Uki and the Outcasts

Authored by Kieran Larwood
Illustrated by David Wyatt
Published by Faber & Faber

This is the first in a new book series set in the Five Realms of Podkin One-Ear. In this new story we meet Uki, who comes from the Ice Wastes beyond the Cinder Wall, rejected and driven out of his village and left to die. Just at the point of death, he is saved by a long buried spirit from the time of the Ancients and given special powers through one of the four escaped spirits to give him extra strengths. He is tasked with a special mission to capture the other three escaped spirits to save all rabbitkind. No mission would be complete without trusted companions and early into his mission he meets Jori, a trained assassin who refuses to kill people and Kree, a very short rabbit who rides the fastest jerboa. And so the journey and thrilling adventure begins.

Alongside the exciting adventures we also see the friendship that develops between Uki, Jori and Kree. All are, in different ways, outcasts from their tribes and have suffered or been cast out for being different, so you very quickly warm and take these characters into your heart, which for me is one of the strengths of this novel. There are great opportunities, if this is a class read, to discuss being different and the way they have been treated. Another strength is the wealth of interesting and complex characters throughout the story, which is down to the superb writing of Kieran Larwood. The possibilities to imagine stories around many of these characters are wonderful creative writing opportunities.

The whole story is told by The Bard to Rue which adds to the rich storytelling in this book, and so another reason it is perfect to read aloud with a class. These sections of the book, known as The Interlude, have almost as much excitement in them as Uki’s adventures and it is very pleasing to read both stories entwining more and more as the story progresses. The tension holds us throughout and builds perfectly to the end leaving you impatient for the next book in the series.

I anticipate that another legendary rabbit hero is born in this book and will not disappoint Podkin fans. Now I will admit that I’m saying this as a first book reader of Kieran Larwood’s books but having read it – and by that I mean I was gripped and totally immersed right from the start – I am planning on reading all the Five Realms of Podkin One-Ear as soon as I can! This will also let new fans like me know that you don’t have to have read all the previous Podkin books to thoroughly enjoy and love this story. Kieran Larwood is a truly wonderful storyteller.