Author: Alison Croggon
Date of Publication: March 14, 2006
Formats Available: Hardcover, Paperback, E-book
Buy This Book: Amazon
Synopsis: Maerad is a slave in a desperate and unforgiving settlement, taken there as a child after her family is destroyed in war. She is unaware that she possesses a powerful gift, one 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 unfold. Now she and her new teacher must survive a journey through a time and place where the forces they battle stem from the deepest recesses of otherworldly terror.
Alison Croggon’s epic fantasy, the first in the Books of Pellinor quartet, is a glittering saga steeped in the rich and complex landscape of Annar, a legendary world ripe for discovery.
When I was about 13 I was absolutely obsessed with high fantasy novels; I read every single one I could get my hands on and The Naming always stood out to me as being one of my favorites even though my interests started to change and I found myself not picking up so many fantasy novels any more. The other day while browsing through my local library I found a copy of The Naming and decided to relive a bit of my childhood and see if it was as good as I remembered. It most definitely was.
Croggon has one of the most beautiful writing styles that I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Throughout the entire novel I felt like I could smell the rain on the dirt and feel the cold biting through my clothes. I could see every detail of the setting in acute detail and I loved feeling like I was traveling right along with Cadvan and Maerad. At the same time Croggon keeps her descriptions interesting and despite a huge amount of the novel being dedicated to the surroundings I never felt bored or annoyed by the story and the slower pacing worked out wonderfully for the plot.
Even though the plot is nothing new; a slave girl finding out she is of powerful birth and has been foretold as "the One", Croggon makes the story into a little bit more than the typical high fantasy novel. I love the idea of Bards and instead of using spells for their magic their magic is related to music. Likewise I loved Croggon's creations of mythical beings and the Hulls, Bards who have gone bad. Maerads story is a fascinating one and the slow pacing just builds up anticipation to the moments that are exciting. There weren't many surprising twists but the ones Croggon threw in worked great for the story and always revealed a little bit more of Maerad and Cadvan's past.
I love Maerad and Cadvan but the novel's biggest fault is the lack of their development. Croggon has a beautiful writing style but at the same time her beautiful writing puts more of an emphasis on the setting and history of the novel than the characters themselves. While I didn't feel so distanced from them that I couldn't relate to what was happening or enjoy the story I just wished I could have gotten a deeper look inside their heads instead of just skimming the surface. Every so often Croggon added a paragraph or a sentence relating the Maerad or Cadvans deepest thoughts and I absolutely loved those moments, I just wish there had been more of them!
One of my favorite high fantasy novels of all time I highly recommend this series to fans of fantasy and magic. Even though sometimes the vivid descriptions are a little overwhelming The Naming is still a wonderful first novel and I can't wait to continue re-reading the series!