Book Review: The Greenstone Grail, by Amanda Hemingway

Patrick Mahon

Would-be author
Feb 15, 2006
Rating: 9/10 - well worth reading!

The Greenstone Grail is the first in a trilogy of fantasy novels by Amanda Hemingway, who also writes fantasy under the name Jan Siegal. I met her recently at a joint book signing with our very own Mark Robson, and was tempted to find out what sort of fantasy she was writing. My thanks are due to Mark for bringing her books to my attention! :)

The book revolves around the adventures of Nathan, a British teenager whose mother Annie got pregnant with him under mysterious circumstances (a virgin birth?), and who is able to travel to other worlds in his sleep. The grail of the title turns out to be an object of great power which originates in the world that Nathan travels to in his sleep, and which has been sent to Earth for safekeeping. But many different parties seem to want to get their hands on the grail - can Nathan and his friends stop them, as magic starts to rear its head?

Amanda Hemingway has written a modern fantasy that starts with the legend of the holy grail, and adds lots of contemporary touches. She writes very fluently, and with great style; she is as comfortable writing the "everyday" character-driven scenes in our world as she is when writing the adventure sequences in the alien world that Nathan visits. The characters and settings are realistic, and I found myself identifying strongly with the main characters as life started to get truly difficult for them.

The Greenstone Grail is a very good read, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for intelligent fantasy. I'll be starting the second volume in the trilogy very soon!
Patrick, I'm glad you've shared my enjoyment of this great book. The second is technically better - more tightly plotted and ratchets up the pace quicker. I'm currently a book ahead of you - half way through The Poisoned Crown (which is also fantastic). If only I could write with the fluidity of Amanda, I would make a fortune in no time! Now that she's learned she can sell books I truly believe she will be unstoppable here in the UK.

I'll be interviewing her here soon. There's a 'Questions for Amanda' thread buried deep in the General Books section if you have any arising from your read.

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