Wyrmeweald: Bloodhoney by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

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Wyrmeweald: Bloodhoney by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: The human kith continue to overrun Wyrmeweald, intent on making their fortunes by killing the wyrmes and harvesting their skins and organs. But it is another kind of hunter who stalks Micah, Thrace and Eli, one who has been ordered to murder them—as slowly and painfully as possible.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: February 2012
Publisher: Doubleday
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780385617420

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Micah and his mentor, the grizzled old tracker Eli, have holed up in a mountain cave: fullwinter in Wyrmeweald is harsh, and few humans could survive its rigours. With them is Thrace, a kingirl who bonded with a whitewyrme but who was abandoned by the enormous dragon-like creature after she and Micah fell in love. Used to flying free across the skies, she finds the confinement almost unbearable, and she is wasting away before their eyes.

In the previous volume, Wyrmeweald: Returner's Wealth, the three companions rescued a whitewyrme fledgling and a young girl, and killed the cruel keld who had trapped them. But the keld's sister wants revenge, and she sends the winter caller, a vicious and ruthless assassin, to track them down. We meet him first as he tracks his quarry's scent across the mountain snow. On his way he happens to encounter a father and a young child who got separated from their convoy, and casually, indifferently, he crushes the man's skull with his bare hands before slaughtering the girl.

Eli is an experienced and canny tracker who has survived many long, arduous years in the Wyrmeweald. But the winter caller is even more skilled, and he has an advantage: he is able to endure the worst extremes of pain, hunger and the weather because he is sustained by the terrible bloodhoney. He smokes out his three targets, destroys their cave and ties them up so he can take his time and really enjoy maiming and killing them. At last they manage to escape, but Thrace leaves her two friends, and Micah and Eli have to struggle on, hungry and ill-equipped, through the snow as they seek another shelter.

They end up at last at Deephome, a peaceful and ordered place where everyone works together and life is safe and prosperous. Micah, engrossed in a new love affair, notices nothing amiss and thinks he may even abandon his travels and remain with his new friends forever, but Eli is not so sanguine: something evil lurks beneath the surface of these placid, well-fed lives.

Alongside this story run a couple of other strands. Alsasse, a whitewyrme, is leading his mighty flock far from the familiar lands they have inhabited for so long. The humans are getting bolder and wilier, and the wyrmes can no longer defend themselves against their traps and weapons. They end up at last in a distant and desolate place, tolerated but not particularly welcomed by the enormous blueblackwyrmes who already live there. And, far up in the peaks above the Wyrmeweald, Hepzibar, the young girl rescued from the keld by Micah and his friends, is beginning the long slow process of bonding for life with her wyrme.

Like the first book in this series, this story combines the hardships and the determination of explorers in a cruel and unyielding land with the breath-taking beauty of a world where fantastic creatures roam free and proud. It skilfully shows several sides to the pioneer myth, particularly when we realise that the wyrmes, considered by the human kith merely as animals to be hunted, have their own language, culture and family loyalties. Events are gory and violent, with many good people dying before the end, but the story is told in a language which is vivid and at times almost lyrical. Special mention must be made of the beautiful illustrations. Tall, slender designs border many of the pages, revealing the world of the Wyrmeweald as if through a half-opened door. Twisted columns hold up the roof of the massive caves; the vicious winter caller peers one-eyed through his skull mask at the reader, and the silhouette of a mighty Methuselah pine clings to life at the top of a narrow, rocky cliff. Fans of fantasy, and of Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell in particular, will love this book, and they will not mind that for full enjoyment, they will need to read the whole trilogy.

It would be possible to read this book without the first one in the series (Wyrmeweald: Returner's Wealth), because this particular part of the story is complete in itself, but you will gain a great deal more by tackling them in order.

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Buy Wyrmeweald: Bloodhoney by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wyrmeweald: Bloodhoney by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Wyrmeweald: Bloodhoney by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wyrmeweald: Bloodhoney by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell at Amazon.com.


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