Written by TBBManiacRobyn
In Book 1 of the National Park trilogy we were introduced to Raja the Puggle through whom we learnt of the secret life of wild animals living in the fictional Madiba National Park. Hierarchies that were in place, and the rules by which the animals live were not always as they are now though, and in Rise of the Council we get to go back in time to when the only inter species interaction that occurred without negative connotations was during the hunt
Panthera is setting out to bring a new concept to the species inhabiting Madiba National Park. He knows that it will be challenging but feels that it is now time for change, for not only his generation, but for the children to follow. Change can be scary, but none the less necessary but how will he get everyone to listen? To at least give him a chance to show them the benefits of uniting together? And will he be able to do so before a hidden shadow brings his life to an end?
What I liked
Panthera is not the perfect leader. This for me was a brilliant character type to provide, too often leaders are portrayed as perfect, without their own demons or faults. Despite setting out to unite animals, he is still guilty of demonstrating an egotistical opinion of other species opinions, laughing at their suggestions and demonstrating qualities which are far from likeable, which is where Dhino was a brilliant second protagonist who brought with him a balanced and far wiser approach to that of Panthera. Even Launa, wife of Panthera, is a crucial secondary character who often seems to be his voice of reason.
Though he is but a ‘passing’ character Cronilot and the guidance he provides is one of my other favourites, in particular because of this little snippet of wisdom;
“A sense of philosophy always vibrates closely in the heart of all beings. It provides a deep sense of togetherness and a reason for existence, if nothing else”
I loved the approach given to generational opinions and structures; how they are often stunted and aged in their approaches. Throughout the book there are characters Panthera and Dhinoo encounter who are either willing, or unwilling to entertain the idea they’re bringing forward. In the prologue, Liya discusses her family denouncing her opinons with Omod who counters her frustration with an incredible insight that I feel is something all you should be told
“There is a time and place for everything, Liya. We do need to be cognisant of the ideas of others. The times may be changing, but change does not occur overnight. You nee to be patient and persistent with your beliefs. Do not let the ideas and opinions of others get you down. Be strong, young Liya. These are defining moments in your life”
When the waterfall scene occurs, I couldn’t help but chuckle as each animal shared the myths they’d been raised to believe as truth. Important to note here is despite the fear they each had, the characters still dared to investigate and challenge what they’d come to believe as truth. I feel this was an amazing additional commentary on how age-old beliefs can be used as a means of keeping younger generations from potential opportunities to grow and learn through their own experiences.
The book starts to wind down there is the most astounding twist which lead to a battle scene that I never imagined I’d ever read. Vithal did an incredible job at providing descriptions so vivid I followed the entire scene in my mind’s eye, heart pounding and tense with anticipation as I waited to see who the victor would be.
Panthera and Dhinoo are pursuing an exceptional change for the park, and while many react with concern, there is one character hell bent on ensuring that they fail at any cost. I found this hidden danger really added a fantastic undertone of tension and fear. This balanced out the humour and anticipatory excitement of the main characters really well while building up a fantastic lead to the final twist.
What I disliked
On Panthera’s return there was a little snippet that revolved around his kids – for fear of providing a spoiler here I will not divulge too much more, only to say that I am unsure if this is an event which links back to Book 1 or if it will be broached in Book 3
Hinesh Vithal is a deeply talented author who manages to capture the reader’s attention and engage their imagination through realistic dialogue, intricate plot development and characters so vivid, so determined in their beliefs experiences and encounters – you’ll find yourself battling to remember that they are in fact animals and not people. The themes covered are as diverse as the wildlife it speaks of, providing an incredible opportunity to reflect on the society in which we live. Definitely worth a read regardless of age – this will be enjoyed by both children and adults alike.
Book 2 in the National Park series; Rise of the Council has come at a time where South Africans are living with challenges much like those of the animals that Panthera meets; desperate for change, but fearful and distrustful of the leaders that prevent it, unaware that change is as simple as allowing yourself the chance to understand the unknown, and how sometimes there is strength in the diversity you hide from.
Review Rating: 4.5 of 5
Published By: Reach Publishers
Published Date: March 19th 2017
Genre: Fiction/ Action & Adventure
Author and purchase information available on Website Review.