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The Rover Hardcover – 1 July 2001
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- Publisher : Tor Australia (1 July 2001)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0312878826
- ISBN-13 : 978-0312878825
- Dimensions : 16.26 x 3.42 x 24.89 cm
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When I began reading "The Rover," in which Edgewick Lamplighter, Third Level Librarian at the Vault of All Known Knowledge is shanghaied into a world of magic, adventure, and intrigue, I was just sort of cruising along. Wick is a dweller, which is to say a halfling, who spends all of his time reading what Grandmagister Frollo considers to be the wrong books in the vault. Wick lives in a world that has been shattered in the past by a great Cataclysm between Lord Kharrion's forces of evil and an alliance of men, elves and dwarves. The Vault is presumed to be the sole depository of all the books left in the world, a great library protected for a time in the future when the world can use this storehouse of knowledge to rebuild civilization. But a quick series of mishaps befall our hero and suddenly he is cleaning dishes on a pirate ship run by dwarves.
So I am a reading along thinking dwarf pirates are kind of interesting, but I have read about dwarves before, and a dweller seems to be a hobbit without hair on his toes, when suddenly the pirate ship has a visitor.
You will know exactly what I am talking about when you read this novel, because this is the point where you sit up and take notice. This is where the character of Wick emerges as someone you want to read more about and where the world Odom has created begins to come into sharper perspective. The success of fantasy books like "The Rover" is always going to depend on the new creations or at least the new combinations the author can bring to play, and once Odom ushers in his first special creation for this fantasy world this novel really takes off.
For one thing, the wit and humor really starts to click after that point. My wife commented that I was chuckling while reading this book more than anything she has heard me read in a long time and it was not like I could really just read her a line because the humor is all contextual in terms of characters rather than being one liners. Yes, there is an engaging rogue, but he has this quaint little ability to tell when people are lying that gives him a nice character twist. But the most important thing is that Wick, who begins the story as something of a cartoonish little fellow, becomes transformed at this point and Odom has a fully realized character. Also, Wick suddenly takes on more of a purpose than just wanting to go home, without this book becoming some sort of grand quest.
In fact, I was not really sure what the book was about; which is perfectly fine, because this is one of those books that is about the journey not the destination. I was not at all sure if this was one of those to-be-continued/first-volume-of-an-epic-trilogy type novels or not. All I knew was that I was reading "The Rover" for the most important reason there is to read any novel: to find out what happens next.
"Kirkus Reviews" considers "The Rover" to be "A cute, smartly told pastiche of Tolkien and Terry Brooks aimed at the Harry Potter crowd and librarians at every level." This might be damning with faint praise at best because (a) "pastiche" is a twenty dollar word that means there is nothing new in the world and suggests Odom is constructing his narrative out of bits and pieces of other people's work, which I take exception to given what I laid out above, (b) even the last (fourth) Harry Potter novel with its turn towards death and darkness is a lark in the park compared to the evil that abounds in Wick's shattered world, which makes it strange to say this book is targeted for younger readers, and (c) librarians do not buy books because they work in giant buildings holding thousands of books, so why target them? Especially since part of the lesson of this book is that there are far better things to be than a mere librarian.
I know the comparisons to Tolkien, Brooks and Rowling are inevitable, but they really only get in the way of enjoying Mel Odom's tale. I was sorry to see this tale come to an end and I would like to hear what happens to Wick next. What better response do you want to a have to a book as a reader?