Song of the Wanderer: Doesn’t talk down

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsSong of the Wanderer Bruce Coville Children's fantasy book reviewsSong of the Wanderer by Bruce Coville

I have promises to keep, and wounds to heal…

This is the second book in THE UNICORN CHRONICLES, a four part series by children’s author Bruce Coville, which also includes a short story to be found in the unicorn-themed anthology A Glory of Unicorns. In the first instalment, Into the Land of the Unicorns, Cara Hunter was transported via an amulet into Luster, the world into which unicorns fled when Earth became too unsafe for them to inhabit. Due to a tragic misunderstanding centuries ago, the Hunter family has made it their legacy to hunt down and destroy all the unicorns. Cara’s long-lost father is among them, and so Cara has a very personal stake in her desire to protect the unicorns from all those who wish them harm.

Entrusted with the task of returning to Earth and rescuing her grandmother Ivy Morris, Cara travels with a band of friends (human and unicorn alike) to a location in which she can pass across safely. The catch is that this gateway point is situated in a particularly perilous place: the back of a dragon’s cave. Furthermore, the journey there is filled with adventure and danger, as well as plenty of obstacles, mysteries, and magical creatures — not just unicorns, but dragons and gryphons as well. Beyond all this is a bigger danger: the woman known as Beloved, an ancient hunter who is sworn to rid both Earth and Luster of all unicorns.

Bruce Coville provides an interesting take on unicorn lore, combining traditional folklore with his own innovations. Through their affinity to young maidens and the healing powers of their horns, Coville creates the backstory of his antagonist, Cara’s many-times great grandmother, who was the recipient of an interrupted attempt by a unicorn to heal her, resulting in eternal life thanks to the shard of unicorn horn lodged in her heart. Since then she’s drawn together members of the Hunter family in order to take revenge, and thus Cara herself is torn between her loyalty to the unicorns and her longing for the human family that she’s never known.

As you can probably guess, for a book that revolves around creatures that are often affiliated with rainbows, clouds, sugar and pastel colours, it’s not all sweetness and light. There are battles and injuries, nightmares and monsters, difficult moral decisions and sacrifices to be made. Though it’s clearly a book for eight-to-ten year old readers, Coville doesn’t talk down or simplify issues, but has Cara go through a genuinely difficult ordeal to accomplish her goals. He writes clearly and concisely, and though there are a few bits of backstory and exposition that could have been strewn out more carefully over the course of the story, he’s built up an interesting mythos for the series.

You’re in luck if you’ve only just discovered this series, as there was a whopping sixteen years between the publication of the first instalment in 1994 and the eventual release of the last in 2010. That’s was a pretty long wait for readers to discover “what happened next”, but thankfully readers now have the ability to pick up the next book in the series right away: Dark Whispers. (And the beautiful new cover-art by Phil Falco is just a bonus).

The Unicorn Chronicles  — (1994-2012) Ages 9-12. A Glory of Unicorns is a collection of stories. The Unicorn Treasury is a collection of stories and poems. Publisher: This is the magical story of Cara, a girl sent on a mission by her grandmother to the land of the unicorns. Only Cara can protect the unicorns and their world from invasion.

Bruce Coville Unicorn Chronicles 1. Into the Land of the Unicorns 2. The Song of the Wanderer 3. Dark Whispers 4.Glory of Unicorns 5. The Unicorn TreasuryBruce Coville Unicorn Chronicles 1. Into the Land of the Unicorns 2. The Song of the Wanderer 3. Dark Whispers 4.Glory of Unicorns 5. The Unicorn TreasuryBruce Coville Unicorn Chronicles 1. Into the Land of the Unicorns 2. The Song of the Wanderer 3. Dark Whispers 4.Glory of Unicorns 5. The Unicorn TreasuryBruce Coville Unicorn Chronicles 1. Into the Land of the Unicorns 2. The Song of the Wanderer 3. Dark Whispers 4.Glory of Unicorns 5. The Unicorn TreasuryBruce Coville Unicorn Chronicles 1. Into the Land of the Unicorns 2. The Song of the Wanderer 3. Dark Whispers 4.Glory of Unicorns 5. The Unicorn TreasuryBruce Coville Unicorn Chronicles 1. Into the Land of the Unicorns 2. The Song of the Wanderer 3. Dark Whispers 4.Glory of Unicorns 5. The Unicorn Treasury 6. The Last Huntfantasy and science fiction book reviewsfantasy and science fiction book reviews


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REBECCA FISHER, with us since January 2008, earned a Masters degree in literature at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her thesis included a comparison of how C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman each use the idea of mankind’s Fall from Grace to structure the worldviews presented in their fantasy series. Rebecca is a firm believer that fantasy books written for children can be just as meaningful, well-written and enjoyable as those for adults, and in some cases, even more so. Rebecca lives in New Zealand. She is the winner of the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best SFF Fan Writer.

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