The Recap of Allyn-a-Dale

Meekest of Minstrels

Hello, people of the Internet. My name is Allyn-a-Dale, and I have been tasked by my author with preparing us all for next week’s release of the final book in the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy (the Kindle edition of which is currently available for pre-order).

For perhaps there are those among you who have caught wind of this novel’s coming, and your interest has been piqued, but alas! You have yet to read through the story’s preceding volumes! What’s to be done? How to begin a tale near its end without losing your way? Easily enough, for you have me to guide you. And really, it’s none too difficult a storyline to follow. Each book, so far as I can tell, is built around a single question:

What would it most hurt Allyn to lose?

Book One = “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale

It would most hurt Allyn to lose… = His father, Gant-o’-the-Lute

Solution = Open Chapter One with Father’s funeral

Important Plot Things to Know ™ =

Ballad Cover, front 02

– Allyn – a young minstrel with a heavenly voice, crippling inferiority complex, and a lute he holds more dear than life itself – is from a faraway, fairytale world

– That world is ending

– A talking wind helps Allyn find a different world via an invisible, interdimensional portal

– That talking wind is Allyn’s great-grandmother, making Allyn himself part-Sky

– Being part-Sky has its superhuman perks

– Allyn’s new world is Avalon Faire – which is to say, the legendary Isle of Avalon (King Arthur, and all that), disguised in 21st-century America as a perfectly typical Renaissance Faire

– Because Merlin the prophet-wizard thinks the best way to preserve mythological heroes is to turn them into immortal actors, courtesy of Fey magic, and never let them Outside

– Time may tell

– Avalon’s not just for the Camelot crowd; infamous outlaw Robin Hood and his Merry Men are there, too

– Allyn joins the band

– …Just in time for a Very Important Magical Item™ to be stolen from the Faire

– If it’s not retrieved quickly, the immortals will die

– Under these dire circumstances, the Merry Men are allowed Outside to chase down the magic thief-or-thieves

– Road trip!

– Shenanigans! Most of them Will Scarlet’s

– Danger! Close calls! Fight scene!

– Magic retrieved! But…

– …Just to be safe, Allyn has to do something, um, completely unsafe

– [Climax]

– Everyone lives safe in Avalon forever after

– Seriously. The forecast says “forever”

– Until…

Book Two = “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale

It would most hurt Allyn to lose… = His father, Gant-o’-the-Lute

Wait, isn’t his father already dead? = Yes he is, but his voice in Allyn’s head isn’t

Solution = Erase Allyn’s memories

Important Plot Things to Know ™ =

marriage-cover-final-front

– Allyn’s second summer in Avalon Faire is coming up

– The cast plans a show based upon the legendary romance of Allyn-a-Dale and his lover

– The part of Lover to be played by Loren McCaughley, a modern Outsider whom Allyn accidentally develops feelings for

– Oops

– Allyn does Foolish Things in the Name of Love™, 100% enabled by Will Scarlet

– Time for a bit of Fey culture as Avalon celebrates Midsummer Eve – a night ripe for even more magic than usual

– Allyn tries to enjoy the party, but is a little bit busy missing his father

– He misses Father even more when all memories of him disappear

– …Only to reappear in the form of Gant-o’-the-Lute!

– Meanwhile, Little John does Foolish Things in the Name of Love™, 100% enabled by Marion Hood

– Allyn divides his time between being belittled by his father and swooning over Loren

– Gant-o’-the-Lute divides his time between being a carelessly abusive parent and… well, no, that’s pretty much all he does

– Will Scarlet hates him on Allyn’s behalf

– Date night for all illicit lovers!

– Things do not go well

– Some things get better

– Some things get worse

– Allyn has to suck it up and— oh, look at that, do something completely unsafe

– [Climax]

– Everyone lives safe in Avalon forever after – including Allyn’s and Little John’s girlfriends! – plus they’re allowed Outside, now

– Guess how long “forever” lasts

Book Three = “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale

It would most hurt Allyn to lose… = Not his father, for a change

Solution = Crueler than ever

Important Plot Things to Know ™ =

Legend cover 02, front

Long ago: Hailed as heroes, killed as criminals, an extraordinary band of outlaws met their end in Sherwood Forest – all except the four who were supernaturally saved, and the one who did not exist. …Not yet.

Now: With Avalon Faire’s living legends finally free to move between the realms of magic and modernity, there’s no dream too fantastic to reach – including that kept alive by a secret society, awaiting only the right time, and the right minstrel, to rewrite history.

Just when the future seems brightest, the Merry Men find themselves thrust into the past, facing a second chance at the lives they might have lived … or the death they might not have the luck to cheat twice. For the otherworldly Allyn-a-Dale, it’s all in a day’s destiny. For an already struggling Will Scarlet, it’s a nightmare that may prove black enough to break him. And for the whole of the band, it’s anyone’s guess whether courage, cunning, and camaraderie can win out against their most infamous enemies: The Sheriff of Nottingham, Sir Guy of Gisborne, and – for once in eternity – Time.

There, now. All caught up. Nothing left for you to do but buy the new book once it becomes available. …and, if you would be so kind, to point our way any you know who might enjoy the tale. Truly great legends owe much of their power to word of mouth. 😉 Until next week, readers! *minstrel bow* Fare ye well.

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“Ravin’” or “Slightly More Organized Reactions Re: Another Book I Read”

Taking a breather, now, from talking about that book I launched the other week (*cough* “The Stone Kingdom”, buy it, it’s aweseome *cough*), so I can talk about a different book entirely.

Back in July, I had to indulge in a bit of “talking with extreme enthusiasm” about a book I picked up for no particular reason and loved. I was subsequently encouraged by friends to read a certain other of the author’s offerings and share my impressions afterward. And because I’m of the opinion that one ought to give The People what they want (within reason, if one can, and if it doesn’t appear to be more bother than it’s worth), this blog post exists.

The Book: “The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)” by Maggie Stiefvater.

Genre: Paranormal YA.

Blurb: “There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve. Either you’re his true love … or you killed him.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them – until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, and he’s a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

CA.0808.raven.boys.

My Thoughts: Another book for which I didn’t bother to read the blurb before I dove in. (‘Cause I’m a rebel, y’all. Or just ‘cause I didn’t feel like dealing with any expectations, this time around.) The first half or more of the book moved rather slow, for me. I had more or less figured that this novel and I just weren’t going to connect when – at no specific point that I can pin down as “the one”, so perhaps it was just a gradual thing – the story started to gain momentum, and by the end, I was sold.

Wait. I’m a liar. I think I know the point where the change took place. Alas, it is a plot point of major spoiler proportions, so I’m afraid I can’t tell you what it is. Let’s just say it made my brain go, “Whoa!” and “Aw, man, did I see that coming?… No, can’t say that I did, but it makes freaking sense! Ooh, bravo, Stiefvater; I approve this turn of events very much,” and demand that my hands start turning pages faster.

Since this is a pretty character-driven tale (yay for those), let’s talk about my feelings regarding all those names mentioned in the blurb.

Blue. I liked her well enough. I didn’t get the sense that she was trying too hard in the way that some characters (male and female, but predominantly female) will sometimes strike me as doing. Y’know, “look at me, I’m so XYZ, hear me roar and love me for it,” or whatever. She was just being her, and didn’t do anything that made me smack my forehead and groan over the stupidity of it all, so she stayed well away from my black list.

Gansey. I appreciate that we got to see a good quarter of the story or so from his perspective (his third person perspective, mind you; the whole novel was narrated in third, which, when done well, can be every bit as intimate as first), else it might have been easy to get the wrong idea about him. As was made starkly apparent during some of his interactions with Blue, he can frequently come off as a too-glossy version of himself that isn’t a fair representation of his self as a whole. (Along those same lines, I also felt for him when he got slammed for employing an advanced vocabulary in everyday conversation, since I’ve taken my share of hits for the same, and it’s irritating as all get-out.) Predominantly, I liked him because he cared so profoundly for his friends. True Friendship is as beautiful to me as True Love. …because, after all, it is true love, just of a different kind.

Adam. His stubborn pride made me want to wash my hands of him, sometimes. It was one of those, “no, actually, I don’t get where you’re coming from, but I guess I can semi-respect it anyway,” kind of deals. And he was a nice guy, and I like nice guys, so he got points for that.

Ronan. Not a nice guy. An inscrutable jerk, actually. Fortunately, I can like that kind of guy, too, so long as I don’t have to deal with him in real life. My fave laugh-out-loud line of the book was his, but I can’t share it, as it pertains to The Game-Changing Spoiler.

Noah. I spent some while wondering when this guy was going to contribute anything I cared about to the plot. I didn’t really get him, or get why we were bothering to include him in the gang of Raven Boys. He was on the fringes, and if I’d taken more notice of that fact (which I didn’t, precisely because it all seemed so marginal), it probably would have annoyed me.

I think I ended up loving him most of all the boys.

Why? Spoiler, that’s why.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): If you can’t take the suspense anymore – (what in the name of all mercy is this ever-lovin’ spoiler I keep taunting you with?! You’re about to climb up the walls and pitch a fit on the ceiling!) – then lay hands on the book and go to town. Then join me in anticipating getting hold of “The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)”, which came out September 17th. ‘Cause I want me some more Raven Boys, kids.

On the off chance you’re still on the fence, allow me to direct you to Maggie Stiefvater’s Top Ten Reasons to Read The Raven Cycle. If that doesn’t convince you to give the book a try, then I don’t know what to tell you.

Anyone else got any opinions on the book? Or opinions on my opinions of it? I pray you, share them below. It’s what The People want.