This debut novel by Nick Stella, which he says, began as a bedtime story for his children is a fantasy adventure, about a village of giants, a rite of passage journey, and for the main character, self-discovery. Just because you are a twin doesn’t mean you think and want to do the same things. It is all about having the courage to follow your own path.
Ash and his family of battle-hardened giants live in Haven-Home. Ash isn’t as big and strong as his twin brother Oak, but now that they have reached the age of twelve, they must go with their selected mentors on a dangerous trek to prove they are grown up and bring back a weapon with which to defend their home from the savage wolves that live outside their village.
Ash has some major concerns from the get-go. His old giant mentor, Avalanche, is different from other giants and has a blemished record from a previous mentoring. Further, the warrior activities of his family where the axe and spear is the solution for everything doesn’t sit well with him. He wants to take a different path, to learn about incantation, which means to communicate with the magic of wood, stone, earth, and fire and Persuading them to do as you ask.
Ash begins his Trek with trepidation, but with each encounter – first skilfully obtaining a shard of stone from Lord Stone, outwitting the Grandfather Tree for one of his branches; giving in to the water in the River Tind Avalanche, recognises the changes in Ash and how different he has become from the other giants.
Aimed at readers aged 10+, the book is a hefty 288p, with a map that needs regular checking, but the friendly font, the short well-positioned chapters, and the myriad of strange creatures will engage many readers. As the story unfolds we learn that it takes courage to listen to your own voice amid the throng of expectations of the village, family and peer groups, and also discover that the pen, and in this case the elements can be mightier than the sword.