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The Telling Pool review

Enchanting Welsh-set fantasy.

360 PAGES · £12.99

Author:
David Clement-Davies

Publisher:
Bloomsbury

ISBN:
0-7475-7288-7

Rating: 4/5

Occasionally, a story is so beautifully described that any reservations you might start with are quickly dissolved in the telling. Beginning on the Welsh borders of Norman Britain at the onset of the Third Crusade, The Telling Pool is one such story. We meet Rhodri, the uncomplaining son of a master falconer, who seems every inch the ordinary “Waelas”. Yet, when his falcon is lost, he finds himself following a strange old hermit to the enchanted waters of the Telling Pool.

The book starts slowly and, though you really feel for Rhodri as he sets out on his path to manhood, beset by the bullying Aelfric and constantly questioning the strange encounters that spring from his first brush with destiny at the autumn fair, it could perhaps have lost a few episodes along the way.

Nevertheless, Clement-Davies’s strong feel for his setting makes the book difficult to put down, and Rhodri is immediately likeable. Even before his father is called to fight, and the prophecies and Arthurian myth-trails kick in, the reader is injected with a strong desire to see the boy rise above his humble status.

As Rhodri learns more about his fate (and true lineage), the author really strikes out, boldly weaving a mix of legend, history and fantasy that constantly seems like it shouldn’t knit together, and will have you eager for more. Although the conclusion feels slightly rushed, the Telling Pool is an enchanting tale, very well told.

David Lee Stone

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