This is a review of “The Stone Key”, the fifth book of Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn Series. It follows on from “The Keeping Place“.
Things are still settling down in the wake of The Rebellion. Misfits are treated somewhat better than before, but much confusion, prejudice and superstition still surrounds them. Elspeth begins her journey from Obernewtyn to Sutrium to meet with the other Rebel Leaders.
On the way, they decide to check in on young Farseeker Zarak’s father Khuria in Saithwold. Zarak has received a number of puzzling correspondences from his father, and believes that he is trying to communicate with him in an obscure manner. Curious as to why he cannot simply speak openly, Elspeth agrees to visit Khuria.
Approaching Saithwold, Elspeth and Zarak hear rumours about the region; people are being forbidden from leaving Saithwold and none can seem to enter the province either. Ushered into Saithwold by Brydda, Zarak and Elspeth make contact with Khuria and discover that there is trouble underfoot much, much bigger than a fastidious Rebel Leader.
Malik hears of the Misfits arrival in Saithwold and orders them captured. Elspeth evades capture at first, and is only imprisoned after she has already freed her friends. Malik savagely beats her and she narrowly avoids death at his hand. After she has been saved and he has been escorted to Sutrium to account for his crimes, she discovers the empty Herder Cloister. Intrigued, she pokes around, and finds much more than she was looking for!
After unwittingly entangling herself in Herder plans-with the help of a dolphin- Elspeth stows away on a Norseland ship, bound for Herder Isle. She soon discovers that the Norselanders are also an occupied people and offers them her aid if they help her in return. But before Elspeth’s plan can be put into action she is sucked into the mysterious world of the Herders and their nearly invisible servants: “The Shadows”.
But Elspeth’s journey does not end on Herder Isle. It has been foreseen that she is to stop a grave danger from encompassing the West Coast. Elspeth discovers a horrifying plan that has been set in motion by the wicked Ariel, and makes her way to the west to foil it. Here she makes contact with her friends who have been stranded in the West since The Rebellion, and who have taken refuge in a Beforetime Building that is hidden underground. This Beforetime dwelling is unlike any Elspeth has ever come across in her life. Ariel’s plot leads her to an old friend. Briefly they reunite, before they are tragically and finally parted.
With the help of the Rebels on the other side of The Suggredoon, the West Coast is finally freed from Council and Herder rule. Gywnedd, the Rebel Leader of the West, proposes a mission to Norseland to free his kinfolk from Herder rule. The mission is undertaken and Elspeth and her friends face odds that they are not wholly prepared for.
From Norseland, Elspeth and her Rebel companions sail to Sador to speak with the tribal leaders. It is here in Sador where Elspeth receives another sign from Beforetime Seer Kasanda, to aid her in her quest as the Seeker.
This book was a long awaited treat for Obernewtyn fans. For although the wait was LONG (9 years!), this book is well worth it. Full of adventure, intricate plot lines, and complex character developments, it is a great addition to the series. Touching, and thought provoking, this is not a book to be lightly forgotten!