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Igraine the Brave

Review

Igraine the Brave

Members of Igraine's family are perfectly happy to spend their days locked away in crumbling Pimpernel Castle's tower, composing magic spells using their valuable singing Books of Magic. Igraine, on the other hand, would prefer to wear her great-grandfather's chain mail and spend her days riding horses and fencing with enchanted opponents in the castle's courtyard. She dreams of adventure and of life as a knight. "Incantations, spells, lists of ingredients for magical powders and potions --- learning all that by heart gave her a headache."

Igraine just may get her chance for adventure when a few surprising events coincide. First, the menacing Osmund and his henchman (known as the "Spiky Knight" because of his dangerous-looking armor) move into nearby Blacklock Castle. Could Osmund have his eye on Igraine's family's precious Books of Magic? Second, an error in a magic spell turns Igraine's parents into swine, so they're certainly not going to be able to help save the Books of Magic. Perhaps it's up to Igraine, suited up in her brand-new suit of armor, to save the day --- and prove herself as Igraine the Brave --- after all.

Cornelia Funke has become well known in the United States for her Inkworld trilogy of novels that include INKHEART, INKSPELL and INKDEATH (to be published early next year). Now, a number of the earlier books by this popular German author is being translated for her many American fans. IGRAINE THE BRAVE was originally published in Germany in 1998 but has been newly translated into English.

This book is full of the kind of imaginative, fantasy-filled details that have drawn so many readers to Funke's other novels --- such as the family of water snakes that live in the castle's moat, or the desire of Igraine's fledgling magician brother to protect the castle's mice, which keep popping up in the most surprising places.

Although aimed at a younger audience than that of Inkworld, its gentle humor and playful use of fantasy and chivalric conventions will appeal to a wide range of readers. Igraine herself is a familiar character --- the young girl who must find her own path when she feels out of place in the world she is born into --- but she is portrayed with compassion and sensitivity. Heavily illustrated with Funke's own whimsical, cartoon-like drawings, IGRAINE THE BRAVE would make an excellent read-aloud book for younger readers as well as an ideal adventure story for newly-minted fantasy fans.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on September 24, 2007

Igraine the Brave
by Cornelia Funke

  • Publication Date: September 24, 2007
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: The Chicken House
  • ISBN-10: 0439903793
  • ISBN-13: 9780439903790