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The Prodigal Troll is a tale of a human child raised by a band of mythological creatures that is both hysterical and moving.
When Lord Gruethrist's castle is laid under siege by an invading baron, he sends a trusted knight and nursemaid off with his infant son. Their escape across a wilderness landscape populated by fantastic creatures and torn by war takes unexpected turns until the baby is finally adopted by a mother troll grieving for her own lost child. Christened "Maggot" by a hostile stepfather, the human boy grows up amid the crude but democratic trolls until he leaves the band to rediscover the world of humankind.
But the world of man is a complex and capricious place. Maggot must master its strange ways if he is to survive... let alone win the heart and hand of the Lady Portia.
Finlay's society of trolls are unlike any you've ever read before, and his matriarchal medieval world, pitted as they are against an analog of Native American tribesmen, provides a rich setting for many poignant social and political insights.
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Charles Coleman Finlay: A two-time winner of the British Fantasy Award, Mark Chadbourn is the critically acclaimed author of eleven novels and one nonfiction book. A former journalist, he is now a screenwriter for BBC television drama. His other jobs have included running an independent record company, managing rock bands, working on a production line, and as an engineer's "mate." He lives in a forest in the English Midlands.
Visit Mark Chadbourn's Web site at www.markchadbourn.net.
In Finlay's meandering first novel, a heroic quest fantasy, loyal retainers spirit the human infant Claye away from his home, a castle under siege, but they die before they can bring him to safety. Adopted by a troll and renamed Maggot, Claye grows up among the trolls, who regard him as weak and puny but smart. Eventually realizing that he has to find his destiny among his own kind, Maggot first befriends humans in a clan culture, who involve him in their impossible war, fought against a far superior army. Next, he seeks to learn more about the marauders, a decadent city folk. Throughout, he keeps his eye on an elusive prize—Portia, a woman of the marauders, who falls in love with Maggot after a brief meeting. The narrative strives to be both funny and moving, but the humor tends to the slapstick and clashes with the tone of the rest of the book. Despite the emphasis on matriarchal societies, all we see are men doing warlike things (or trolls being spectacularly stupid). Still, Maggot's distance from humans and his role as the ultimate outsider ring true. Since Maggot never really completes his quest, a sequel seems in the offing.
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