by Robin Mason and Michael Mason
GENRE: Middle Grade Fantasy
The last thing twelve-year-old Jax wanted was to leave his city life in England for a remote and rugged corner of Oregon―but he hasn’t had any say in the matter.
Although Jax hates it there, he is drawn by the deep woods, as if something or someone is pulling him in. The more he explores, the more he senses the presence of a hidden magic. Joined by Sarah, the granddaughter of the land’s owner, he begins to unravel the secrets of the glen.
But when invaders threaten the wildwood and its inhabitants, Jax and Sarah―and a most unusual army―must prepare for war.
Great peril has come to Oldenglen, but who and what must Jax and Sarah confront in the battle to save it?
“All woodfolk, be still!” called a voice. Even Acorn was now seated and, unusually for her, quiet.
“That’s old Gaffer Grayowl, Keeper of the Green Glade,” Squiffle explained to Jackson in a whisper. “Dear me, he says the same thing every time, but sometimes he forgets bits and has to go back. Hooter will take his place one day soon.” Jackson spied the round-faced owl off to one side.
“The tradition of the Gathering of the Woodfolk is a long one, going back for countless ages,” boomed Gaffer. “Our broodfathers and broodmothers, and theirs before them, and theirs before them, and still more before them, have gathered in this place in times of great peril. I bid you remember that the Green Glade and the way here and home are the only places where, by agreement from long ago, a creature is safe from any other. Some of you represent your own kindred, but any woodfolk are welcome.” Jackson looked around. This night the glade was full. The glen would be unnaturally quiet tonight. Sarah squeezed his hand.
“Who calls this Gathering?” asked Gaffer.
“I, Pondlefoot Badger, cub of Grey-Muzzle Badger and Growler Badger of Badger Tree, and Friend of all Woodfolk, call this Gathering,” said Pondlefoot, standing up.
“Take the Gladestone,” commanded the Keeper. “And say what you have come to say.”
Pondlefoot emerged from the press of woodfolk, moving heavily to the center to stand by the Gladestone. He turned slowly, looking carefully at the assembly.
“Fellow woodfolk,” the old badger began, “the glen is in grave peril, a danger greater than any faced by those who came before us.”
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AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Robin is the younger son of Michael Mason, co-author of Oldenglen. He was born in England and has lived in Zimbabwe (which was called Rhodesia then) and Canada.
The story behind Oldenglen came from the time the family was renting a large estate in British Columbia, Canada, many years ago. As a young boy, Robin grew up with the written word. Michael, a professor of English, would read to him every night, including such works as the Narnia books, the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Oldenglen is the result of that beginning, and the first book in the series known as "The Oldenglen Chronicles". LONE WOLF will be published in early 2016.
Robin is an attorney. He has been married to his wife, Angelina, for nearly twenty-five years and they are blessed with three children. The glen dwells deep in Robin; their home is in a twelve-acre forest, which they share with many four-legged and winged inhabitants.
Michael was born in 1924 in England, which makes him 91-years-old. The son of an employee of a grand estate in England, as a boy Michael had room to roam.
Graduating from the University of London, and after completing a stint in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, he began his lifelong career of teaching, in schools and universities in England, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Canada. He holds an MA and PhD in English Literature. Oldenglen is Michael’s first novel. He is also a published poet and playwright and contributor of articles to quarterly publications.
Michael is married to Muriel and they will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in March, 2016. He is blessed with two sons, four granddaughters, three grandsons and one newly-arrived great granddaughter.
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4.5 out of 5 stars
Oldenglen by Robin Mason and Michael Mason is the initial story in the ‘Oldenglen Chronicles’ series. It introduces a twelve-year-old boy named Jackson (Jax) who has been relocated to Oregon from England, to his dismay. There are no peers around to play with, so Jax begins to explore the woods around his new home, and finds there is a wealth of new experiences available. His growing connection to his new home becomes threatened, and he will have to muster his newfound allies, including a girl named Sarah, to defend the special glen that is home to so many creatures, great and small, and that still may not be enough.
This charming children’s story blends many of the commonplace issues that can challenge a youngster--such as a new home (albeit with the added complication of being in an entirely different country), lack of friends, and an uncertain future with a slowly expanding appreciation of nature and a mystical connection. I love that the animals gradually reveal their hierarchy and true natures, the names they share with Jax are wonderfully appropriate, and the inclusion of the unique names for the group of a particular animal species provides a great resource for discussing new vocabulary words, as does the slang that peppers Jax's language. The climax was a little awkward for me, as the reason behind the major conflict and the resolution didn’t quite gel for me, but that did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the story.
There is a wealth of information about nature presented in a very readable and entertaining manner and this book is sure to become a favorite to those who enjoy animal stories such as the ‘Redwall’ series. I think this is a great start to the series and that the tale will appeal to adults and children alike. It is my hope that this will be a long-running series and I will enjoy sharing it with young readers.
A copy of this title was provided to me for review