The Friday Review: Perloo The Bold

Until about five minutes before I started reading this, I had no idea what it was.

I walked idly into my sister’s room, looking for some mischief to play, and there it was. A small paperback, with the painting of a rabbit brandishing a pike. Of course I picked it up! Being the seasoned veteran I am, I knew exactly where to look for a description, and I looked to the back cover, where I read these words…

“A scholarly, shy member of the rabbit-like Montmers, Perloo is content sipping myrtle tea and reading his history book in his warms burrow. Until the day Perloo’s quiet life is interrupted by a mysterious summons from the Montmer leader. Drawing his smock string tightly around him, Perloo ventures out (through the worst blizzard since the Frog Year) to the Central Tribe Burrow to find out what their leader could possibly want with him.”

I say! That’s not just any ordinary bland Luke Skywalker! That’s a real character! I was still on the fence when I realized that this Perloo sounded not a little like my own dear protagonist Arman. With that, I cracked it open and read the thing then and there.

Ladies and gentlemen, you need to raid your local bookstore. Perloo the Bold by Avi is a delight and well worth your time.

I won’t give away too much about what happens to Perloo when he answers the mysterious summons. Suffice it to say that he and Lucabara, the female warrior who delivered the summons, get tangled in some sinister political intrigue that spans both the Montmer tribe, and the ferret-like Felbarts, their sworn enemies.

Perloo stumbles through every step of it. He’s out-of-shape, timid, and absolutely opposed to getting involved in politics. Lucabara alternately berates, cajoles, and deceives Perloo into continuing his adventures. We see just enough signs that there’s more to Perloo that this never becomes annoying. In fact, it keeps you reading. We know there’s another side to this rabbit. When’s it going to come out?

The undisputed delight, though, is the intrigue itself. Surprise is of the essence here, too, so my details will be minimal. Berwig the Big is one of the most surprising characters I’ve ever read in my life. Senyous the Sly is a cliche old fake counselor, but the way he interacts with Berwig, I couldn’t care less. The best of all the villains, though, is Gumpel.

Gumpel is the most unique villain I’ve ever met. She’s obese, sluggish and completely repulsive. When she enters the game, some gleefully wicked double-crossing happens.

Unfortunately, there are some downers. Avi can get preachy at times. He creates a vibrant picture of Perloo struggling against his destiny, and then adds commentary. “He was not very bold, powerful, or even romantic,” Avi writes in the midst of some musings by Lucabara that go on for too long.

But don’t let that drive you away. If you need a fast-paced, light-weight adventure with some unforgettable characters (and a surprise ending), give Avi a chance. Amazon still sells Perloo the Bold. Their edition doesn’t have the rabbit with the pike. I know. What sacrilege!

I was right, by the way. Perloo did have some strong similarities to my main character.

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