Read for the Once Upon a Time VII Reading Challenge.
The four books in this omnibus are all tales of the land of Dalemark. It’s long been divided into a North and South. When the last king died, the Earls took over the rule of the land. Those in the North are kind to their subjects, while those in the South are oppressive.
Cart and Cwidder is the tale of Moril – he’s the youngest in a family of Singers – the only people allowed to pass freely between the North and South. They often take passengers with them, and young Kialan has signed up for the latest ride. Unfortunately, it’s quickly clear that Kialan is more than he appears, and Moril’s father dies trying to keep him safe. Moril inherits his father’s cwidder, an instrument that came from the Undying, the gods of Dalemark, and Moril may be the only only one that can save Kialan.
Drowned Ammet is the story of Mitt. He’s from the southern land of Holand, which is ruled by the tyrant Earl Hadd. Mitt joins some freedom fighters, but has to escape a plot gone horribly wrong – and finds himself stranded on a boat with two of Hadd’s grandchildren. Hildrida, Ynen and Mitt have much to learn from each other in their journey North.
The Spellcoats takes place in prehistoric Dalemark, before there was even a king. Tanaqui and her family have always been different than the other villagers, and when a great flood comes, they’re driven from the village. Tanaqui must weave the story of their flight to the sea when it becomes clear that that journey will determine the fate of Dalemark.
The Crown of Dalemark brings together Moril, Mitt, and a girl named Maewen, who has been brought out of the future of Dalemark. An evil mage from the past is trying to destroy Dalemark, and they must work together to stop him.
What I really liked about these books was the spread of history – from prehistory to the future, and the surprisingly rich mythology in those stories (seriously – there’s actually not much detail to the mythology, but it still seems quite expansive). My favorite character is probably Mitt – for a pessimist, he has a remarkably optimistic view of the world, and his journey is the most interesting. These are young adult books, but they’re well rounded, fun fantasy. Definitely worth a read.