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Classic SFF Review


The Books of Pellinor by Alison Croggon – Spoiler Free Series Review

The Books of Pellinor by Alison Croggon – Spoiler Free Series Review
Book Name: The Gift (The Naming), The Riddle, The Crow, and The Singing
Author: Alison Croggon
Publisher(s): Penguin Books (Australia)
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): YA Fantasy
Release Date: October 1, 2002 (Australia); November 1, 2004 (Australia); May 1, 2006 (Australia); and June 30, 2008 (Australia)

The Naming (cover)The Books of Pellinor is a four books epic fantasy series written by the Australian author, Alison Croggon. Here in the UK the first book is called The Gift, but in other parts of the world it is also called The Naming. The series is a retelling of “Naraudh Lar-Chanë”, “Riddle of the Treesong”, which is a fictional story within the world of Edil-Amarandh.

In book one we are introduced to Maerad, a young slave. After meeting a bard named Cadvan, Maerad discovers she possesses a powerful gift. Now they must go on a perilous journey to defeat the Nameless One.

In terms of the plot, Pellinor is quite a traditional fantasy. An orphan is discovered to have great powers and must defeat the dark forces before it’s too late, but the world and characters make this a unique read. The building of tension in this series is so well done, and you can see the stakes of the conflict growing as the plot unfolds. The pacing is slow at times and there is a fair bit of travelling, but the character development and worldbuilding during these sections helps keep the reader immersed in the story. I never felt it dragged, although some may have an issue with the slow but steady pacing.

The Riddle (cover)Although we mainly follow Maerad, the third book, The Crow, switches perspective to a different character and a story that occurs concurrently with book two, The Riddle. I have to admit that it did take me a little while to get into the third book because of this switch in perspective, but it is still a fantastic instalment. In some ways this series is reminiscent of Tolkien, but Croggon does a fantastic job at taking inspiration from Tolkien’s work while still creating a complex, unique story and world

The worldbuilding is one of the main strengths of the series. You can clearly see the time and effort put into creating the world, its history and language. Croggon’s attention to detail is incredible. From the lay of the land to the hierarchy of the bards to an appendices at the end of the book, there is so much detail to this world. Worldbuilding is such an important aspect of fantasy books and The Books of Pellinor definitely does not disappoint.

The Crow (cover)

There is also a map that gives a good look at the world as a whole. It is interesting to see how far the characters travelled.

Speaking of the characters, Pellinor contains a wonderful and distinctive cast. Each character is well written, with fantastic development throughout the four books. I loved seeing how the characters grew and how their relationships developed. Croggon does a great job at creating flawed, interesting characters. Maerad is now one of my all-time favourite protagonists. I loved her development, and watching the relationship between her and Cadvan play out.

The magic system is also very well done. In this world, magic users are called Bards. They are born with the Speech, which awakens in them at a certain age – generally when puberty begins. The purpose of Bards is to protect the Light in the world and they use the Speech to do this. Some bards also have unique abilities, such as Truthtelling, which means that the people around the user is more likely to tell the truth. Bards who have turned to the dark are called Hulls. That is a very basic look at the magic system, as I don’t want to spoil anything.

The Singing (cover)The Books of Pellinor is one of my all-time favourite series and I would highly recommend reading it. Each book in the series is just as good as the last and the conclusion was fantastic. It is a captivating and compelling fantasy series with a fantastic cast of characters and wonderful worldbuilding. Although it is marketed as YA, I think this series can be read and enjoyed by a variety of ages and readers. I cannot recommend these books highly enough.

This is one series that I can always return to and I’ve reread it multiple times since reading it for the first time in my teens. There is also a prequel, The Bone Queen, which is also well worth a read.


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