Every now and then a book comes along that sparkles. I love books. I love children’s stories. I’m predisposed to finding something good in them. I tend to be effusive in my praise for anything that I think will inspire a greater love of reading. This doesn’t always leave me room to really shout about books that I find really special. One such book is The Legend of Podkin One-Ear.
So, what can I say about it? The book is a glorious meld of Watership Down and Redwall. Comparisons between the three are inevitable. Like Watership Down the animals in the book are rabbits and like Redwall the creatures are anthropomorphised (to a greater extent than Watership down.)
The novel is set in a fantasy land, where magic is present. It draws on natural druid-like folklore. It’s a world where good and evil must be kept in balance. There is a hint of a suggestion that this is a post-apocalyptic earth from which humans have long since departed.
The story opens when an old storyteller arrives at a burrow on “Bramblemas Eve.” He tells a story in exchange for hospitality. It’s The story of Podkin One-Ear and his battle against the evil Gorm. The narrative in the book is mostly that of
The narrative in the book is mostly that of Podkin, but it flits back to interludes with the storyteller; a device which Larwood employs well. It’s never annoying and gently draws tension out from the main story, so that the author can ramp it up again during the next part of the bard’s account.
At the start of the story Podkin is a lazy rabbit; a spoiled prince. But when the ironclad Gorm (who reminded me of General Woundwort from Watership Down) arrive at his burrow he, his sister and baby brother flee for their lives. Podkin is kept alive by the tenacity and gumption of his sister, Paz. After dashing for their lives they meet a curious rabbit hermit, who seems to be expecting them, and gives hints as to how they might defeat the enemy that is blighting the land.
The story is filled with scrapes and acts of heroism, deliberate and accidental. There’s great peril and ear loss. It’s a coming of age story for Podkin, who rises to the challenges set before him. Paz mostly stays in the limelight too, though she does fade a little towards the end. This is a shame, as she pretty much keeps her brother alive up until the final battle and is deserving of more acclaim.
The druid and aging warrior characters that help Paz and Podkin, may be old tropes but they are well rendered and remain fresh for readers young and old. I loved the world-building. The infrastructure of the rabbit world is intriguing and I’d love to see more stories set in “The Five Realms”. There’s plenty of scope for more books, and more than a suggestion that Larwood intends to write more stories about Podkin, Paz and baby Pook.
This is children’s storytelling in the grand tradition. Engaging characters, exciting scrapes and a dark and powerful enemy. Finished off with a dusting of magic to bring everything together. The Legend of Podkin One Ear is a book that deserves to be read and read for years to come.
Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of the book by the publisher to review.