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Friendly Barbarians

Paromita Pain

By Kjartan Poskit. Illustrated by Philip Reeve
Scholastic India, 2008 & 2007, pp. 432 & 304, Rs. 200 & 150.00

VOLUME XXXII NUMBER 11 November 2008

What is the best piece of news about Urgum: The Axe Man and Urgum and The Seat Of Flames, two brand new books about to hit the stands? Firstly, it’s a post-Harry Potter release and, unlike scores of books written for young people, isn’t a Harry Potter rip off. Secondly, its all about a world far different from the one in which we put our children to sleep but it still manages to weave enough magic so that readers are actually reading and wondering what Urgum will do next. Kjartan Poskit may not be familiar to many but after Urgum swings his axe at readers he certainly will be on the favourite list of most. Writer of the popular Murderous Math series, Poskit has certainly got his elements nicely added up here.   In short if you aren’t careful this set can drive you completely mental because while Urgum may not follow our staid lifestyles he certainly succeeds in creating a wonderful sphere of existence for himself, complete with everything that we value in ours—only with tons more colour and tons more excitement.   A lovable barbarian, his seven sons and a life motto whose chorus says ‘we are completely mental’ sure sounds like a lot of fun. Urgum and family don’t disappoint. Indeed the first few pages seem to be a celebration of all things simple. The barbarians love to ride along feeling the wind in their hair without any particular purpose. They fight at the drop of a hat and are brave even at the cost of life and limb.   Written in a style that uses no complex expressions, words or long sentences, and never detracts from the fun and warmth of the story, the tale of Urgum is a not just meant for young children though written it is, especially and rather fondly, for young people. Grownups too would love to do the things that Urgum does with so much panache. It would be fun and you will have to agree to be able to snip off your co-workers’ head, take on the whole office, reduce it to shambles and walk away, flicking dust from your shoulder. Urgum does all this and more though not to colleagues since he doesn’t go to work in boring set ups like us. Instead he is the most peerless among the barbarians, an example to be upheld ...

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