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Michelle Paver wrote the wonderful Wolf Brother books known as the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series for teenagers and has since written Dark Material for adults and now Gods and Warriors, the first of a new series also aimed at teenagers.
The enjoyment of this book is enhanced by the unusual relevant pictures at the beginning of each chapter, the map at the beginning and the black edge to the pages.
The book begins with 'The shaft of the arrow was black and fletched with crow feathers, but Hylas couldn't see the head because it was buried in his arm.' (Paver, p 1, 2012). Typical of novels for teenagers, the excitement is immediate. Paver quickly sets the scene for an adrenaline rushed beginning. The plot set in ancient times of small kingdoms, warriors and ancient customs revolves around Hylas our protagonist and his quest to find his sister after they were separated in an attack by the warriors known as "the crows". Along the way Hylas meets interesting characters, dolphins and learns a great deal of the world around him.
Hylas must overcome unimaginable hardships, learn fast and keep alert in this fast paced ancient historical thriller. In common with the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series, the reader looses themselves in another world of ancient ways and magical happenings. Aimed at teenagers, in common with other quality teenage fiction this book is equally enjoyable for adults, with its fast paced often enchanting story line and interesting characters. As is usual for Paver the story is based around one particular character with a few other dominant characters that the reader gets a chance to know, whilst most of the less relevant characters are kept in the background. There is nothing wrong with this strategy, indeed, remembering that it is a children's book, that ensures that the less able readers are not excluded from enjoying the story. The plot supplies interesting prince and pauper style friendships and the special relationship between a child and an animal.
The story is one of pure escapism fantasy, there does not appear to be any moral agenda, lesson or real historical lesson here. However, the plot is based in Bronze Age Greece and Paver studied the archaeology to find out about the ancient people who populated the area.
The dolphin "scenes" are beautifully, descriptively written and it comes as no surprise that Michelle Paver swam with dolphins to research this book 'I swam with socialised dolphins in Florida, where one of them kindly gave me a fin-ride.' (Paver, p 294, 2012).
At the end of the story there is an author's note where Paver explains about the research for the story, where and when it is based and gives an insight into the work that goes into researching a novel. Gods and Warriors is the first in a series.
In conclusion, an interesting book, that is simple enough for a lower ability reader to grasp, but exciting and fulfilling for the more able teenager and adult reader.
Thank you for reading my review of Gods and Warriors, I have tried not to go into too much detail and spoil the story. But hope I have explained enough of the plot to wet your appetite for this ambitious book.
Paver M, (2012), Gods and Warriors, Penguin Books, St Ives p1, 294