The Children's Book Compass

A Romantic Fantasy

Posted on: September 4, 2011

The Glass Swallow by Julia Golding.  (2011).  304 pages.  Marshall Cavendish.  Grades 7-12.  Fantasy Novel

This romantic fantasy tackles issues of class, disparity in incomes, women’s rights and working together for peace.  The heroine, fifteen-year-old Rain, secretly designs stained glass windows for her father’s glass blowing business.  The glassmaker’s guild forbids girls to do so.  When her father gets a commission to design windows for a ruler in Magharnan, a country far away, Rain travels there with her cousin and the Magharnan ambassador.  The plan is that she will secretly create the windows while her male cousin receives the credit.  However, in traveling to the capital everyone in the group but Rain is killed by bandits.  Rain survives in the cruel society and eventually thrives.  She provides leadership when the government and society of Magharnan collapse.  Alternate chapters tell about the adventures of Peri, a falconer, considered an untouchable in Magharnan.  How Rain and Peri come together to create a new society for Magharnan makes an engrossing tale.  A map provides details of the Magharnan city and surrounding countryside.  The intricate plot is a page turner while the issues it explores have strong connections to today’s headlines.  Golding has a talent for creating strong portrayals of major and minor characters.

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