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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The war on rats is here
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...
Published on 4 Jan. 2013 by Curiosity Killed The Bookworm

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3.0 out of 5 stars Watership down it isnt!
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.
Published 22 months ago by Loppylou


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2.0 out of 5 stars Too bloodthirsty for an animal lover, 25 Feb. 2013
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Eventfulfire (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Twyning (Kindle Edition)
The Twyning is a book about the rats war with humans.

Firstly, I have to say that I can NOT abide cruelty to animals. I know this a book about war, but it really doesn't have to include half the "sport" stuff that it does, for as long as intricately detailed it is. This really didn't settle well with me, which is a real shame, as the actual context of the book and the interactions between the rat community is inventive and highly intriguing.

I didn't really understand the concept (or the reason) for the Twyning itself, as most of the book is centred around the male and female child characters, who are well written and personable when you get used to them, as is Efren the "lead" rat in the book.

Sadly, this is less a book about a rat war and more a reason to kill hundreds of thousands of harmless creatures by use of the written word and therefore is the reason I struggled to get to the end of this otherwise interesting read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining, 24 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: The Twyning (Kindle Edition)
A refreshing and imaginative story with a difference, many of the main character these are rats. A tale of hope and friendship in a realistic Victorian back drop of poverty and hardship.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down, 24 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: The Twyning (Kindle Edition)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The swift changes between the human world and the rat world pulled me in and kept me wanting to know what was coming next. A great way of showing how similar we really all are when put in a difficult situation. I certainly felt sympathetic towards the humans but could also empathize with the rats.

As happy as I was with the ending I was also saddened that such a brilliant book had come to an end. Might have to go and find my own Efron now. I will never think of rats in the same way again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great story, 23 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: The Twyning (Kindle Edition)
Loved it. I do love animal stories anyway so was drawn to this - and years ago I had pet rats!

This story was great. I loved the two parallel story lines, the characters were well-drawn, the settings were well-drawn as well. It was all so very believable.

I get the references to Watership Down but also it reminded me in some ways of the Duncton Wood stories.

Happy to recommend this to anyone!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read for any animal lover, 16 Feb. 2013
By 
Mrs. Nicole A. Graves (South Wales UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Twyning (Kindle Edition)
Once I started reading this book I just had to finish it. There is more than one story being told and I loved the way they interacted . Peter and Bill, Peter and Cath, Efren and Cath, and so on . Very clever and very entertaining and what a lovely ending ! Thank you Terence Blacker .
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4.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile read, 15 Feb. 2013
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Really great to read something different and imaginative also with the 2 main character's stories running parallel. Will probably look at rats differently now!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional, 15 Feb. 2013
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noteworthy (Surrey, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Twyning (Kindle Edition)
Wow. I bought this book on a Kindle daily deal and was not sure what to expect. I noted the mention of a similarity to Watership Down and as this had been one of my favourite books I looked forward to reading The Twyning. It gives an insight into the social structure of a colony of rats and makes a comparison between the rats and humans. We are not that much different really - both can be cruel and thoughtless but can also be loving and compassionate. It is wonderful to see the relationship between Dogboy and Caz (The child humans) and between Efran and Malaika (the rats) and to see how their relationships become entwined so that when the going gets really tough they work together to help each other. This book is totally intriguing and I could not put it down. Well worth a read - you will not be disappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Could not put it down!, 14 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: The Twyning (Kindle Edition)
Well told and well written, this dark but hopeful tale will delight children of all ages, as "all is bad that ends well". It merges the classic story of a couple of Dickensian orphans who face terrible hardships but finally emerge triumphant, with a foray into the "fantasy-land" of antropomorphised rats who can talk to each other (and to some humans) through some sort of telepathy (or "revealing", as it is called in the book). The main characters, whether human or beast, are so expertly drawn that you cannot help but be interested in their fates. I was so engrossed in the story for 2 days that I almost missed my train station - twice!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Differently refreshing, 17 Feb. 2013
This review is from: The Twyning (Kindle Edition)
Such a good story where your heart goes out to the rats as people. so cleaverly written and well worth buying i read it in a day i was so hooked. From Sharon of London
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rat lovers, beware, 21 Aug. 2013
By 
Elinor Rooks - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Twyning (Hardcover)
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. Human violence allows the rat kingdom to be pulled into fascism, with vicious courtiers scheming while being squished in a big rat pile (a paradoxically adorable scene), and old warriors being tortured to death in the name of unity and security. Just as a note, Blacker inserts some genuinely odd gender politics into his ratty fascism, with his gentle doe dictator and the matronly female torturer who specialises in sexual humiliation. He doesn't develop these ideas further, and it's hard to know what to make of it. Up in the world above, opportunistic humans are whipping up fear of rats and orchestrating mass exterminations to further their own petty ambitions. Every crowd is a potential mob--generally bored and cynical, but with an unpredictable capacity for hysterical violence. Particularly interesting here is the examination of those who become the footsoldiers of such campaigns, forced into doing the dirty work by poverty and a habit of ducking blows.

Tenderness and love develop in the cracks of these societies, in the bond between the lost children, a pet rat, and the wild rat exile who loves her. The relationship between Caz and her rat Malaika is rather lovely, although I wish Blacker had imagined it more fully. Malaika tends to sit passively on Caz's hand, which sounds like none of the rats I've ever known: surely she should be scrabbling up her dress, perching on her shoulder, nesting in her hair and nuzzling into her ears? It is their relationship which forms the book's hopeful heart, yet for all its intensity, it remains strangely inert and almost uncomprehended. For while (slight spoiler) it is Caz and Malaika who write the story, they have written it from the perspective of their boys, leaving their own interspecies sisterhood unspoken--because, of course, it's *not* written by them, but by Terence Blacker, who has interesting ideas about love and loyalty and togetherness, yet seems more comfortable describing dismemberment.

My guess is that Blacker has not known any rats, or not known them particularly well. Surely if he had known and loved rats, the interactions between rats and humans would be more lively? The interactions between rats themselves would also, presumably, be deeper, more convincing, and more compassionate. The point which strained my credulity the most was his repeated insistence that rats do not mourn their dead or feel any sadness at their loss. I have known many rats who have lost their companions, and they have all grieved. They snuggle against the dead bodies to say goodbye, and their character often changes dramatically after they suffer such a loss. Really, rats do grieve.

"The Twyning" is a good book, but it's not a great book, and it's probably not going to be particularly enjoyable for those who you might expect to love it most: those who need no convincing that rats are mavels. For such a person, I'd recommend Terry Pratchett's beautiful book, "The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents." It treats many of the same themes as The Twyning, but with a witty bouyancy that seems to suit rats better.
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The Twyning
The Twyning by Terence Blacker
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