Isobelle Carmody is one of Australia's most highly acclaimed authors of fantasy. At fourteen, she began Obernewtyn, the first book in her much-loved Obernewtyn Chronicles, and has since written many works in this genre. Her novel The Gathering was joint winner of the 1993 Children's Literature Peace Prize and the 1994 CBCA Book of the Year Award, and Greylands was joint winner of the 1997 Aurealis Award for Excellence in Speculative Fiction (Young Adult category), and was named a White Raven at the 1998 Bologna Children's Book Fair. Isobelle's work for younger readers includes her two series, The Legend of Little Fur, and The Kingdom of the Lost, the first book of which, The Red Wind, won the CBCA Book of the Year Award for Younger Readers in 2011. She has also written several picture books as well as collections of short stories for children, young adults and adults. After living in Europe for more than a decade, these days Isobelle divides her time in Australia between her home on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, and Brisbane, where she is working on a PhD at the University of Queensland. She lives with her partner and daughter, and a shadow-black cat called Mitya.
Australian author Carmody's third but inconclusive book of her well-received series (after Obernewtyn and The Farseekers) adds to the claims of destiny burdening narrator Elspeth. An ashling is a message or "dream that calls" in the mental language of the beasts, "beastspeaking" being one of the talents Elspeth possesses. Among her companions are Maruman, a large cat, and Gahltha, a horse. She and the animals, who are considered equals, belong to the Obernewtyn community of Misfits, a mountain retreat developed from an ancient experimental laboratory. Recognizing that their mental talents set them apart, the Misfits, unable to obtain a Certificate of Normalcy, must flee the established religious powers. (The division between the religious Council and the Herder Faction is not explained here, but assumed from a previous book, as is the guild structure of Obernewtyn.) Since natural resistance to mental manipulation is growing in the general population, the Misfits are limited in their ability to control events. Much of the story concerns the Misfits' attempts to meet and ally with secular rebel groups, who may tolerate the paranormal talents as little as the religious forces. Clues collect, and further quests involve the Beforetimers, whose technology culminated in the Great White nuclear holocaust that set the scene of this isolated land. The author's ideas are nothing new, and the irksomely idiosyncratic language slows the pace. First-time readers would be well advised to start with volume one. (Oct. 10) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.