5.0 out of 5 stars Peace or Tyranny?
In book one of Snyder's unforgettable Green-sky trilogy, thirteen year-old Raamo is chosen to be one of the elite Ol-zhaan priests. The Kindar people live in cities within giant trees and live off the products of the magical Wissenvine. "The Vine" provides fruits, building materials, and the roots ("The Root") cover the mysterious forest floor so that the evil Pash-shan...
Published on July 13 2004 by Melissa McCauley
1.0 out of 5 stars Shallow
It is no wonder this book is out of print - it is full of exposition (pages on end) and reads like a history book. The plot is very thin - about one layer of discovery, after which there does not seem much left that is interesting. Characters are almost characterless. Deals with concepts such as prejudice and ignorance, but in a rather didactic and idealised manner...
Published on Jan 14 2001 by pure-swallow
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5.0 out of 5 stars Peace or Tyranny?,
This review is from: BELOW THE ROOT (Mass Market Paperback)In book one of Snyder's unforgettable Green-sky trilogy, thirteen year-old Raamo is chosen to be one of the elite Ol-zhaan priests. The Kindar people live in cities within giant trees and live off the products of the magical Wissenvine. "The Vine" provides fruits, building materials, and the roots ("The Root") cover the mysterious forest floor so that the evil Pash-shan are imprisioned below.
As Raamo progresses in his training, he learns the history of the Kindar people, how they came from another planet ravaged by war and the first Ol-zhaan were determined to eradicate these emotions from subsequent generations. Now the Kindar know nothing of violence, war, or any original thought for that matter. The people chant proscribed chants of peace and live a very restricted existence where they are not allowed to even look at the forest floor. Raamo is befriended by Neric, another young Ol-zhaan healer, who urges him to re-think everything they have been told about life in Green-sky and the supposedly evil Pash-shan monsters.
Neric and Raamo take a dangerous trip to the forest floor, where they find eight-year-old Teera lost in the forest. Assuming she is a child who has fallen from the trees, they take her back to Green-sky and leave her in the care of Raamo's family. When they learn that little Teera is not a Kindar, but a Pash-shan, or Erdling as they call themselves, their world is turned upside down.
Excellent fantasy for any age. The Kindar and Erdlings are a little reminiscent of the Morlocks and Eloi in The Time Machine. Another fantastic book that has a very similar story is THE GIVER by Lois Lowry.
5.0 out of 5 stars Secrecy is the root of tyranny,
This review is from: Below the Root (Hardcover)This is the outstanding introduction to the Greensky trilogy, a compelling philosophical exploration ingeniously disguised as a children's fantasy series. In the fantasy world of Greensky, the peaceful Kindar live in trees, read each others' minds, and glide from place to place with silken wings. Guided by their revered rulers, the Ol-Zhaan, the Kindar have nothing to fear... except for falling from their paradise and being forced to face the demons that lurk beneath the forest floor.
In addition to providing a marvelous coming-of-age tale set in a wonderful new world, this book will provoke you to ponder and debate important questions about the nature of good and evil. Is it possible to eliminate violence from a society by segregating and repressing the passions? Should governments/priesthoods/scientists withold potentially dangerous knowledge from laypeople to protect them, and does this unshared power inevitably corrupt?
Read this book with your kids!
5.0 out of 5 stars To the green wood, green wood tree.,
This review is from: BELOW THE ROOT (Mass Market Paperback)I suspect that I'm the only one who remembers this. In the early to mid 1980s I owned a Commodore 64 computer game (yes, I am that ancient and wise) called "Below the Root". In this game you could chose to be one of four players. A small boy named Raamo, a small girl named Pomma, a tall boy named Neric, or a tall girl named Genaa. The goal was to travel under the root, so to speak, to rescue a boy of great power. You had all sorts of cool powers, depending on which character you were. Some characters could pense people, thereby determining their emotions (hence I learned the word "avarice" at a very young age). Some could kiniport objects without touching them. Others could grunsprek, creating roots and plants that would allow you walk, virtually, on air. I loved the game and it was one of the few I actually won. Now, years and years later, I find that the basis of this favorite computer game was a well-written and infinitely entrancing novel of the same name. Authored by the accomplished Zilpha Keatley Snyder, the book speaks freely about the price of creating and maintaining a free society.
Raamo is thirteen years old and lives happily in a land called Green-sky. His world is a society created in the tops of the trees. Here, people have fashioned a wonderful peaceful life for themselves, never engaging in violence or negative feelings of any kind. The only source of distress, in fact, comes from the evil Pash-shan that live below the surface of the earth below. Inhuman creatures that steal children and adults when they can, the Pash-shan are imprisoned in their lairs by a thick vine called the Wissenroot. Now Raamo has been given the chance to join the spiritual and governmental leaders of the land, named the Ol-zhaan. Fame and glory are his, but the intervention of a fellow Ol-zhaan named Neric throws everything Raamo thought he knew about his world into chaos. What if there is more to the Pash-shan than meets the eye? What activities do the Ol-zhaan really engage in? What are the secrets that seem to be destroying society as Raamo and his friends and family know it? And what is the price happiness?
Beginning this book I was immediately struck from the outset on how similar it was, in many ways, to Lois Lowry's "The Giver". Both books are futuristic dystopian tales that focus on a boy learning that he is to be given a job of great importance. Through this job this boy learns that his society is not perfect in the least, and that he must personally work to change the way things are. But this book is also incredibly similar to H.G. Wells's "The Time Machine" too. In both cases we have the happy dwellers above the earth and the miserable dwellers below. Yet this book isn't like either of these novels at its heart. Instead, it is a truly original tales about a society that has taken extreme measures to maintain the serenity and innocence of its tree-dwelling population.
The characters in this book are fully developed and wonderfully flawed. There's nothing worse than reading a story in which every person you meet is either a coal-hearted villain or a pure sweet-blooded soul. Our hero, Raamo, is uncertain of himself and his world. Unlike his companions he is reluctant to jump to conclusions at any time and it is his nobility and refusal to be considered above his peers that truly sets him apart. His fellow Ol-zhaan Genaa is far more likely to rush to conclusions in pursuit of her own goals, but she's a good person at heart. The sexy Neric (my interpretation, not the book's) is also apt to leap before he looks, but his intentions are pure. The book also ends with a satisfying "to be continued..." feel that leaves you wanting more without feeling cheated. A difficult task to say the least.
Poor "Below the Root" has been forgotten over the years, y'know. When people discuss good fantasy books, its name is rarely mentioned. Nonetheless, I feel this series is one of the best there is. If you happen to get a copy of this book (and being out-of-print that might be a bit of a trick) make certain you get one that contains illustrations by the adroit Alton Raible. Perfectly complimenting the text, Raible's interpretations of certain scenes are not only adept but near perfect (with the exception of a single shot that is more bizarre than apt). I really can't recommend this book enough. It's true that there's a fair amount of exposition here and there, but I think kids that wade through it will be amply awarded. This hereby ranks as my favorite book discovered by way of a computer game. Great praise indeed!
5.0 out of 5 stars never lets you go,
This review is from: BELOW THE ROOT (Mass Market Paperback)i have been searching fo the title of this book for three years. i read the whole trilogy when i was younger and it consumed me, and although i couldn't recall the titles of the books, i never forgot the characters and the amazing story. i shouldnt have been surprised when i finnally found the books, and reailzed the author was zilpha keatly-snyder. she is the most amazing and versatile writer of children's and young adult literature i have ever had the pleasure to read. i began reading her with <<the headless cupid>> and have gone through almost every other book she has written, especially the superb <<black and blue magic>> and <<the egypt game>>. no other writer has combined fun, adventurous, sometimes-otherwordly plots with out being repetetive and telling the same story over and over again. i highly recommend this trilogy to everyone who loves to read, no matter what the age.
set in a mythical planet that shadows our own society, it is an amazing tale that captures the imagination without being complete sci-fi/fantasy. her use of forshadowing is amazing, keeping you held, but never giving away the ending as you watch the truth unfold.
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb ideas, Superb worldbuilding, Superb writing.,
5.0 out of 5 stars escapism at its best,
1.0 out of 5 stars Shallow,
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent fantasy writing,
This review is from: BELOW THE ROOT (Mass Market Paperback)I originally became familiar with this series after playing a computer game on the Commodore 64 in the mid 1980s, and then just happened to stumble upon this (and the others) in the school library. Too bad that they aren't published anymore--this series would make GREAT bedtime reading for children of all ages.
5.0 out of 5 stars Why I love Science Fiction (in 1000 words or less),
5.0 out of 5 stars Out of Print?,
By A Customer
This review is from: BELOW THE ROOT (Mass Market Paperback)Why are really good books like this one out of print?
I read this as a teenager and savored every suspenseful, mysterious and joyful moment.
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BELOW THE ROOT by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (Mass Market Paperback - July 1 1992)
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