Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Travel Light

Written by: Naomi Mitchison

First line: It is said that when the new Queen saw the old Queen's baby daughter, she told the King that the brat must be got rid of at once.

Why you should read this book: Halla is rescued from certain death by a Finmarkian nursemaid (Finmarkians have a tendency to turn into animals from time to time) and raised as a bear, but her inability to hibernate makes her unsuited to ursine existence, and eventually she is adopted by the dragons, who fireproof her, and teach her magic, and hope that one day she will become a mighty dragon with the power to kill heroes. In fact, dragons are losing the war against the humans, and when Halla's beloved dragon father is killed in the conflict, she is fortunate to come under the aegis of Odin All-Father, who suggests that a dragon's hoard is too great a burden for her to carry, and that she should instead, "travel light." A small volume packs tightly with big ideas, this is a perfect fantasy novel.

Why you shouldn't read this book: I would ask where it's been my whole life, but I suspect that conflict between Norse mythology and Byzantine Christianity (Christianity is clearly the bad guy here, a religion where even the most devout believers are oppressed by the Church) may have prevented this book from achieving the kind of popularity that the Hobbit still enjoys, although I would argue that it's a very similar kind of book.

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