Summary and book reviews of Tears of The Salamander by Peter Dickinson

Tears of The Salamander

by Peter Dickinson

Tears of The Salamander
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2003, 208 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2005, 208 pages

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Book Summary

When Alfredo, a twelve-year-old boy in eighteenth-century Italy, loses his family in a fire, he goes to live with Uncle Giorgio - a sorcerer in control of the fires of Mt. Etna who has sinister plans for his nephew.

O to live in the heart of such a fire, like a salamander! Alfredo, a choir boy in 18th-century Italy, loses his family in a fire, and his mysterious Uncle Giorgio spirits him away to their ancestral home below a volcano. There he learns that Uncle Giorgio is the Master of the Mountain; he can control the volcano. He is also an alchemist, able to make gold from the tears of the fiery salamander he captured from the heart of the mountain. Alfredo is his heir, the next Master; and as Alfredo learns the history of his family and its power, he begins to suspect that his uncle is actually a fearsome sorcerer.

CHAPTER ONE

The gift arrived for Alfredo's seventh name-day. It wasn't like his other gifts—the basket of candied cherries, the hobbyhorse, the toy drum—not a gift for a child at all. He opened the little leather pouch and pulled out a fine yellow chain, like the one his big brother, Giorgio, had been given to wear round his neck for his First Communion, but instead of a cross on the end this one had a funny little animal, made of the same yellow stuff as the chain.

He stared at it. The body was like that of one of the little brown lizards that lived in the cracks in the brickwork of the bakehouse, except that it had a long tail that curled under its belly, right round behind and over, with the end hanging down beside its front leg with a sharp hook at the tip. And the spread toes had small hooked claws, and not the sucker pads of the bakehouse lizards.

The head and face were even more different, not like any lizard's, but round and wrinkled, like the face of the ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Thoughtful readers will find much to ponder in the afterglow of this tale of an alchemy powerful enough to transmute a handful of isolated, unhappy beings into a loving family and to change an existence scorched by tragedy into a life worth living. Ages 10-up.

School Library Journal - Renee Steinberg

Gr 6-9-An intriguing, intricately woven fantasy set in Italy and then Sicily....This latest offering from a master storyteller is not an easy read, but fantasy fans will stick with it, hoping for good's triumph.

Kirkus Reviews

Complex characters, spectacular magical and natural outbursts, taut plotting, and atmospheric writing unite in a coruscating exhibition of storytelling. (Fiction. 11-13)

Booklist - Ilene Cooper

Starred Review. Gr. 6-9. In this sophisticated story, Dickinson takes readers inside a volcanic mountain of fire, where a salamander sheds healing tears and excretes liquid gold....Not everything here is easy to understand the power of the salamanders and the mystical relationship they have with the mountain's fire are sometimes too esoteric to grasp. But Alfredo's relationship with the people who live under the volcano is sharp and strongly written, and the fierce beauty of the mountain and its fire will linger in memory.

KLIATT - Claire Rosser

A remarkable fantasy, exquisite, and a challenge to readers of any age....This is not going to be a popular YA book, because of its challenges, but for those readers who are fascinated by metaphysics, by music, by intricate fantasy, this is a special treat.

Reader Reviews

JOSEPH FRAM

This is a good book to read outside of the house in the country. I enjoyed its full details and interesting facts about volcane
life in Italy.The novel was suspenseful and makes you understand what the novel is about.

Thomas Morgan-Witts aged 10

I loved the Tears of the Salamander because it had a lot of suspence. For example when Uncle Gorgeo arrived you didn't know what was going to happen to him. It also was full of excitement. For example when the Buena Ventura burst into flames. so all...   Read More

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