Age Range: 10 - 12
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Wooden dialogue, weak storytelling and a slow start consign this promisingly premised fantasy to the status of an also-ran. Blind in one eye and lame since birth, ten-year-old Wat is considered Devil’s Spawn by his fellow villagers and fair game for the local bullies. He retains enough spirit, however, to steal a pair of newly captured nestling peregrines from his hated Norman overlord. Running off into the forest, he encounters Griswold, an old man who not only turns out to be his grandfather, but as a guardian of the forest possesses enhanced senses and magical abilities. Uttering many lines like “We walk and dance with nature, staying within the natural order of things to maintain the balance and preserve the patterns of life,” he proceeds to bring out those senses in Wat. By the time the falcons have fledged, Wat is able to transform himself into a bird of prey powerful enough to drive the overlord’s cruel Forester away. Weak both in atmosphere and in chemistry between the characters, this debut takes a back seat to such similar tales as Jane Yolen’s “Young Merlin” trilogy. Sequels may be on the way: don’t wait up for them. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-525-46993-1
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2003