“A young hero. Barbaric monsters. An impossible quest.”
Matthew Reilly’s Troll Mountain has all the ingredients necessary to create an action-packed fable for all ages.
In an isolated valley, in a tribe of humans live Raf, a scrawny 17 year old, and his younger sister Kira. After being orphaned as children, thanks to a rogue troll and a slow response from the tribes warriors, Raf and Kira have lived in a hovel on the outskirts of their village, treated with distain by other tribe members. This poor treatment is not made any better by Raf, who often openly challenges the leadership of their tribe.
When a terrible disease begins to ravage the tribe and Raf’s sister Kira falls ill, he is frantic for something to be done. There is a rumour that the trolls of Troll Mountain have discovered a cure for the disease – a miraculous elixir kept under close guard. Many people from another tribe have been rumoured to have returned from a journey to the mountain, restored to full health, but without the people who took them there. It is surmised that the trolls demand a human payment for use of the elixir – they will grant the use of the elixir to the sick, in exchange for the healthy.
Raf decides that there must be another way. He is an innovator, and he is clever. While the warriors of the tribe head to Troll Mountain to fight for the elixir with brute force Raf decides that his course of action will be different. He will not bargain with the trolls, nor will he fight them – he will journey to Troll Mountain and steal the elixir.
Along the way, he meets a mysterious hermit, some ravenous wolves, hobgoblins and of course, trolls. Raf must be brave, clever and quick if he is to save his sister and his tribe.
While Troll Mountain is aimed at younger readers and families, it is much more than a bed time story. A good fable will always have a positive message at its heart, and in this story, it is this: education should always trump brute force. In Raf’s tribe, those who are big and strong rule by force, and resist change and innovation. The same, Reilly says, is true for some societies in the world. He says that even now, there are two types of societies – “those in which everyone’s talent is harnessed and where physical strength is not the sole determinate of status; and those where guys with guns rule.”
I loved reading Troll Mountain. It was simple enough to be understood by young readers, and to be enjoyed by families as a read-aloud book before bed. It is an action-packed ‘heroes journey’ type of story, with a strong heart and is sure to delight younger readers as well as the older ones.