Monday, December 10, 2007

The Mistmantle Chronicles: The Urchin of the Riding Stars

Title: Mistmantle Chronicles, The: Urchin of the Riding Stars - Book #1 (Mistmantle Chronicles)Author: M. I. McAllister
CBA or ABA? ABA (American Book Association)
Primary Audience/age group: 9 – 12 yrs. Old
Genre: Fantasy/Action
# Of pages: 228
Year of Release: 2005
Part of a Series? Yes, 1 of 3
Rating: 3.5 of 5
Recommend? Yes, see below

Description: from Publishers Weekly
The first book in the Mistmantle Chronicles introduces a mystical, medieval island and its anthropomorphic woodland denizens. The hedgehog King Brushen rules the island of Mistmantle and his squirrel, otter, mole and hedgehog subjects. The mists that surround the island give it its name, and also hide it from outsiders-except for one pregnant squirrel who finds her way to its shores in time to give birth to a child of prophecy ("He will bring down a powerful ruler") before she dies. Crispin, a squirrel who serves as one of the king's Captains, discovers the baby on the shore and names him Urchin. The young squirrel is thrilled when Crispin, "[his] hero," later asks Urchin to be his page. But Urchin's joy is short-lived when the king's young son is murdered, and-by an arcane system of drawing lots-Crispin is determined to be the murderer. Urchin, the otter Padra (his new master) and other loyal subjects strive to uncover the conspirators set on overthrowing King Brushen. " `And, Urchin,' Padra added quietly, `whatever those sharp squirrel ears pick up, be careful of repeating anything.... I know Crispin was innocent and so do you.... But there is danger in high places on this island.' " Urchin and his young friends make friendly, virtuous heroes, and younger readers may well look forward to their future adventures. Ages 8-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Review: I found The Urchin of the Riding Stars to be an exciting read. It was a bit heavy on description, but I think it was necessary to give a mental picture of the island and the characters. I was drawn in to the life on the mysterious island and enjoyed getting to know the characters. Urchin appeals to the underdog in us all. If your child enjoyed the Redwall series, they will like this too. Following are events/circumstances in the book that I believe may be cause for concern to some parents:

This book had a clear good versus bad story line. The heroes make the right choices in the face of tough circumstances. There are great lessons in loyalty, character, and standing up for what is good and right.

Spiritual Elements:
The good guy, Urchin is a child of “prophecy”. He has been born to save the village from an evil king. At one point they “cast lots” to determine who murdered one of the characters.

One of the bad guys in the story orders all weak/deformed animals born to be “culled” (killed). A few fights or battle scenes, but nothing gory.

No Bad Language

Sexual Content:

The bad guys drug the good guys with wine in place of water.

Recommend: I will allow my 12 year old to read this book. I felt like the story was a clear, classic good against evil plot. I would suggest the book be read by 10 and up. I wish the references to wine weren’t included and will discuss that with myson.


Sonya said...

I saw this book in a used bookstore recently and after reading the review, I think I'll go back and get it!

Christina said...

Great, well-rounded review!!!
In my experience, either they LOVE it or HATED it! The majority really enjoyed this book! I think grades 5-8 (depending on maturity) would be best suited for this book.

Anonymous said...

I think this book was great! I am 13 and thought the reference to wine was fine because, after all, Jesus turned water into wine. My mom read the book after me and loved it! The detail was amazing and I could picture everything that happened. I suggest this book to all!

Colleen said...

I loved this book, and the sequel! The characters were well-developed and the plot was intricate.

There were several spiritual aspects that this review missed though:
There is a priest - Brother Fir, a very kind old squirrel - and many references and prayers to the 'Heart'. Many of the animals often pray to the Heart, and Brother Fir uses prayer to cleanse an evil place. The 'Heart' seemed to me like a portrayal of Jesus. "Even the Heart that made Mistmantle has to break with love for us. That is how it gave us the mists. But it does not stay broken. The Heart still beats, still loves, still holds us. A true heart survives the breaking."

The only negative thing I can think of is that the references to culling and the evil disposition of Husk might scare younger readers (under 10) but anyone older than that should be perfectly fine. This really is a good series!

Anonymous said...

Correction: there are currently 4 books in the series, with a fifth coming out July 20 2009. The 4th book is called 'Urchin and the Raven War' and the 5th is 'Urchin and the Rage Tide'. I thought that the books were incredible and was not at all worried about the wine-it only shows the vice of alcohol.

Easilly the most wonderful books I have ever read!!!!

Anonymous said...

I was in a book store and saw this book. I got it and ended up useing it as my book report book.I got bored but I had to for my report.I then got hooked on it when Prince Tumble was killed ( now I also cant stop looking at hedghog photos) :) My mom started reading it too.
I didnt think much of the wine parts mostly because the evil Husk mostly gave the poor king it. My mom pointed out that she thought the writer was Christain because Brother Fur prayed to heart. I think its cool that she made somthing to represent praying to Jesus.
I LOVED the book and I think it would be good for 3rd grade and up. Im ten and was glad that after my report some people asked me about the book.Im serching for the sequal. IF YOU DID NOT READ THE BOOK YET I SAY IT IS AWESOME!!!!!! :)

Anonymous said...

it was one of the best books i have read !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it is awesome !!!!!!!