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A Bright New Dawn is just around the corner for thousands of tiny nomes when they move into the ruined buildings of an abandoned quarry. Or is it? Soon strange things begin to happen. Then humans appear and they really mess everything up. The quarry is to be re-opened, and the nomes must fight to defend their new home. But how long will they be able to keep the humans at bay - even with the help of the monster Jekub? The second title in a magnificent trilogy about the nomes, a race of little people struggling to survive in a world of humans.
In the Beginning … . .. Arnold Bros (est. 1905) created the Store. At least, that was the belief of thousands of nomes who for many generations (Nome generations, that is. Nomes live ten times faster than humans. To them, ten years is a long lifetime) had lived under the floorboards of Arnold Bros (est. 1905), an old and respected department store. The Store had become their world. A world with a roof and walls.
Wind and Rain were ancient legends. So were Day and Night. Now there were sprinkler systems and air conditioners, and their small crowded lives ticked to the clock of Opening Time and Closing Time. The seasons of their year were January Sales, Spring Into Spring Fashions, Summer Bargains and Christmas Fayre. Led by the Abbot and priesthood of the Stationeri, they worshipped – in a polite, easy-going sort of way, so as not to upset him – Arnold Bros (est. 1905), who they believed had created everything, i.e. the Store and all the contents therein.
Some families of nomes had grown rich and powerful and took the names – more or less – of the Store departments they lived under . .. the Del Icatessen, the Ironmongri, the Haberdasheri. And into the Store, on the back of a lorry, came the last nomes to live Outside. They knew what wind and rain were, all right. That’s why they’d tried to leave them behind. Among them was Masklin, rat-hunter, and Granny Morkie and Grimma, although they were women and didn’t really count. And, of course, there was the Thing.
No one quite understood the Thing. Masklin’s people had handed it down for centuries; it was very important, that was all they knew. When it came near the electricity in the Store it was able to talk. It said it was a thinking machine from a ship which, thousands of years before, had brought the nomes from a far Store, or possibly star. It also said it could hear electricity talk, and one of the things the electricity was saying was that the Store would be demolished in three weeks. It was Masklin who suggested that the nomes leave the Store on a lorry. He found, oddly enough, that actually working out how you could drive a giant lorry was the easiest part. The hardest part was getting people to believe that they could do it. He wasn’t the leader. He’d have liked to be a leader. A leader could stick his chin out and do brave things. What Masklin had to do was argue and persuade and, sometimes, lie very slightly. He found it was often easier to get people to do things if you let them think it was their idea. Ideas! That was the tricky bit, all right. And there were lots of ideas that they needed. They needed to learn to work together. They needed to learn to read. They needed to think that female nomes were, well, nearly as intelligent as males (although everyone knew that really this was ridiculous and that if females were encouraged to think too much their brains overheated). Anyway, it all worked. The lorry did leave the Store just before it mysteriously burned down and, hardly damaging anything very much, was driven out into the country. The nomes found an abandoned quarry tucked into a hillside, and moved into the ruined buildings. And then, they knew, everything was going to be All Right. There was going to be, they’d heard, a Bright New Dawn.
Of course, most nomes had never seen a dawn, bright or otherwise, and if they had they would have known that the trouble with bright new dawns is that they’re usually followed by cloudy days. With scattered showers. Six months passed . .. This is the story of the Winter. This is the Great Battle. This is the story of the awakening of Jekub, the Dragon in the Hill, with eyes like great eyes and a voice like a great voice and teeth like great teeth. But the story didn’t end there. It didn’t start there, either.
A well-written comic fantasy that blends an off-beat but believable plot with strong but quirky characters, lots of entertaining adventures and a liberal dose of humour ...Highly recommended
- School Librarian
Slapstick romp laced with some sharp, satirical barbs
- Publishers Weekly
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