Monica Furlong – Colman
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.
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.
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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