________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 5 . . . . October 28, 2005


The Sower of Tales.

Rachna Gilmore.
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2005.
422 pp., cloth, $21.95.
ISBN 1-55041-945-5.

Subject Heading:

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by Libby McKeever.

*** /4


Luvena's face tightened. She tried to speak coaxingly, but her voice soon rose -- sharper, faster, "Calantha, for pity's sake, all you do is stack five leaves together and roll the edges toward the center so the top is wider and the bottom narrow to direct the rain downward. Then pierce the edges with thorns to hold. It's an easy enough task, if you will only apply yourself."

Calantha's jaw clenched. She deliberately turned her head and fixed her eyes on the path that led from the back of their yard to Kasmira's hut.

Her mother's face blotched with anger. "Don't give me that mule face, Calantha, I know what you are thinking, and you will put it out of your mind. Look, story pods are all very well, and I'm the last to say they don't matter. But for goodness sake, child, think on a gatherer's life. You must have a trade that will allow you to barter for at least some comforts beyond the basics of life.

"Calantha stared stonily ahead. Five more moons. That was all.

In five moons she'd be fourteen, and then, by the Sower of Tales, she would be apprenticed with Kasmira, no matter how her mother pleaded and ranted. It was the only thing she'd ever wanted -- to be a Gatherer of Pods - even if it didn't meet Luvena's notions of a fitting occupation for her daughter.

...Calantha twirled and jumped. She'd picked the story pod for Talemeet. She had! Then her smile faded. That twisting again. Something wasn't right.


The Sower of Tales is the most recent novel from critically acclaimed Governor General's Literary Award winning author, Rachna Gilmore. This fantasy story for young adults spins a captivating tale of 13-year-old Calantha, who has a rare gift as well as a stubborn streak that often gets her into trouble.

     Calantha chafes under her mother's critical gaze, her sister's relentless teasing and the reluctance of the townspeople to take her on as an apprentice. Her only solace is when she can get away to visit the hut of Karmira, the town's Gatherer of story pods. The Gatherer's duty is to pick story pods in order bring a tale to the people at the nightly Talemeet. When ripe, the pods open only to the touch of those with the story gift, and Calantha, drawn to the beautifully coloured story pods, is one who can feel their humming and the potential to bring happiness through the story they hold inside. Lately Calantha has felt a disturbance in the air, and her insides would churn as though a veil of dread hung over the village. This, combined with the growing presence of King Ulrich's soldiers, has alerted the townspeople that something is not right.

     Calentha’s frightening nightmare in which she sees the Field of Gathering devoid of story pods hastens a series of unexpected events that forces Calantha on a dangerous quest to find "The Sower of Seeds." Calantha is compelled to discover why the story pods have stopped growing and what is draining the villagers of their joy. Calantha is aided by the village’s Seer, Xenyss, who senses that the Essences, the very threads that holds life together, is being twisted, and that the King’s sorcerer, Odhran, is behind this treachery. Xenyss feels certain that Odhran, under the guise of serving his king, has other more sinister self serving plans in mind.

      The Sower of Tales will appeal to young girls as they relate to Calantha's single-mindedness and her struggles with her family. Calantha is unattractive, incapable, messy, and different when compared to her sister and other village girls, and these traits become the focus of teasing and bullying. The author, through the mother's acceptance and public recognition of her daughter's gift and via Calantha achievements, makes a statement that, as individuals, we all need to be valued for our different talents. The plot takes some unexpected turns which keep the reader interested and captivated to the end. The language and style are suitable for children ages 10-14, though the large font size would suggest a younger audience.


Libby McKeever, the Library Assistant at Whistler Secondary School in Whistler, B.C., is a Library Technician student and an avid fantasy reader.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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