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The Twyning [Hardcover]

Terence Blacker
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
RRP: £10.46
Price: £9.56 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

9 Sep 2014
In a harsh and dangerous world, a rat and a boy must each choose their way as their fates become inextricably linked.

Efren is a young rat, unnoticed and timid among the kingdom of rats living in the London sewers. When the king dies, leaving the kingdom in upheaval, only Efren dares to journey into the human world, where he discovers a human doctor’s plan to destroy London’s entire rat population. Meanwhile, Peter, otherwise known as Dogboy, does odd jobs for both the scheming doctor and the town ratcatcher. But his gift for understanding animals — even rats — forces him to decide where his allegiances truly lie. Dogboy and Efren, along with the waifish girl Caz and her pet rat, Malaika, set out to test the strengths of friendship and loyalty against the gut-wrenching cruelties of the world.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 415 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press (MA) (9 Sep 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763669024
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763669027
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14.5 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,504,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'This novel deserves praise and prizes ... powerful stuff and as much a Watership Down for our time as an alternative to the popular Redwall series ... Bravo!' The Times.

'Skilful plotting, brisk narrative and sharply drawn characters put us firmly on the side of the ratpack and its gripping tale of apocalypse and triumph' Daily Mail.

'Inspired. A much needed bit of rodent PR' The Sunday Herald.

'a thoughtful, pacey adventure with a knack for conveying a rat's-eye-view' SFX.

'The much maligned rat emerges as an intelligent and sensitive creature in this exciting novel' Independent. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Terence Blacker is a columnist for the Independent and has written many books for adults and children. He is an active member of English PEN.

--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The war on rats is here 4 Jan 2013
By Curiosity Killed The Bookworm TOP 500 REVIEWER
Dogboy lives in the dump with his best friend Caz. He earns pennies to feed them both by assisting the rat-catcher Bill Grubstaff. When he is offered work by a local scientist, he is soon drawn into a plot to declare war on rats. Below ground the rats are mourning the loss of their king and preparing to crown his successor. Young taster Efren, goes against the rules of the kingdom and follows his old king above ground, only to witness his capture and resulting torture. By the very man now employing Dogboy. As their two worlds cross paths, both sides are preparing to do battle.

Never has the death of rats been so upsetting. The dual narrative of The Twyning means the story is told from both human and rodent perspectives and boy, are those perspectives different. I loved the contrast in perception between the two. Above ground rats are a problem and killing them a normal every day act. Even our human protagonist is an assistant to a rat-catcher but he is never portrayed as evil. Down below, the rats see humans as the enemy (rightly so) but they also have their own social structure and governance. Their society is shown not to be better than humanity but in parallel to it. One regime may be fair and just but the next is corrupt and oppressive.

I found the rats remained rattish throughout. To get round communication problems, Blacker has made them communicate through a form of telepathy (hey, we can't prove otherwise and real rats do use a supersonic form of communication). So no, there are not really talking rats, something their anatomy wouldn't allow. Even their "pulse" is a real thing, a distress signal that rats send out when they need help. OK I'm starting to become fascinated by rats now!
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far more different from the norm 21 Jan 2013
By Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
I love a book that is different to the norm and to be honest that is exactly what this is, as a tale told from two perspectives being that of our human lead, Dogboy and that of rats. Yes you read that right, rats. Its definitely something quirky and whilst the author has made both come across in an easy to understand manner it's a book that reminds me of films like "Phase IV" being so off the wall that there's really nothing else like it out there.

Add to the mix subtle direction by the author, some wonderful turns of phrase and a novel that really makes you think and I was more than pleased that I took the time to read this. All round a solid enough book that will make me seek out other titles by this author.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual story 22 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having spent year working with pest control I developed a love of rodents and their intelligence and cleanliness ! I became absorbed in the book. Definitely the rat's 'Watership Down' ! Would recommend it
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4.0 out of 5 stars easy read 15 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you liked The Rats and Lair by James Herbert you will love this, it is an easy read and you find yourself warming to the ways of the rats.
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4.0 out of 5 stars unusual and interesting 28 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A good story told from an interesting point of view. Well written and entertaining. If you want a decent book to wile away a few hours on holiday perhaps, try the Twyning, I don't think you will be disappointed.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Rat lovers, beware 21 Aug 2013
I think I've noticed a trend in the other reviews here. Those who score it highly seem to be unfamiliar with rats, and they're intrigued and surprised by the appealingly complex social creatures who emerge from Blacker's portrayal of rat society, which combines good research and rich imagination. Those who score the book low, however, already loved rats, and were thus repulsed by the amount of violence that Blacker unleashes on them. As a long-time owner and lover of rats myself, I found the book terrifically upsetting and painful...compelling, absolutely, but also a cruel depiction of a cruel world which has been made even crueller than necessary.

Literally thousands of rats are torn to pieces by dogs in the endless succession of rat-pit scenes. There's also the vivisection of an elderly rat dying of cancer and the slow, detailed rat-on-rat torture scenes. It's strong stuff. Blacker's human protagonists also suffer greatly: the two children at the heart of the novel have been abandoned and abused, and they live a rat-like existence in a trash-heap burrow. There's a striking difference in Blacker's approach to dealing with rat and human pain, however. When the girl, Caz, is made to endure a nightmarish ordeal, Blacker sketches it with a few spare details and then deliberately draws a veil over her trauma. It's a delicacy that contrasts strongly with the unblinking stare that records the horrors visited upon rats. A comment on animal realism versus human sentimentality? Combined with humanity's gigantic capacity for visiting destruction upon other creatures? Aye, perhaps, but hard going nonetheless.

The Twyning gives us two visions of fascism, rat and human. In both, people's desire for security is turned into a weapon by those seeking power.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Watership down it isnt! 11 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Quite bizarre! I downloaded this at it sounded like a totally different read that could be interesting. it was interesting and I enjoyed the first half but as the story progressed it just got too silly (as though mind reading rats was not enough!!). I liked the idea and the relationships that formed but overall I don't think I would recommend.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Good concept, disgustingly violent at times
The book was completely overshadowed by the frequent descriptions of bloody violence and killing of rats. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Book Worm
2.0 out of 5 stars Well written just not much to say
This book should not be compared to Watership Down, far it's superior. Although the book is well written, it has very little to say, curiously light in content though heavy going. Read more
Published 17 months ago by C J Goslin
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual story
I enjoyed this as i found the idea of the story quite refreshing,and i found myself on the side of the rats!!
Published 17 months ago by Bookreader
4.0 out of 5 stars Great reading
Interesting and entirely real. I could not put it down. It was well written. I lived every day in it.
Published 17 months ago by Hemeson Anthony
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Completely different to anything I would normally read, but this story had me completely hooked till the end. A must read!
Published 18 months ago by Helen
4.0 out of 5 stars Different
Quite a different and engaging story. I really enjoyed it and would look out for more fiction by the same author
Published 18 months ago by Mrs. Patricia Evans
4.0 out of 5 stars An amazing tail!
This book does indeed have that dark yet fairy tale likeness as in watership down, I soon fell into the story and world of the rats and was carried away. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Sarah
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome read
Didn't know what to expect from this book, by God was I surprised, the characters came alive, every joy and every loss you feel for these individuals, cracking read would recommend... Read more
Published 19 months ago by ssgill
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