Magic and danger abound in the second book in a series of fanciful, action-packed adventure; (Publishers Weekly, starred review) from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fablehaven and Beyonders series.
Cole Randolph never meant to come to The Outskirts, but when his friends were kidnapped on Halloween he had to try and save them. Now he’s trapped in a world that lies between wakefulness and dreaming, reality and imagination, life and death.
Cole’s search for his friends has led him to Elloweer, another of the five kingdoms that make up The Outskirts. He’s accompanied by Mira, Twitch, and Jace, new friends he’s met here in the Outskirts who each have their own important missions.
The group is following news that Mira’s sister, Honor, could be in danger. However, Cole and Mira are soon the ones facing direct threat, and must resort to a fascinating new kind of magic to protect themselves. Their journey brings them across familiar faces, some more welcome than others, until their paths ultimately cross with the infamous man known throughout Elloweer as the Rogue Knight.
Will he turn out to be an unstoppable enemy, or a key ally?
Every move is filled with danger as Cole and his new friends try and outwit the High King, who will stop at nothing to regain what he has lost.
The second book in the Five Kingdoms quintet delivered action, intrigue and fun. It picks up where Sky Raider left off, and while its different to the first book, it’s is equally as good. It’s hard for series to stay strong from beginning to end, but I suspect that this one shall.
Unlike the shaping in Sambria which turns dreams into reality, magic in Elloweer creates illusions. Illusionists can attach seemings to anything and change it’s appearance – even living things. It is world where your eyes literally deceive you and there is much more to reality than meets the eye. Secret passageways can hide in any room, and an old man might really be a young boy. Illusionists also put on magic shows which I’d love to see. Plus the confidence lounges are darn awesome and a brilliant way of making the most of Ellowine magic. I love it when magic is incorporated into society. We are also introduced to a complex government system of champions, knights and aldermen.
Cole continues to struggle with the dilemma of whether to remain with Mira and aid her in her increasingly dangerous quest, or head off on his own to search for his friends. Jace continues to confront his emotions for Mira and his low self confidence while Twitch is on a mission to save his home town Elloweer’s corrupt legal system. They all show considerable amounts of growth and become much braver as they face increasingly dangerous situations.
The Rogue Knight is a major contributor to the mystery in the novel. His origins are unknown as are his motives. Is he friend or foe? A simple man or something more? All that’s clear is his considerable fighting ability and his sense of honor. Then there’s Morgassa – is she Honour’s equivalant of Mira’s Carnag? Also of note – Trillian the torivor whose intentions are even murkier. These three, including the central plots already established form the central core of the novel. There were tons of lovely twists along the way keeping you eternally on your toes. The final battle was intense and satisfying ending the novel on a strong note.
The only complaint I have – and this is with the series as a whole – is the age of the children. Cole and his friends are twelve. Twelve. Yes, they do act like twelve year olds. But what responsible adult would be placing them in the situations they are in? It didn’t bother me as much in the first book which could have been viewed as commenting on child slavery – but in this one it really did. It didn’t detract from the story in any way because it never occurs to you while reading. It’s only when you step back from the story that it strikes you as odd.
Yet another wonderful middle grade fantasy from Brandon Mull. Highly recommended!
P.S. In the Note to Readers at the end Mull writes that the final books in the Five Kingdoms series “will contains some of [his] best work”. Ahhh!!! So excited!!!