Heroes of the Valley [sound recording] by Jonathan Stroud

   Chris  Review by:  Chris

Title:  Heroes of the Valley

Author:  Jonathan Stroud

Collection:  Downloadable Audiobooks

Having enjoyed the first installment of Stroud’s Bartimaeus Trilogy, I knew him to be a skilled storyteller, adept at crafting an intriguingly detailed world while still moving the tale along at a brisk pace, but this book is a complete departure from that series.  Whereas the Bartimaeus stories feature a modern-day London filled with magicians, Heroes is more like something out of Norse mythology.  It features young Halli Sveinsson on a hero’s quest of his own to avenge his uncle’s murder, but Stroud has also enriched his novel with the elaborate back-story of twelve epic heroes who died defending their settlement from the vicious trows that reside in the high lands surrounding the valley where Halli’s people live.  These heroes are the ancestors of Halli’s people, and the stories of the heroes’ adventures and exploits make up the heart of the valley’s culture.  Halli grows up hearing these legends and particularly admiring the hero Svein, founder of Halli’s own house.  However, he soon learns that heroic quests are not as romantic in real life as they are in tales, and he bungles into one mishap after another until he nearly brings about the ruin of the House of Svein.  All of this leads to a surprising twist when Halli finally comes face to face with the trows, whose existence he had seriously begun to doubt, and discovers that not only are they real, they are more horrifying than the legends led him to imagine.  In addition, reader David Thorn captures just the right emotions in his performance, and I especially enjoyed his reading of the heroes stories that begin each chapter.  There is a sort of frame to the novel that Thorn embodies very well.

This title is available for download from the Maryland Digital eLibrary Consortium at http://maryland.lib.overdrive.com/ContentDetails.htm?ID=6B2E609D-24BA-44B2-A5D1-731BCD22B955


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