The Naming by Alison Croggon
If you like fantasy fiction, don't miss Alison Croggon's The Naming.
The Naming is the first book in a planned tetralogy (that means four books - isn't that a cool word?).
The story is about sixteen-year-old Maerad who has been a slave her whole life. Cadvan of Lirigon, a bard (kind of magician and keeper of the Balance between the Light and the Dark) happens to meet her and recognizes that she is a very powerful, but untrained bard herself. With Cadvan, she escapes her master and begins training to discover who she really is, and her true name (revealed to a bard when they are trained and "instated").
As Cadvan learns more about Maerad, he suspects that she is The One. It has been foretold in legend and in foredreams that The One will save the land of Annar from the spreading Darkness.
As Cadvan and Maerad travel the breadth of Annar from the western edge at the slave camp of Gilman's Cot, through forests and moors and towns and hamlets, to the great "School" at Norloch on the eastern shore, they are pursued by Hulls (bards who have gone over to the Dark - the Nameless One). who want to keep The One from her destiny.
This is an exciting adventure story. It has an epic quality very much like the Lord of the Rings, but I like that the main character is a girl. Also, it is not a "children's book;" definitely for older middle school students to adult. The books are 500+ pages, but, even so, the first one was so good, I couldn't put it down.
Definitely two thumbs up!
I can't wait to read the next book, The Riddle.
You can read more about Alison Croggon and her books at her website.