by Jim West ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 27, 2016
Beaucoup magic and entertainment with just the right amount of educational value.
Awards & Accolades
This third installment of a middle-grade fantasy series finds a girl and a city threatened by a wizard wielding a powerful and potentially deadly weapon.
Alex is a young girl who was mysteriously transported to a world where Latin and mathematics are combined to generate magic. With her mentor Archimedes in prison, she’s hiding in the wilderness outside the city, especially because fiendish Master Wizards Diades and Demetrius are looking for her. Though Alex is skilled at magic, Archimedes believes she’s the “missing variable,” with the ability to solve this world’s problems. Alex eventually meets winged Daedalus, who takes her to the Iron Mountains, where former advisers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle have isolated themselves following accusations of poisoning the king. Unfortunately, Alex’s calculator is in the hands of Diades, and its mathematical capability makes the device inherently dangerous. Indeed, the wizard uses it to create a disaster that leaves the city in ruins and many of the inhabitants dead. Survivors form a party for an arduous trek through the woods to the Iron Mountains. There, they hope to reunite with Alex and make their way to the Master Wizards’ black castle to retrieve the device. Alex, meanwhile, under the assumption that all of her pals in the city have perished, concocts a similar plan. As in the previous novels, West’s (Circulus de Potentia, 2016, etc.) blending of Latin and math serves the story well, enhancing rather than sidelining the main plot. Diades, for example, torments his captive, Pythagoras, by using the device to calculate the number of people who’ve died in the tragedy. Latin phrases are most often conveniently translated (for example, by characters who’ve uttered them) and are sometimes profound on their own: “dum spiro, spero. While I breathe, I hope.” West adds his own effervescent descriptions as well (“the monster brought the blackness like an oily cloud that spread over everything hungrily”). Supporting characters stand out, including deaf Maya, a worthy counterpart to her blind brother, Mada, while others face hazards such as wolves and a blizzard. There’s no resolution or climax in sight, but the ending should definitely have readers keeping eyes out for the fourth volume.Beaucoup magic and entertainment with just the right amount of educational value.
Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2016
Page Count: 336
Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2016
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Brandon Sanderson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 21, 2023
A grand finale, presented with a touch light enough to buoy all the self-actualization. Also: giant space worms!
Hotshot pilot Spensa Nightshade completes her apotheosis in this series closer, as human rebels and their alien allies mount a climactic assault on the galactic empire.
Having progressed from eating rats to being a cytonic superwarrior, Spensa is bonded by ties of loyalty and lust to former Skyward Flight leader, now Defiant Defense Force admiral, Jorgen—and also to a traumatized, planet-killing, interdimensional delver named Chet. Spensa would be well on her way to full-blown pacifism if the Superiority’s war of extermination against humans were not ramping up to a newly active phase. Nothing for it but a massive space battle, complete with dogfights, huge explosions, feints, betrayals, and tragic sacrifices…not to mention a swarm of ravenous, vacuum-dwelling vastworms eager to chow down on both sides. Though slowed by Spensa’s and others’ wrestling with conflicting impulses and weighing moral imperatives, the plot features more than enough large- and small-scale action set pieces to please space-opera fans. Better yet, the deliciously expansive cast includes not only humans and AIs but a broad array of aliens and semi-aliens from blue-skinned humanoids and a furry, haiku-reciting, fox-gerbil samurai with a (wait for it) laser sword to sentient crystals and empathic slugs. “The more different types of people we got into the flight, the stronger it would be,” Spensa reflects, and indeed, it’s collective action that proves decisive in the end.A grand finale, presented with a touch light enough to buoy all the self-actualization. Also: giant space worms! (Science fiction. 12-15)
Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2023
Page Count: 432
Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023
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by Rebecca Ross ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 4, 2023
Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.
A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.
In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)
Pub Date: April 4, 2023
Page Count: 368
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023
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