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Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Winnitok Tales: The Hunt for the Eye of Ogin by Patrick Doud

Hi there!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers!
One more day until the big BLOGMANIA event...are you ready?  One day, 24 hours...multiple blogs, many prizes....all the fun starts at the stroke of midnight, so be sure to stop by and check it out!  In the mean time, don't forget to enter for your chance to win in the two contests currently open, further information is available in the right hand sidebar.  ALSO, tomorrow is Arbor Day!  To celebrate, we will be having a special post centered on this unofficial U.S. holiday with a book review to match!  Loads of fun to be had all around...hope to see you there (I mean, here...hehe).

Typing up this review while listening to the newest CD to be released from the GLEE cast, The Power of Madonna.....perhaps you've heard of it? (*sings* don't go for second best baby, but your love to the test... *sings* ... whoops!  Back on topic...) Drenched in messages of female power and equality for all, it's actually quite befitting the feature of today's post (huh, how did the folks at GLEE know I was reading this book? *ponders*).  Today's book of choice is....

The Winnitok Tales:
Patrick Doud

Picture it.  You are 13 years old.  Your family moves far from where you grew up, leaving friends and familiar haunts behind.  You're disoriented, outraged, and generally unhappy.  Unable to express your feelings in words, you find escape in separating yourself from others as much as possible in school, resolve to wallow in negativity frequently, and roam the hillsides surrounding the new place you dwell (since you don't really consider it home).  One day while out exploring the "lands", you happen upon a strange portion of a now familiar pathway.  Curiousity gets the better of you, and...WHOOSH!  You find yourself in a place that begs recollection, yet you simply can't place.  It looks like "home" and yet not all at once...

Such is the plight of young Elwood Pitch (gotta love the name, right?) and his faithful companion Slunkee (such a cute doggie and loyal too) who are whisked away unknowingly to a land of beauty and great peril.  That mysteriously appearing pathway?  It lead to the land of Ehm where magic and mahem are aquaintances and the loyal department store is light years from ever being built let alone considered.  This is a time of great peril for all those in Ehm as the immortal being Granashan the Nohar (protector) is missing and her Dread of protection is failing allowing those with evil intentions to enter the lands leaving destruction and death in their paths.  From the moment he enters this strange land, Elwood knows that he is there for a reason and with the help of Drallah Wehr and her raven friend Booj, the unlikely foursome set out for an adventure they won't soon forget.  They need to find the Nohar and all signs point to the 'eye of ogin' being the only way to locate her.  Will they be able to save the lands from the invading forces of ill will?  Perhaps more pressing yet unspoken in Elwood's mind, will he ever be able to return home? 

So...if you've followed my progress on here (or GoodReads, or Twitter, etc), you might have noticed this one took me a little longer to read than some.  Nothing against the book, it was an adventure to be certain...problem for me, it might have been a smidge too much.  Allow me to briefly (, brief?  No I promise to be brief....) explain.  It's books like this one that help to show you what you prefer and what you don't in reading.  This is an epic fantasy if I had to put a genre label on it.  Yes, it was written for young adults, but it reads similar in story structure to the all time heralded Lord of the Rings trilogy.  That's not a bad thing, I mean they are famous for a reason.  It's just that they are not for everyone.  For me, I prefer the movies of that big named series...less history, more action, still true to the story line.  While the author didn't weigh you down with too much history, there were many fantasy elements that added their own heft (the language, the creatures, etc.). 

There is a full cast of creatures unfamiliar in origin yet recognizeable thanks to descriptive text.  From the fox truans to the frog people of the Swamp, the evil sorceror with a power source in lieu of a heart to the evil Zaw (a giant frog creature that would give anybody the hebegebees...~shivers~), you can vividly imagine them as they are introduced for better or worse within this tale.  Unexpectedly, there is a cast of strong female characters that dominate in this tale.  Drallah, Elwood's first friendly acquaintance, future scout for her people and defender of the land (and friends she holds dear).  Ainathuai (Queen of Ashwada), spoiled though she may be, her pride and will are as strong as any male leader.  Nemoor, the young Queen's cousin and magical witch in her own right, more powerful than looks betray.  Each one has their own will, their own path, and though times get tough, none shy from the matter at hand (though they do accept a helping hand from time to man or woman is an island after all).  Definitely an unexpected large cast of strength, but refreshing nonetheless. 

In the end, I enjoyed the overall story, but the ending was not what I expected at all.  The journey comes to an end for all intents and purposes and we discover the fate of Elwood Pitch and friends, but there is a slight twist in the last few lines that just leaves me unsettled.  It feels like the story was finished (for now at least) and perhaps the added in feelings might have been better kept for the next story....then again, the author could have wanted to leave you in this emotional quandry thus building anticipation for book two. (*ponders*)

Will I be looking for the next book in the series?  It's hard to say.  While I am curious about the next adventure and how their relationships grow, I'd have to try to make sure I create a reading cone of sorts (similar to the "cone of silence" referenced in The Avengers movie, but less funny, more uninterrupted time) to allow full immersion into the other world to take place, otherwise it becomes too hard to follow.  (Ever have a book like that?  Wait, don't answer that...wait for the 'comment creator'...)

There is a site dedicated to this new series.  Providing both a sneak peek at the current release as well as information on the next installment (The Mornith War) scheduled for 2011, it's sure to wet your appetite for adventure.  Once you're a fan, you can start your indepth exploration of the characters and lands with the other interactive features available.

Special thanks to Kat at North Atlantic Books for the ARC for review.  (THANK YOU!)  For more information on this title and more, check out their blog, site, or follow along on Twitter (publisher or book)!

Regarding reading preferences, everyone has some to a certain degree at least.  Do you read epic fantasy novels or series?  (By epic fantasy, I am referring to books where the fantasy world comes at you full force in language, lands, creatures, a 'heavy' way.)  If so....what draws you to them?  Which one is your favorite?  If not, why?

Until next time....happy reading!


Dorothy Dreyer said...

I recognize the cover from coming across this book on an agency site. I thought it looked cool, and still do. Thanks for the great review!

(My word verification is "dingsly" - that would make an interesting last name for a character too, hehehe.)

The1stdaughter said...

Fabulous review! I love how objective you were and yet, I'm still very interested in this book. I think it would be great for a "new" generation of LOTR fans growing up today!

I'm also really glad you brought up the reading preferences question! Not every book is for everyone and although us book reviewers are asked to read some things we don't always find "our style" it's how we approach it in the review, because someone reading could really enjoy it even if we don't put it on our "favorites" list. I think you always do a great job of this!
Thanks again for another fantastic review, can't wait to read this one!

lisa (the little reader) said...

i actually enjoy epic fantasy novels and series, to some degree. i've read LotR and have started into The Wheel of Time series. both have the epic fantasy feel with these grand worlds and cultures and creatures that are created by the author and both are written extremely well. i think the appeal for me is the other wordly adventure and action. i actually think i prefer WoT to LotR, for the writing and characterization that Jordan pulls off, but both have their rambling tendencies that can cause for some tedious reading.

i also read The Hunt for the Eye of Ogin and although i do enjoy a good epic fantasy from time to time, it didn't really do it for me. the elements of a good book were all there, but it just didn't come together in the end. i think kids might enjoy it, though.

i appreciate your thorough and honest review!

Gina said...

DorothyDreyer: Glad to see it's being recognized! LOL on the word truly would!

The1stdaughter: Agreed! Something to get their feet wet so to speak. Thank you for the kind words! ^_^

lisa (the little reader): That's great! See, you enjoy them more than I do, but I can definitely see why with the reasons you gave. I have heard many good things about the WoT series from other readers as it continues to stay on the high end of popularity. Sorry to hear this title didn't quite hit the right spot for you, but as you said, kids may enjoy it (and that is the main intended audience). Thanks for the conversation!

Alexia561 said...

I've never been a big fan of epic fantasys, as they demand too much of my attention. I like your reading cone idea! That would be awesome, although I hope it works better than the Cone of Silence did for Maxwell Smart! :D

Vanessa said...

Fellow GLEEK! Hurray!

I love how objective this review is. I haven't read the series, and the LOTR comparison makes me think I probably won't. I have great admiration for the Lord of the Rings series, but I'm not afraid to admit that enjoy the movies more than the books. The books are a tough slog in a lot of places!

Gina said...

Alexia561: LOL. Yeah, my luck I'd end up with his cone... XD

NotNessie: Thanks for the kind words! Yay, GLEEks will rule the world (at least musically)! Such a fun show. Too bad this one may not be for you, but KUDOS for giving it a chance and checking out the review! Much thanks... ^_^

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