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Heroes of the Valley Hardcover – Jan 27 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (Jan. 27 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 142310966X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423109662
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 726 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #822,250 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Written out of a deeply felt world and with a taut, disciplined voice that knows its Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as well as its Harry Potter, Jonathan Stroud's new book is, quite simply, stunning" Guardian "This is a real treat that will have children of 10 and over seeking out Stroud's other novels" -- Toby Clements Daily Telegraph "As always, Stroud writes like a dream, passing from instant amusement to a sense of real suspense with apparent ease. Those who eagerly awaited this next novel after his super Bartimaeus trilogy will not be disappointed" Books for Keeps "It is certainly an action adventure but the great fight scenes are tempered by humour and humanity and for that reason, although an excellent read for boys, it will be read by adventurous girls too" Carousel "The language is equisite in places and landscape is brilliantly evoked throughout the story" -- Rachel Bowler School Library Association --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Review

Praise for

Heroes of the Valley: “Witty and cinematic storytelling propels Stroud’ engrossing novel, set in a medieval world that recalls Norse epics.”—

Publishers Weekly (starred review) “[Stroud] keeps readers guessing—bout plot turns, character revelations, and the novel’ philosophical implications—hrough many a deftly choreographed conflict.”—

Horn Book Magazine (starred review) “Fans of his ‘artimaeus’trilogy... will devour this book whole.”—

School Library Journal (starred review) “Stroud earns each and every gasp and cheer he’l garner from this very different sort of fantasy. Funny, exciting, thoughtful, and, most of all, timeless in the way of all tales worth spinning again and again.”—

Booklist (starred review)

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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3.2 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. V. on Dec 3 2009
Format: Hardcover
Having read Johnathan Stroud's The Bartimaeus Trilogy which was an excellent series I was quite disappointed in this book. It seemed to me that Mr. Stroud was under some timeline to finish another book because this was so boring I almost quit reading it many times and even fell asleep a couple of times. I'm not saying there wasn't the occasional action scene because there was but they were so few and far between that it seemed like reading the local newspaper at times. The ending was also pretty weak as well. This book didn't feel anything like Mr. Stroud's previous writings ... not even close. Makes you wonder if someone else wrote the book under his name? I feel Mr. Stroud let his readers down in a big way here with this book. Hopefully, his next novels wich won't be a continuation of this book will again be on the same level as his "Bartimaeus" novels. Bottom line is don't waste your time and money on this book.
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By Alison S. Coad TOP 50 REVIEWER on Aug. 21 2011
Format: Hardcover
"Heroes of the Valley," by Jonathan Stroud, tells the story of Halli, the youngest son of the head of the House of Svein, one of 12 houses of ancient Heroes that populate the valley of the title. All his life, Halli has heard stories of the great heroes, and in particular Svein, the greatest hero, and how they fought off the dreadful Trows, terrible beasts that lived under the ground and only came up at night, to kill and eat humans. Svein and his heroic companions all died in the defense, but subsequently were buried in massive cairns that ringed the entire valley and protected the people from the Trows, who had been driven beyond the cairns. It was up to the people now, generations later, to stick to Svein's rules and never pass the cairns. The valley has lived peacefully since, with the male head of each House being the Arbiter and the female head becoming the Law-Giver; together, the Houses resolve disagreements and maintain order. Halli has always dreamed of being heroic, like Svein, but unlike the rest of his family, he's short and bandy-legged, and above all given to playing practical jokes on people, none of which endears him to his family or his House. When he plays a joke on the visiting son of the House of Hakon that results in the lad becoming ill for a time, actions are set into motion that lead to the murder of his uncle and Halli's determination to leave his House, travel to the House of Hakon and avenge his uncle's death there. But that is only the beginning of the troubles Halli has visited upon his House, and himself - and he must finally learn the truth of the stories of the ancient Heroes, and overcome them....While not as engaging as Stroud's demonic "Bartimaeus Trilogy," "Heroes of the Valley" paints a vivid portrait of how an ancient Viking settlement might have lived.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Heroes of the Valley is a good book, with a relatively even pace throughout but its length requires a particular patience. The story is relatively good, in this medieval/Viking setting, primarily about a boy, Halli, who is second to his older brother and wishes for change in the isolated and uneventful life of the 12 houses. He is rebellious, courageous and naïve and after a tragedy is involved in a series of events-himself in the middle of it. Unlike traditional stories of main characters questioning everything and bringing about change, this one has a twist in the latter half of the story. The writing is of quality, clear and well paced but at times a bit too descriptive. The only problem with the book is its not quite great, you'll have some fun reading it but when its finished, you don't come away with a sense of classic or the need to revisit it. Regardless, standing in the shadow of the Bartaemieus trilogy, it stands well on its own. 7/10
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. moosavi on July 23 2009
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book because it was in a medieval setting. to be honest, half the book i was bored to death. But then the other half was so good that its worth reading over it. I call it twister because things happen that u never would have thought. You think u noe the plot but u really dont until near the end.

This book sets about revealing the truth of the trows and the heroes. I recommend it to those who enjoy adventure and a touch of fantasy.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 43 reviews
50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
"Listen then, and I'll tell you again..." Jan. 29 2009
By E. R. Bird - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Jonathan Stroud simply is not a fan of innocent protagonists as pure as the newly driven snow. He has little patience for innocents as main characters. No time for guys like Harry Potter or Frodo, who find themselves thrust into dangerous situations that were not of their own making. Give Stroud a nicely corrupt kid or a wildly headstrong hero any day of the week. Having burst upon the juvenile writing scene with his breathtaking Bartimaeus trilogy, Stroud now scales himself back a little with a slightly more conservative fantasy going by the name "Heroes of the Valley". Masquerading as yet another boy-shepherd-learns-how-the-world-really-works tale, Stroud's newest book may seem to tread a well worn path but in fact it has all the zip, panache, and intelligence you would expect of the man who made footnotes a literary technique (outside of "Pale Fire" and "Jonathan Strange", of course . . .). It has a slow start, but stick with "Heroes of the Valley" and you will discover a smart bit of storytelling that knows how to suck in its readership.

Halli has grown up hearing the stories. How the heroes of the Houses in the valley drove back the horrible monstrous Trows and that's why no one can ever leave the valley again. Halli yearns for those old days, when violence and fighting could solve problems, particularly since in this current world Halli stands out. He is rough and short and ugly and prone to getting into trouble. Pranks come to him easily, but when a particularly keen one leads to the death of someone he loves, Halli vows to avenge the murder. Yet the boy has no idea what lies in store for him, or just how important it will be to remember those old stories and find out the truth (and lies) behind them.

Trying to compare "Heroes" to other children's books isn't difficult, but I did find that it broke certain rules. Like Taran from the Prydain Chronicles), Halli yearns for battle and glory. As such, the first half of this book takes on a distinctly Don Quixote flavor, with Halli in both the role as the deluded would-be knight and his much put upon squire. Halli meets odd characters, goes against all rhyme, reason, and sense and then only finds himself facing the truth about the world around him when given exactly the thing he has been searching for. This is a quest novel where the quest keeps changing. If it reminded me of anything it was of the smart fantasy writing of Nancy Farmer in her "The Sea of Trolls". But it's hard to find anyone to compare to the hero in this book.

Generally as heroes go, usually they can at least fight a little bit. But Halli, aside from being one of the uglier bandy-legged protagonists out there, is both short and incapable of fighting someone. To his credit, he's pretty good at escaping from death (though in truth a lot of that is probably due to the fact that swords pass a fair foot above his head half the time). But how many books have you read where the hero's short legs prevented him from making a clean escape time and time again? It's kind of novel, really.

And now let's talk about female characters a bit, shall we? For all that Stroud likes his boys flawed and wretched, he does a darn good girl. This may not sound too remarkable. Many a fantasy writer for kids knows how to write strong women characters. But I would go so far as to say that male fantasy writers for kids almost always make those same girls humorless. Not always (a tip of the hat to Neil Gaiman here) but more often than I would like. Not Stroud, though. No sir, when you first meet Aud she is falling out of trees, laughing, and mocking Halli in a truly humorous fashion when his ridiculousness comes to be too much. Aud is the daughter of one of the lords from another House. She has all the spunk and verve you would expect, but that's not extraordinary. I was far more interested in how funny she could be. It's a trait that serves her well in the tale.

There is an interesting lack of religion or spirituality to this book's world, which is probably a necessity for many a children's author ("Fly by Night" aside). It also makes one of the book's central themes stand out without raising too much controversy. I doubt very much that you will hear that a parent has attempted to ban "Heroes of the Valley" because the story argues vehemently against a blind allegiance to past beliefs and ideas. The slow reveal of the truth behind the stories Halli has loved for so long grows more delicious as the tale carries on. There is much to be said here about cultural traditions and a society that fails to question its own rules from time to time. Consider Halli the Harry Beaton of his own private Brigadoon.

The writing itself proves to be similar to the Bartimaeus books, even if the story is so vastly different. Stroud excels at ending a chapter on a tense note. There's a wonderful moment when Halli leaves a sick man's bedside, convinced that the fellow (who wants to kill him) is helpless. Then, in the dimming light, all Halli hears is the sound of a mattress that has just had a weight removed from it. Coo. Aside from basic competencies in producing a strong plot, metaphor, storyline, and smattering of character development, Stroud is also keen in including small amusing asides. At one point Aud and Halli are discussing various Heroes from he past and she makes a reference to how one of them came home with some outlaws' heads in a little string bag. Halli says, "A little string bag? . . . Sounds a bit girly. Who did that? Arne?" Aud replies, "No, no, I think it was Gest, or one of the other rubbish ones." I don't know why but I love that little throwaway scene. These two characters are in the midst of a serious conversation and Stroud has the wherewithal to include a dash of humor. It's a pretty British move, and more than welcome considering the circumstances.

I run a homeschooler bookgroup, and my kids recently complained to me about fantasy novels that are parts of a series. For once they wanted to read something that could stand on its own. Now insofar as I can tell, "Heroes of the Valley" isn't slapping large signs that say "VOLUME ONE" all over its covers. And when you read the book it certainly remains self-contained, without any difficulty. But that ending . . . oh, don't worry. No spoiler alerts here. I won't say a thing except that it certainly wouldn't be impossible if Stroud felt inclined to go about making a sequel or two in his spare time. There certainly is more story to tell, and I for one would be first in line to buy if he felt inclined to carry on.

I was a little perturbed to find that one of the book's major villains takes his leave of this earth off-screen, so to speak. Seemed a bit unsporting of Stroud. And there is also the little matter of the book's beginning being so slow. My advice is to encourage child readers to strive ever on. In fact, by the end of the story you will find yourself hard pressed to pry the title from well-clenched hands. I came within an inch of missing my subway stop the other day because I had had the misfortune to be reading Chapter 26 at the wrong time. All that aside, this is a fine frisky novel. A book that comes to a full boil about 3/4ths of the way in and is worth the wait. If you have ever wanted a fantasy for kids that shows a character learning and growing, this is one of the best examples I've found to date. Worth the reading. Extremely enjoyable.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Enjoyable, but . . . Feb. 24 2009
By SheilaJG - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
There was a lot to like about this book - a unique and flawed hero who makes a huge and totally believable transformation during his quest, a bad guy you really want to see get his due, creative world building and wonderful humor. Once I reached the second half I couldn't put this book down. And then came the ending. I have to agree with the other reviewer, it was disappointing. I would still recommend this book to fans of fantasy, because I really enjoyed reading it. Stroud is a very talented storyteller, and very creative.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Almost great but fatally flawed Feb. 23 2009
By KatyM - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
After a rocky, too-long opening, this becomes a truly charming and creative coming of age story. Regrettably a very,very silly conclusion that undermines the rest of the story fatally mars the story. True, it's unpredictable--which is difficult to achieve--but it's also stupid. I was so, so disapppointed: Buried Fire is a terrific novel and at the least the first of the Bartemius trilogy is a must read, so I have high hopes for Stroud's continued contributions to YA. He's a versatile and creative talent.... But the end was so very disappointing. Still worth reading if you're a huge Stroud fan or a fan of this subgroup of YA novels (young peasants growing up in the shadows of heroic myths).
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
It's no Bartimaeus, but I did enjoy the tale Sept. 17 2010
By J. Maxon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Since I greatly enjoyed reading Stroud's Bartimaeus Trilogy, I was excited to see that Heroes of the Valley was his latest book.

Well, maybe not latest latest, as it seems he's coming out with a fourth Bartimaeus novel (The Ring of Solomon), but that has yet to be released (release date: November 2, 2010). So in the meantime, let me tell you about Halli Sveinsson.

Story overview:
---------------
A world once ruled by heroes is now the peaceful home of fifteen-year-old Halli Sveinsson. The heroes now long dead, their stories still resonate amongst the Twelve Houses, which have control over the valley. Of course, each house places their founder as the top hero in the tales, but one thing remains consistent: they all worked together to rid the valley of the evil Trows.

A short, stumpy boy, Halli finds himself getting into trouble more often than not. His mischief isn't appreciated by his older brother nor his mother and father, but there is one person who motivates Halli to aim towards the level of the founders. His uncle. One evening when his uncle ends up having too much to drink, he offends one of the other Houses and ultimately is killed in the process.

On a quest to avenge his uncle's honor, Halli seeks to bring justice to the murders. In his journey he finds that his childhood tales were not all they were made out to be, and in the process he ends up causing trouble to his House, which leads him to search for a way to restore the order.

My thoughts:
-------------
Where I don't rate this as high as Bartimaeus, I did enjoy the tale. A little slower starting than I like, but overall well worth the read. As always the characters are sarcastic and witty, and I like Stroud's ability to have them interact in a believable manner. I saw a little bit of Kitty in Halli's female companion.

Things to consider:
------------------
It's a little crude in places, but overall, nothing I'd consider inappropriate. I'd age rate this preteen +. Good for both girls and boys.

James D. Maxon
Author of Traphis: A Wizard's Tale
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Meta-legend March 8 2009
By C. C. Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Terrific meta-legend, sort-of fantasy, coming-of-age, young adult novel. It's all about what makes a hero - how a legend is born, how it dies, and how a new legend can arise out of its ashes. There's plenty of action and a good dose of humor, but there's also a depth to it that makes it more than it might seem at first. The tone is what you might expect in a classic legend and, perhaps partly because of that, it starts a little slowly, but once you immerse yourself in the author's world, it picks up nicely, and I found I had to read the last third of the book in one huge gulp. It should be accessible to younger YAs, but adults will appreciate the multiple levels of the author's storytelling. This book hooked me with the adventure, but has kept me thinking long after I finished.

Oh, and the ending that a few others have complained about was perfect. It brought the book full-circle and was essential to the author's purpose in telling the story.


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