I always enjoy a fantasy where there is a map at the beginning showing the lands in which the story is told and the various towns and geographical landscapes that make up the place of action. To cut a long story short this book has the map.
It is a simple story. Five teenagers of various backgrounds skills and physique are selected to join a secret Brotherhood whose mission is to protect the land in which they live by using the magic of the past to defeat a formidable enemy. The teenagers are to be selective grave robbers and their enemy is a bunch of giants from across The Scar.
In this first part a street thief Caspan and four candidates from select cadet acadamies are brought to the Brotherhood for training. They have to weld into a team in order to be successful. This is the coming together and first challenge for the team. There are rivalries within the group and lessons to be learned.
Each of the five can choose a magical animal as a sidekick much like the daemon in His Dark Materials series . Creatures such as Griffens or a pegasus. Caspan has a dragon like creature.
I can tell you no more except that it is very interesting reading. I particularly liked the ancient Dray culture that lived in the land before humans came.
Having said that the story is remarkably similar to a series I reviewed on this blog called Spirit Animals. See if you agree.
For intermediate and junior secondary school students.
The Magnificent 12 Book 2 The Trap by Michael Grant. Pub. HarperCollins, 2012.
This sequal was a joy to read because of Michael Grant’s sharp wit, cynical sense of humour and fast moving plot. Justin Beiber takes a right kicking near the end of the novel in some wonderfully satirical writing.
In book 1 we learn that the evil Pale Queen has been imprisoned for 3000 years by the initial Magnificient 12 or Magnifica who have the “enlightened puissance” and can speak the magical language of vargran.
Now there are only 36 days until she is released.
Mack MacAvoy a twelve year old boy has discovered he is one of the new Magnificent 12 who will have to stop the Pale Queen once she has been released. His task is to find the other 11.
In book 1 with bully boy Stefan he located Aboriginal girl Jarrah also 12(all the Magnificent 12 are of this age). They head to China pursued by all sorts of nasties and find the dragon girl Xiao. Then they leave for Germany but what or whom will they find there.
You will have to read the rest to find out but you will have no difficulty doing that. It is gripping.
In between the search for the new Magnifica there is the story of bad boy Paddy “nine iron” Trout who they will encounter. It is a hugely funny satire of the Mafia gangsters and how Trout gets the name Nine Iron is superb.
Take it from me this is a cracker for primary intermediate and junior high school students.
Calling the Gods by Jack Lasenby. Pub. HarperCollins, 2011.
“Story is our way of understanding ourselves and explaining the bewildering world around us”. Jack Lasenby wrote this quote and it is the gist of this novel. He previously wrote the excellent Because we were the Travellers quartet and this novel sees him back to the darker style of his writing.
Selene is driven unjustly out of her town of Hornish and escapes by sea hoping her boy friend and younger brothers and sisters will follower her. The Hornish community she leaves behind self destructs by internal squabbles and becomes cannon fodder for a stronger town from the south.
Selene returns for her younger brothers and collects five other survivors from her ransacked village. They decide to return to their place of origin to the North which they had heard of from stories told by their elders in better times.
Sailing North in two boats they establish a community in what they suspect is their old homeland and collect a number of other survivors around them. Selene is a brilliant leader and those that follow her, all young, work together for the common good. It is a handbook on how to survive and Jack Lasenby’s knowledge of living off the land and sea is extraordinary.
But will it last? Then Jack Lasenby then introduces a timeslip scenario in which an old man sees the progress of the young community but they cannot see him. Is he in the past or the future? are the children in the past or the future? Is indeed the future found in the past? Deep stuff. Violence, jealousy and treachery are never far away. Compelling reading.
Brilliantly written in that easy flow style Jack lasenby is famous for. Definitely High school student in appeal and an excellent read.