Author: Katherine Roberts
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!