The Legend of Podkin One-Ear
By Kieran Larwood
Published by Faber and Faber
ISBN 978 0 571 32826 0
Be in no doubt from the first time you hear his name, Podkin One-Ear is a legend in the Five Realms of Lanica. When storytellers visit the warrens scattered around the Realms, they always come with special stories of Podkin and how he became a hero. They would be out of a job if they didn’t.
Young rabbits crowd around any bard who has a tale to tell of Podkin the Horned King, Podkin of the Magic Knife, Podkin the Moonstrider. And the most thrilling tale is the one, inevitably embellished through the passing of time, of how Podkin became the saviour of the Five Realms. There can be no story more exciting than this. No story is more important in the thrilling history of how rabbits came to rule the Five Realms.
Did he really shoot fire from his eyes or fight gigantic rabbits with his bare hands? Probably not. It is difficult to separate fact from fiction when stories of Podkin One-Ear are told. But that’s how it always is with legends. And that’s how it will always be with the mighty but mysterious Podkin and the lore that surrounds his name.
Kieran Larwood’s The Legend of Podkin One-Ear is a gripping and entertaining tale that certainly takes inspiration from Watership Down and The Hobbit along the way, but which is also such a strong creation itself that nods to other passing stories just serve to heighten its appeal.
When legends are told, it is always best to begin at the beginning. Podkin is the son of Lopkin, the much-respected chief of the Munbury warren. Usually young rabbits in this position show signs of leadership and courage from an early age, but not Podkin. He is the laziest, most spoilt young rabbit in the whole of the Five Realms.
The Chief has tried his best to prepare his son for leadership, but all to no avail. Podkin is only interested in eating, sleeping and doing nothing. Chief Lopkin is right to be worried about the future of the Munbury warren.
But one night, Podkin’s life of laziness comes to an abrupt and dramatic end. This dreadful night, Podkin’s warren is attacked by a fearsome army of Gorms, zombie-like, armour clad rabbits who take no prisoners. The Gorm are warriors controlled by a strange underground force intent on destroying the natural balance and peace of the rabbit world.
Podkin’s aunt thrusts a package into the young rabbit’s hands and instructs him to flee through a secret tunnel with his elder sister and baby brother. The package contains a magic knife, one of twelve gifts given to rabbitkind by the Goddess back at the beginning of time. But what use is any sort of weapon to a weakling rabbit like Podkin?
Destiny is waiting for Podkin when he and his siblings emerge from the tunnel into a strange, snow-covered landscape. There are thrilling adventures ahead and battles that will turn him into a hero. The Legend of Podkin One-Ear is a captivating story, even for readers not normally into tales where animals act more like humans than beasts. Larwood has a hit on his hands with this rabbity saga that already feels like a classic.
John Millen can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org