Paperback: 688 pages
Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (3 Nov 2005)
In my review of The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear, I wished that there'd been more books like that around when I was a child. Well, there weren't, but at least there are more of them around now, for this volume is a second set in the mythical world of Zamonia.
The story concerns a young horned dog (for so he seems to be) growing up on a farm. But when the farm is raided, and all the inhabitants of it and the surrounding area carried off to be added to the larder of giant pirates from a floating rock island, Rumo manages to avoid being chained up, as his captors think he's just an animal. But as he sees his friends slowly being carried off and devoured, he begins to find out what his previously unknown Wolperting heritage really means.
And that's just the start of the story. Rumo undergoes all sorts of adventures on and under the continent of Zamonia. There is a joyous invention here, great terrible threats, noble heroics, without too much shading of grey in the morals. The background isn't, strictly speaking, logical. Having a gazillion (or so it seems on occasion) sapient species is rather unlikely, and I rather suspect that the economies wouldn't really work. But then again, that is not the point. This is not written for adult tastes and concerns, it's meant to be an exciting and enjoyable adventure tale.
(Although the complete lack of actual humans does mean that racial stereotypes aren't a real problem, I'm sure complaints could be raised about genders.)
This isn't a story for young children: there's death and destruction, and quite an extended torture session. However, that torture is not done in a horrifying way - rather, it's a struggle between the evil General Ticktock and Rumo's love Rala, with the latter being willing to resist to her death against him.
Another delightful novel for early teens of all ages.