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Friday, September 13, 2013

Returner's Wealth (Book 1 in the Wyrmeweald Trilogy)

Returner's Wealth  (by Paul Stewart and illustrated by Chris Riddell) introduces a well-built fantasy world in Wyrmeweald and a congenial and goodhearted protagonist in Micah.  Initially, I thought it would be a great adventure for ages 10-12, but the further I read, it became evident that an older audience would be better.  In spite of the occasional violence, Stewart has created a grand adventure.

Weald in Old English has two meanings:  1) forest and 2) power, authority.  Wyrm or wyrme in Old English can mean dragon or snake; the warrior Beowulf battles a wyrm and becomes the first dragon-slayer.  Stewart's use of these terms indicates a fondness for the epic poem Beowulf and /or a fondness for Tolkien's works.  I share this weakness for both Beowulf and Tolkien.

Another feature (and dip into OE) that I  enjoyed was Stewart's use of kennings, imaginative and poetic compound words:  two-hides, festercrags, rockscape, wyrmehost, hackdagger, tooth-tugged, stoppertight, and limbwithered, for example. 

On to the plot--

Micah decides to visit the Wyrmweald, a harsh, dangerous, and mountainous landscape, in search of wealth that might help him win the heart of the girl he loves.  He quickly discovers that the hostile landscape alone can kill--but there are other things that are even more frightening.

At the wrong place at the wrong time, Micah is seriously wounded by a wyrmkin. Fortunately, Micah meets Eli Half-Winter, who takes him to a healer and saves his life. Rather reluctantly, Eli takes Micah under his wing, but soon realizes the benefit of Micah's company.  

Together, they unite with Thrace, a wyrmkin, and the three of them will do their best to defeat the evil kith who deal in the death and destruction of the wyrms.

An exciting adventure with a bit of romance. 

NetGalley/Open Road Media

YA/Fantasy.  originally publ. in 2010; republ. Sept. 2014.  Print version:  374 pages

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