Western Mercia - AD 874 Ancient virgin forest sprawls away west, over the horizon and across the border into wild, mountainous barbarian lands. Dark and forbidding, it is the domain of the little people and a place where humans fear to tread. Yet even so, it is inevitably in retreat, away from the slow, insatiable onslaught of mankind. Close within the forest's eastern boundary, a small village unobtrusively ekes out a living, untroubled by the war consuming the rich lands to the east. Simple people existing in harmony with their environment: respectful of the natural world but wary of the supernatural. One innocent young girl, ignorant of the consequences, crosses the line. One faerie elder, guardian of the forest, decides that enough is enough. Dark ages indeed…
A refreshingly illustrative read. I was immediately drawn into the world of Ug, Sprog, Filly and all of the forest folk. Charles has a beautiful style of writing, giving me plenty of laughs out loud moments. A real page-turner!
Ug is an exquisitely-crafted book. The plots and sub-plots are beautifully interwoven, the characters ring true, the historical settings are consistently authentic, and the whole is set against an evocative background that conjures up the profound attraction of England’s forests and the timeless appeal of its rural villages.
It is a wonderful work of the imagination, with young humans and faerie folk coming together to meet transient conflicts, but ultimately facing a more enduring challenge, that of preserving the nation’s woodlands from the rapacious incursions of those who would decimate and eventually destroy them for their own selfish personal gain.
It is a very readable and enjoyable story, but it is much more than that: it is an impactive environmental statement as well as an impassioned injunction for people at large to not only tolerate, but to relate to, and walk with those who are manifestly different from themselves.
UG: History entwined with folklore, an adventure set in Briton’s Dark Ages, the fabric of which is the interaction between a small group of rival forest dwellers - Faery folk and Celtic farmers - who eventually must both do battle with a larger, encroaching world.
Charles Reid’s writing brings the forest and its inhabitants instantly alive in the mind’s eye. Despite a pace that always propels the reader forward into yet another hair-tingling encounter, it is not a book to read quickly. At times one wants to simply stand in this forest and breath the air of long ago, to step carefully between its pages so as not to crush the delicate plants or creatures.
It is a book with which to nurture a love of literature - and, not with standing faeries and trolls, it will likely nurture respect for the natural world as well. There seems no contradiction: Reid’s faery characters are portrayed with such earthy plausibility, one almost believes they actually inhabited our ancient past.
Don’t think that descriptions of natural beauty might deter a young reader, this is a thrill-a-minute narrative, spiced with humour and vivid characters. The dramatis personae, villagers and faeries alike, are all endearing; particularly the eponymous Ug, who, fierce and malevolent foe to intruders into his domain, is also guardian and tender gardener. It is a rich cast, with guest appearances from travelling minstrels, a relic toting frier, a handsome young Norman, rampaging Norsemen, and finally trolls… but I mustn’t give too much away.
In the tradition of ‘Wind in the Willows’, ‘Island of the Pines’ or ‘Watership Downs’, UG would do well as a read aloud to children book. It would also appeal to young adult readers and, frankly, just about anybody who enjoys a good read.
I found the novel Ug to be a thoroughly enjoyable read. It is a very engaging novel written for children and young adults. I found the story some great funny moments throughout. I shall look forward to giving this book to my Godson to read one day.
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