Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category

To be honest, when I heard that Farworld 3: Air Keep was coming out, it had been so many years since the second book (Land Keep), that I had to go back and read the second book again because I couldn’t remember the storyline very well.

It was worth the wait.

The stakes are even higher for Marcus and Kyja in this latest installment of the Farworld series.  Marcus is a native of magical Farworld who was hidden on Earth since he was a small child by Master Therapass, a Farworld wizard working against an evil organization called the Dark Circle.  An unfortunate side-effect of his original magical transport to earth is that Marcus sustained injuries to a leg and an arm, severe enough to need a wheelchair thereafter.  Kyja, on the other hand, is a native of Earth who grows up on Farworld in some sort of cosmic swap with Marcus.  Her disability is that she is the only non-magical human in Farworld.

Master Therapass hid these two children in an effort to protect them until they were ready to fulfill their joint destiny to save both worlds from the Dark Circle.  In order to do so, they must recruit four powerful creatures called “Elementals.”  They need a Water Elemental, a Land Elemental, an Air Elemental, and a Fire Elemental.  The problem is that no one on Farworld has seen these Elementals in centuries.  When we rejoin the story in book 3, Marcus and Kyja have already found the Water and Land Elementals.  Master Therapass has also hidden Marcus back on Earth and forbidden Kyja from “pulling” him back to Farworld until it is safe to do so.

But headstrong Kyja senses that something is wrong and pulls Marcus to Farworld anyway.  The rising action is relentless from that point as the youthful duo fights the Dark Circle while seeking to find and recruit an Air Elemental to join their quest.  The fate of both Earth and Farworld hang in the balance.

Book 3 actually begins with a helpful summary of the previous books.  I wish I had known that before going back and reading Book 2 again!

I’m happy to say that this latest installment in the Farworld series is the best so far.  I really liked the previous two, but I truly LOVED this one.  Scott Savage was unrelenting in the action, tension and conflict.  Sometimes in other middle-grade fantasy, the tension seems contrived.  Not so for Savage.  It is all completely believable and results in the reader being pulled into the story and being swept along for an amazingly breathless ride.

It is extremely gratifying to see a disabled protagonist in a fantasy series – and even more gratifying that he becomes a serious action hero.  This series belongs on library shelves.  I highly recommend Farworld 3 for all readers ages 10 and up, and my only hope is that the fourth book doesn’t take so long to be published!

Review by Craig R. Everett, PhD


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The Sapphire Flute

The Sapphire Flute

The Sapphire Flute is the first book in the Wolfchild Saga by debut fantasy author Karen E. Hoover. It is a wonderfully original story and an exciting reading experience.

The book follows the separate stories of two teenage girls (Ember and Kayla) in a magical world called Rasaan. In this first installment of the series, there is no apparent connection between the two girls except for a shared enemy – an evil female mage called C’Tan — who, along with her minions, is desperately hunting both girls.

Ember is C’Tan’s niece and the daughter of a powerful mage. She is the prophesied Wolfchild — hidden by her mother since birth from C’Tan, since she could be a potential threat to C’Tan’s power.

Kayla is a supernaturally gifted musician who has been given stewardship of the Sapphire Flute, a powerful relic from the days of the Guardians, the creators of Rasaan. C’Tan wants the flute — and its power — for her own use.

What is particularly refreshing about Hoover’s story is that both protagonists and the antagonist are all female. High fantasy is a genre dominated by strong male characters. It is always a welcome change when powerful female characters take center stage. Robert Jordan accomplished it in his Eye of the World series, Brandon Sanderson created a compelling female hero in the Mistborn series, and now Karen Hoover has done a masterful job creating a triad of female lead characters, both good and evil, for the Wolfchild Saga.

Hoover has a very appealing writing style that pulls the reader effortlessly into the story. Her descriptions are vivid and emotional. The reader will feel what the characters feel, and thoroughly enjoy the experience.

The dialogue was smooth and natural, but at times seemed a bit informal and modern for high fantasy. Since this book is primarily targeted at young adult females, I imagine that the choice of language was intentional by the author, so that her readers could better relate to the characters. There were a handful of times in the story that I found the use of modern colloquialisms somewhat distracting, because they jarred me out of the story setting. Of course, I probably picked up on it only because I am an adult. The YA readers targeted by this series are much less likely to notice such things. On the contrary, they may find the usage of modern language comforting and familiar.

I loved the book. Although I am a man – not a YA girl – it kept me engaged and turning pages the whole way through. My ultimate test of the quality of a YA book is whether I would recommend it to my teenage daughter. In the case of The Sapphire Flute, the answer to that question is a resounding “YES.” I can hardly wait for the second book in the series. Karen Hoover deserves congratulations for a wonderful debut.

Price: $19.95
Publisher: Valor Publishing Group, LLC (March 16, 2010)
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Binding: Hardbound
Pages: 370 Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1-935546-07-8
Karen’s blog: http://karen-hoover.blogspot.com

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Farworld: Land KeepIn this sequel to Scott Savage’s first Farworld book (Water Keep), Marcus and Kyja continue their quest in Farworld: Land Keep to recruit a member of each of the four elementals in order to save Farworld by opening a gateway to Earth.

There is no lack of action or suspense in this new installment of the series. Moreover, Savage effectively raises the stakes and delivers a suspenseful fantasy thriller sequel where the villains are more evil, the monsters are scarier and the magic is more spectacular. Despite the intensity, it is certainly appropriate for any children ages eight and above.

I particularly like the “jumps” by Marcus and Kyja back and forth from high fantasy Farworld to current-day Earth. It reminds me of all the times when the crew of the starship Enterprise travel back in time and visit our era on earth. It’s jarring, yet fun to see our favorite fantasy characters in familiar real world surroundings.

As Marianne Moore so insightfully expressed it, poetry (or fantasy for that matter) is either real frogs in imaginary gardens, or imaginary frogs in real gardens. What Savage has deftly done in this series is combined those two paradigms into the same story. The chapters that take place on Earth give us the imaginary frogs in real gardens, whilst the chapters on Farworld treat us to real frogs in satisfyingly imaginary gardens.

What more could a reader ask? I loved the book.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 374 pages
Publisher: Shadow Mountain (October 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1606411643

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