Isobelle Carmody

The Chronicles of Obernewtyn- Isobelle Carmody
Reading around the World: Australia
WordHigh July Day 26: Pahimakas (n) last farewell


After about 15 years, I have finally been able to say a last farewell to Elspeth, from the Chronicles of Obernewtyn.  One of Australian author Isobelle Carmody’s most famous series, it has also been the longest to be completed, with many other entire series being written in between each instalment.

Elspeth is a Misfit- a person with special abilities, in a post nuclear fall out world. Most technologies have been lost, due to both the death and disorder following the nuclear explosions (the Great White), and due to a rising religious faction who believe the cataclysm was due to the God’s (known as Lud) disapproval of the ‘Beforetimers’ who used their technologies selfishly and evilly- to better themselves at the cost of the environment and the less powerful (and of course this means all use of technology is evil). People mostly work on the land, and anything that is different if feared or punished because of fear it is an ill effect of the radiation, or of  Lud’s displeasure. At the start Elspeth is in an orphanage, and fears being taken to Obernewtyn, a mysterious place that experiments on misfits. She is taken there and finds it both better than expected, and full of mystery and   danger. There are prophesies about Elspeth, that she will be the saviour of the animals, and her powers allow her to realise she is fated to find the control of the beforetime machines that caused the Great White, and shut them off permanently. If she fails, a second Great White will occur that will wipe out all life on earth. At the same time as working to fulfil her quest, she is also involved in the politics of the land- the rebellion against the strict religious order and the brutal  government, the complicated truce with the rebels who were raised to distrust misfits, and the growing awareness of other lands existing.

Some of the books in the middle of the series can be a bit long winded (hundreds of pages long, but not much interesting happening) and I was vaguely unhappy with the ending (when you have been waiting 15 years it would have to be amazing), but Isobelle Carmody remains one of my favourite authors. Maybe it is partly the fact that successful Australian authors are hard to find, especially in the fantasy genre (and a friend in England tells me the bookstore there don’t bother stock her because they have enough fantasy authors of their own). But it is also that her stories capture the imagination. Some are dark, and disconcerting, some are inspiring and fun. They are all worth a read.


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