Saturday, February 26, 2011

Book Review: The Limping Man, by Maurice Gee

The Limping Man is perhaps my favorite of The Salt Trilogy. This book was the most tense and exciting of the three, and I also really liked the main characters, Ben and Hana. I felt more connected to them, and more fearful for their safety, than any of the other characters.

Hana has escaped from Blood Burrow after her mother saved her life, and then killed herself to avoid being burned as a witch. The Burrows and the city have been taken over by The Limping Man. He has huge strength of mind, and no one who hears his voice can escape this little man who can barely walk. He has built himself a castle (more like a fort) and uses his mind to control all who can hear to do his bidding, and regularly rounds up women and the men who support them and kills them, amidst the cheers of his minions.

As she escapes, Hana meets the old Dweller, Danatok, who tells her that things are going to get much worse, because The Limping Man is building up armies, constructing ships, and plans to destroy all of the people who do not follow him. He intends to be the king of the entire world. Danatok sends Hana to take a message to Pearl, Hari, Tealeaf, and the rest of the family.

After Hana gives her message, she quickly disappears. Ben (Pearl and Hari’s grandson), Lo (who is Ben’s father, although he hasn’t seen him since he was a baby), Blossom, and Hubert travel to the city to try to stop The Limping Man. Along the way they meet (and rescue) Hana, who travels with them. Blossom and Hubert have the strongest ability to “speak” (communicating thoughts without speaking) of any of the people, but even they are afraid because The Limping Man is so powerful. They cannot “see” into the city, they describe The Limping Man’s mind as “slippery,” unlike any they have encountered before.

This book has a great build up, and a very nail-biting end. There are many details to the story (Hana’s ability to “speak” to the hawk, The Limping Man’s Mother, Lo and Ben becoming acquainted as father and son, and the development of Hana and Ben’s relationship) that make this a rich, complete story. It is more than just “We’re on a quest to save the world!” (Although that certainly is the theme.) I really think, to make this story complete, you should begin with Salt and Gool, the first two books in the series.  Although this is a separate, complete story, there are many references to past events that connect the reader to the characters.

I’ll recommend this entire series to teens and pre-teens. Each book is a quest, with distinctive supernatural beings and unique settings.  I think fantasy/adventure lovers will fall in love with this world and identify with these characters.

Published by Orca, March 1, 2011
ARC obtained from LibraryThing
195 pages


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