An ordinary boy. A vicious warlord. Both seek a stone with special powers. But only one can possess the Or'in of Tane.
Eleven-year-old Aden Weaver is a shape-shifter. His birthright - that he is the Son of Kal, the first chief of the shape-shifting dragonfly tribe - has been hidden from him. However, he is motivated by a driving force. He needs to find the praying mantis warriors who killed his parents, and avenge their deaths.
This is the first book in "The Chronicles of Aden Weaver" trilogy for children aged 9-13.
I was looking forward to reading this book. If I am enjoying a read, I hate relinquishing it once I have reached the last page. This is the first of a trilogy, so I was delighted to get all three books at once so I could just keep going!
The background to "The Or'in of Tane", the first of the three books, may be exotic and the protagonists unlike any encountered in other stories, but there is a distinct familiarity about the plot. The story is presented from a fresh point of view yet the themes are still universal. Family ties, racism, attitudes towards marginalised groups, greed, and supernatural abilities are some of the key concepts that give life to the narrative and sustain reader engagement. There is always the sense of "not-quite" in the place names and character backstories as different cultural influences compete for pride of place. Just when the reader thinks he might be in New Zealand, the landscape morphs into that of Japan or Iceland. The dominant mythological influences are a hybrid derived from many different sources. In the end, I found myself going with the flow and just accepting the story for itself.
Having the main characters as insects with shape-shifting abilities is an intriguing concept. Many insects in our own world do undergo metamorphosis at various times, but always according to prescribed patterns, whereas the insects in Carol's book can change to human form and back again. Their rudimentary wings when they present as human are the only indication that they can make this change. Another fascinating idea was to see that the different insect clans sometimes join with others, just as humans do, to face a common enemy.
After reading the book, I asked a friend's son (aged 12) to read it. He is an average reader for his age and into fantasy fiction so I thought he might enjoy it. I was surprised that he found it quite challenging given that he is at the upper recommended age range (9-13) for reading it. We discussed each section as he finished it; I was interested to see the range of questions that he came up with. Things that I had not thought of, such as why injuries sustained when someone was in insect form changed when that person shape-shifted back to human. And how someone could carry their clothes when they were travelling and shifting from insect to human. Would that be an impossible task or did they just pack holograms?
The concept of a talisman or other precious item is ageless. You need only to think of the Lord of the Rings cycle, the Harry Potter series, the Knights of the Round Table stories, Jason and the quest to find the Golden Fleece, and many more. Throughout the ages, groups have striven to find that elusive magical item which will solve all their problems and give the finder ultimate power. The Or'in of this book is just the latest in the history of storytelling; this reassuring familiarity helps the reader to accept the reality of Aden's search without questioning its logic.
Mr 12 and I are both looking forward to exploring the second book in the series. Having read the first and familiarised ourselves with the many different characters, we feel better placed to jump straight back into the story without the stop-start pattern necessary when tackling a completely new cast. Let's hope Aden's quest is fulfilled!
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"A torn jacket is soon mended; but hard words bruise the heart of a child."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882)