In the classic spirit of epic fantasy comes this glittering saga of a young girl who learns she possesses an uncanny gift - and is destined to use it to save her world from a terrifying evil.
Maerad is a slave in a desperate and unforgiving settlement, taken there as a child when her family is destroyed in war. She doesn't yet know she has inherited a powerful gift, one that marks her as a member of the noble School of Pellinor and enables her to see the world as no other can. It is only when she is discovered by Cadvan, one of the great Bards of Lirigon, that her true identity and extraordinary destiny unfold. Now, she and her mysterious teacher must embark on a treacherous, uncertain journey through a time and place where the forces of darkness wield an otherworldly terror.
The first book in a projected quartet, Alison Croggon's epic about Maerad and her remarkable yet dangerous gift is a beautiful, unforgettable tale. Presented as a new translation of an ancient text, The Naming evokes the rich and complex landscape of Annar, a legendary world just waiting to be discovered.
This series is definitely one of the hidden gems of YA fantasy, and honestly, it's got pretty much everything you could ask for in a book. Of course, I love epic fantasy in the style of LOTR, so no wonder I loved these. But honestly: they're amazingly well-written, with a rich, wonderfully war-torn (Oh yeah.* Take that, contradictory adverb police!) setting that's unbelievably real. It's got some fairly obvious fantasy archetypes, but hey...that's how I like my books!
The characters are also wonderful. They're so complex, it's almost insane. As you read, you definitely grow attached to them. Especially Cadvan, who was always my favorite. Except the oh-he's-dead-just-kidding-nope-he's-really-dead-now-haha-fooled-you-again-no-this-time-I'm-serious-ha-you're-gullible-aren't-you thing. Okay, maybe not that extreme, but you get the point.
I think the main reason to read these books, though, is that they're epic. Epic as in all-out battle for everything, battle scenes everywhere kind of epic. It will admit that it gets a bit slow, but it still grabs your interest. I never got bored. And besides...I've never cried during a book before, but the closest I've ever come was in The Riddle. Don't you think that says something about the amazingness of these books?
The Naming (called The Gift in some other country or something)
*Apparently I say "Oh yeah!" exactly like Vector from Despicable Me. Just keep that in mind as you're reading.