Kieran Larwood

The Five Realms...


The Bard is moving on as it is not safe for him to stay. Before leaving, he manages to gain an apprentice Bard- young Rue- who travels with him to the excitement of the Festival of Clarion. On the way, the Bard shares more of the legend of Podkin One-Ear. 

When Podkin finds the Gift of Dark Hollow and overhears a secret conversation, the rabbits hope to find Surestrike, the hammer of Applecross, another of the Twelve Gifts. Podkin, Paz- and Pook- set off on another adventure to try to defeat the Gorm. 

Every bit as good as the first, 'The Gift of Dark Hollow' is a beautifully told, exciting story. The reader's understanding of the characters and their connection to them is developed and the balance between the bard's story and the legend of Podkin is perfect. Rue is a wonderful new character- full of life and enthusiasm!

Throughout the book, there are the most amazing black and white drawings of scenes from the story. The detail is incredible, bringing the text to life with great skill- they are so atmospheric!

Kieran Larwood is a master story teller. One minute he pulls the reader into the thick of the action, feeling the terror of the rabbits- the next, gentle humour creeps in. I love his use of language- even some of the fighting seems poetic! I cannot wait for book three and am feeling the need to read both Podkin and this one again to fill the gap!

Highly recommended for those who like something to get their teeth into! 

The Gift of Dark Hollow by Kieran Larwood, illustrated by David Wyatt 

Cover illustration by Fernando Lopez Juarez

Faber and Faber   ISBN: 978-0571328413

You can read a review of Podkin One-Ear here

You can read our longlist review of Podkin One-Ear here.



I was expecting something along the lines of 'Watership Down', but after a few pages, I almost forgot that the characters in the story were rabbits, so convincingly were they described and developed.

The tale opens with some beautiful description, which could be exploited for work on ‘settings’. The repetition of ‘Crunch, crunch, crunch’ links the opening scenes depicting a happy rabbit community, which lull the reader into believing that the story is going to be peaceful and happy. However, into this peace steps the Bard and he is soon gripping the imagination of the rabbits of Thornwood with his tale of hero Podkin One-Ear, the son of a rabbit chief. He and his feisty sister Faz, along with their little brother Pook, have to escape the powerful Gorm, who rise up from below. The Bard’s story charts their thrilling journey and their efforts to conquer the Gorm.

Podkin himself is charmingly developed, starting out as a lazy ‘boy’ who is certainly outdone by his clever and resourceful sister. Indeed, I wanted her to be the main character as she could have been a great symbol of girl power! However, Podkin gradually takes on responsibilities and becomes the son who would have made his father proud. The enemy ‘Gorm’ are scary; there are some fairly graphic scenes and the pace of the action keeps the reader hooked right to the end.

I enjoyed the story within a story and wanted to get to the end of the book to check that Podkin was victorious and able to rescue the ‘goodies’. I would read it to upper KS2 classes, but not younger children because some of the scenes could frighten them. There is plenty of scope for discussion of novel types; journey, good v. evil, quest, goals and also discussion around comparison with well known titles such as The Hobbit and Watership Down.

Podkin One-Ear by Kieran Larwood, illustrated by David Wyatt

Faber and Faber   ISBN: 978-0571328406


You can read another review of Podkin here.

Podkin One-Ear

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