The Tears Of The Salamander

By Peter Dickinson

The Author and Statistics

  • Peter Dickinson was born in December 16, 1927, in Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia
  • Has won more than 10 awards for his mystery and kids books
  • The Tears of the Salamander placed in the top 15 for Best Young Adult Book

Important Quotes

  • "It was on this evening, in Alfredo's twelfth year, that his whole world changed." This is the exact moment that Alfredo's life up to this point would be completely rearranged, and he would begin to learn more about his family and the secrets that hide behind it.
  • "What he'd done, you see, was put the old bird's mind, its soul, what makes it it, into the young bird's body." Alfredo finally begins to realize who Uncle Giorgio really is, and his purpose behind wanting to have Alfredo with him. His uncle is going to put himself into Alfredo's body, so that he can continue being an immortal being.
  • "The likeness was very clear. He was Uncle Giorgio's son. He had just killed his own father." This is the final turning point in the book, and shows that Alfredo has fully uncovered what has really happened to him and his family, and has stopped what Giorgio had planned on doing.

The Main Point

The main point is between Alfredo and his Uncle Giorgio, and their powers that they have. The most important point in the story is when Alfredo finally learns how to harness his powers and how to control them using the salamanders. In the end of the story, the conflict is resolved, as Giorgio and his sinister plans had been relinquished, and Alfredo begins to know how to use his talent.

Interesting Details

  • Uncle Giorgio was looking for two things- a Philosopher's Stone, which could turn things into gold, and an Elixir of Life, which granted immortality. The search for these were found from early ages.
  • The book is set in 18th-century Italy, a time where the enlightenment had occured, and new philosophies, inventions, and ideas had surfaced.
  • This book is centered around fire and, more importantly, a volcano- Italy had one of the worst volcanic eruptions near Pompeii, Italy in which Mount Vesuvius erupted and killed more than two thousand people.

Historical References

  • Alfredo sang and went to church at the Catholic Church, which had tremendous political and societal power during these times, and is still around today.
  • The idea of sorcery, Witchcraft, Alchemy, etc. were a common idea around the time of this book, and were practices that some people frequently engaged in.
  • Fire, a common motif in this novel, was connected to Satan, and the worship of it was known as Paganism.


Overall, i think that this was a great book, and kept me reading until the very end with excitement. If i were to rate it out of 10, I would give it a 8. The conflict and plot flows nicely, and is full of suspense, leaving you hanging off the edge of your seat, wanting to read another chapter.