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THE GREAT TREE OF AVALON by T.A. Barron

THE GREAT TREE OF AVALON

Vol. I, Child of the Dark Prophecy

By T.A. Barron

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-399-23763-1
Publisher: Philomel

When they’re written well, classic fantasy motifs give a story richness, archetypal depth, and solid scaffolding—but badly done, they cause only wincing. This wretchedly overwritten, haughty attempt at a Tolkien-like epic buckles under the weight of cliché, repetition, cringe-worthy dialects, images that alternate between overused and downright cryptic, and a world whose geography is mapped but never metaphysically clear. Barron’s touted as an environmentalist, but the environmental philosophy here is no stronger than in much other literature, and often it’s painfully forced: for example, it’s the evil sorcerer who chops down a forest and enslaves animals. If characterizations were better, this would be fine, but they’re not. A prophecy from long ago sets a ragged band of travelers on a quest. A Dark Child born 17 years ago is destined to cause the end of Avalon, and someone is the true heir of Merlin. Who? Who cares? (map, history of Avalon) (Fantasy. 10+)