Captain’s Quarters: Book Review of Alison Croggon’s “Books of Pellinor”


Since I’m re-reading an old favorite, I thought it would be fun to do a book review and tell everyone why I love this book (and the series) so much.

First, the details.

Title: The Books of Pellinor (The Naming, The Riddle, The Crow, The Singing)

Author: Alison Croggon

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: The series centers on the protagonist, Maerad, a young woman with a forgotten past and a terrifying future. She’s found by Cadvan the Bard, who helps her find out who she is and what role she is meant to play in the many upcoming battles against the forces of the Nameless One. Together they travel through Annar and all the lands beyond, seeking answers to the riddle of Maerad’s identity and the growing darkness they encounter.

Book Review

I will never forget the tremendous favor one of my high school friends, herself an avid reader, did for me in suggesting that I read these books. That suggestion propelled me through one of the most fascinating and thought-provoking stories I’ve ever read. The books read slower than I was used to or that I had thought I would enjoy, but the richness of the detail and the depth of the author’s knowledge of her own world shone through the pages and inspired me to amp up my own world-building, so I could add in these layers of depth.

Walking in Maerad’s shoes with Cadvan was like going on an adventure with a brilliant scholar—as they travel, Cadvan teaches Maerad all about the world they’re in, about the Bards, the Nameless One, and pretty much every other little bit of knowledge Maerad might want to know about. The one thing Cadvan cannot make sense of or explain to Maerad is Maerad herself.

The settings are richly described, and the diversity of the cast is extraordinary. There are Bards from all over the place, Elementals, legendary queens, wers, Hulls, and countless more races and new creatures. This is not a series that relies heavily on the typical fantasy tropes of dragons, elves, men and dwarves, something I found incredibly refreshing.

This series made me laugh with descriptions of Maerad’s spirit and stubbornness, as well as Cadvan’s often aloof and scholarly reserve. I will give you fair warning: if you make it to the second book (and I don’t see how you can’t if you read the first), you will cry MANY tears. So many tears were shed the day I started reading The Riddle. All that to say that despite the slower pacing of these books, there is no lack of emotional realism. You do fall in love with these characters; not in the charming sort of way some protagonists come along, but in a slower, more sure way, in getting to know every flaw and every freckle.

If you want a slower-paced read to contrast from the flashy action-packed novels that permeate much of today’s market, these books are for you. If you want to dive deeply into a world that is laid out in careful detail and rich history, these books are for you. If you want to ride along with characters who keep you on your toes and make you wonder where the line between hero and villain lies, these books are for you.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this review! These books have inspired me so much and without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today as a writer and as a reader. If you’ve read these books, too, share the love in the comments below!

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you on the next ship in.


Tell me your opinion: Have you read this book? Have you read other books with a similar story or similar elements? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments; I’d love to chat!

Captain's Quarters

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