Posts Tagged ‘Igraine The Brave’

The Thief LordI decided to give this one a try because it was written by an author I have come to like. At first, I assumed it would be just another Fantasy story along the lines of Inkheart and Igraine The Brave, but I was surprised to find how few fantasy elements it had. In fact, it wasn’t until further along in the book that I discovered the fantastical properties. It is nice to see writers who are able to pull off more than one format.

I believe there is also a movie version of this story, but I have not seen it, so keep that in mind when reading this review; the two may be quite different.

Story overview:

After the death of their mother, 12-year-old Prosper and 5-year-old Bo run away to Italy; the place their mother had told them was magical. Shortly after they arrive, it becomes clear to them that there is little magical about it. They meet a group of street kids who survive by stealing from tourists, overseen by  a 13-year-old boy who goes by the name of The Thief Lord.

Prosper and Bo’s aunt hire a private detective named Victor Getz to track down the two boys. At first, you might think that she misses them, but ultimately her plan is to put Prosper in an orphanage and keep Bo like a little toy puppy. This is the reason they ran away in the first place. Unbeknownst to their aunt, Victor turns out to be a nice man who helps the children in more ways than one.

When an old man gives The Thief Lord a special job, things begin to change. The task is to find the missing wing to a supposed magical Merry-Go-Round. The legend is that anyone who rides it can become either younger or older. When things go wrong, Bo finds himself captured by his aunt, The Thief Lord’s true identity becomes known (getting him ostracized by everyone), and the money they receive from the job turns out to be fake. Yet Prosper and The Thief Lord team up to complete the task so that they can ride the Merry-Go-Round and become adults who are in charge of their own lives. Their only hope is that the legend is true.

My thoughts:

I liked this one. I didn’t love it, but it was pretty good. The story definitely got more exciting about three-quarters of the way though. The characters were believable, the landscape and settings well described, and the situations fun to watch unfold (that is, in my mind’s eye). I would recommend it both to those who liked Cornelia Funke’s other books, and those who have never read anything by her before; the story stands strong on its own.

Things to consider:

Barnes & Noble lists this for ages 9 to 12. I agree with that, however I would expand the age group to include teens and adults. There are no sexual situations, coarse language, or extreme violence. Overall, a pretty clean tale.

Opportunities for discussion:

As the title indicates, theft is one of the central topics. As the reader, we are shown why the children stole: mainly to survive. However, most children are not under these extreme circumstances and should never have a reason to steal. Ask your children if they ever stole anything. If they are honest, they will probably say they did. Then ask them how it made them feel. Wait and listen. From there talk to them about using their desire to acquire things in a positive way rather than a negative one: such as doing chores around the house, waiting for Christmas, or mowing the neighbor’s lawn. You can also talk to them about contentment and the fruitless endeavors of obsessing over ‘things.’ It is important to instill these ideals into children no matter what age they are; it will greatly aid them in their adult life.

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Igraine the BraveI checked out this book because I enjoyed the Inkworld/Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke.

Here are my past reviews of the trilogy:
1) Inkheart (Inkheart Trilogy, Book 1)
2) Inkspell (Inkheart Trilogy, Book 2)
3) Inkdeath (Inkheart Trilogy, Book 3)

Story overview:

Soon to be twelve years old, Igraine eagerly awaits her birthday present. Even though she insists on being a knight, she doesn’t hesitate to accept gifts made from magic. Her mother, father, and brother worked on her gift with the help of some special magical books.

During the process, Igraine’s parents were accidentally turned into pigs. This wouldn’t be so bad except that (1) they could not use magic in pig form, (2) they needed giant’s hair in order to be turned back, and (3) their old castle suddenly fell under siege by a man named Osmond who took over the castle next-door. Osmond’s desire was to capture the magical books and become the most powerful wizard in the world.

Igraine goes on a quest to find giant hairs while her brother stays back at the castle to fend off the intruders (with the aid of the magic books and the castle’s defenses.) On her journey, Igraine comes in contact with the Sorrowful Knight of the Mount of Tears, and the two travel back to hopefully save the day.

My thoughts:

To be honest, after I started to read Igraine The Brave, I ended up putting it down and letting it sit on the pile for awhile. Why? Because the beginning forced a lot of explanatory narrative onto the reader, which in my opinion, is completely unnecessary. But once I got past that part, it didn’t take long for me to appreciate the story (I recommend starting with Chapter 1 and then going back to the preface once you have finished the book.) Wonderfully designed characters (especially the cat, Sisyphus,) a neatly designed fantasy world, fun personalities, great situations of tension, and the story is creatively magical. It is also easy to read and the writing style is of good quality. A great book for lovers of fairy tales.

Things to consider:

Great for girls and boys; ages nine to twelve (and younger if you read it to them.) No questionable content in the form of sexual situations, foul language, or dark themes. Even the violent scenes are quite tame. The one thing that may be considered disturbing to some children is when the knights get turned into fish and the cat has them for a light snack. Honestly, this is funny, but some children might take it seriously. Overall a great family book that is bound to become a favorite during story time.

Opportunities for discussion:

Part of the fun of this book is that it is not overly serious. However, in all stories, there is at least one good opportunity for discussion. One thing that stood out to me is the honor code of a knight. Ask your children to tell you the difference between the Sorrowful Knight and the Heartless Knight, and which they would rather be.