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Urchin of the Riding Stars (Mistmantle Chronicles, Book 1) [Hardcover]

By M. I. McAllister (Author)
Our Price $ 15.26  
Retail Value $ 17.95  
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Item Number 147783  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   288
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.1" Width: 6.1" Height: 1.1"
Weight:   1.15 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Sep 30, 2005
Publisher   Miramax
ISBN  0786854863  
EAN  9780786854868  


Availability  0 units.


Item Description...
A young squirrel determines his true destiny in this Redwall read-alike by British author M.I. McAllister. A foundling discovered on the rocky shore of Mistmantle Island, Urchin has been raised by the peaceful order of rodents and otters that live and work on the magical isle. Now almost grown, the young squirrel wants nothing more than to serve as page to one of the dashing Captains that make up King Brushen's personal guard. He gets his chance when Captain Crispin appoints Urchin his "right-paw squirrel." But on Urchin's very first morning in the Tower, the King's only son is found murdered and Crispin is accused of the crime! Urchin can only look on helplessly while his mentor is banished from court. Meanwhile, power hungry Captain Husk and Lady Aspen continue to fill the devastated royal couple's ears with treachery, and their cups with sleeping draughts. Urchin is desperate to prove Crispin's innocence, but who will believe an orphan of questionable origins? Born under a sky of shooting stars, Urchin is destined to do great deeds, perhaps even save all of Mistmantle. But first, he must believe...Entertaining but predictable, this simply told medieval fable brings nothing new to the growing body of children's animal fantasies. However, it will serve as a steppingstone for those young readers not quite ready for the detailed descriptions and hearty brogues of Brian Jacques's ever popular and endlessly replicating Redwall series.--Jennifer Hubert


Outline
A young squirrel determines his true destiny in this Redwall read-alike by British author M.I. McAllister. A foundling discovered on the rocky shore of Mistmantle Island, Urchin has been raised by the peaceful order of rodents and otters that live and work on the magical isle. Now almost grown, the young squirrel wants nothing more than to serve as page to one of the dashing Captains that make up King Brushen's personal guard. He gets his chance when Captain Crispin appoints Urchin his "right-paw squirrel." But on Urchin's very first morning in the Tower, the King's only son is found murdered and Crispin is accused of the crime! Urchin can only look on helplessly while his mentor is banished from court. Meanwhile, power hungry Captain Husk and Lady Aspen continue to fill the devastated royal couple's ears with treachery, and their cups with sleeping draughts. Urchin is desperate to prove Crispin's innocence, but who will believe an orphan of questionable origins? Born under a sky of shooting stars, Urchin is destined to do great deeds, perhaps even save all of Mistmantle. But first, he must believe... Entertaining but predictable, this simply told medieval fable brings nothing new to the growing body of children's animal fantasies. However, it will serve as a steppingstone for those young readers not quite ready for the detailed descriptions and hearty brogues of Brian Jacques's ever popular and endlessly replicating Redwall series.--Jennifer Hubert



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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Compelling plot, great characters, and a well written book. Great for any age.  May 15, 2008
Too often I've seen books, well-written and compelling, passed off as just another "children's" story, something that anyone above the suggested reading level shouldn't read. A book like this one could easily be thrown into that category. After all, talking animals on a fantasy island, seems pretty childish. There is no cursing, and it is relatively short, especially with the double-spaced printing of the book.

However, that is the books biggest downfall; it is too short. Other than that, this book is nearly flawless. McAllister is has crafted a wonderful, exciting world. The descriptions are well done. The plot is gripping.

McAllister's greatest achievement is, however, is in her character development. She has created a wonderful, lovable, and memorable cast of characters. From Crispin, to Urchin, to Husk, the characters have been masterfully created. It's amazing, in such a small amount of writing (relatively), McAllister could succeed so grandly. Within the first 20 pages, I was already idolizing Crispin as a hero.

Of course, the story is not lacking, either. This is a story of plotting and betrayal, deception and loyalty, compassion and evil. It is filled with suspense and drama, and you will not want to put it down until the end.

And it is not without its dark side. The island of Mistmantle is under a dictatorship, with a puppet king being played by a totalitarian, ruthless captain. Brutal work parties and "culling" have been instituted over the people. (culling is the act of killing new born babies with any physical defects present, which is branded as a type of "euthanasia" by the leaders).

A word of warning to any over-sensitive parent, there is alcohol use, as in wine, and several murders from knife to poison. Personally, I don't believe that this should affect how the book is seen, as they are all completely needed to craft such a compelling story.

Comparisons to the Redwall series are inevitable, but not justified. I'll admit, I'm a fan of the Redwall books, I've read about half of them, and that's the whole reason I picked this book up. The only similarity to the two, however, is the presence of anthropomorphic, talking animals such as squirrels, otters, and moles. Perhaps there is more action in Redwall, but other than that, the Mistmantle Chronicles is superior. It is plot-heavy, compelling, and leaves us with more than a simple "good vs evil" approach, but instead gives us moral ambiguity and social issues.

Urchin of the Riding Stars is a fantastic book, appropriate for any age. An above average reader could easily finish this book in 2-3 days, even one day if you can set aside a few hours. Easily worth the time and effort. And, if you find the problem of the book being too short, there are sequels waiting. I can't wait until I get the next one in the mail.
 
Mistmantle Chronicles Too Violent and Macabre  Feb 17, 2008
The books are exciting, but contain parts which are very violent such as a serial killer squirrel who kills baby animals for some sort of macabre enjoyment. There are also parts that are just down right bizarre for a children's book, like a squirrel named Smokewreath that uses bodies of other animals to conjure up magic. The Redwall books are much more interesting and less twisted and horrific!
 
Okay, but too dark  Oct 15, 2007
It was a very stimulating story, excieting and interesting, but it is much darker then Redwall, with more magic. One of the "baddies" practices some sort of black magic. I would have liked to read the rest of the series, but I thought that plot element was unnecesary. Too bad.
 
Wonderfully written--great story and great to read aloud  Apr 15, 2007
Most nights I still read to my ten-year-old son, and we were both surprised and absoltuetly taken by Mistmantle. He's a big reader by himself, and this was the first time that he ended up so eager to Know What Would Happen that he read ahead of me, and finished it first (and then urged and urged me to catch up--). We both loved the story, the language, the characters--we could stop and predict things together, registering the ways McAllister was setting things up, or the ways she revealed why certain figures behaved as they did. A really smart, page-turning adventure investigating right and wrong and honor and friendship--
 
Hard to put down  Mar 27, 2007
The story of a young squirrel named Urchin living on the island kingdom of Mistmantle, inhabited by squirrels, otters, moles, and hedgehogs. He is happily surprised when he is made a page to Captain Crispin, whom Urchin admires greatly. From Crispin he learns that he was found on the shore as a baby when he mysteriously fell from the sky on the Night of Riding Stars. But on the day he is to start his page duties, the king's young son is found murdered, and Crispin is accused and banished from the island. Urchin is taken on by Padra the otter captain and does his best to redeem his friend and uncover the true murderer.

My daughter and I read this together, at least until it got so exciting that last weekend I found her awake at 5:30 am with a flashlight reading it under the covers! So I must confess that I didn't get to read it all (she tried to fill me in), but I can say that it certainly hooked her and she couldn't put it down and had to finish it. As a parent, I was a little concered with the violence in the book (not only are there murders but also the practice of "culling" infants with various weaknesses), so it is perhaps more appropriate for somewhat older children than my 2nd grader (I notice that the recommendation is for grades 4-7). Nonetheless, she completely loved it and is already begging for the second book in the series.
 

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