The Riddle


Alison Croggon


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

February 25, 2019

he Riddle is the second book in the Chronicles of Pellinor quartet. As this volume begins, Maered and Cadvan are fleeing from the corrupt chief bard, Enkir. Once again, Maered and Cadvan are journeying across the vast landscape of Annar. This time they are headed north, in search of a riddle called The Treesong, because that is the clue to defeating the Nameless One. But they have very little idea of what the Treesong is, where to find it, or how it is supposed to work. But thin rumor is all they have to battle against the Nameless One.

Like in the first novel, Maered and Cadvan are threatened by monsters and servants of the Nameless One. In dire circumstances on a mountain pass, an avalanche sweeps down upon Cadvan, and Maered is forced to journey onward alone. In the north is a vast icy kingdom. Dwelling in the cold and snow are the Pilanel, a tribe of northerners that are related to Maered's father. Maered teams up with Dharin, a cousin, and together they push even further into the north. There, Maered will consult with wiseman about the Tree Song.

Again, in this novel, Maered will confront members of the Elidhu, also called the Elementals. These are immortal beings with great magical powers. Their though processes are unfathomable by humans, and often the Elidhu show no interest in human affairs, even when the Nameless One seeks to overrun all of Annar and destroy it. Maered has Elidhu blood, and so the Elidhu appear at various times in this series and give cryptic advice. I wish there had been more explanation of Elidhu for the actions that they take. I know they are meant to be inscrutable, but it is frustrating read.

One of the joys of the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is that the main heroes, Bilbo and Frodo, are just ordinary souls acting with great courage in difficult circumstances. There are no prophecies predicting that they will triumph. There are no secret mighty powers that they alone possess. All Bilbo and Frodo had are their wits and their friends, and little luck. I deducted one star from The Riddle because now Maered is being called Elednor, the Foretold One. I don't know why people love "destiny" and "prophecy" so much, I would rather read about a character who risks failure but proceeds any way, rather than a character who is certain to succeed because it fulfills their destiny. Doesn't that cheapen the achievement, if your victory is predicted before the quest ever begins?

This is still an excellent series, and I will keep reading it.