The Adventures of Kate Readalong: The Ancient One

Aha! I bet you thought we were never going to get here! (Believe me, I was starting to feel that way too.) But here we go! And hopefully we run into less issues with the final book, The Merlin Effect.

As you guys are probably sick of hearing me saying, The Ancient One was a formative book for me, and reading back through it now, I can definitely see its influence on me and my writing. (As I said to a friend who was trying to guess which character/world I wrote in City of Hope and Ruin, if left to my own devices, my characters invariably end up in a forest.)

Anyway, The Ancient One, second book in the Adventures of Kate or the Heartlight Saga and, I believe, the most popular one. It’s got a score of 4.1 on Goodreads based on 1471 ratings, and a 4.7 on Amazon. Originally published in 1992. Did you guys read along with me? What did you think?

For a quick summary, Kate is visiting her Great Aunt Melanie up in a small logging town in Oregon. Next to the town is a large, unexplored crater, which has been left alone due to the interior being mostly concealed in fog and there being no way to breach the crater wall. Unfortunately, during a recent flight, someone was able to get a good look inside and found it full of old growth redwoods. The town’s logging industry is dying since all the other local trees have been cut down, so this is welcome news to the loggers. It is not welcome news to Aunt Melanie, who has put in an application to have the crater saved as a park. The loggers have decided to get what trees they can out before the park goes into effect.

So, on the surface, you have a somewhat standard environment vs. logging conflict, like you see in things like Fern Gully or Hoot or a dozen other movies/books I could name aimed at kids and teenagers.

Luckily that’s just the frame story. The real story starts when Kate, attempting to help Aunt Melanie, accidentally gets transported back in time to when only the native people lived in the area. And if Kate can’t save the crater in the past, then the crater won’t be around to be saved in the future.

Kate, luckily, perhaps because she doesn’t have an adult to lean on, does a much better job of not flailing around crying for help. She’s practical and level-headed, and takes ending up in the wrong time pretty well, all things considered. She does have moments of despair, but they’re much better spread out and more realistic than in Heartlight. I rather like the mythology incorporated into the story, but that’s always something I appreciate. It’s not a perfect book, but it’s pretty good, and I’m pleased to see if stand up decently against nostalgia.

There’s also lots of owls, and I like owls.

Read it, Squiders? Thoughts? I’d love to know how it felt the first time through.

For The Merlin Effect we’ll do discussion on…hmmm…let’s give ourselves some extra time and do Sept 15.

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