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Monica Furlong – Colman

January 11, 2011

162. Colman by Monica Furlong (2004)
Dorans, Book 3

Read my review of book:
1. Juniper (mini-review)
2. Wise Child

Length: 267 pages
Genre: Mid-grade Historical Fantasy

Started: 28 December 2010
Finished: 29 December 2010

Where did it come from? Bookmooch.
Why do I have it? I’ve loved Juniper since I was little, so when I found out there were sequels, of course I wanted to read them.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 16 August 2009.

Juniper’s brother’s
in trouble, and its up to
the dorans to help.

Summary: Juniper, the wise woman, Wise Child, her protégé, and Colman, Wise Child’s best friend, have all fled their small English village in the face of accusations of witchcraft and threats of persecution. They’ve returned to Cornwall, where Juniper’s father is king, only to find Juniper’s parents dead and the lands surrounding Castle Dore under the thumb of Juniper’s evil Aunt Meroot. Meroot and her husband, the Gray Knight, have kidnapped Juniper’s younger brother, and have set him up as a figurehead while they rule over a populace terrified by their dark sorcery and brutal tactics. It’s up to Colman and Wise Child to save Juniper’s brother and liberate the kingdom, but what hope do two children have against two powerful sorcerers?

Review: Furlong completed Colman just before she died in 2003, and it was in fact published posthumously. However, “completed” doesn’t necessarily mean “finished”; Colman is easily the roughest of Furlong’s three Doran books, and I’d like to believe that if Furlong had had more time to work on it, she would have polished it up and fleshed it out a bit more. As it is, though, it reads like a middle draft – all of the basic ideas are there, and there’s a complete story, but the emphasis is not always in the right places.

There were elements throughout the book that just didn’t feel like enough. Colman has some of the powers of a doran (scrying, etc.), but he rejects further training, and for most of the book, his potential powers are completely ignored – which is a shame, since Juniper’s and Wise Child’s doran training were the most interesting parts of the previous two books. Similarly, while Meroot and the Gray Knight were excellently terrifying villains in Juniper, in Colman they’ve largely lost their teeth, and the plan to defeat them comes together way too easily and conveniently to be really compelling. Indeed, for part of the climax, our protagonists are not actually doing anything, but simply watching things unfold from a hidden room. Where’s the excitement in that?

Overall, while this was an easy read, it was ultimately kind of disappointing. The potential is certainly there, but I’m sad that we’ll never get to see how good it could have been if Furlong had been able to spend a little more time with it. 3 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Not as good as the rest of the series, for sure. Since it’s currently out of print, I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to find it, but if you like Juniper or Wise Child and a copy happens to drop in your lap, it’s not a terrible way to spend the afternoon.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Four of us escaped on Finbar’s ship after Juniper’s trial as a witch – Juniper, Wise Child, Cormac, and me.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2011 6:50 pm

    I felt so disappointed in Colman, even after my mother and sister prepared me by saying it wasn’t very good. I loved Juniper and Wise Child. :( But I think even if it had been all polished and perfect, it wouldn’t have blown my mind. I don’t care about boring Colman.

    I remembered what the Furlong Robin Hood book is called though! Robin’s Country! It’s charming. Better than Colman.

    • January 11, 2011 10:09 pm

      Colman would have been less boring if he’d have been interested in doran training – those were my favorite parts of the other books.

      I’ve had Robin’s Country on my wishlist since you originally told me about it, but it is also out of print, so I’ve had no luck tracking down a copy yet.

  2. January 11, 2011 8:38 pm

    I really want to read this series this year. If this is the weakest, would it ruin the other two to start with the third? Are they more companion volumes, or do you think it would take away from the pleasure of reading the first two too much to skip ahead like this to avoid later disappointment?

    • January 11, 2011 10:08 pm

      Colman starts immediately after Wise Child ends, so those two, I think, should be read in order. Colman also references the events from Juniper pretty heavily, but could theoretically be read out of order – although personally, I wouldn’t have wanted to.

      • January 27, 2011 5:03 pm

        Thanks much-ly: I’ll read them in their original order then, and simply try to adjust my expectations for the third.

  3. January 15, 2011 4:11 pm

    I’ve never even heard of Juniper!. I’d better get a copy of it soon.

    • January 17, 2011 9:34 am

      Darla – Yeah you should! It’s pretty great. Wise Child‘s good too, although it doesn’t have the fond “read it a thousand times in my childhood” associations that Juniper does.

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