Hello Internet. Welcome back for Review #13. This week, for a series drenched in nostalgia, I present to you my latest installment. One which I remember as fondly as Bluejuice’s Broken Leg.
When I first read this series in 5th grade, I was really hooked. For 10-year-old me, this was my first real fantasy set in a faraway land (apart from Harry Potter, but really that takes place in modern London for some of the time, and was a bit much further on in the series for a 6-year-old me). The story was well thought-out, the puzzles and riddles really made sense and stuck with me, and the stories were varied enough to make me think I was reading a fresh novel with the same characters every time, oblivious to the fact that on a re-read some of the ideas were a bit half-baked. I even bought the box set of all three series, which came in tall volumes with marbled pages under the covers, which I still own and flick through today.
So what if the plot stretched a bit thin at times, with the series going on so long that some characters did act a bit unnaturally in later books? Who really cares that even for a fantasy the place seemed unnaturally unrealistic at times? The importance was that these were characters which you could really imagine yourself taking the place of, and really enjoy spending time with, besides the fact they were a bit two-dimensional. Akin to grinding away at smaller enemies in an MMORPG, the writing was just something you could read easily and pick up or put down at any time, and the fact that for me the books came in large tomes that you could pretend were spellbooks and play mages with were just a bonus.
My point for this series is that books that capture your hearts and minds when you are young are impossible to look back on without a degree of nostalgia and awe. Emily Rodda, if she isn’t now, was a household name in my primary school years. Her books about a young boy who embarks upon an epic quest to find the gemstones for a magical belt which would bring peace and joy to a land torn apart by a faceless force of evil would seem clichéd now, but was exactly what I needed at that point to see the wonders of how a fantasy land could become a place of adventure, and is a reason why it is such an important medium for younger readers. No 12-year-old (I was reading about four years above my level, so Deltora Quest was a step down) would want to read about old, balding grey scientists talk about energised-ion boosters and flux capacitors. They want Adventure! With a capital A!
Look, there is one reason why I will introduce this series of books to my children and grandchildren (if I have any). It is because this series reaches out with an accessible story and characters to any young child. Even those which don’t read (I know, sounds impossible, right?) will be able to interact and share emotions with the characters, and will gasp and laugh with the plot, like I know I did. And even though I still haven’t read anything else by this author, if the other books are anything like this series, I doubt I’ll need to.
Deltora Quest was published in 2000 by Scholastic, and can be found on Amazon here.
Yours: J.M. Pear