THE COMING OF DRAGONS

THE DARKEST AGE, BOOK ONE

A disguised young prince and a mariner’s daughter survive shipwreck, relentless pursuit, a power-hungry sorcerer and dragon attacks in this well-knit series opener. Sole survivors of a mysterious, fire-laced tempest, Edmund and Elspeth are cast ashore together. When Elspeth numbly opens an old trunk that washes up too, she finds herself unwillingly bonded to an invisible gauntlet that flares into sight at need, wielding a bright sword. Suddenly, armored minions of Orgrim, a powerful “repente” able at will to see through the eyes of others, are harrying her and Edmund, himself dismayed to discover that he has strange magical powers, across the countryside. The two fugitives make a good team; Edmund shuttles between arrogance and scared innocence, but shows a good heart and deep reserves of courage, while Elspeth, more mature despite being about the same age, brings a practical turn of mind to the mix, along with enough spirit to cope with loss and reversals. Lake gives her tale an early medieval setting, populates it with a supporting cast featuring both an enigmatic Harper and a huge dragon and closes with hints of a dangerous plot to free a long-fettered god. A promising set-up, conveyed with above average skill. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58234-965-7

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2006

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Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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THE BURNING BRIDGE

From the Ranger's Apprentice series , Vol. 2

More absorbing, straight-arrow adventures set in the medieval, alternate world kingdom of Araluen and featuring the three apprentices introduced in The Ruins of Gorlan (2005). As the brutish wargals of Morgorath, Lord of Rain and Night, gather for an invasion, deft young Will and his strapping friend Horace discover that Morgorath has planned a complex feint that, unless scotched, will spell doom for the armies of Araluen. The third apprentice, diplomat-in-training Alyss, is relegated to a subplot in this outing, but is sure to play larger roles in future episodes. Flanagan explains more than he needs to but propels the plot forward at a heady clip, stirring in live-wire characters who are still learning the finer points of their assigned professions but prove equal to each challenge they face. He also adds to the company a young fugitive who is far more than the lady’s maid she claims to be, and closes with the requisite battle, a breathtaking single combat—and a dismaying lead-in to the next episode. It all adds up to a winning formula that should prove out to a long, steady run for this above average series. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24455-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2006

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