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on 4 September 2001
Jessica Rydill has a truly distinctive new voice, unlike any fantasy I have read over the last few years. The landscape and imagery in the book is breathtakingly gorgeous - I especially liked the stilt walkers. Miss Rydill's sense of the society and people she had created to fill her world is so defined that the world becomes wholly believable - a leap of faith which many fantasy authors cannot quite achieve. I found myself willing Malchik to become as strong as his sister and indeed, both of the 'Children' do develop beautifully through the course of the story. Yuda is the star for me, the most enigmatic of men, his sexuality as complex as he is!
Myth, faiths and folklore combine in a dazzling combination. Even if you rarely read fantasy, I urge you to try this...
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on 4 June 2014
A fun book and an easy read following Annat as she tries to come to terms with her father and the powers that he, and thus she, possess. They are trying to save Annat’s brother, Malchik, who has been whisked away to a magical realm. It’s not the run-of-the-mill fantasy setting, but comes from a tradition with which I’m not familiar, which was refreshing. I was reminded of the Snow Queen in the way that the villains follow the Cold One, who has enshrouded the world in winter. The characters have their flaws and are believable, real humans despite the magic, and you do care for Annat as she tries to understand what’s happening. The train journey (although there’s quite a lot of that) though the ice and snow and the landscape give a mythic quality to the novel. It’s a coming-of-age atonement-with-the-father epic.
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on 30 October 2001
After a slightly confusing start, the richness of the characters soon swept me into the mysterious and developing plot and I was hooked. The frozen landscapes came to my mind with a vivid clarity that almost had me believing that my breath would hang in the air as I read. The book is really the tale of Annat who, along with her brother, Malchik, is placed under the guardianship of a father she hardly knows - a father who both shocks and enlivens and who starts her on the road to becoming a true shaman. This is an excellent tale of journeys, both literal and metaphorical, where all the main players must deal with their own demons. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who likes their fantasy grounded in humanity.
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on 24 November 2005
Jessica's first novel and her second, The Glass Mountain, deserve to be read by fanasy fans and non-fans alike. She has a wonderful, deep, dark and rich imagination which blends her memories of a French landscape with characaters and traditions from Eastern Europe and Judaism... dusted with a sprinkle of genuine magic, hers and what takes place inside these wonderful stories. She deserves the status of a Dan Brown - she is a much better writer than him!!! - and her third novel is eagerly awaited.
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on 21 November 2003
Not a big fan of the fantasy genre, I was looking for an interesting take on things. After an hour scouring the bookshelves, I came across Rydill's Shaman and was intrigued. I was not disappointed! She has created a world of heightened reality grounded in familiar spiritual and religious metaphors and given it all a refreshing spin. Her characters are very strong, particularly Yuda and Annat, and it is this strength that carries the story.
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on 11 November 2003
Not a big fan of the fantasy genre, I was looking for an interesting take on things. After an hour scouring the bookshelves, I came across Rydill's Shaman and was intrigued. I was not disappointed! She has created a world of heightened reality grounded in familiar spiritual and religious metaphors and given it all a refreshing spin. Her characters are very strong, particularly Yuda and Annat, and it is this strength that carries the story.
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on 21 August 2014
Imaginative, adventurous, quite an interesting mix of characters both good and bad. Quite dark in places and nothing I could compare to...I enjoyed it. If you fancy something different check this out
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The story is set in a post-apocalyptic Europe, though in this case the apocalypse was an ice age. It revolves around two chldren, Annat and Malchik, who have been brought up by an aunt since the death of their mother, but who are being sent to live with a father, Yuda, whom neither of them know. He is a shaman, a man of power (according to Rydill) rather than the more traditional attribute of excessive wisdom. They travel with him to the far north, to the place where the railway is pushing further into uncharted territory.
Yuda is asked to investigate the deaths of several railway workers near the entrance to a tunnel which is being constructed. They discover a shaman's gate through to another land. This lies exactly at the limit to which the tunnel (and railway track) have run. They pass through into a strange, unchanging land.
The book is powerfully written, drawing the reader quickly into the story. The development of the various characters, especially the three mentioned above, is very well handled. All of them are very real, as are the worlds they travel through. This feeling is helped by the underlying religious aspect of the book. Whilst not specified, it is obvious that the main characters are of Jewish descent, and that they live in a Christian world. The differences between the two groups and the way they treat each other are real and uncomfortable, even to an agnostic reader.
The use of language is particularly good. Rydill's evocation of both places and people is vivid and absorbing. It would be fair to say (without wishing to discourage) that this book is at the more literary end of the fantasy genre.
If any criticism has to be made, I would say that the plot does flag a little in the middle, but not so much as to cause serious damage. I also found the ending to be (without giving anything away) a shade trite and over-typical of the genre, which the rest of the book is not. It has the feeling of not being the original end of the novel.
All in all, this is a very worthwhile and enjoyable read.
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on 29 August 2014
loved it, had a very period feel
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