Croggon, Alison. The Naming. Cambridge: Candlewick Press, 2005.
Maerad has only known the life of a slave. When she was very young, her father was murdered, her brother was kidnapped, and she and her mother were sold as slaves. Later, when her mother dies, Maerad feels completely alone.
Cadvan is a Bard whose chance meeting with Maerad will change her life forever. She is destined for far greater things than her life of servitude. But is she brave enough to face the dangers that her future holds?
I really, really liked this story. The descriptions and details are wonderful, I enjoyed the plot and the characters, and I was easily lost inside this story as I read "just one more chapter" to find out what happened next. I especially enjoyed the fact that this Tolkien-esque tale was only the first in a series of four books, so I am now able to read the second book and continue with Maerad's adventures. This one is definitely worth it, folks.