Published: April 8th 2014 by Momentum Books
Format: eARC, 65 pages
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A dauntless young hero. An army of brutal monsters. An impossible quest.
Journey to the mountain...
In an isolated valley, a small tribe of humans is dying from a terrible illness.
There are rumors, however, that the trolls of Troll Mountain, the valley's fearsome overlords, have found a cure for the illness: a fabulous elixir.
When his sister is struck down by the disease and his tribal leaders refuse to help him, an intrepid youth named Raf decides to defy his tribe and do the unthinkable: he will journey alone to Troll Mountain and steal the elixir from the dreaded trolls.
But to get to Troll Mountain, Raf will have to pass through dangerous swamps and haunting forests filled with wolves, hobgoblins and, worst of all, the ever-present danger of rogue trolls...
The journey to the mountain has begun.
Episode I: The Tyranny of the Trolls
Troll Mountain is a serialised story that will be released in three parts, and is Matthew Reilly’s first foray into young adult literature. I’m a huge fan of his, so it’s great to finally have a book of his that I can review on this blog (well yes, I can review the Jack West novels here too, but I’ll wait until “Four….” is released).
Troll Mountain is an exciting fantasy adventure focussed on seventeen year old Raf, who lives in a village that is plagued by a strange illness. The only cure is held by the trolls who live on Troll Mountain, who dislike helping humans and ask a terrible price in exchange for their help. When Raf’s twin sister takes ill and the village elders don’t help him out, Raf decides to journey alone to Troll Mountain and steal the elixir that will save her.
Raf, who has had a relatively sheltered life as an orphan in his village, meets a few interesting people along the way and soon realises the world is more dangerous than he’d first suspected.
Whereas in Reilly’s earlier works it’s been easy to really get behind the hero and love him, I found it really heard to like Raf. Not because he’s not likeable, but because very little of his character comes across in this short novella. It’s scope is much too small I don’t feel like I got enough out of it. My suggestion to future readers is to wait for the omnibus edition and read the story as a whole rather than in parts.
The characters lack nuance, and I wonder if Reilly has fallen into a trap many authors do when writing YA for the first time: underestimating the audience. The characters all seem like cardboard cutouts – Raf is the soft-hearted hero with hidden reserves of courage, Dum is a mistreated troll that will show us that not all trolls are evil, and Ko is the all-knowing Yoda type character.
The story-telling is still amazing, and as usual Reilly sucks readers in from the very first sentence. Once I began reading I didn’t want to be interrupted, but the book is over in a blink of an eye and left me desperate for more!
The world that has been created here is very interesting, and I think Episode II will have a lot to offer because our trio will get closer to Troll Mountain and have to navigate some traps in the hobgoblin caves (yay traps!)
Troll Mountain: Episode I sets up Raf’s adventure well, but I’m looking forward to see the story grow into the kind of book I have come to expect from Reilly. It is exciting to see the author branch out and try a pure fantasy story, and I will be reading Episodes II and III soon! However, I recommend that readers seek out the omnibus edition rather than the serialised version because it will be more enjoyable to read the story that way.