In Zartman’s debut young-adult novel, a high schooler gets thrust into a fantasy realm under siege, spurring his transformation from an “epic nerd” to a king.
Rory Anderson is in the middle of a field trip when a strange purple mist beckons him to the dimension of Zed. Once there, the King of the Fountain of Life sends Rory and Adam, a skilled stranger chosen as Rory’s helper, to the medieval-style land of Petla. They immediately meet Lady Serena, who’s thrilled by their arrival. It was foretold that the High King of Petla, Roderick Gilroy Montgomery, Son of Anders—aka Rory Anderson—would return to the land to dispel an invading menace. That menace is the Iverns, who are invading Petla from another world. Rory must use his skills to rid the land of these hostile forces. He adapts quickly to his new, unusual circumstances and treats the responsibility of saving Petla with appropriate seriousness. Some fantastic technology, such as flying vests, already exists in this fantasy realm, and merely requires someone to figure it out. Other inventions, such as gunpowder, are only possible thanks to Rory’s knowledge, and he applies this knowledge so effectively that he proves his worthiness as a ruler. Rory frequently asks the King of the Fountain of Life, in a prayer-like manner, for guidance along his journey; although the book has notable Christian undertones, it never becomes preachy. However, the book’s romance element doesn’t shine as brightly as its main plot, as tensions between romantic interests never get very high. Overall, the novel’s greatest strength lies in its appealing, clever characters, who keep readers engaged throughout the story.
An intriguing and spiritual YA fantasy tale.