Cloudsailors

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Hugh Montgomery ill. by Liz Pyle
Walker Books
1904442714
Oct 2005
What a beautifully produced book this is. Luxurious, thick pages, a swirling font and stunning illustrations. The blurb says simply: �In each myth lies a truth, like a grain of sand within a pearl�.

So I opened the pages with high hopes. Unfortunately, my expectations were not met.

Montgomery starts slowly; with a legend. In the beginning, he tells, Menfolk were divided: the Lowlanders settled in the valleys and the Mountainfolk settled in the mountains, �cloud-sailing� from peak to peak in coracles of ice. The narrative continues at an unhurried pace; we meet the main character - �the orphan boy� Sundeep � only after a florid passage following the flight of a bumble bee.

And that�s the problem I had with this book. Too much style and not enough content. A great deal of the story is made up of a description of Sundeep�s difficult ascent to the mountaintops, where he hopes to discover what happened to his parents. The beauty of the setting is evoked in detail, as is the experience of the climb (accurate minutiae based on the author�s own experience). There are moments when Montgomery�s phrasing is pleasing to the ear. But much of the abundant simile and metaphor neither develops the characters nor furthers the plot.

Most of the remainder of the book consists of the tales told by Ptarmagon and Morchilla, the old man and the young girl that Sundeep meets. I found the dialogue of these characters unnaturally formal, weighed down with exposition and more ornate description.

Some readers may simply enjoy being transported to a wonderful mountaintop land by some lovely imagery. And Pyle�s ethereal illustrations of the snow-sparkled world, which are all the more powerful for their restricted palette of blues and whites, will certainly haunt the imagination.

But I�m afraid this reader was left disappointed.




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This page contains a single entry by Dawn Casey published on December 16, 2005 9:12 PM.

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