One for Sorrow Paperback – 14 Feb 2005
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"'Should we believe the hype? Yes' Sunday Express 'An assured performance' Times Educational Supplement 'An epic tale in the tradition of Watership Down and Lord of the Rings' --AlanYentob"
The surprise bestseller from the Sainsbury's supermarket worker that hit the national newspaper front pages, now available in a stunning mass-market edition Welcome to Birddom - a land where Magpies rule. Dark forces are at work. An evil intelligence is masterminding their inexorable rise. Dominance has been achieved by systematic genocide and slaughter. In Birddom, blackbird and sparrow have been exterminated. The magpie has replaced the pigeon in the city and the starling in the garden. For small birds throughout the land, survival is everything. Birddom needs a hero. A bird to fight in the darkness, and bring light back to the land. But what can one bird do in the face of such evil?See all Product description
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The characters come to life. The plot revolves around good and evil and power corrupting etc. The author clearly understands the nature of birds and each character is realistic.
Although there are sad events, the author cleverly keeps the reading hopeful.
The endings of the two halves of the book both point to a higher purpose, not to simplistic "happy" endings. It is a good read for a Christian while not being overtly religious - Woodall is not so much the next Tolkien or Rowling as the next C.S. Lewis. (Although Rowling too makes her characters face harsh truths about the world, which is why her books are literature and not just junk.)
It is definitely an epic quest, and Woodall has a good way of slipping supposedly irrelevant detail in and using it later on - as the seagulls realise. The idea of Fate chimes with my own spiritual journey - ironically I believe that I was "fated" to read the book. It is also a political book - it has echoes of Gormenghast with Slyekin and Traska taking the place of Steerpike - and Woodall, from his construction of a political system within Birddom would make a good and wise leader in a world where no-one in power seems to have any perspective and is too reliant on style over substance.
It may be simplistic - and overly dependent on Fate - but it is a genuinely felt and powerful book nonetheless. Just the right size for light bedtime reading but offering a glimpse of the real natural world behind the gloss of modern life or the idealism of those environmentalists who have inadvertantly disrupted the balance of nature in the countryside with ill-thought out sentimentality for certain species. For an older child - say a young teenager - this is a very good introduction to the mechanics driving the unseen world and a powerful object lesson to anyone who either despairs that evil appears to be winning, or who in their own arrogance believes that they alone can bring down existing society and mould it in their own image.
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