feels shallow though, for all its length, in a way a lot of YA can feel to me. The narnia books feel oversimplified, for example, reading them as an adult. Young me would have eaten this up.

The prose is beautiful. The characters ar
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Alison Croggon is the award winning author of the acclaimed fantasy series The Books of Pellinor. You can sign up to her monthly newsletter and receive a free Pellinor story at

Her most recent book is Fleshers, the first in a dazzling new SF series co-written with her husband, acclaimed playwright Daniel Keene. Her latest Pellinor book, The Bone Queen, was a 2016 Aurealis Awards B

Other books in the series

The Books of Pellinor (4 books)
  • The Riddle
  • The Crow
  • The Singing
“There is no shame in not knowing something. The shame is in not being willing to learn.” 120 likes
“You have a great heart, but will only find it to be so through great pain. This is the wisdom of love, and its doubtful gift. . . . I have endured much suffering and still remain unbitter and unclosed.” 48 likes
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