Lee (Saint Fire, not reviewed, etc.) opens a new series framed, belt and suspenders, in chapters and diary entries. Having grown up serving a petty, vicious princess, Claidi jumps at the chance to help in the escape of Nemian, a handsome, imprisoned prince. In their journey across the barren Waste, the pair weather dust storm and monster attack, pass through towns where sheep and clocks are worshipped, and encounter the Hulta, nomads led by Argul, a kingly youth who takes a shine to Claidi. She is attracted to him, too, especially after he rescues her from a sacrificial rite, but though familiarity has worn some of Nemian’s glitter away, Claidi decides to go on with the prince to his home in distant Wolf Tower. To her dismay, she discovers that Nemian is already married, and that she is the victim of an elaborate ruse designed to force her back into servitude. Lee gives Claidi a modern-sounding voice—believing that some of the Hulta voted against her rescue: “Now when I talk to them, I wonder which ones didn't think I was worth the trouble. I don't blame them. But yuk”—and regards the religion and politics of the Waste's residents sardonically. In the end, Argul rescues her again, and off the two ride into upcoming sequels. A diverting escapade for fans of Karen Cushman’s Catherine, Called Birdy (1994), Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted (1997), and the like. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-525-46394-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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Paulsen recalls personal experiences that he incorporated into Hatchet (1987) and its three sequels, from savage attacks by moose and mosquitoes to watching helplessly as a heart-attack victim dies. As usual, his real adventures are every bit as vivid and hair-raising as those in his fiction, and he relates them with relish—discoursing on “The Fine Art of Wilderness Nutrition,” for instance: “Something that you would never consider eating, something completely repulsive and ugly and disgusting, something so gross it would make you vomit just looking at it, becomes absolutely delicious if you’re starving.” Specific examples follow, to prove that he knows whereof he writes. The author adds incidents from his Iditarod races, describes how he made, then learned to hunt with, bow and arrow, then closes with methods of cooking outdoors sans pots or pans. It’s a patchwork, but an entertaining one, and as likely to win him new fans as to answer questions from his old ones. (Autobiography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32650-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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Awful on a number of levels—but tidily over at last.


From the Vega Jane series , Vol. 4

The rebellion against an evil archmage and his bowler-topped minions wends its way to a climax.

Dispatching five baddies on the first two pages alone, wand-waving villain-exterminator Vega Jane gathers a motley army of fellow magicals, ghosts, and muggles—sorry, “Wugmorts”—for a final assault on Necro and his natty Maladons. As Necro repeatedly proves to be both smarter and more powerful than Vega Jane, things generally go badly for the rebels, who end up losing their hidden refuge, many of their best fighters, and even the final battle. Baldacci is plainly up on his ancient Greek theatrical conventions, however; just as all hope is lost, a divinity literally descends from the ceiling to referee a winner-take-all duel, and thanks to an earlier ritual that (she and readers learn) gives her a do-over if she’s killed (a second deus ex machina!), Vega Jane comes away with a win…not to mention an engagement ring to go with the magic one that makes her invisible and a new dog, just like the one that died heroically. Measuring up to the plot’s low bar, the narrative too reads like low-grade fanfic, being laden with references to past events, characters who only supposedly died, and such lines as “a spurt of blood shot out from my forehead,” “they started falling at a rapid number,” and “[h]is statement struck me on a number of levels.”

Awful on a number of levels—but tidily over at last. (glossary) (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-26393-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

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