I did it! I finally re-read my favourite book! The Gift, by Alison Croggon, was my most read book when I was younger. I’ve re-read it at least 50 times, with the pages completely falling out of the book and the binding ruined. I’ve been absorbed in its pages so often. Somehow, I hadn’t re-read it since I started my Bookternet life though, and I finally rectified this! So, let’s get into it!
The Gift, known as The Naming in the US, follows Maerad (my-rad), a young slave girl in dire circumstances. She’s saved from slavery by Cadvan, a passing traveller whom no-one else can see, and is introduced to a life of Bards and schooling. Despite this new world of learning, her life isn’t set to be an easy one, with Maerad and Cadvan set on a perilous journey in order to battle the dark which has sunk its teeth into Annar.
This book. Damn. I’m so so happy that I still love it! This was 100% a five star read for me! There’s always the worry when you go back to a childhood favourite that you’re not going to love it as much. Tastes change, and especially when you go back in age range it can lend a different viewpoint that leads you to not enjoy the book so much. Thankfully, I adore this book just as much as I always have done!
I adore how Maerad has been written as a 16 year old. She felt realistic to me when I was younger than her and at the same age, and she still feels realistic to me now! She’s very nervous being dumped into these new situations and there are definitely times when she feels like she knows everything and then learns the hard way that she doesn’t. With Maerad coming from such a place of ignorance, we get to learn about her powers along with her. Every revelation is a surprise to all parties involved and seeing how everyone reacts to these as the book (and the series) progresses is one of my favourite parts of the book!
Cadvan, Maerad’s rescuer, teacher, friend, companion and so much more. I adore how he is so desperate to atone himself for his past actions. How he’s so truly towards the light. How he isn’t perfect. He can get impatient and harsh but he always apologises when needed. That’s another aspect of characterisation Croggon does incredibly, is making her characters real. They make mistakes, and not always just huge ones but the simple everyday ones we all make.
There is a lot of lore related to this book. I remember when I first read it as a kid I was convinced it was a fictionalisation of real world events. That just shows #1 how much historical fiction I was reading (and how accurate it was!) and #2 how well and in depth Croggon has written this world. Every aspect and facet that could reasonably be known from the “limited translations” is there and she has put so much thought into this world. As a child I wished that I could live there and learn in one of the Schools of Annar and as an adult I found myself wishing the same thing!
I read this for one of the Booktube Rereadathon prompts and I’m so glad that I’m going to be able to fit the other 3 books into the next 3 prompts because I 100% need to re-read this series now! I can’t wait to fully submerse myself in this world again and to see how much I adore the other books upon an “adult” re-read!