BOOK TWO: WAND OF THE WITCH (sequel to EYE OF THE WIZARD)
They say an evil witch lives in the forest. They say she turns children into toads and pigs. They say her army of monsters will soon march to war.
Only the bravest, strongest heroes can stop her. Unfortunately... only a few misfits are around.
A couple failed squires. A jinxed wizard. A banished spirit of the forest. A childlike demon and her teddy bear. They are outcasts, failures, oddballs. Can they actually defeat the witch, or will the kingdom fall to her dark magic?
I really enjoyed the first book, it simply offered everything that a fantasy book should. Strange yet fascinating creatures, main characters that are both funny and inspiring and the feel of a Dungeons & Dragons game. This sequel perfectly continues along that line. The plot is very enjoyable and I still really like that he shifts between the narration of different characters for the chapters. That means you can develop different story lines for the different characters and keep the reader in suspense about one character while telling them about another. It also means that within the same situation, you might get two different viewpoints, allowing the reader much more freedom in how he feels about the book.
Arenson succeeds in showing that what is on the outside doesn't reflect the truth. Not only does he prove this to us through Jamie's continuous battles against her height but also through the Spiderlings, whose almost fairy-like being is revealed as having much more depth. Madrila herself is a great example of Arenson exploring the role of the 'evil guy'. Yes, she is an evil witch who commits horrible crimes. But what makes a good antagonist is that there is more below the surface than one might expect. It is a sign of an good author when he chooses not to go for the ultimate, unexplained evil. It is too easy to decide things are black and white because that is not what it's like in real life.
Romy remains one of my favourite characters. She is full of innocent humor and in a fantasy novel it is good to have a character who gently mocks everything. It keeps the fun in it. I was ecstatic about her and Neev's trip to Hell. Not only is the imagery very unusual ina good way, it also forms a bit of a "breather" before we go into the final part of the book. There are many new creatures to be discovered in this novel, not all of them equally nice to our protagonists, but equally imaginative and fascinating!
I am really starting to appreciate the character of Jamie. As the only girl and the smallest person in the Thistle family she constantly feels she has to reaffirm her position. Although each of them has their doubts, I can relate especially well to Jamie. I always wanted to be a knight and in our society it has become much harder for girls to be interested in "manly" things. To have such a strong female character is refreshing.
I give this novel...
A truly enjoyable sequel to an entertaining first book. The book is filled with beautiful fantasy creatures and settings and the characters are given more space to develop. The only question is, how will he top this in the final book?