An exemplary middle-grade fantasy trilogy concludes with a blast. Lots of blasts.
Apprentice mage Calen knew he’d regret going off with a crazed villain to save his friends’ lives, but he didn’t realize how much he could learn from the vicious Mage Krelig. Meanwhile, his best friend, Princess Meg, is struggling to maintain her faith after his apparent betrayal, as she and her dragon begin military training to aid their besieged kingdom of Trelian. Since the loyal mages seem more interested in squabbling than in preparing for war, only Calen’s rapid growth in strength and skill may be enough to thwart Krelig—except that it’s getting ever harder for him to resist the lure of knowledge and power. This works as well as a friendship story as an epic fantasy; despite their long separation, the immensely likable main characters know and trust each other enough to rely upon the other’s ability, understand the risks the other must take, and accept the sometimes-painful changes that result. And each even gets a hint of romance (most refreshingly, not with each other)! The pacing races smoothly through increasingly dire events, right up to a suitably thrilling climax, into a denouement that, if not unrealistically blissful, exactly suits their personalities and desires.
A solid, satisfying genre performance; it may not invent any new tricks, but it executes each component in a grand fashion. (Fantasy. 11-16)