A highly unusual fantasy novel in its Grail-like quest, this book introduces all manner of eccentric characters and peoples in the form of myth and folk-tale. No elves, dwarves or hobbits. No magic swords, evil dark lords, dragons, or mines called Moria.
This book has a completely unique feel and story. Set in the mythical land of Fraglund it tells the tale of a young man called Listener who inherits a magical stone and later a magical flute. In his quest to unravel the secrets of the stone, Listener encounters many strange folk : Gisa, the evil mistress of Barlebogue castle; the Gentle Fluter, Listener's grandfather; the minstrel Barlo who is not as he seems; the bewitching Narzia, whose magic commits Listener to the life of a fawn; and Arnilukka whose eyes mirror the colors of Listener's magic stone.
The story covers many years and many adventures and misadventures as Listener slowly realizes life's true values and mysteries through all of the many people and animals he encounters who inhabit Fraglund.
Well written and conveniently broken into three separate sections ; gripping without being truly exciting . A gentle story of relationships and human interaction rather than "thud and blunder" it was quite a change in pace from more common fantasy styles.
Certainly more "moralistic" than most novels, if you want a change of pace or are fed up of axe wielding barbarians called "Thrang" get this book! The German author has a strong religious background (the Catholic Convert son of an evangelist Lutheran) . With the book focusing on one character (who cannot really be called a "hero," at least early on), you'll soon become quite strongly attached to Listener for his struggles and failings are all the more gripping.
p.s. If you like this book, check out The Broken Goddess by the same author.