Wednesday, May 04, 2011

More On Stroud

While I'm at praising Bartimaeus, I might as well mention that I also read and enjoyed Stroud's Heroes of the Valley recently too. It's an entirely different story, with a somewhat more dangerous tone. There's still lots of humor, but a lot of the drama of it is more rooted in real world power struggles and decision making.

Here's what Publishers Weekly said in a starred review:

Witty and cinematic storytelling propels Stroud's engrossing novel, set in a medieval world that recalls Norse epics—no gods, but plenty of heroes to go around. Twelve Houses control sections of a valley. Halli Sveinsson—at 15, the youngest child of the rulers of the House of Svein—goes against tradition when he sets out to avenge the death of his murdered uncle, and his actions result in warfare among Houses for the first time in generations. Halli, a cumbersome stump of a boy, is a quick-witted, appealing underdog and troublemaker (Leif needs no sabotage from me, he quips. If he manages two sentences without tripping over his trailing knuckles he will have exceeded my expectations). Smart, funny dialogue and prose, revealing passages about the exploits of the hero Svein, bouts of action and a touch of romance briskly move the story along. Offering more than just a grand adventure (which the tale certainly is), Stroud (the Bartimaeus Trilogy) explores the consequences behind legend-worthy acts of glory and the power and peril of blind faith and hero-worship.

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