‘Uki and the Outcasts' book review: A new fantasy packed with thrilling adventures

‘Uki and the Outcasts' book review: A new fantasy packed with thrilling adventures

Kieran Larwood first took readers into the furry and magical world of the Five Realms in his three Podkin One-Ear novels

Uki and the Outcasts
By Kieran Larwood
Published by Faber and Faber
ISBN 978 05713 4279 2

Kieran Larwood first took readers into the furry and magical world of the Five Realms in his three Podkin One-Ear novels. It was a richly-imagined world with an irresistible rabbity mythology that was too good to leave at the end of the Podkin adventures, so it’s good news that Larwood’s new novel takes us back into the Five Realms, to meet a new and very different rabbit hero.

Uki and the Outcasts is the first story in a new series set in a different corner of the Five Realms to the one where Podkin battled the Gorm.

Uki was born in the Ice Wastes beyond the Cinder Wall, in one of the far lands of the Five Realms. He has been cast out by his tribe because he has piebald fur – one half of his body is black and the other half is white. Because he is different, Uki and his mother, Meera, are forced to live on the edge of their tribe’s territory; after Meera’s tragic death, Uki feels he has nothing to live for.

In what he believes to be the final moments of his own life, Uki is rescued by a fire spirit from the time of the Ancients.

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Iffrit needs Uki to save rabbitkind, so the spirit bestows special powers on the young, half-dead rabbit. Uki is transformed into a furry superhero who must capture Mortix, the Queen of Death, Charice, the Bringer of Disease, and Valkus, the Master of War. These evil spirits recently escaped from a hidden prison, and must be recaptured before they destroy the whole of rabbitkind. Quite a tall order for a young rabbit who was on the point of death a short while ago.

Uki sets off on his adventure and collects a couple of trusted companions along the way. The trio includes Jori, a trained assassin who refuses to kill, and Kree, a skilled animal rider. Their first task is to find and capture the evil Valkus before all of his kind are drawn into a destructive conflict.

Each of the three characters is an outcast of some sort, and the friendship they build is as interesting as the adventures are thrilling.

Larwood is a natural storyteller and packs Uki’s story with nail-biting escapades, edge-of-the-seat challenges and just the right amount of magic.

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The author uses the same storytelling framework that made the Podkin stories so successful. The adventures are narrated by a rabbit bard to Rue, his young apprentice, adding another genius layer of “storytelling” to the mix.

Larwood’s Five Realms and the mythology that goes with them is a masterly setting for untold tales of rabbit heroes and villains and everything in between.

Fans old and new will be impatient for the next Uki adventure – us included.

John Millen can be contacted at millenbookshelf@gmail.com

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