Under Fragile Stone

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Ois�n McGann
Oct 2005
Fantasy is a genre that divides. It�s a case love it or loath it � so if you are in the latter category stop reading now, this comic tale of the shape-changing Myunan is not for you.

That�s not a reflection on the quality of the second volume in The Archisan Tales merely an acknowledgement of a status quo that even super-sellers like Terry Pratchett struggle to overcome.

It�s unfair because at its heart this is simply a good traditional adventure story: foolish kids put their parents in peril and have to team up with a wayward uncle to redeem the situation. Along the way they pick up new skills, make new friends and save each other and their companions from peril.

Set such a plot in a Peckham housing estate � cue lots of gritty urban realism � and it�d be taken as a tale for our times. Add in a few flying beasties and some giant cargo-carrying centipedes, however, and suddenly the critical acclaim slips away.

However, if you like fantasy then the combination of the intuitive Myunan children, battling first with business-like warlords of the Noran and then with the dunderhead Reisenick and their leader Ludditch is well worth picking up.

The central theme is obviously Gaia-esque: tampering with the spirit of the earth brings chaos. Only if the god of the mountain is reunited with his realm will normality return.

That said there�s a collection of wondrous creatures that London Zoo would cast an envious glance at, a set of rogues who veer towards the pantomime and two engaging central characters on a voyage of discovery that pre-teen and early teen readers will empathise with.

The Myunan�s great skill is their ability to meld and flex flesh and bone so that they can take on any form they like, enabling them to blend into walls, gain wings and fly. As the novel proceeds Taya and Lorkrin gradually develop their ability to take advantage of this extraordinary asset.

Although it�s the second volume in the series it reads simply as a familiar cast of characters getting together for a new adventure, you don�t really need to start with Volume 1.

It all leaves you marvelling at the invention of Ois�n McGann. If quietly amusing rather than laugh out loud sounds like damning with faint praise it�s not meant that way � it�s because more often than not I fall into the fantasy-free reading group.

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This page contains a single entry by Alastair Ray published on December 9, 2005 10:57 AM.

Crow Girl was the previous entry in this blog.

Greater Gains is the next entry in this blog.

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