Heroes of the Valley, by Jonathan Stroud

Posted: September 17, 2010 in Fantasy
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Since I greatly enjoyed reading Stroud’s Bartimaeus Trilogy, I was excited to see that Heroes of the Valley was his latest book.

Well, maybe not latest latest, as it seems he’s coming out with a fourth Bartimaeus novel (The Ring of Solomon), but that has yet to be released (release date: November 2, 2010). So in the meantime, let me tell you about Halli Sveinsson.

Story overview:
A world once ruled by heroes is now the peaceful home of fifteen-year-old Halli Sveinsson. The heroes now long dead, their stories still resonate amongst the Twelve Houses, which have control over the valley. Of course, each house places their founder as the top hero in the tales, but one thing remains consistent: they all worked together to rid the valley of the evil Trows.

A short, stumpy boy, Halli finds himself getting into trouble more often than not. His mischief isn’t appreciated by his older brother nor his mother and father, but there is one person who motivates Halli to aim towards the level of the founders. His uncle. One evening when his uncle ends up having too much to drink, he offends one of the other Houses and ultimately is killed in the process.

On a quest to avenge his uncle’s honor, Halli seeks to bring justice to the murders. In his journey he finds that his childhood tales were not all they were made out to be, and in the process he ends up causing trouble to his House, which leads him to search for a way to restore the order.

My thoughts:

Where I don’t rate this as high as Bartimaeus, I did enjoy the tale. A little slower starting than I like, but overall well worth the read. As always the characters are sarcastic and witty, and I like Stroud’s ability to have them interact in a believable manner. I saw a little bit of Kitty in Halli’s female companion.

Things to consider:

It’s a little crude in places, but overall, nothing I’d consider inappropriate. I’d age rate this preteen +. Good for both girls and boys.

Opportunities for discussion:

The word boundaries comes to mind. To keep the Trows out of the valley, the heroes of old put up boundaries to prevent them from getting in. However, the boundaries also kept all the people from getting out. No one but Halli and his friend seem to question this. And when they did, they found that the heroes were not all they were cracked up to be. Children need boundaries to protect them. However, teaching them to mindlessly following boundaries is not a good idea. Ask your children if they know the difference between good boundaries and bad ones. If they say a good one is bad, be sure to explain, in full detail, why they are in place.

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