Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Charlatan's Boy by Jonathan Rogers

After reading the Wilderking Trilogy by Rogers, I was so very happy to see that he was writing another book and more happy to discover it set in Corenwald! The story of Grady (aka Grado) is adventurous, laugh out loud funny, heartwarming, and yet a bit sad. Not knowing where he came from, what his last name is, or where his place in life is, Grady is searching for answers. But without anyone to tell him the truth, he doesn't get to far in that particular quest. For a long time he believed that he was an actual Feechie, so when Floyd- his "foster-father" of sorts- declares that Grady is a plain ugly boy whose own mother must not have wanted him, things fall apart for Grady. Since he has no where else to go, he stays with Floyd and they search for different ways to trick and "skin" the people of Corenwald seeing as how no one believes in Feechies anyway. From there, they proceed in many adventures and after a couple years, decided to start another Feechie scare, then they could get their show back on the road.

The Charlatan's Boy was full of very funny moments. A couple of my favorite chapters are "In which I ruin a feller's hair-do and nearabout get smashed for it," (if I'm remembering the title correctly), "In which I get mistaken for a panther" and "In which I tell the truth and hear it." As you can tell just from the names of these chapters, this tale is told in a fun accent that adds personality to the story and Grady.

There were not as many mentions of God in this book as there are in the Wilderking Trilogy- there are a few mentions of prayer and a "praying machine" (being sold by a trickster who even Floyd doesn't like) and it is not an allegory. However, full of adventures, laughs, betrayals, and truths, The Charlatan's Boy is a book not to missed.

Sword in the Stars by Wayne Thomas Batson

Sword in the Stars is the story of Alastair Coldhollow, a former assassin who desperately wants forgiveness for his past deeds. Years ago, a woman taught him about the First One (Myriad's representation of God) and forgives Alastair for what he did to her family. He killed her husband in a raid. Shaken by this woman's faith and devotion to the First One, even if it means forgiving her husband's murderer, Alastair begins to study and learn more about the First One. Eventually, he begins to suspect that he is the Caller- the one foretold to find and clear the way for the Halfainin (the restorer of peace and victory to Myriad's troubled land). But after spotting the Sword in the Stars, holding a tournament to find this champion warrior, and yet turning up empty handed... Alastair is deeply disappointed. He needed to find the Halfainin, if not for the people (and other races) of Myriad, then at least for his own forgiveness. I'm leaving out a TON of the story but this would end up a super long review if I went into all of it. There's much more including battle scenes, Queen Maren, the baby Alastair ends up with, and the Willowfolk.

As for the characters, Morlan and Cythraul are certainly the best villians Batson has ever created. I mean, Bartholomew Thorne was mean and all, but at least we felt a little sympathetic for him (with his first wife's death and all), and Paragor was messed up, but he wasn't in the story much until the ending of the Final Storm (and his plotting in The Door Within). Alastair is an extremely capable swordsmen on a quest for forgiveness. Abbagael is determined and compassionate- and her response to Alastair in a certain scene ("It's okay, Alastair"... "but you will.") made me laugh out loud.

The Shepherds are the closest things to wizards. And they aren't. Their abilities are gifts from the First One and have nothing to do with spells and potions. For example, Mosteryn the Old can bring up storms, and Sebastian (hope I spelt it right) can control plants. But not through chants and stuff. It's just what they do. Like a bird can fly, or a fish can swim. There's also more to the Shepherds, but just in case someone maybe wondering about 'magic' in this book. There's a little with the willowfolk- such as an enchantment in the area that throws off sense of direction and stuff. Morlan and Cythraul use a Vaskerstone table to see things in other places.

This book also had a few humorous mess-ups. In one scene, Alastair says that he knows about many paths that few in Allyra know anything about. I bet he does considering that Allyra is the wrong world. That one's from the Berinfell Prophecies. And (here comes a spoiler) two characters that are said to have died in battle are present at a certain wedding a few years later. These mistakes are sort of funny, but jolt the reader out of the story.

I was thrilled to see Aidan Errolson's name (from the Wilderking Trilogy by Jonathan Rogers) and a "quote" in here and La-Saide of Ot (from The White Lion Chronicles by Christopher Hopper) even throws a line or two in. Lebrettowit (from The Dragon Keeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul) as well. I thought that was pretty cool. I'm sure there were more little cameos but I probably just didn't know it.

I'd recommend it for ages 13+ because a couple scenes are a bit creepy and violent and Alastair's struggle Witchdrale (I guess an alcoholic sort of drink.)Anyway, Sword in the Stars will leave you eagerly awaiting the next book in the Dark Sea Annals- The Errant King (due out sometime in 2011).