A serviceable, if simple, high-fantasy tale for teens.



Agapoff continues his dragon saga in this second YA fantasy novel in a series.

Fifteen-year-old Dagan is the prince of Authia, but when his father, the king, is betrayed by an ally, the boy is unable to replace him on the throne. Instead, he’s forced to take his grandfather’s sword and flee into the Highlands to avoid being killed by his father’s enemy, Praetor Marius. The young prince is almost eaten by wolves in the Highland pass, but luckily he’s rescued by the 100-year-old dragon Aurifer. Dagan is taken to the dragon’s valley for safekeeping, but there, he’s involved in the accidental injury of Corylus, one of the dragon younglings. Dagan must do everything he can to heal the creature, so he sets out on a quest to the healing spring of Apenninus, at a place that the dragons refer to as “the Golden Land.” His journey to the spring will not be an easy one, however; to reach it, he’ll have to travel through the Twelve Kingdoms ruled by the same Praetor Marius that invaded his homeland. As Dagan and his new dragon friends make their way across the continent, the young prince soon learns that he can’t escape the tide of history. Agapoff’s prose is plainspoken and dramatic in the usual manner of high fantasy: “Aurifer spread out his golden wings and allowed the warm air to push him higher into the sky. The magical ice covering the lake neither melted nor released heat, but over the southern shores, the thawing of the snows created abundant thermals to rest his tired wings.” The author does not delve too deeply into the emotional lives of his characters, which makes it difficult to distinguish between a few of them—particularly as the cast swells with holdovers from the previous book; Dagan, in particular, feels like a bit of a cipher. The novel should satisfy those readers who love all things dragon. However, fans of more intricate fantasy sagas may find this offering to be a bit lightweight.

A serviceable, if simple, high-fantasy tale for teens.

Pub Date: May 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-977225-42-9

Page Count: 570

Publisher: Outskirts Press

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2020

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)


From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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An epic series opener of old-school high fantasy catering to modern audiences.


When the realm is in danger, only a small band of misfits can save Allward.

An in medias res prologue, told from the point of view of the lone squire accompanying the 12 Companions of the Realm, tosses readers into the thick of a quest. Half the Companions are human heroes and half are immortal Elders; they seek to stop a rogue thief and his wizard accomplice from using a magical Spindle to tear a passage between worlds for nefarious ends. A disastrous battle sends squire Andry fleeing with Cortael’s sword so villain Taristan can’t get his hands on it. Grieving Elder Dom requires both a person of Corblood (a descendant of human travelers from another realm) and the Spindleblade Andry protects to stop Taristan from bringing ruin to the realm. Dom seeks Cortael’s secret daughter, Corayne, a bright but sheltered teenager with a pirate mother. At times the narrative tension is undermined by flashbacks that readers already know the conclusions to and by occasional repetition caused by the multiple point-of-view jumps, but there’s a wide variety of action scenes, daring escapes, and betrayals. Many tropes and character types are familiar, but exquisite descriptions and clashing motivations result in a nuanced, sprawling realm with a sense of complicated history. This world is highly diverse in terms of both skin tone and in the refreshing range of roles female characters inhabit.

An epic series opener of old-school high fantasy catering to modern audiences. (map) (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-287262-3

Page Count: 576

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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