The Naming by Alison Croggon
Genre: Young Adult Epic Fantasy
Excerpt from the back of the book:
"Maerad is a slave in a desperate and unforgiving settlement, taken there as a child after her family is destroyed by war. She is unaware that she possesses a powerful gift, one that marks her as a member of the School of Pellinor. It is only when she is discovered by Cadvan, one of the great Bards of Lirigon, that her true heritage and extraordinary destiny unfold. Now she and her new teacher must survive a journey through time and place where the dark forces they battle stem from the deepest recesses of otherworldly terror."
This is a series, and the other books are The Riddle, The Crow, and The Singing. I've read this series twice and own them, which shows that I enjoy them. I particulary like the world Alison Croggon has set up with its magical Bards who live in uniquely beautiful places, the wicked Hulls disguised often as Bards, and exploring this new world with Maerad, a tough, yet fairly naive girl.
The plot is fairly basic in this series; Maerad, with the help of her friend Cadvan, must save her world from utter destruction. But there are several twists in it and the world is unique and interesting enough to keep one reading. I did get bored several times with all of the descriptions of places, since the main characters travel throughout the series. But I give it 4 out of 5 stars (meaning I really liked it) overall, and enjoyed the deeper themes of good and evil inhabiting every person. I would recommend this series to teenagers and older.
What I learned from this novel: Traveling is exhausting! :) Seriously though, I learned that sometimes one must give up comfort and ease for those they love, 'doing what is right' is hardly ever clear, and no one can do anything great by themselves. See, you can learn from fiction/fantasy novels!
Visit Allison Croggon's website. It's a bit creepy at first with all of the character's faces appearing out of a blue background, but it has some useful information about the series.