(Deltora Quest 1)
Straight ahead kidsí fantasy. Rodda doesnít put a foot wrong, and itís no wonder she hooked a lot of kids into this one. Sure itís colour-by-numbers, but whatís wrong with that Ė she obviously likes the fantasy model and has condensed it down to something enormously palatable. And when I say itís formulaic, I mean sheís got all the right ingredients to make something like this fun, she hasnít forgotten anything. More than that, she hasnít mucked it up Ė something itís very easy to do: there are a thousand people out there trying to write a formulaic fantasy that will sell its socks off, but itís harder than it looks. If you like this as a pre-teen, pop into some David Gemmell when youíre in high-school.†
So, anyway, weíve unapologetically got an evil magical villain, a noble youth, a hard-bitten offsider (who really is actually a nice guy when you get down to it), standard quasi-medieval settings, and some magical items to track down in the quest to save the world, the nation, or whatever. Now this is fantasy without the depth Ė nobodyís going to be doing a Silmarilion for Deltora Quest. But nobody needs to, it isnít trying to get deep within Ė rather itís celebrating some wonderfully enjoyable conventions without (so far) slipping.
I wonder if one subtle twist (maybe inserted to get into the subconscious of her unsuspecting young boy readers) will continue for the series. While, of course, or hero is a teenage boy, and his mentor also a bloke, and their brave and tough and good with a sword etc., both Leif and his father before him have been rescued (just quietly, mind) by girls in their times of greatest need. Sharnís show stealing Ďlittle painted dollí scene was a wonderful surprise, and Jasmine continues the amazonian trend.