Two seventh-grade boys and their professor friend go on a dangerous journey to recover an ancient and powerful artifact in this young-adult adventure novel.
In the series’ previous installment, Professor Atlas and the Summoning Dagger (2011), friends Tyler Gerard and Brandon Giles won a trip to England with American explorer and professor Fielding Atlas to search for an enchanted dagger—a search that included time travel to the 14th century. This novel picks up where that story left off, with a new task: to travel to Japan to meet up with the wizard Mercastus. Along the way, the trio experiences a kidnapping, a train ride, a rescue and a big adventure in India, where they aim to recover the stolen Jewel of Enlightenment from the Palace of Vengeance. This volume doesn’t involve time travel, but there’s plenty of wizard fun, exotic locations, fight scenes and brilliant schemes, as well as a dangerous sect and a mischievous monkey. As the novel acknowledges, the Palace of Vengeance is quite similar to the first book’s medieval Hallswich Castle, although this time the team must account for modern-day security. Maguire (Kid in Chief, 2012) writes this fast-moving tale in a lively tone: A villain wears “an expression of disappointment that made him look like an enormous baby who had been told he couldn’t have a balloon,” and a venomous water snake’s “bluish-black, scaly skin accented by white rings gave it an aura of sleek deadliness.” Sometimes the magic can be a little too convenient or easy, as when the Jewel of Enlightenment gives an ancient Mesopotamian the ability to predict a solar eclipse through “his newly found intelligence.” Also, apart from eyeglasses, the two boys are almost identical, with similar speech patterns, abilities and personalities, and even the titular professor Atlas may be hard for readers to picture.
Exciting capers for the YA audience, hampered somewhat by undistinguished characters.