SELECT * FROM uv_BookReviewRollup WHERE recordnum = 1220 The Book of the Sword, by A. J. Lake Book Review |

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The Book of the Sword, by A. J. Lake
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Published: 2008
Review Posted: 10/30/2008
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 8 out of 10

The Book of the Sword, by A. J. Lake

Book Review by Lyndon Perry

Have you read this book?

The Book of the Sword is the second book in Darkest Age, a new young adult fantasy series by A. J. Lake (published by Bloomsbury, the English publisher of the Harry Potter books). While I did not read the first novel, The Coming of Dragons, I had no trouble picking up the continued adventures of Edmund and Elspeth, our teenaged protagonists. And while Lake (a retired teacher) is no Rowling, she is a competent and engaging author who can tell a good tale.

I admit, I like YA fiction. I appreciate the lack of explicit sex, vulgarities, and excessive blood and gore. Call me a prude, but I think an author can pen a solid piece without resorting to such "adult" devices. In general, young adult fiction plays down these three areas. The challenge then becomes writing a compelling story that grabs the reader's interest and immerses her or him into an adventure that is big enough for both children and adults. And for the most part, Lake does just that.

For one, she knows how to jump into a story -- the prologue provides a quick overview and the opening scene is full of action and danger, probably picking up where the first book left off. And while this installment has its own story arc, it is definitely not a complete tale as the plot awaits resolution in book 3, The Circle of Stone. Still, this part of the trilogy was enjoyable and the 200 pages were quickly consumed thanks to Lake's solid pacing and narrative skills.

Another positive quality of Lake's is her imagination. While books about magic swords abound, Elspeth's special gift is that she can draw upon the power of an enchanted (and invisible) gauntlet and blade that is bound to her hand and forearm. The crystal sword was forged for the purpose of defeating the demon, Loki, who is close to breaking free of the ancient chains that bind him. The sword itself carries the spirit of Ioneth, who sacrificed her life for this very purpose. Together, Elspeth and Ioneth, along with Edmund and some loyal friends, follow a perilous journey into the icy and barren Snowlands for a final showdown with this demon-god.

Sounds exciting! And it is. One critique, however, is that the author tries to force the intensity with exclamation-peppered dialog. In a couple of places the conversation was simply over the top and thus distracting. Plus, some implausible rescues and fight scenarios (even by fantasy standards) threw me out of the story on more than one occasion. But overall, a fairly good addition to the YA fantasy genre. It's not at the top of my TBR pile, but if occasion allows, I'd at least pick up the last book in the series so I can finish a good story. I give it a 7 out of 10.
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