This three-day adventure story is a children's classic, one I have re-read many times. The action takes place in the small provincial town of Rin, whose life-giving water supply has dried up three days earlier – at the same time the Dragon of the Mountain stopped roaring. Village elders seek the counsel of wise old Sheba, who terrifies skinny, shy protagonist Rowan. She given the strongest men and women a challenge which may ruin the best of them – a challenge which ultimately relies on them placing their faith – and lives – in the weedy Rowan of Rin.
Seven hearts the journey make
Seven ways the heart will break... With this prophesy a Lord-of-the-Rings-esque quest is begun, to the very summit of the mountain to seek out a lost water supply and a fearsomely silent dragon. Various obstacles rise up along the way, felling the journeying group one by one.
The book is well-written, capturing the attention of young readers by providing a main character who can be easily identified with, and an action-centric, fast-paced narrative of adventure. Young Rowan watches as the adults around him confront their own challenges, and in witnessing their failings he accepts his own, eventually coming of age and confronting his fears to become the saviour of Rin. A perfect gift for young readers, Emily Rodda's novel is a certainly one that will stand the test of time.