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The Rats of Hamelin: A Piper's Tale, by Keith McCune, Adam McCune Book Review | SFReader.com
The Rats of Hamelin: A Piper's Tale, by Keith McCune, Adam McCune Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Moody Publishers Published: 2005 Review Posted: 9/21/2006 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 9 out of 10
The Rats of Hamelin: A Piper's Tale, by Keith McCune, Adam McCune
Book Review by Heather Hunt
Have you read this book?
"The Rats of Hamelin" by father/son duo Keith and Adam McCune is an unusual combination of history and fantasy that retells the legend of the pied piper by utilizing elements of the fantasy of Tolkien, the magic of Rowling, and the Force of Lucas. When Johannes Piper plays his pipe, for example, he is transported into the "piping world," which allows him to see the hidden human world much like Frodo's visions whenever he puts on the One Ring.
In addition, the Piper's Guild to which Johannes is apprenticed out of poverty at the age of 12, is very much akin to Hogwarts' School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, though we don't actually get to visit it firsthand. More's the pity. And the piping duels that Johannes has to fight with a rebel piper, founder of the Unbound movement and stealer of children, will put readers very much in mind of Jedi Force duels. Through specific tunes, the pipers can turn pieces of furniture and roof shingles into missiles, conjure up gulf force winds, and light objects on fire.
All this is not to say that "The Rats of Hamelin" is derivative in any way. The authors use these elements and styles as a nod to other greats in the fantasy world, but clearly tell their own unique story. For every fantastical element used, the story contains a historical reference that grounds the setting in the 13th century Germanic world of guilds, mayors, town councils, landlords, and serfs.
Thematically, the story explores the twin concerns of justice and mercy, which is reflected visually in the pied piper's "pied" costume of one yellow legging and one red legging. Throughout the story, Johannes Piper wrestles with himself - and with his potential love interest, the mayor's daughter, Klara - over how much justice to hand down versus how much mercy to bestow. Indeed, readers will wrestle, too, as the villains keep changing colors and a surprising revelation occurs near the end of the story.
I recommend "The Rats of Hamelin" to readers who enjoy historical fiction, historical fantasy, and well-told tales of any genre.
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