This brilliantly inventive fantasy epic by the award-winning author of Watership Down immerses the reader in a medieval world complete with created languages, detailed maps and elaborate traditions and rituals. Centring on the long-awaited reincarnation of a giant bear among the half-barbaric Orelgan people, Shardik's appearance sets off a violent ...
This brilliantly inventive fantasy epic by the award-winning author of Watership Down immerses the reader in a medieval world complete with created languages, detailed maps and elaborate traditions and rituals. Centring on the long-awaited reincarnation of a giant bear among the half-barbaric Orelgan people, Shardik's appearance sets off a violent chain of events as faith in his divinity sweeps the land. Closest to the bear is the hunter Kelderek, a naturally pious, ignorant, well-meaning man who becomes - in his dedication to Shardik - a prophet, victorious soldier, corrupt priest-king and ruler of an empire. A gripping tale of war, adventure, morality and slavery, horror and romance, Shardik is a remarkable exploration of mankind's universal desire for divine incarnation, and the corrosive influence of power. Recently ranked in the top 100 bestsellers over the past 40 years by the Sunday times, Shardik is a book for our age.
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All the great themes are here: Loyalty, honor, faith, revelation, despair, human cruelty and human courage. Richard Adams' understanding of both the natural and the human world inform a masterpiece. Beware: some devastating scenes (especially describing slavery & child abuse). This book is NOT for children. Yet the end is hopeful, even fun. Dense but beautiful prose. Take your time with this one: it will reward you.
Jul 17, 2008
Worth reading many times!
"Shardik" follows the story of Kelderek (a hunter) and Shardik (a giant bear deemed the "power of God) from poor obscurity to riches and fame and beyond. Though I picked up the book expecting a standard fantasy (or even something along the lines of "Watership Down"), I was pleasantly surprised by the book's depth.
"Shardik" tackles the tough issues of life: faith, loss, love, spirituality, slavery, authority... What do we do about suffering in our world? How should we relate to God, who really is an all-powerful and untamed being? When is authority good, and how does it become bad? Where is true peace and happiness found? These questions are faced as we follow Kelderek the hunter on his rise to become Crendrik the self-proclaimed priest-king of Shardik and ruler of an unstable empire.
Though not so deep as some would desire, for someone expecting a standard fantasy novel, "Shardik" went beyond all my expectations. Though on the long and wordy side, Adams has an ability to paint a picture with his words like an artist paints with colors, and I found myself easily drawn into the story while I read late into the night.
My only complaint is a love interest that seemed forced and incidental, though it became far too central. My personal opinion is that Adams saw his book needed to come to an end but he didn't know how to do it, so he pulled in a romance to help get him to the end. Whatever his true reasons, the relationship seemed forced and unbelievable.
If you're looking for your standard fantasy without much depth, a quick read and lots of fun, then "Shardik" will probably disappoint. But if you desire something deeper, something that will make you think as you enjoy the story, then "Shardik" is well worth your commitment.
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