Series: The Chronicles of Pellinor #3
Author: Alison Croggon
Pages: 528 (paperback)
Published: July 3rd 2006
Published by: Walker Books
Whilst his sister, Maerad, pursues her dangerous destiny in the frozen North, Hem is sent south to Turbansk for his own safety. But soon the forces of the Dark overrun the great city and Hem flees with his mentor, Saliman, his white crow, Irc, and a young orphan girl, Zelika, to join the resistance. He agrees to help fight the Nameless One by spying on the child armies of the Dark. Now Hem has a vision—he too has a part to play in Maerad’s quest for the Treesong. But Zelika has been captured by the child army, and Hem’s destiny must wait. Hem pursues Zelika to the Dark’s stronghold, little realizing that her cause is lost. He reunites with Saliman and, broken-hearted, starts the perilous search for his sister.
In The Gift, Maerad found her brother, only to have him cruelly torn away by their need to escape a terrible danger. In The Crow, we join Hem several months later and follow his journey as he grows into himself and his abilities through terrible times.
So in all honesty, this is probably my least favourite book in this series, and that's because we leave behind Mearad and Cadvan and go across the other end of Annar to follow Hem and Saliman instead. This has probably skewed my opinion somewhat because while the story related in this book is important, I didn't want to be reading it. I wanted to be reading about Maerad. We've spent two books following her and getting to know her, and then suddenly she's not there are all. But I'm aware this is probably more personal taste than anything else.
The story is quite slow in places: there's quite a lot of waiting about for things to happen, both for the reader and for the characters. This is in part the nature of the story as the city is under siege, but it felt like while the previous books had long periods of riding around this one had long periods of waiting, and it is a lot easier for other stuff to happen while your characters are riding around than when they are waiting.
Hem grows a lot in the course of the book, both physically (as we are reminded a number of times) and within himself. He grows in confidence as he helps those around him and finds his own strengths, which was nice to see. When we first meet him in The Gift, he is a broken little boy who struggles trusting people. By the end of this book he has matured and overcome some of his demons, relying entirely on his own abilities and what he feels is the right thing to do. He grows close to a number of people (and one crow - hence the name of the book) and it was nice seeing his healing.
This book also shows us more of the country of Annar and the Seven Kingdoms, although I suppose it's more specifically Suderain - one of the Seven Kingdoms. This is in the far south of the country, and is far removed from the other cities both in terms of distance and culture. And this is another reminder about how much thought and effort has gone into creating this world and its many different facets, different cultures.
This book is also quite a lot darker than the previous two. There's death and despair, which have always been present in the others but more as an allusion or being passed through rather than actually being present and experienced. You can't help but feel sorry for Hem and all he has to go through, and all the other characters who find themselves fighting for their survival and losing so much - their homes, friends families.
A good book, that quite possibly deserves a higher rating that what I'm giving it but I just didn't really feel it. It doesn't entrance me the way the others do in this series.