||did not expect to enjoy The Crow as much as the other books in the Chronicles of Pellinor, because it drops the story of Maered and instead focuses entirely on her younger brother, Hem.
I didn't want to be distracted from Maered's tale. But the story of Hem is a great story, it contains harrowing adventures and great characterizations. Just as Tolkien left the story of Frodo to follow the adventures of
Merry and Pippen, Croggon temporarily abandons Maered's exploits to tell the story of Hem. It is a successful move, I think that this may be the strongest book in the series.
Once again, this novel "rhymes" with the Lord of the Rings. The vast armies of the Dark Lord massed before Turbansk reminded me of the Battle of Helms Deep. The long, scary journey underground
that Saliman and Hem take through the maze to Nal-Ak-Burat, buried deep beneath the ground, reminded me of the the Fellowship of the Ring walking the mines of Moria. And of course, Hem's journey into the realm of the
Nameless One, the desolate land of Dagra, reminded me of Frodo and Sam's venture into Mordor. But of course, there are crucial differences between the Chronicles of Pellinor and the Lord of the Rings, so this seems like
a complete, engaging story in its own right.
While Maered journeyed to the north in book 2, The Riddle, Saliman and Hem venture to the south, to the city of Turbansk. This is a mighty city of the Light, full of powerufl bards and courageous
soldiers. Turbansk blocks the Nameless One's invasion of Annar, and so the full might of his endless armies falls upon its walls.
Hem is too young to fight, so he spends his time in the infirmaries, learning to heal the citizens of Turbansk who have are already casualties of the onslaught. Hem, like his sister Maered, has
special bard powers, and quickly becomes proficient as a healer.
While he working in the city, Hem rescues a young, pure white crow that is being tormented by its traditionally colored members of the flock. Hem calls this white crow, Irc, and discovers that his
special blood allows him to talk to animals. Hem and Irc become fast friends.
Hem also befriends another child trapped in the city - this is Zelika, a young girl who's entire family died at the hands of the advancing Nameless One's armies. Zelika burns for revenge, desiring
to strike back at the Nameless One, no matter the cost to herself. Hem becomes great friends with Zelika. I think the friendship between Hem and Irc, Hem and Saliman, and Hem and Zelika are the strongest parts of this novel.
The dangers that Hem confronts are suitably frightening, the plot is exciting and the threats are many, but the Hem's loyalty and courage are the highpoints of this fine novel.
Maered doesn't appear in this novel, the fourth and final book of the Chronicles of Pellinor will return to her and the mystery of the Treesong, and her showdown with the Nameless One. This series
has been very good, I will keep reading onward to the finish.