Thursday, May 22, 2014

Troll Mountain - Matthew Reilly

Matthew Reilly is best known as an author of big, action-packed thrillers, but in TROLL MOUNTAIN he ventures into YA heroic fantasy fiction with interesting results. Raf, the plucky young protagonist of this stand-alone novel, is a member of a tribe of humans that exists in a state of constant fear of the savage, brutal trolls who live on Troll Mountain just to the north of their valley. As if that wasn't bad enough, a mysterious illness strikes Raf's tribe, killing everyone who falls prey to it. The trolls have a cure for the disease, but they demand a high price for it: a lifetime of slavery. When Raf's young sister becomes ill, he decides on a daring plan of action. He's going to Troll Mountain to steal the cure.

This sets up a traditional fantasy novel quest, and Reilly handles it in a traditional manner for the most part. Raf meets an enigmatic older man who becomes a mentor to him, winds up with some other allies, has assorted adventures, and finally penetrates to the depths of Troll Mountain where he'll risk his life trying to get his hands on the cure for his sister's illness.

That disease and its cure are where Reilly throws in some interesting, unexpected angles, and that helps bring the novel to a satisfying conclusion. There's plenty of action along the way, which you'd expect from one of Reilly's novels. I've read only one other book by him, HELL ISLAND, which I thought was okay but maybe a little too action-packed (and regular readers of this blog can imagine how difficult it must be to provoke that reaction from me). TROLL MOUNTAIN is a little more leisurely, but in a good way. Overall I thought it was an entertaining book, and fans of YA heroic fantasy ought to enjoy it. 

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