Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Walking The Tree Walking The Tree
by Kaaron Warren
Angry Robot Books

Supplied for review by Harper Collins New Zealand

Reviewed By: Alan Robson

Lillah lives on an island called Botanica. Life on Botanica is dominated by the giant Tree that oversees the world. Lillah has come of age and, as her rite of passage, is about to embark on her journey around the Tree. She will be a teacher to those she meets, and also a student. The novel is the tale of her journey.

To an extent the book is just a travelogue. Lillah journeys from isolated village to isolated village each of which proves to have its own unique culture. Each culture has its own "flavour" which derives from the nature of the Tree at that part of the island. That nature is different in each place. Since Botanica is an island, the sea is also an important part of the culture of each village – some embrace it for the bounty it provides and some are fearful of it, scared of the monsters that live there.

Each village has its own creation myth and its own myth of the end of all things. Story telling is the mechanism used to pass knowledge on to other villages and also to illuminate the local culture. As Lillah progresses around the Tree, she meets many cultures; some good and some bad and she learns their stories and describes them all for us.

Walking the Tree is a history of Botanica and of it’s people, and Lillah’s quest is a rite of passage that allows her to define her own place in the complex totality of cultures that is Botanica.

The book is easy to read, and yet it explores complex ideas. It is very inventive, but I found it a little hard to come to grips with the somewhat formulaic structure and the descriptions and stories began to get a little tedious. Lillah herself is a delight, but overall the book fails to deliver on its promise.

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