‘The Ropemaker’ by Peter Dickinson
Do you like novels that pull at your heart strings, tickle your funny bones and awake your inner sense of adventure? If you do, this book is a perfect read for you! “The Ropemaker,” by award winning author Peter Dickinson is a gripping novel with every page packed with mystery and a coming – of – age theme, through finding who you are. The Ropemaker is a Speculative Fiction / Science Fiction novel.
The Ropemaker is an unpredictable and unforgettable book with a complex storyline. It is a compelling and engaging story with a strong message for young readers, packed with depth, engaging challenges for sentimental characters from cover to cover. This is because main character Tilja, Urla’s daughter, did not inherit her mother’s power, but her sister Anja does. Tilja doubts her self-worth but doesn’t realise the power she has and its importance in the journey she will undertake.
The first setting we come to know is the Valley. It is a convincing environment that helps build the background of the characters. The Valley’s sense of a poorer, rural place scattered with farm land and nature’s beauty contrasts greatly to that of the hostile environment we grow to fear called the Empire. The ending is extremely satisfying as everything works out for the time being. Even though Tilja will eventually have to leave the farm to find her sister, everything ended in a peaceful manner for the time being. It was also a clever ending because who would have guessed that Tilja’s stubborn little horse, Calico would have played such an important role in the war between the Valley and Empire at the end?
The novel’s theme is the power within us and whether we use it for good or evil purposes. For example, the Empire and its security guards, individuals called “Watchers,” use their power for the evil bidding of the Emperor, and to harm anyone who uses their power in the Empire for any reason other than to profit the Emperor. He does this because he is evil and ambitious and doesn’t want any power greater than himself, thus the reasoning for the City of Death. This city is “warded” by Watchers because when you die in this book, your inner power is released. However, the inhabitants of the Valley like Tilja’s and another main character named Al’s family and their very significant descendants, use their powers to protect their fellow inhabitants of the Valley from war with the cruel Empire. When Tilja, Urla’s daughter, believes she has no power, she continues to doubt her self-worth, which is the message Peter Dickinson has expertly conveyed to young people through this novel.
Though I did thoroughly enjoy The Ropemaker, I found at times the writing too complicated and unclear, though I rate The Ropemaker 4/5.
The highlight of the story was when Tilja discovered her true self and helped a character called Faheel bring down the Watchers. I believe this book is on the verge of being a fantasy novel so if you are looking for a futuristic completely Science Fiction novel, I would not recommend this for you. I do recommend this book for young adult readers who enjoy a range of Science Fiction and Fantasy novels with thrilling adventure that will keep you turning pages.
Ava H., Year 8