The Well Between the Worlds (Lyonesse) ハードカバー – 2009/2/1
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Eleven-year-old Idris Limpet, living with his family in the once noble but now evil and corrupt island country of Lyonesse, finds his life taking a dramatic turn when, after a near-drowning incident, he is accused of being allied to the feared sea monsters and is rescued from a death sentence by a mysterious and fearsome stranger.
I'm a fan of books that crossover well between children and adults...this is one of those.
LYONESSE: THE WELL BETWEEN THE WORLDS is a radical re-imagining of Arthurian tales. Idris is the young Arthur, learning all the skills he will need to rule and perhaps save the country of Lyonesse from sinking beneath the waves. He is aided in this task by Ambrose, who is surely Merlin transformed into a mage of "star and stone" and also a lord of the land. Lyonesse is presented as a place ransacked by greed and poisoned by the wells from which it fishes its wealth.
Idris is handpicked by Ambrose to train as a monstergroom. Monstergrooms care for the monsters that are fished from the wells that pockmark Lyonesse until they are burned as fuel. These combustible beings catch fire as soon as they hit the air. They burn "...hotter than trees... burn stone and make metal run like water." So they are kept in tanks by the monstergrooms and frequently doused with a fishy sludge until they are needed as fuel. Being a monstergroom is considered a good, if dangerous, profession. It is an honor to be chosen to train as one, though many die in the testing that is part of the apprenticeship.
At first Idris is excited to be picked for this apprenticeship. But then he sees the horror of fishing for monsters. The hookmen wait for the tides to raise the water level in the wells. Then they throw offal into the wells, using bloody bladders as bait. When the monsters rise with the tide, they hook the monsters with long poles, pushing them down chutes and into iron tanks before they can catch fire. But worst of all, Idris can hear the monsters screaming. They plead for mercy and try to lure their captors into the watery depths. They prey on their masters by reading their minds and revealing their deepest, darkest secrets and desires.
Idris discovers he is not the only one who can hear the monsters. All the monstergrooms have this gift to a certain degree, though the monsters seem to speak to Idris the loudest. After his hand is cut and he loses blood in one of the wells, the monsters tell him that he is now "known" in their watery world. Yet, despite his misgivings about becoming a monstergroom, he proceeds in his training, with extra instruction from Ambrose.
It is Ambrose who reveals how the wells came into being. Ambrose illustrates the way the well-waters are poisoning the land and how the land is slowly sinking as they allow more monsters through their watery portals. He also tells Idris about how Lyonesse is held in thrall by an evil queen, one who hopes to place her cruel and bullying son on the throne. But when Idris discovers Ambrose fishing from a forbidden well, his trust is shaken.
What should Idris believe? Ambrose tells him that the wells are ruining Lyonesse but continues to fish and profit from them, justifying his behavior by saying, "Who will keep an eye on those dirty Captains if not me?" Idris is told that the monsters are evil and that they are always liars, preying on the minds of humans for their own profit. But he finds that some of what the monsters say is true and is even befriended by one of them. Idris feels certain stirrings and longings, unexpected skills and gifts. He comes to believe he is meant for a special destiny, but how can he convince the others this is the truth? It turns out it is not enough to pull the sword from the stone. One has to know how to use it wisely once it is unsheathed.
Sam Llewellyn has created a totally unique setting for LYONESSE: THE WELL BETWEEN THE WORLDS and filled it with unusual variants of the characters who often inhabit Arthurian tales. The snobbish but noble Kay is apprenticed alongside Idris. Morgan befriends Idris immediately and does not let her natural gift for friendship prevent her from training as a monstergroom. But most importantly, Llewellyn subtly raises questions that often get lost in heroic adventures. The reader is invited to question alongside Idris why certain characters are saved while others are allowed to perish. Who benefits from the wealth that pours from and poisons their country? And how can we be certain who should rule as the rightful king?
--- Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood
In a nutshell: the story follows Idris, a young boy in a small fishing village existing in relative obscurity. Living in a world teetering on the brink of darkness, men snare monsters from wells that spew forth toxic waters which threaten to submerge the entire land of lyonesse. Idris is apprenticed as a monstergroom, and reveals himself to be much more. Pulling the sword from the stone, he sets out to reclaim his rightful kingdom.
The tale is unique in that it has the raw energy that figures most prominently in the proto-Arthurian legends, bringing to mind the Arthur of works such as the Mabinogian. This was, according to the author's note, intentional, but this in no way diminishes the impact of the tale. The style, story development, and occasionally sparse language all weave together to give the reader the impression of an early Medieval tale. Altogether an enjoyable read.
Little did he know that this current adventure had just begun. With a twist of events, this young boy was fighting for his life and finding out things about himself that put him and everyone that knew him in more danger than ever before.
I greatly enjoyed this book. At times it lacked detail and became hard to follow, but overall it was a great book.
It shows the real side of humans. Some are out to help people and others are there to only help themselves. It is a nice change to your classic 'monster' story or King Arthur tale. Many books have the same theme and you can predict what is going to happen way before it does. With THE WELL BETWEEN THE WORLDS, though, it is another story.
The plot is different from anything I have ever read and I loved it. It was also unpredictable for the most part. There are times where I was sure that I knew what the main character was going to do but was surprisingly wrong and a new twist unfolded. I could not put the book down because I wanted to know what was going to happen next and what this young boy was going to do.
I can't wait for the next book in the LYONESSE series to come out so I can discover where this young hero's journey veers off to next.
Reviewed by: Shyanne