Monday, January 26, 2009

Heroes of the Valley


HEROES OF THE VALLEY; Jonathan Stroud; New York: Hyperion, 2009. Juvenile (upper) and Young Adult fiction.
Halli Sveinsson is a son of the House of Svein in the valley of the heroes, men whose cairns line the valley they died to protect in a pitched battle against the dreaded trows, ghastly nocturnal creatures of razor-sharp claws and hideous mien. A second son, Halli chafes against his lesser station, the prospect of being a farmer for life, and the cloistered life that shields him from the heroic opportunities his ancestors had. A menace and a gadfly, he eventually alienates his family, has only one real friend, a daughter of the House of Arne, and brings trouble to his House that may have no remedy. But Halli, a short, stocky, unheroic looking boy is much more than the sum of his parts, which in the beginning make him less than a sympathetic character, even to the reader. But during the course of the story he becomes, and reveals himself to be, a young man of honor, intelligence, and kindness after all. Heroes of the Valley, an impressive follow-up to Stroud's beloved Bartimaeus Trilogy, is a fine Norse tale with deeply satisfying and unexpected twists which explores on many levels what is truly heroic and what may just seem so. Also, it is dang scary.

No comments: