Discussion Post: The Riddle (Books of Pellinor #2) by Alison Croggon


Hardcover, 490 pages
Published August 8th 2006 by Candlewick Press

Maerad is a girl with a tragic and bitter past, but her powers grow stronger by the day. Now she and her mentor, Cadvan, hunted by both the Light and the Dark, must unravel the Riddle of the Treesong before their fractured kingdom erupts in chaos. The quest leads Maerad over terrifying seas and vast stretches of glacial wilderness, ever closer to the seductive Winterking — ally of her most powerful enemy, the Nameless One. Trapped in the Winterking’s icy realm, Maerad must confront what she has suspected all along: that she is the greatest riddle of all. A sequel to THE NAMING, this second book in a captivating quartet about the ancient world of Edil-Amarandh is a sweeping epic readers won’t soon forget.


  1. There are 27 chapters in the book so about 7 per week?
  2. It’s completely okay to read ahead but if you comment about things that people wouldn’t have read just write “SPOILER” in the beginning of your comment.
  3. I’m totally excited for this one for reasons I don’t remember but I think it involves snow and…wolves? Hah.
  4. Happy reading!

22 responses to “Discussion Post: The Riddle (Books of Pellinor #2) by Alison Croggon

  1. Thoughts on Chapters 1 to 7:
    It’s such an interesting experience reading this as an adult compared to reading it as a teen years earlier. I feel like I notice so many more details than I previously did.
    First is something that puzzled me in the first book but slipped my mind while I was writing comments. I wonder why Maerad’s extreme paleness is mentioned once and again while her brother’s brown skin is mentioned once again–maybe I’m getting my genetics wrong but wouldn’t mixed children have skin that is a colour between their parents’ skins? Like pale brown or olive or something?

    Also, I love Busk and would like to live there. I completely missed the implicit admission of a relationship between Nerili and Cadvan in the first read but I’m definitely intrigued by the flash of jealousy Maerad seems to feel. I also find hints of Maerad’s attractiveness reflected in the attention paid to her by the Busk students to be intriguing.

    Ankil’s story about the Split Song is lovely. The song personified is somehow beautiful in my mind and I want to hold it there. Like a person made of music notes.

    • If I remember how genetics works, yes, it should work that way, but Sometimes it doesn’t. And sometimes it depends on how far back the genes are going to grab aspects. If everyone has mixed background, you can get some interesting mixtures.

      But, yes, I agree it is odd that it is often mentioned.

      I figured the first place they went to was a Greece like place, but then I thought perhaps it was another island nation. Did anyone get a sense of that?

      I love how they keep harping on how much she lives baths.

      • After reading ahead, I think the purpose of polarizing Hem and Maerad so much is to perhaps create a balance in the end when they do find the Song. Because it is said it’s made of both dark and light and Hem and Maerad would be representative of both? Perhaps this is an oversimplification?

  2. My thoughts so far on chapters 1-7 so far, are that the author likes to give us a break between throwing rocks at Maerad, so to speak. So there is flight, fight, then rest. And I suppose this is logical, but It seems, at least to me, to break up the momentum. Not that they aren’t always in peril.

    • Okay, I’m really curious about how you’ll react to what happens in chapters 7-14. Particularly her reaction to his compliment. It’s…intense.

      • Yes, you are right. Very intense. I just made it to chapter 15. Interesting that that he saw something dark in her, and she keepings trying then failing to examine what that might be.

        I guess I keep forgetting she is a teenager and gets pouty.

        But, I am enjoying it, though getting annoyed when the author has to repeat things for us, as though we haven’t been paying attention, such as when she gets her harp out, and Mirka gets upset, and then Maerad goes on about the origins of the harp, even though we know that from, if not the last book, earlier in the book.

        I’m wondering, still about the little carved cat, that she gave Mirka as a parting gift. I still thing that is important, and wonder what will happen about it now that it has left her.

  3. And wow, I am now, getting on past. May end up just finishing this up to see what is going to happen. :) [and sorry about signing in from two accounts. Didn’t notice that until just now.]

    • Please do so so we can talk more about it. How did you feel about Maerad’s reaction to Cadvan’s compliment. It does seem that he starts seeing her as a woman rather than a student and she gets scared of the change in their relationship. Or the potential of change in their relationship–which fair enough. I would be scared too but Cadvan doesn’t actually say anything or even indicate he has feelings for her. She just perceives it and goes crazy–though I think the darkness inside of Maerad is something a bit…more but where did it come from? Or was it always in there? When she uses her magic against the attackers and ends up (spoiler) killing someone, well, I was a bit amazed. Things escalated rather quickly, eh? What do you think?

      • Spoilers: I also think it is interesting that Maerad is conflicted with her love or lust throughout the book. I’m rather glad that it is brought up that way, so nothing feels like insta-love, or is unexplained.

        • Me too. I thought it was approached in a very sensitive way. Maerad did freak out when Cadvan looked at her with something other than friendship in his gaze though. Her attraction to the Ice King (I forget his name) was definitely interestingly done. I didn’t feel like it was insta-love. I just felt like he called to the elemental in her.

          I have a question. Since it seems like we are the only two doing this readalong, do you still want to continue official discussions of books 3 and 4 (via a post)?

          • It is sad that we are the only ones still discussing, but I do want to finish the books in the series, and it is nice to be able to post about it.

            Sad that the others have dropped out, for reasons such as not being able to find the book, and other reasons we can’t think of. :(

  4. Spoilers, as I have finished the book now, and I don’t think that is the schedule.

    Yes, things did escalate every quickly. And she was scared. I have a feeling that Cadvan wasn’t dead. It just didn’t make sense to the story, and I kept wondering at what point they were going to reunite.

    I liked that he did not put her down for feeling desire for the Winter King. He actually said it was perfectly alright. (well, in so many words). And, I have to keep reminding myself that she is 16.

  5. Ok…I’m late. But I just finished reading it! Quick thoughts:
    The early interactions between Cadvan and Maerad (and Neri) definitely speak to some attraction/jealousy and that is incredibly confusing to me. Actually, throughout the book, I have trouble distinguishing Maerad’s friendly feelings from her romantic ones. But perhaps I’m missing something?

    The rhythm of the book felt very…high fantasy. It’s funny how easy that is to predict, even when you haven’t read a serious fantasy in a long time. Totally didn’t believe that Cadvan was dead.

    I liked the fact that Maerad is growing and her character is developing a lot, but I’m looking forward to some resolution. Having read several second books in series recently, I’m reminded that they are often the most difficult–need to up the ante, push the character, but not give any real sense of resolution. Sigh.

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