From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Cam returns to his medieval village after losing his arm in a debilitating war experience. Mam and Da know he suffered terribly and have a difficult time seeing him flounder about, now rejected by his betrothed's family and at odds with the world. What was the full story of the war, and why did no one else from the village return? Cam's secrets eventually drive him onward, in search of the conquering young lord, Gyaar, who spared his life in battle. The victorious Uplanders have gained control of Cam's land and neighboring territory. Cam stalks the conqueror's castle, eventually forcing a face-off, and a mysterious alliance bonds the two warriors, lord and vassal. Cam reminds Gyaar of his late brother, and Gyaar's world opens new life meanings to Cam. The Returning is a complex, not always easily accessible story, with mystic touches permeating the strongly rendered medieval setting.--O'Malley, Ann. Copyright 2010 Booklist
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In the aftermath of war in a preindustrial world long divided between Uplanders and Downlanders, a fractured community recovers and a new country begins to find its identity. At the heart of this story, which moves among characters in almost vignette-like chapters, is Cam, a boy who went off to war (and loses an arm) but returns many years later, bewildered that his life-alone-was spared by the son of the lord who won the war. After falling out with his family, Cam seeks out the son, Lord Gyaar, to find answers. A boy who befriends and then falls in love with Cam brings a particularly heart-wrenching thread to the story, as does the character of Diido, a girl who loses everything in the war except the spirit that helps her find a new life. Themes of rebuilding and redemption are powerful, but it is in the small, acutely observed details of debut author Hinwood's world that her story truly shines. The book's slow pace may put off some readers, but those who stick with it will be well rewarded. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal
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Gr 9 Up-During fictitious medieval times, Cam Attling leaves for war as a boy of 12, and, at the age of 18, he's the only soldier to return. Townspeople view him with suspicion, his betrothed's father breaks the engagement, and family members treat him differently because he lost a limb. Disillusioned, Cam leaves home a second time to find his way in service to the lord who maimed him in battle and then nursed him back to health. Hinwood weaves together an epic tale with engaging vignettes that eventually come full circle. Unfortunately, odd formatting tends to break the spell and create an uncomfortable read. Long chapters are divided into sections by an extra line space and a first sentence that begins with three or four words in capital letters: "CLOSE TO, THE keep wall was not pure and white and smooth." Capital letters demand attention, but these don't seem to serve a purpose. In addition, the characters' unusual vernacular may slow readers down. It takes time to become accustomed to dialect with double verbs, e. g., "He's bitter after his sons did die," combined with Yoda-like speech patterns, e. g., "Just there when the sword fell, were you." However, readers who invest the time will eventually be swept up in Cam's story and appreciate the manner in which various lives intertwine with his.-Patricia N. McClune, Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster, PA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.