The Silver Horn: Unoriginal with shallow characters

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsCherith Baldry Eaglesmount 1. The Silver HornThe Silver Horn by Cherith Baldry

Vair, a young pine marten, talks his mom and dad into taking the family to the fair in Watersmeet, but on the way, a group of bandits led by Ragnar, a silver fox, attack them and press Vair into their service. Vair soon discovers that these bandits are working for the evil Lord Owl who plans to take over the whole country. The Lord Owl wants Ragnar’s bandits to find the legendary and powerful Silver Horn in Watersmeet. Can Vair find his family and stop the evil Owl’s plans?

Cherith Baldry’s The Silver Horn is the first book in her Eaglesmount trilogy, an anthropomorphic fantasy for children. I’m not a huge fan of anthropomorphic tales because I can’t suspend disbelief well enough to feel comfortable with animals with paws holding swords and beer mugs or animals without the proper vocal apparatus speaking, singing songs, and playing flutes. And, really, why would they want to wear clothes and shoes? And why don’t the foxes eat the chickens?

But anyway, I knew what I was getting into here, and I had it in mind for my daughter (who has no issues with talking animals) to read, so I won’t complain about those things. Instead, I’ll report that I found The Silver Horn to be a quick and not unpleasant read, but not particularly inspiring or enjoyable either, mainly for two reasons.

First, the story is unoriginal — there is nothing here that you haven’t read before and the plot is predictable from beginning to end. Even the character names are predictable, with the good guys sounding like nice perky Scandinavian animals (Vair, Riska, Mirra, Flick, Kyria) and the bad guys sounding like they eat sauerkraut and borscht and don’t know how to smile (Gorm, Ragnar, Ketch, Konrad, Snarg).

But, most disappointing is that the characters, especially the bad guys, are incredibly shallow. Every one of Ragnar’s bandits acts like a middle-school bully, shoving the nice animals when they pass by and snatching their belongings, constantly calling everyone “scum,” picking fights, threatening, taunting, cackling, and saying “Make me!” and “What are you going to do about it?” when someone asks them to stop. It was this one-dimensional behavior that ruined the plot for me, making it simplistic and predictable.

Overall, The Silver Horn may be okay for a young boy who wants to read stories about brave animals and doesn’t care much about characterization, but parents looking for excellent fantasy for their children can do a lot better. Try Brian JacquesRedwall series if you’re looking for anthropomorphic stories, or anything we’ve got listed in the top half of our children’s page.

Eaglesmount — (2001-2004) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Vair, a brave young pine marten, had hoped to show off his skill with a sword at the Watersmeet summer fair, but after his father is killed by a gang of thieves, Vair learns that his destiny will take him to Watersmeet for a more important reason.

Cherith Baldry Eaglesmount 1. The Silver Horn 2. The Emerald Throne 3. The Lake of DarknessCherith Baldry Eaglesmount 1. The Silver Horn 2. The Emerald Throne 3. The Lake of DarknessCherith Baldry Eaglesmount 1. The Silver Horn 2. The Emerald Throne 3. The Lake of Darkness


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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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