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Monday, 15 March 2010

Review: Song Quest and Tour Sign Up

Author: Katherine Roberts
Genre: Fantasy
Release date: 1999 Element / 2000 UK Chicken House/ 2001 Scholastic US
Target audience: 10+

Important note: Song Quest is currently out of print. It is a great traversty and I am trying to do my little bit to change this. You can still purchase the book from Amazon Marketplace.

Summary from the author's website:
When a ship is wrecked on the Isle of Echoes, novice Singer Rialle hears the cries of the fish-tailed merlee, who are being hunted by the mainlanders. She is sent with a Singer delegation across the sea to the Karch, where she discovers her rival, the runaway Kherron, has been tricked by the Khizpriest into helping the enemy. Only by working together can the two young Singers rescue the merlee and return to the Echorium to break the power of the dark crystal.
I first read Song Quest back in 2001 when I was an eager student at University. I can vividly remember reading it on the train and then continuing to race through it in the undergrad common room while my intellectual friends talked of politics and other things like the pub. This was not a usual habit for me in those days. I didn't really have time to read fiction that wasn't on the syllabus but there was something about this book that spoke to me. I swear this is where my love of YA fiction originated. I guess I owe my career to this book. Would it be fair to say that I have a sentimental attachment to this novel? Yes, it would and with good reason. It is brilliant. That's why! The Echorium Sequence is one of my absolute favourite fantasy series if not the favourite. Okay, enough reminiscing! I have re-read Song Quest to kick start my campaign to get this award-winning novel back in print. I know my students would love this book. I need to be able to stock it in the library. I need to be able to force people to go into shops and buy it.

Song Quest sees us living on the Isle of Echoes. Home to the Singers of the Echorium who protect the lives of Half Creatures and can heal the sick with their Songs of Power. The towns people live in awe of the Singers and have many exaggerated ideas of their abilities. Rialle is our heroine. A Final Year Singer-in-training who loves everything that the Echorium represents. The story opens with Rialle and her classmates having a lesson on the beach below the Five Thousand steps to the Echorium. A ship has been wrecked and they are searching for more than just the goods that may have been washed up. Rialle is about to find out the truth behind the stories of the Half Creatures that are in the Echorium's illustrious history. Here we also meet the adorable Frenn who is loyal, funny, gallant and probably my favourite character. Then there is Kherron who is wildly jealous of Rialle's singing ability and resents the attention and praise she receives from her teachers. Kherron desperately wants to sing on the Pentangle. This is where the Singers stand and join in song. One at each point of the star and voice the five Songs of Power. Each song casts a powerful magic which can heal or harm.

The fantasy landscape of this novel is original and beautiful. The Singers wear their flip-flops in the Echorium and the breeze blows through the draped windows. They wear grey robes that flow freely. It all gives a sense of the island as one of crystal, ethereal beauty and a place of serenity. Every detail is well-thought out. The Singers dye their hair blue and this helps magnify the power of their Songs. On the mainland the Karchlord has dominion over the towns people and they live in fear of him and his men.

The plot moves swiftly and will keep you reading on and on. Roberts expertly captures the readers attention as Rialle undertakes her dangerous quest. This is edge of your seat, hold your breath until you get to the end, stuff. Beautifully written and captivating. Rialle and her friends each grow and develop as the novel progresses and the ending is just perfect.

I know I haven't done this book the justice it deserves. I can't communicate the love I have for this book in words. It is a feeling I have inside. I just know this is an incredible fantasy series that brings me great joy. I just don't know how to say that. Song Quest is the perfect read for any fantasy lover. All I can say is read this book. It is an epic fantasy adventure full of laughter, danger, mysterious plot and colourful imagination.

Blog tour sign up:
Now, I have bought an extra copy of Song Quest from Amazon Marketplace. I'm hardly going to part with my beautiful hardback, am I?!

I am going to send this extra copy on tour around as many UK blogs as I can. Please say below if you would like to be a part of the tour and I will email you. If you're interested and you're an international blogger, leave me a comment telling me so and I just might buy another copy to send out to you guys too. Please state your country in the comments. Your help to get Song Quest back in print is needed and very much appreciated.

Katherine's website can be found here. You can also follow her unicorn's blog here. I do and I love it!

On another note, Katherine is writing a series now about the daughter of King Arthur. I really want to read it but she hasn't found a publisher yet. Talk about injustice! She is an award-winning and superb author. How can she not have a publisher for this series?! I don't understand. Merlin is a huge hit with kids right now. A new take on the King Arthur story is something I wish I could recommend to my students in the school library. Publishers are too focused on paranormal romance. It makes me very frustrated!

The Bookette


Ellen Renner said...

This is great, Becky. Katherine Roberts is a marvellous writer and it is shameful that this book should be out of print! Thanks for this. I'm just about to start blogging; what better subject to start off with? I want to own the book, though, so will find a copy. Again: super post, thanks!

Becky said...

Ellen, that is such brilliant news. Getting the word out is what this post was all about. I agree Katherine is marvellous. I want the world to know it!

The Book Bug said...

I have not read this, but I really really really 100x really want to. Awesome review, btw. So about that blog tour...Could I maybe take part? Pretty please??

Becky said...

Book Bug, I would love you to be part of the tour.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Fantastic review. Fab idea! You go girl! *high five*

Christina/Book Addict said...

Great post! I agree with Juju- YOU GO GIRL! :) I'd admire what you are doing. That's awesome. I'm definitely going to have to check out this book!

brizmus said...

Maybe you didn't do the book justice, but you did make it sound absolutely AMAZING! :-) I am grateful to the book Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman like you are grateful for this book. It's what really made me realize I adore reading. I think we all need a book like this in our lives.

If you end up doing an international tour, I would love to be a part of it. I'll be in Japan when the time comes. If not, I might have just been convinced to find a way to get my own copy. :-)

Becky said...

Yay! This is great. Brizmus, I am up for getting another copy for an international tour if there are any takers. Are there keen people out there?

Saviour Pirotta said...

Katherine Roberts is a brilliant and gutsy writer. Song Quest deserves to be on everybody's reading list, and her I Am The Great Horse should have won every prize going.

Becky said...

Saviour Pirotta, hi there! I ordered I Am The Great Horse last week. I cannot wait for it to arrive. Yay for all the bookish love of Katherine! She is wonderful!

Jo said...

Awesome review, Becky! Your passion and love for this book is obviously huge, and Song Quest sounds like a brilliant book! Sign me up for the book tour! I'm in UK, as you know :)

I don't know if you know or not, but author Heidi Kling has named this week Author Appreciation Week - I think this review would work well for it, and you could let more people know about this book. Just an idea :)

Lauren said...

This sounds just wonderful, and I love how your enthusiasm for the book shines through in your review.

I'd love to be part of your book tour for this one!

Ebony McKenna. said...

What a wonderful thing you are doing, more power to you.
This sounds like one of those rare, life-changing books that resonates so well just when you need it to.
The books that fired me up were like this - I should have been reading the syllabus but found myself reading well into the night. Books like The Belgariad and Dune had me up all night, when I should have been reading Lord of the Flies (I think I made the right choice?)

I'm going to hunt down a copy of this book for my shelves too. Thanks for spreading the word.

Luisa at Chicklish said...

Oh, this is wonderful! I loved reading this so much - thank you! I also agree that Katherine is great!

Bookalicious Ramblings said...

What a great idea! I definitely hope you succeed! :)

Rhiana said...

Your so passionate about this book, I'd love to help out!

Katherine Langrish said...

Can I just say that I adore Katherine Roberts' work, and 'Song Quest' has to be one of the most unusual (and beautiful, to say nothing of exciting) fantasies around. Thanks for highlighting it!

Sarah said...

I hadn't even heard of this one but your review sounds fab! I'd love to take part in the UK tour so please add me to the list :o)

Shweta said...

Great review . I hope the book is back in print . Love that you are working hard to make it happen. Go Becky!!

I Want To Read That said...

Sounds great! Can I be part of the tour too please? :)

Hannah said...

I totally just finished reading this book a few days ago and boy! am I ever glad that you highlighted it, reviewed it, and all that. I really enjoyed Song Quest. I've got the next two books in the sequence on my desk at home just waiting to be read. Thanks so much for the suggestion/persuasion to pick this book up.

Ah Yuan // wingstodust said...

!! I REMEMBER THIS NOVEL. I LOOOOOOOVED THIS AS A KID. One of my many formative child books that got me into fantasy. I'd totally do a review for your blog tour, and no need to send a copy over, I still own one from back when I was twee. (Nothing could make me part with Song Quest. NOTHING! *tackle hugs it*) Should I email you or something to get more details on this blog tour thing or...?

Becky said...

Hi Ah Yuan, please do email me. I have been a little awol this week. But I would love you to join the tour. My email is thebookette @ googlemail.com

It is great to meet another Katherine Roberts fan!