The 3rd of January is Tolkein's birthday and to celebrate, today's post is about a great fantasy writer- Kieran Larwood.
The story starts on the eve of Bramblemas when '...a thick white blanket covers the wide slopes of the band of hills known as the Razorback downs.' A bard arrives at Thornwood Warren where he is welcomed to the fireside to tell his tales. The tale he tells is that of Podkin -'Podkin the Horned King', 'The Moonstrider', 'Podkin of the magic knife'... And what a tale it is!
Podkin is the son of a rabbit chieftan, spoilt and lazy, trying to avoid the duties of a chieftan's son. When the dark force of the Gorm rises up, Podkin, with his siblings, is forced to flee his home and run for his life. In order to defeat this enemy, the young rabbits have to attempt to defeat this evil and restore rabbit life to what it was before.
The settings throughout the story are beautifully described, both in words...
THe walls and ceiling were held up by stout wooden beams, all carved with rabbits leaping and twirling through the trunks and roots of the forest. Pine cones were everywhere, obviously the warren symbol, and in several places Podkin spotted a tall horned rabbit, peering out from a thicket of trees...
and in the wonderfully detailled illustrations that are scattered throughout the book. Each one is a mini-masterpiece; David Wyatt has captured the characters and their world perfectly!
Podkin, his sister, Paz and baby brother, Pook, are all strong characters with very human traits, reflecting real life. They all develop well across the story- particularly young Podkin, who has to change his lazy ways and step up to become a leader. The nasty characters they encounter are truly evil, making you cheer our heroes on all the more.
The story moves at a pleasing pace and has a tantalising twist at the end that has me waiting impatiently for the next installment!
Perfect for fans of Tolkein or as a way into fantasy reading, Podkin One-Ear (such a great title!) offers a gripping story which would work particularly well as a class reader!
Podkin One-Ear by Kieran Larwood, illustrated by David Wyatt
Faber and Faber ISBN: 978-0571328406