26 December, 2010

Book Review: Heroes of the Valley (Also, Happy Kwanzaa!)

Title: Heroes of the Valley
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Genre: Fantasy
Page Count: 483
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Cover Rating: 3.8 out of 5. Not bad, but not terrific, either; I like the drawing style, and it does depict a scene from the book without being spoiler-y.

Inside flap:
Halli Sveinsson has grown up in the House of Svein, hearing the legends of the heroes as all his forefathers did. Theirs is a peaceful society, where the violence of the past has been outlawed and disputes are settled by the Council.
   But young Halli has never quite seemed to fit in with the others. For starters, he is neither handsome nor tall, like his siblings. He's stumpy and swarthy, with a quick mind and an aptitude for getting into trouble. Bored with everyday chores and sheepherding, he can't help playing practical jokes on everyone, from Eyjolf, the old servant, to his brother and sister. But when he plays a trick on Ragnar of the House of Hakon, he goes too far, setting in motion a chain of events that will forever alter his destiny. Because of it, Halli will have to go on a hero's quest. Along the way, he will encounter highway robbers, terrifying monsters, and a girl who may be as fearless as he is. in the end he will discover the truth about the legends, his family, and himself.

My expectations: High. I enjoyed reading The Bartimaeus Trilogy, and I loved Jonathan Stroud's writing style.

My expectations were met.

About the book: This is a good Fantasy novel. The characters were strong, the setting was excellent, and it was well-written.

Jonathan Stroud's writing style wasn't as funny as The Bartimaeus Trilogy, due to the story being more serious overall, but it was still good.

  • Plot:

There were unexpected twists and turns in the plot, which I enjoyed (I love a good plot twist). The ending was very surprising as well, which is another plus for the plot--the events throughout were exciting and it didn't lag much at any point.

  • Characters:
Halli Sveinsson was an amusing character, at the beginning, always playing jokes and goofing off. He was great for the story, filled-out and 3-dimensional.

Aud is now one of my favorite female characters. She's strong, determined, and stubborn, and likes having her own way with things. She doesn't let tradition and custom get in her way, which stands out more in a society where people are expected to live by certain rules.

Hord was a good villain. He has the right motives, and the drive to make the villain part of him work for the  story and make it seem realistic.

  • Setting/Elements:
I love the world-building in this book. I could picture the land that Halli lives in well, with its traditions, customs, myths, stories, legends, and all the cultural differences that you'd expect in a real society.

I like the way that stories were incorporated into the book before chapters, the stories from Halli's world that he grew up learning. It gave the book another element, and while I was sometimes frustrated that they broke up scenes where I just wanted to know what happened next, they were interesting.

Other: Violence, such as murder and fighting.

Do I recommend this book? Yes!

-----The Golden Eagle
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Sofia said...

This sounds really good, I think I'm due for a trip to the library... Thanks Eagle!


Elliot Grace said...

...well said, Eagle! Both my son and I have read this book, and found it entertaining. More so than the plot, I found the writer's voice unique, compared with the surplus of other's work I've been reading. I feel it's worth a reader's time to check out.
Happy Holidays, Eagle:)

Su said...

Sigh... my to-read list is getting so long.

Old Kitty said...

Happy Kwanzaa to you too!! What is it? (sorry, am quite ignorant of this!!!! But it sounds like a great day to celebrate!!!).

Anyway!! Thanks for the review of this book - Aud does sound like a worthy strong female character!!! Yay!! Take care

mist of the blossom rain said...

Great review. Can't wait to check it out myself!

gideon 86 said...

Loved the review. I am a HUGE fan of Jonathan Stroud. I will definitely get this book soon.

Thanks, Eagle!


Mason Canyon said...

Great review. This books sounds very intriguing. I'm not a big reader of fantasy but you've peaked my interest in this. I love a book that has twists and turns and surprise endings.

Happy Kwanzaa too.

Misha1989 said...

Thanks a lot for the review! My sister is crazy about Jonathan Stroud - I should tell her about this book. I am motivated to read his books now.

Anonymous said...

I don't read a lot of fantasy, but this sounds interesting.

Happy Kwanzaa!

Jackee said...

Great review! Thanks for sharing. :o) I've been meaning to pick up a Jonathan Stroud book, maybe I'll have to try this one out rather than the Bartimeus ones.

Happy holidays to you! I hope you're having a great vacation!

Milli said...

It sounds great.I haven't read a fantasy book in a while:)

Happy Holidays

notesfromnadir said...

I really appreciate the amount of detail you put into your review & how you break it down. I also enjoyed your take on the cover art because it's so important not to reveal too much of the story.
Thanks for adding another title to my to read list!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great Review! I checked that book out at the library a year ago, and enjoyed reading it . . . although I didn't recommend it to my daughters yet - I thought the end was a bit too dark for them at this point. Maybe in another year or so. Aud is a wonderful character, and I wished when I finished the book that a sequel could be found.

The Golden Eagle said...

Sofia: You're welcome! :)

Elliot: Stroud does have an interesting writing voice!

Happy Holidays to you, too!

Su: Mine, too. LOL.

Old Kitty: It's a week-long holiday celebrating African-American culture. I think Wikipedia will explain it better (I'd die without Wikipedia):


You're welcome! I love it when there are strong female characters--yay indeed! :D

Emily: Thanks! I hope you enjoy it!

Gideon: Glad you liked it!

I am, too--I snatched this book up the second I saw in the library.

You're very welcome!

Mason: Thanks, Mason!

I love plots that surprise; I often get bored if they don't, or at least I don't enjoy the book as much.

Misha: Anytime! :)

Spread the word! If your sister does read Heroes of the Valley I hope she likes it.

Medeia: I read tons of Fantasy . . . LOL. This is usual stuff for me! But Jonathan Stroud is a good writer, apart from the Fantasy.

Jackee: You're welcome! :)

The Bartimaeus Trilogy is one of my favorites, actually. It's a great, funny series! (Although the humor has a certain style, and I find things funny that other people don't. :P)

Happy Holidays!

The Golden Eagle said...

Milli: Ah, you should read one then! :)

Lisa: I'm glad you like my review!

I try to go into detail without giving anything away--I know some reviewers mention spoilers when they review, which seems strange to me, since reviews IMO are to find out if you want to read the book or not, and not about the plot.

You're welcome! :)

Tyrean: Thanks!

The end is a little dark, I agree.

I wish there was a sequel too! It's a good ending, but it also leaves plenty of room for other things to happen . . .

Brian said...

That does sound pretty good, after all, heros are alwyas good!