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The Five Realms: Uki and the Outcasts

Uki and the Outcasts

Published: 2 Apr 2020

Paperback / softback, 400 pages

Recommended for age 9+ and 11+

By Kieran Larwood

Illustrated by David Wyatt

Published by Faber & Faber

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EXCELLENT,' says the bard. 'It's probably a good idea for you to know about him.''Wait.

. . him? Who's him?' said Rue.

'Uki,' says the bard. 'Uki Patchwork. The Magpie Demon.

Uki of the Two Furs.'From the Ice Wastes beyond the Cinder Wall emerges an unlikely hero. Rejected by his village and left to die, young Uki is given life and unique powers by a long-buried spirit from the time of the Ancients...

. and a life or death mission. Joined by two other outcasts - a trained assassin who refuses to kill people and a very short rabbit who rides the fastest jerboa on the plains - Uki must capture Valkus, the Spirit of War before rabbitkind destroys itself in conflict.
This title features in our The Reading Journey selection.

The The Five Realms series

Uki and the Ghostburrow
Uki and the Swamp Spirit
Uki and the Outcasts

Reviewed by Jo Bowers

Uki and the Outcasts is the first in a new book series set in the Five Realms of Podkin One-Ear. In this new story, we meet Uki, who comes from the Ice Wastes beyond the Cinder Wall, rejected and driven out of his village and left to die. Just at the point of death, he is saved by a long-buried spirit from the time of the Ancients and given special powers through one of the four escaped spirits to provide him with extra strengths. He is tasked with a special mission to capture the other three escaped spirits to save all rabbitkind. No mission would be complete without trusted companions, and early into his quest, he meets Jori, a trained assassin who refuses to kill people and Kree, a very short rabbit who rides the fastest jerboa. And so the journey and thrilling adventure begin.

Alongside the exciting adventures, we also see the friendship that develops between Uki, Jori and Kree. All are, in different ways, outcasts from their tribes and have suffered or been cast out for being different, so you very quickly warm and take these characters into your heart, which for me is one of the strengths of this novel. There are great opportunities, if this is a class read, to discuss being different and the way they have been treated. Another strength is the wealth of interesting and complex characters throughout the story, which is down to the superb writing of Kieran Larwood. The possibilities to imagine stories around many of these characters are wonderful creative writing opportunities.

The whole story is told by The Bard to Rue which adds to the rich storytelling in this book, and so another reason it is perfect for reading aloud with a class. These sections of the book, known as The Interlude, have almost as much excitement in them as Uki’s adventures, and it is very pleasing to read both stories entwining more and more as the story progresses. The tension holds us throughout and builds perfectly to the end, leaving you impatient for the next book in the series.

I anticipate that another legendary rabbit hero is born in this book and will not disappoint Podkin fans. Now I will admit that I’m saying this as a first book reader of Kieran Larwood’s books but having read it – and by that I mean I was gripped and immersed right from the start – I am planning on reading all the Five Realms of Podkin One-Ear as soon as I can! This will also let new fans like me know that you don’t have to have read all the previous Podkin books to thoroughly enjoy and love this story. Kieran Larwood is a genuinely wonderful storyteller.

You can also read a review of the third instalment The Beast of Grimheart.

 

Jo Bowers is a Principal Lecturer in Primary Education (Literacy) at Cardiff Metropolitan University. She joined the university ten years ago and prior to that was a classroom teacher and English leader in a primary school for nineteen years. Jo has been editor of, and currently sits on the Editorial Board of English 4-11 for the English Association and the UKLA Publications Committee. Jo runs an Open University Reading for Pleasure Teacher Group for teachers in Cardiff and sits on various shortlisting and selection panels for children's book awards, currently the English Association Picture Book Award and the Books Council of Wales Tir na n-Og Award. Jo is a Wales representative for UKLA, reviews books for Just Imagine and writes for English 4-11. She is passionate about children's literature and is happiest when she is reading and surrounded by books.