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The Dungeon
by Lynne Reid Banks (more about Lynne Reid Banks) 1597/525 first published 2002
Historical Fiction for ages 10 to 14 published by Collins
Mrs Mad's humble opinion
9/10 Very good. I am pleased with this.
What's it about?
A story set in medieval times, where one terrible act of evil sets in motion a whole chain of wickedness!
What happens?
Bruce McLennan, is a Scottish Laird, changed forever by a terrible family tragedy. He is domineering, uncaring of his tenants, and are hard task master. His one aim in life is to punish the man who destroyed those McLennan most loved. He sets in motion the building of a castle with a terrible dungeon and whilst it is being built sets off to travel to the ends of the earth. In China McLennan buys a young girl to make tea and be his slave, he is uncaring of her as a human being and drags her back to Scotland like all of his other possessions. There she befriends Fin, a stable lad and a deep friendship is forged. McLennan is planning his revenge and uses Peony as a kind of mascot, dragging her into the battle with him. When he loses he blames her and punishes her by throwing her into the dungeon he had built for his enemy. There now unfolds the most ghastly scene where the poor demented girl is left, forgotten about by her master and so takes her destiny into her own hands. Leaving McLennan with an awful curse!
Is it easy to read?
This is not your usual run of the mill, modern fantasy type book. It is historical and about people who could really have existed. Needs a mature reader, suitable for both girls and boys.
Anything else?
This is a powerful story that left a lasting impression upon me. It is truly haunting. The writing is superb, full of interesting details and descriptions and the plot drags you on towards the open door of the awful dungeon of the title. Amazing reading anyone with an eye for something different should be checking this out!
Other books by Lynne Reid Banks include Alice by Accident, Angela and Diabola, Harry the Poisonous Centipede's Big Adventure, The Indian in the Cupboard.
Who says so?
This review by Mrs Mad.
The publisher reckons...
A medieval tragedy and tale of retribution - The Dungeon is a powerful story from a writer of great skill and potency. The setting is medieval Scotland, a land dominated by skirmishes and battles on the borders, a land of fortresses and castles in Scotland, England and Wales. We meet Bruce McLennan, a Scottish laird, a man sorely-changed by a terrible family tragedy. He is a domineering master, an uncaring landlord, a cruel man, who has his heart set on building himself a castle and a Dungeon in which to punish his enemies in the future. But while the dungeon is being built, McLennan plans a trip to the far ends of the earth. As we follow McLennan on his travels to China and beyond, we witness his buying of Peony, or Mudan, as her Chinese name is, a young girl who McLennan uses as a slave. He is uncaring, unsympathetic, as he drags her after him across the world. Gradually, knowing no other, Peony develops a kind of affection for her master. In Scotland, Peony meets Fin, a stable lad and a loving friendship develops between them. McLennan, busy fighting off enemies, uses Peony in an horrific scene in one of his battles; he looses badly and subsequently blames her. He decides to punish her by throwing her in his dungeon... then unfolds a ghastly scene where Peony kills herself, at last in control of her own destiny. McLennan dies of guilt, shame and remorse. Fin lives on, and even Peony, perhaps, in his new baby sister.
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