Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

The Book of Three (The Chronicles of Prydain, #1)This book is the first in The Chronicles of Prydain series, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Actually, I could have just as easily given it a rating of five. Taran is assigned the job of assistant pig-keeper, but he dreams of learning to use a sword and fighting the Horned King. The pig is actually an oracle, so Taran panics when Hen Wen escapes from her pen. He follows her trail and eventually meets Prince Gwydion, but they're captured by Cauldron-Born. Taran escapes with the help of Eilonwy, a princess in the castle, and they set of to warn the leaders in Caer Dathyl that the Horned King has amassed an army to attack them. Along the way, Taran is joined by a bard, a creature named Gurgi, and a fairy folk named Doli. Eilonwy is also carrying the sword Dyrnwyn, which can only be used by someone with royal blood, and it may be the key to stopping the Horned King.

I enjoyed Taran's conflict between finding the oracle pig and warning Caer Dathyl about the Horned King. Both quests had great importance. I also liked the characters in the group and the way they interacted with each other. Taran was the serious leader, the bard tended to exaggerate the truth, Eilonwy kept questioning Taran's intelligence, Gurgi was an enthusiastic creature, and Doli was the grumpy old warrior. The plot had a nice blend of adventure, action, and humor.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Infinity Ring #2: Divide and Conquer by Carrie Ryan

Divide and Conquer (Infinity Ring #2)This book is the second in the series, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Dak, Sera, and Riq travel back to ancient Paris where the Vikings are about to attack the city. They see a Viking wearing an SQ insignia, so they assume they're supposed to stop the attack. However, Sera and Riq later decode a message and discover they have things wrong. Dak has mixed emotions between the excitement of seeing history unfold and not getting himself killed. There are battles between the Vikings and Franks, and a little face-off between a Hystorian and the Time Warden.

I wasn't gripped by the beginning of the book. I didn't have any background knowledge about the siege on Paris, so I wasn't real interested. However, the plot grabbed me more as it got into the conflict between characters, and the kids discovered their mistake. I liked Rollo's character along with his giant dog.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Skyship Academy: Crimson Rising by Nick James

Crimson Rising (Skyship Academy #2)This book is the sequel to Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Jesse and Cassius are brothers, but their parents are not from Earth. Green balls, pearls, have been falling to Earth for many years, and they are full of energy. They're being used to power cities and spaceships, but the first book in the series revealed that there are living things waiting to be released from within the pearls. Using the pearls for energy kills the life forms, but Jesse's special talent is to release them. In this book, Jesse finds a red pearl and discovers he cannot control it. He finds out that his former planet was going through a civil war, and the red pearl is an advance scout sent to prepare Earth for an invasion. This creature represents the invaders while the green pearls were sent here to help prepare a defense. Jesse and Cassius are caught in the middle of the conflict between the humans living above the planet, the humans living on the planet, and now the alien forces preparing to attack. They need help, but is there anyone, or anything, on Earth that can stop the destruction of our planet?

The beginning of the book seemed to rehash many of the events of the previous book. A new character, Theo, and the red pearl introduced new problems into the plot. The conflicts aren't really resolved in this plot, so you should be prepared to read the next book in the series. The narrator's voice in this book was a little unusual,. It switched between Cassius and Jesse's first-person points of view, and then it went to a third person point of view. I don't recall another book I've read that is told in this way. Can you?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

Cover image for SapphiqueThis book is the sequel to Incarceron, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Finn has escaped the living prison, but he discovers that the Outside is not the paradise he expected. He is supposed to be the heir to the throne, but the evil queen will do anything to stop him. Finn doesn't remember much about his past, so the queen creates an impostor to say he's the real heir. Claire, daughter of the prison's Warden and Finn's close friend, wants to end Protocol and make the realm more democratic. Finn just wants to get back to Incarceron to help his friends, Keira and Attia. In the meantime, they are trying to escape the prison, but it has become obsessed with seeing the Outside too. Everybody wants to get their hands on Sapphique's glove. Sapphique was rumored to be the first inmate to escape, and the glove is supposed to give the wearer power and knowledge. All of the characters and events in the book lead to a final climax at the Portal, a door between the two worlds.

I read Incarceron last year and forgot some of the events. I recommend you read both books back-to-back to get the full enjoyment. The prison is a living organism, so it takes some imagination to understand that concept. The Outside is just an illusion, and it's hard to remember that too. The setting mostly went back and forth between Incarceron and the Outside, but a third setting was added when Claire's mentor left the palace. I found it a little annoying when the book jumped between three plots. The character development was well done as Finn was torn between helping the Outside and saving his friends within the prison.