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Tigerheart
Peter David
Narrated by Simon Vance, unabridged
Blackstone Audio, 7 hours, 30 minutes

Tigerheart
Peter David
Peter David is a prolific author whose career and continued popularity spans nearly two decades. He has worked in every conceivable media -- television, film, books (fiction, non-fiction and audio), short stories, and comic books -- and has acquired followings in all of them. In the literary field, David has published over forty novels, several of them New York Times bestsellers; and his short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. He lives in New York with his wife, Kathleen, and his three daughters, Shana, Gwen, and Ariel.

Peter David Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Sarah Trowbridge

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Paul Dear is a lively young English boy with apple cheeks, sparkling eyes, and dark, shining hair. He lives near Kensington Park in London, and has grown up listening to the tales his father tells of The Boy. Which Boy is that? Why, it's the one we all have heard of: the one who refuses to grow up, the one who can fly. All the names (and a few of the details) have been changed, but the many exploits of The Boy of Legend are essentially the adventures of Peter Pan. The Boy resides in the Anyplace, a magical realm that can be reached by flying to the third star on the left and continuing until morning. There, assisted by his faithful pixie Fiddlefix and a group of Vagabonds, The Boy clashes with pirates and Indians in a very familiar fashion. The events of Tigerheart take place sometime after the well-documented adventures involving the London girl named Gwenny and her two younger brothers.

The Boy, who claims blood kinship to both Coyote and Loki, is indeed the stuff of legend and a powerful force in this narrative, but Tigerheart is first and foremost Paul Dear's story. One night, Paul looks in his mirror and sees The Boy looking back at him. Taking The Boy up on his offer to teach him some things, Paul visits the Anyplace on a nightly basis. The details of what he does there are glossed over in the story; all the reader needs to know is that Paul does indeed learn many things. He does not learn to fly, as that power is reserved for The Boy alone. However, he does perfect the ability to communicate with birds and beasts, and acquires the magnificent snow tiger as his steadfast companion. Together, Paul and the tiger run nightly through the jungles of the Anyplace and form a powerful bond.

Meanwhile, in the waking world of the Dear family, Paul's mother Colleen has given birth to baby Bonnie. When Bonnie suddenly departs again, barely a week after arriving, Paul is confused not only by his sister's sudden disappearance, but also by the effect it has on his parents' behavior and states of mind. His grief-stricken mother becomes almost unrecognizable: angry, cold, and remote, she seems suddenly to care nothing for him. Desperate to restore Colleen to herself (and to him), Paul sets off for the Anyplace in search of a replacement for his lost baby sister.

What Paul finds when he reaches the Anyplace is that things have deteriorated since he last saw The Boy. Gwenny has returned for another visit to the Anyplace, but The Boy has disappeared and taken all but two of his Vagabonds with him. He has also renounced the pixie Fiddlefix, and gone over to the other side, allying himself with the very pirates he used to fight. In this story, as in Peter Pan, The Boy has long since vanquished his longtime nemesis, the pirate captain. In the Anyplace, this character was known as Captain Hack and sported a hatchet (not a hook) where his right hand had been. In Tigerheart, we learn that the late Captain John Hack had a sister -- also a pirate -- who still lives. She is Captain Mary Slash, perhaps more ruthless a foe than her brother. Her sobriquet derives from the sword blade that she bears in place of her left hand. Slash's reappearance on the scene coincides with Paul and Gwenny's joining forces to discover what is at the root of The Boy's betrayal and to set things right. Along the way, Paul once more encounters his soul partner the snow tiger, and through a dramatic sequence of events acquires the name that makes him the title character of the book.

Throughout Tigerheart, the focus is on Paul and his journey, with the Anyplace and its familiar (yet slightly altered) denizens serving as colorful backdrop and supporting characters. In an author's note following the text of the printed edition of the book, the author (acknowledging his enormous debt to J.M. Barrie) explains that this is why he opted to alter the names and details, even though Peter Pan is in the public domain and therefore he could have used the material legally. Paul Dear is the central force of the novel, and it is his motivations and his character development that drive the story.

For those who know and love the original Peter Pan material, Tigerheart should be welcomed as a respectful yet innovative amplification of the legend. Even those with no particular fondness for -- or in-depth knowledge of -- Peter Pan will find much to enjoy as they follow Paul Dear on his quest. The talented and versatile Simon Vance puts his vocal storytelling skills to good use in the audio rendering. Vance does equally well representing the voice of the omniscient narrator (who frequently addresses the reader directly and pauses the action for substantial asides) and the various characters of all ages and both genders. Tigerheart would make for good family listening; although it is classified as an adult book, there is nothing R-rated about it. For younger listeners who can handle somber themes at the level of (for example) Harry Potter, listening to Tigerheart with older family members should be enjoyable and might foster some interesting discussion.

Copyright © 2008 Sarah Trowbridge

Sarah Trowbridge reads (and listens) compulsively, chronically, and eclectically. She is a public librarian in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.


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