Heather's Reviews > The Riddle

The Riddle by Alison Croggon
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's review
May 06, 2010

it was amazing
Read in May, 2010

I loved The Riddle, Croggon's second in the Pellinor series, even more than the first. For one, she worked through that tricky issue of pacing that plagued her first book. Admittedly, The Riddle is best read and followed in large chunks of time -- it's not the kind of story that's easy to pick up in little 20 page snatches -- but there's still a much steadier, more enjoyable pace happening here. And second, while Croggon convinced me to give Maerad a chance to be enjoyable in the first book, she convinced me to absolutely love her in the second.

In this novel, Maerad is separated from her brother Hem and travels with Cadvan far north, in search of the Treesong. Here's where I feared the story would veer off into tedious mysticism, and we all can think of fantasies that have, in our opinions, fallen into that trap (poor Christopher Paolini; talk about your truly fantastic adventure story mired down in hundreds of pages of weird elf lore). But instead, Croggon keeps the story fresh by adding tangible realities to the Treesong quest. The song's secrets are hidden in an actual nomadic people -- as opposed to tapestries woven with gossamer threads, you know what I mean -- that she must travel to and win over enough to gain an audience with their unusual Bard and his wolf den.

Also, Maerad does a lot of growing up in this novel that's more tangible than book 1, where she faced such relatable challenges as being instated as a Bard (and I'm still not sure what that meant). Here, she still has to suffer through some of Cadvan's Ben Franklinish pearls of wisdom, but her relationship with him gains a reality and a clarity. They fight; things are awkward, then very painful. The question of her own evil isn't a black and white fantasy thing (fear not, no evil forces possess her), but rather a question of the internal secrets of her mind and her heart, that she has to decide to alternately control or release.

In this way, it becomes a sort of coming-of-age story, even if it is complete with Ice Witches and wolf spirits, and Maerad's journey gains a vividness and a poignancy that made this book a wonderful sequel.
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09/25/2016 marked as: read

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