THE ROPEMAKER by Peter Dickinson


Age Range: 14 & up
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Dickinson’s new work is a quest fantasy, but not in the heroic mold. Its core is set in a Valley, cut off from the warlike tribes on the northern plains and from the Empire to its south, by barriers fueled by the channeled magic of the area’s people. As the story begins, the defenses that safeguarded the Valley over 20 generations are breaking down. Tilja, her grandmother, and Tahl with his grandfather, travel into the Empire seeking the sorcerer who fixed the original safeguards to request that he renew them. The Empire has changed and is now filled with unexpected dangers and challenges. Dickinson divides his narrative into three sections, each named for a sorcerer. “Asarta” sets the story up, establishing the mythology of the Valley, its history, and a feel for the social mores of the world. “Faheel” tells of the quest through the Empire, its current political and social characteristics, and the nature of magic and validity of its use. “Ramdata” is the concluding section, recounting the return of the four to the Valley, through the chaos caused by the actions of Faheel, the second sorcerer. This is an unusually satisfying fantasy in a world built through the myths and customs of the people who live there. There is a very concrete sense of the geography of the various lands that the characters travel through; even the nature of the magic is based in the land and objects produced by its people. Characterizations are excellent, including the secondary characters (and the horse). Suspense continues to build, with an ending that is harmonious with the plot, setting, and characters. For fantasy fans, a spellbinder. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-385-72921-9
Page count: 376pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2001


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