Sunday, December 5, 2010

Don’t Judge a Book By its Cover

The Naming: The First Book of Pellinor (Pellinor Series)
We have all heard this adage through the years, however, how many of us are willing to admit that we buy books (and wines) sometimes just based on the look of the cover or label?!?  If attached to a polygraph machine (or after two glasses of wine) I would have to admit that I am completely gullible to any mass marketing ploy that uses a cool title and decent packaging.  Sometimes, the product lives up to the packaging and hype ala Naked Mountain Chardonnay which is a Virginia wine that is packaged with a cork that bears the tag line, “Drink Naked” and sometimes it doesn’t, see New Coke. Well, today’s blog is about being drawn in by a name and a cover, and then into the whole world of Pellinor.

I had passed by The Naming by Alison Croggon where it was displayed on various end caps at the local
B&N for several weeks. I was drawn to the brunette figure on the front cover who appeared to be from the middle ages and the title peaked my interest.  Because I have a thing for YA books, and needed to take a break from vampire killer Anita Blake, I decided to try it out . 

The main character in The Naming is sixteen-year-old orphan Maerad , who is rescued from a terrible life in slavery by the mysterious stranger Cadvan. Cadvan, it turns out, is a Bard which in the world of Pellinor is  one with the gift of magic who helps maintain balance in the world.  They travel toward one of the Bard schools and when attacked by evil forces, Maerad discovers that she  too has the gift of magic and, in fact, may be the One who was Foretold to fight the Nameless which is the evil entity in this world.  Croggon does a good job creating some memorable characters and I applaud the effort to create this new world with the twist on magic as tied to music. 

Very quickly, however, I began to feel like I had read this story somewhere else….To me, it had an uncanny resemblance to the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini.   it was an epic tale of a reluctant orphan heroine/hero  (Maerad/Eragon) who fights evil (the Nameless/ King Galbatorix) as helped by a stranger (Cadvan/Brom).  There is also a surprise sibling (Hem/ Murtagh) and the whole naming/ true name thing is a really big deal.  While similar, in comparing the two first books in the respective series, I have to give Paolini the edge.  While I liked Cadvan, I loved Brom and there are just  no cool dragons in the Naming. 

The book still deserves three chocolate dipped strawberries for the mere effort to create this detailed world (466 pages worth) and it did keep my interest, although it got slow in parts.  I don’t know whether I will read the books of Pellinor, but I am glad that I got to know this story and its characters and may come back to the series when I get tired of werewolves and vampires battling it out again.

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