Despite the long, anticlimactic wind-down, it is a strong conclusion to the crowd-pleasing series.

INHERITANCE

From the Inheritance Cycle series , Vol. 4

Capping the former Inheritance Trilogy, this fourth epic-length episode brings teenage Dragon Rider Eragon at last to a decisive faceoff with his greatest enemy.

Beginning with the capture of the fortress city of Belatona, the rebellious Varden alliance wins multiple hard-fought victories before arriving at last before the iron gates of imperial Urû’baen, “wherein sits Galbatorix, proud, confident, and disdainful, for his is the strength of the dragons.” Meanwhile, Eragon and his scaled companion Saphira fly off to the ruins of Doru Araeba in response to mysteriously delivered hints that something in a hidden “Vault of Souls” will help defeat their clever and overwhelmingly powerful adversary. Tucking in well-developed side plots, elaborate set pieces, internecine squabbles, extraneous characters, piles of corpses and, toward the end, even oblique allusions to sex (dragon sex, anyway), Paolini moves his tale along with all deliberate speed to its properly explosive, massively destructive climax. As in previous volumes, there are so many nods to Tolkien and other fantasists that authorial whiplash must have been a chronic hazard, but battle scenes are satisfyingly dramatic. Moreover, the act that leads to the thoroughly predictable outcome is just one of several ingenious twists, and before sailing off to lands unknown in a boat of Elvish make (sound familiar?), the young warrior/mage actually wages peace while methodically tying up loose ends over the final 90+ pages.

Despite the long, anticlimactic wind-down, it is a strong conclusion to the crowd-pleasing series. (maps, multilingual word list) (Heroic fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-85611-2

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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