The Rise of the Wyrm Lord

Star summary: 

3.5- for imaginative settings, a slightly more complex plot than its precursor, not-bad writing, and great eternal perspective.

Aidan, recently returned from his voyage to The Realm, meets Antoinette, a fellow Believer. They realize that she is being drawn to The Realm this time, and Aidan passes on to her his concern for Robby, as he fears that his Glimpse is following Paragor. Antoinette is drawn into the Realm and becomes a Twelfth Knight just as Aidan did. (Antoinette is Gwenne's human twin) Soon she is off on her own mission defending Alleble. Several of Alleble's former allies are turning from them, citing unfair treatment at the hand of an Alleble emissary whom King Eliam never sent. Rumor has it that Paragor is also trying to awaken evils from ancient prophecies in his desire for power. Antoinette's team sets off through the Blackwood Forest to Yewland in order to try and re-establish their alliance while doing reconnaissance of Paragor's dealings. As Antoinette continues, she must choose whether to stick to the mission given her by King Eliam, or to embark on her own quest to find Robby's Glimpse, Kearn. Her choice to find Kearn, who is one of Paragor's most devoted and powerful Knights, leads her to be taken prisoner by the Enemy. As the book ends, she is imprisoned, Kearn is still loyal to Paragor, and Aelic (Aidan's Glimpse) is badly injured, trapped at the bottom of a pit in the Blackwood Forest.

Cautions? There is wartime violence portrayed; plenty of slaying and fighting, however it isn't gratuitous or unedifying. Rather, it represents the life-and-death nature of spiritual battles which most kids don't really think about. The allegory is transparent (annoyingly so, in my opinion, but that's me as an adult), and is flawed, as all allegories must be--see my review of Book 1 for more on this. However, this book is focused more on new events instead of Paragor's initial Betrayal, so that allegory isn't front-and-center.

Themes:- Obviously, the main theme is that of the unseen spiritual reality of which we are all a part, whether we know it or not. As Josh McDowell put it in his endorsement of the series, "there is more to life than what we see with our eyes." The battle cry of all Alleble warriors is "never alone!," emphasizing the ever-present, ever-hearing nature of our Savior. The centrality of faith in what we cannot now see, but can only read about. Our duty to obey God throughout our lives, no matter the cost; Antoinette wilfully disobeys her commander and suffers grave consequences. The Sovereign Love of God; even Antoinette's disobedience doesn't separate her from her King's care and love, and it is even used by Him.

Bottom line?The Christian life is not just one intellectual belief, but of day-to-day obedience. Our conduct reflects on our King. Choosing to disobey has dangerous consequences, yet even these are used by our Sovereign God in love for His children.

Talking points:
- Discuss similarities between the story of the Scrolls and the one in Scripture.
- What spiritual battles have you fought? What battles do you face every day?
- Throughout this story characters refer to children's tales becoming real (this is an echo of similar statements in The Lord of the Rings). How could children find true stories more believable than adults?
- Discuss Trenna's desire to follow King Eliam after Antoinette buys her freedom at great cost to herself: "You have set me free, Lady Antoinette! I deem that you did this in keeping with the precepts of your homeland. You follow the example of King Eliam, so I will follow him too. Just tell me how." (p. 260, chapter 34 "The Redemption of Trenna")
- How did Antoinette's buying of Trenna's freedom mirror King Eliam's sacrifice for his people, and Christ's purchase of His people by His own blood? (Revelation 5:9--"You [Christ] are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slain, and with Your blood You purchased men for God")
- What does this mean: "adventures are funny things.

Appropriate audience: middle school and up (5th-9th grade). Younger kids may not enjoy the fighting and training, and older readers may find it too transparent and simple. These aren't bad books; they aren't great, but there is definitely no reason NOT to let your son or daughter read them if they enjoy them! The allegory is quite helpful, especially if you discuss them.

Stars: 3.5
Characters & Setting- these were better than in the first book (though still not top-notch). The characters were a bit more developed, especially Aelic and Antoinette. As settings, the zip-lined road to the city of Kismet and the strange Blackwood forest were original and fresh. What kid hasn't dreamed of massive tree-houses joined by ziplines? One star.
Plot-- the plot is slightly more involved than the previous book's. Antoinette's training is far more realistic, and I liked the testing by Faethon. One star.
Writing-- apart from the opening poem (Adventures are funny things...) of the Scrolls, I didn't really think the writing was anything special. The characters' dialogue downright annoyed me at times; they'd switch between "thee" and "you," methinks and modern contractions, and never really sounded distinct from each other, even when from different countries. (I'm still a bit annoyed by the transparency of Lord Rucifel's name... switch the R & L, and what do you have? Where in the world could Batson have gotten THAT name?). However, there is variety and depth to the vocabulary used. Half a star.
Character-building/Eternal perspective One thing this book has going for it is its allegory. Good & bad are crystal-clear, and the spiritual truths are effectively portrayed. Full star.
No wow factor, unless you count the physical book's "feel." The covers and pages themselves are just really cool.

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