Potter's Boy by Tony Mitton
|Potter's Boy by Tony Mitton|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Sean Barrs|
|Summary: In this short, yet moving, novel the potter's boy goes on a long journey to discover exactly who he is and what he wants from life.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 220||Date: November 2017|
|Publisher: David Fickling Books|
Life is unpredictable; it never goes exactly where we want it to despite how much effort we put in to shape a direction for ourselves. It's a hard lesson to learn, and one Tony Mitton captures with vivid simplicity for the potter's boy.
His name is Ryo and the story begins with him witnessing an act of heroics. Local villagers are being harassed by violent bandits. Their money and goods are stolen by such bullies; they threaten to attack and kill any who oppose them. The hero is Akio, a warrior from a hidden order of monks. However, he would deny such a title. Like the Shaolin monks of China, Akio's order practices martial arts but with the purpose of deflecting an opponent. The idea is to use his energy against him, waiting for him to strike first, then responding with the most efficient way of ensuring his defeat. Ryo is enamoured with the moves he sees and, naturally, wants the same skills for himself.
He goes on a journey of discovery and learns much about himself. Initially, he wants to become a fighter, but as the story progresses he learns how vain such a wish is. Fighting does not define the monks; it is how they use it that becomes their way of life. They train hard every day, a lifestyle Ryo adapts to, though it is only done to better oneself for defence against those that wish to exploit their fellow man. Mindfulness is the key and a heightened awareness of one's surroundings, all with the purpose of defending the weak and upholding the laws of the land. It's not mere fighting: it is a lifestyle choice.
Ryo's path appears to be laid out before him but circumstances arise to alter his destiny. Mitton's story takes on the form of a moral allegory, a vessel to show the truism he is trying to evoke here. Life does not fit a standard narrative; it can go anywhere at any time. It is beyond our control. And one need not be a hero to be a good man; he can live a simple life and still utilise the lessons of a higher order if he so chose. Using them to respond to the uncontrollable circumstances, which could arise in any battle or life itself, becomes the key.
The story has a distinctively eastern feel, though Mitton's work will appeal directly to those that enjoyed fantasy writers like Ursula K. Le Guin and historical novelists like Rosemary Sutcliff. His story is not adorned with lots of description but instead it keeps moving forward. It does not stay in one place for long and flows smoothly taking unexpected, yet realistic, directions. Like Le Guin's and Sutcliff's stories, the journey of the central character takes centre stage. It is the peace and understanding Ryo seeks to attain that becomes the most effective element of the storytelling, a story that has a certain universal quality and appeal.
If you like short, yet very rich, novels about personal growth and discovery then it's also worth checking out A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin.
You can read more book reviews or buy Potter's Boy by Tony Mitton at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Potter's Boy by Tony Mitton at Amazon.com.
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