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Rossamünd is a foundling (orphan) found abandoned as a baby at the front door of an orphanage run by Madam Opera. Bullied by the other children for his unfortunate name (notably Gosling who's been abandoned by his rich family in preference for their dogs), Rossamünd is protected by Verline, a serving maid, and Fransitart, his Dormitory Master who appears to know more of Rossamünd's past than he's letting on, and he dreams of joining the Half-Continent's navy for a life of adventure. All this changes though when the enigmatic Sebastipole arrives to offer Rossamünd an apprenticeship to the Lamplighters, the organisation that keeps the lights burning along the Half-Continent's roads. However, in order to start his new life, Rossamünd first has to get there ...

Cornish has created an incredible world that combines pre-industrial, 18th century history with biological steam-punk and Dickensian storytelling. The attention to detail extends to a huge glossary explaining the terms used in the text and there are illustrations of all the characters who Rossamünd meets in his adventure. There are also appendices showing the further diagrams and setting out basic information that's integral to the Half-Continent world.

The story itself is a journey, filled with mishaps and hints at the truth behind Rossamünd's past. Rossamünd is a naïf who judges people by how they react to his name and enjoys reading pamphlets describing heroic endeavours. Although his critical mistake induces an eye-roll, it brings him into contact with characters such as the villainous Poundinch, Miss Europe (a famous monster killer who has had her body surgically altered to enable her to shoot out electricity) and Fouracres (a postman and the only person who stands up to Europe). The attitude of people towards the monsters is important to the story and there's a scene featuring Europe and the Misbegotten Schrewd that packs a physical and emotional punch.

All-in-all this is a fascinating and engrossing read that's thoroughly enjoyable and has all the makings of a future children's classic. Cornish is a writer to watch and this is a series with a hell of a lot of potential.
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on 12 June 2007
I saw some of the illustrations for D.M. Cornish's new book, The Foundling, and was intrigued by the world he had created, so I bought a copy. It's the story of Rossamünd, a boy with a girl's name. He is a foundling, or orphan, who is given a job as a lamplighter and must make his way to a new city to take up his position. However, the Half-Continent, where he lives, is a place of monsters and bogles ready to tear any human apart as soon as he or she steps outside the safety of their cities.

The Foundling is rather like what Dickens would have written had he been a fantasy writer in the 21st century. There is some Victorian steampunk charm mixed in with menace and grit. It is a mixture of the historically familiar and the imaginatively fantastic.

D.M. Cornish has created the world of the Half-Continent completely from his imagination- people, countries, cities, mosters, terminology, vocabulary, and usually these are things I love in my fantasy. This is why I love Dune by Frank Herbert and The Keltiad by Patricia Kennealy-Morrison (despite the latter's blatant use of Mary Sue and of fiction as wish-fulfillment). However, here, I needed to look at the glossary once too often to remind myself what was going on. This was definitely enjoyable, but is too idiosyncratic at first glance. This is a world for people planning on becoming die-hard Rossamünd fans.

As with a lot of new fiction aimed at younger audiences, I feel that the marketing is trying to promote it as the new Harry Potter. This is nothing like J.K. Rowling's series, but perhaps the publishing house, and not the author, is trying the catch onto the "next best thing", the next mania with everyone using invented words that enter into everyday speech.

The Foundling is interesting and fun, but I will be waiting for the next volume, Lamplighter, to come out in paperback.
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on 22 October 2013
At first, I was a bit annoyed with Rossamund for being so naive! But that totally fits his character, and through the book you see him change and grow as a person with his experiences. The language is a bit confusing with all the strange terms the author uses, but look past that and the story is really interesting. The second book is even better, by the way!
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on 22 February 2007
A brilliant first book by D.M Cornish a great fantasy story set in "the half continent" against a backdrop of a contant raging battle between monsters and men, brilliant use of imaginative characters and the world itself, with illistrations included also.

A brilliant read
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on 9 September 2015
Fabulous book, an easy 5 stars
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on 15 June 2010
I tried to like this book, but found it very hard to get into. It was very slow to begin and just didn't seem to be going anywhere much. Honestly, I didn't make it to the end.

This book reads like a script. It is obviously written with the screen in mind, as the way it flows is much like a film, and the speech would also be better suited to the screen. I say this because I'm studying screenwriting, and it read a lot like something that we would put in a script, only with a bit more telling the story than showing the story, but not much. This to me was a bad thing to do, and didn't work at all.

I find the accents to be a bit over the top, and very annoying to read, even if they are realistic. I spent far too much time trying to decifer what the character were saying, sometimes missing the point of it completely. I also found the names a bit irritating, a boy called rossamund, fine, but the other characters names just seemed to jar in my mind, and every time i read a name, i got distracted by it, and this became annoying quickly. some took a while to work out how you would say them, and others would just sound weird when i thought or said them. Like i said, i found the names too distracting, they didn't flow with the story.

So personally, I wouldn't recommend this, maybe if i'd persevered I would have enjoyed it, but there was just too much about it annoying me to keep me reading.
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on 29 March 2013
was super easy to put onto my kindle and had no issues with the quality of the book. easy to read
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