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Alyana is a headstrong young girl from the Trahern tribe who lives on the fringes of the great Gurcross forest with her widowed father. She dreams of nothing more than becoming a warrior like him. When her father dies, Alyana runs into the forest rather than joining her cousins in conventional village life. She takes the warrior name Blackthorn, and makes her way into the wilderness. Here, she finds both allies, such as the mysterious forest dweller she calls Boar, and enemies like the Doane tribe. Blackthorn comes to know the ways of the forest. She learns practical survival lessons from Boar, and recalls her father's advice on how to live the life of a true warrior. When she uncovers the threat of a Doane raid, all of her resources are put to the test. Elizabeth Pulford's Blackthorn is a fast-paced adventure story with a semi- historical setting, featuring only minimal fantasy elements. Blackthorn herself is a rounded character: impulsive, prideful, and rash, but also resourceful, empathetic and strong-willed. The world of the forest is vivid and alive, almost a character in itself. A great read for upper primary and lower secondary students with a taste for adventure. Heath Graham is a teacher and a bookseller at A&R Doncaster

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