Jewel and Thorn by Richard Poole

“Jewel and Thorn” is the first volume in “The Lowmoor Trilogy”. It is the story of a well-travelled trader’s daughter (Jewel) and a daring villager who has just come of age (Thorn). When fate deals them both a cruel blow, they leave their old life behind and start on a journey of self-discovery that would lead to their fateful meeting.

When her father is murdered, Jewel abandons her trading life to find those responsible and make them pay. At around the same time, Thorn’s sister disappears and he leaves the safety of his village to track down the kidnappers.

For much of the book we follow two separate adventures. The odd-numbered chapters deal with Thorn’s attempt to rescue his sister while the even-numbered chapters are concerned with Jewel’s quest for revenge. This treatment could easily have resulted in a disjointed story but Richard Poole handles it well and delivers a flowing and exciting series opener that will satisfy those who like quests, mysteries and the like (whatever their age).

Poole manages to end every chapter with a cliffhanger and skilfully develops both Jewel and Thorn into well-rounded characters that readers get to care about in equal measures. Both meet new friends and enemies and face dangers and betrayals along the way. Half the fun is guessing when they will meet and in what circumstances, and when their paths eventually cross, readers are rewarded with an ending that promises of even more exciting adventures to come.

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