fantasy

The Lost Hero

Jason awakens on a bus in the middle of the Arizona Desert, surrounded by kids his own age and being bossed around by a coach. He has no idea who he is, nor who the people around him are. They are soon attacked by storm spirits, and Jason instinctively knows what they are and how to fight them. He and two other students- Piper, who says she's his girlfriend, and Leo, who says he's his best friend- are rescued by Annabeth & Butch (a new demigod), and are flown to Camp Half-Blood. By order of Zeus, Mt. Olympus has cut off communication with all mortals, including Camp Half-Blood. Something strange is definitely going on. Chiron realizes who Jason is and where he is from, but won't divulge anything. Soon all three friends are claimed by their godly parents, and they are sent off on a quest to save Hera from an unknown super-powerful enemy. All along, Jason is trying to discover who he is, where he's spent the past 12 years, and why each of them has been selected by Hera for this quest. The fulfillment of the second Great Prophecy is being revealed.

I truly savored this book, relishing the slow revealing of the parallel Roman aspects.

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Tatsinda

In a land of ice-white-haired, blue-eyed people, Tatsinda stands out, with her golden locks and deep brown eyes. She is a kind girl, an excellent weaver, and very perceptive. She wins the affections of the Wise Woman, Tanda-nan, who assures her adoptive mother that Tatsinda is beautiful in her own way. Her difference leads her to be captured by a giant from across the mountain, Johrgong the terrible Gadblang, come to their land by the counsel of a wicked snowy owl, Skoodoon. Tatsinda's kindness and industry had won her friends, among them the prince Tackatan. He and Tatsinda form a plan to defeat the giant and free her in the process. They marry, and in the course of time their people come to love many types of beauty.

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The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe

Four siblings- Peter, Susan, Edmund & Lucy- enter the fantastical world of Narnia through a magical wardrobe in the home of the Professor. Lucy, the youngest, enters first, and makes friends with a faun (Mr. Tumnus) under a solitary iron lamp-post in a snowy forest. She finds that Narnia is under the control of the White Witch, who has made it "always winter and never Christmas." Her brother Edmund secretly follows her through the wardrobe a few days later, meeting the White Witch herself, and falls under her spell through enchanted Turkish Delight. Finally, one fateful day, all four children hide in the wardrobe and find themselves in Narnia. Edmund's deceit is revealed, and in his anger he runs away to the White Witch. Meanwhile, the children take refuge with Mr. & Mrs. Beaver, who explain that the true King of Narnia is Aslan, the Great Lion, Son of the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea, and that his coming will end the White Witch's reign and her life. The children are to be a part of this, for so runs an ancient prophecy. Peter, Susan and Lucy reach Aslan, while Edmund finds himself imprisoned by the evil Witch in whom he had trusted. Aslan promises to help Edmund, and this he does, through one of the most beautiful Gospel analogies in all of literature. (read more!)

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Bottom line? This is an odd-numbered HP book, meaning it is intensely psychological. We are all up in Harry's angst, identity crises, and confusion. Alchemically speaking, this book represents the "black" (nigriedo) stage, which is all about breaking the character down to prepare it for purification from of all impurities to create a pure and beautiful Gold in the end. This book is full of Harry being stripped of every part of his identity, with everything that he holds dear being taken from him in some measure: his identity as a wizard, as a Quiddich-player, as a part of the Weasley family, as "just like his father," as an honest and sane person (the newspaper reports that he is attention-seeking and slightly deranged), future career goals, and even as a hero are all questioned.

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The Burning Bridge

The second book in the series follows hot on the heels of the first book, time-wise. While I still find the dialogue & humor a bit forced, and the movement of the plot to be less-than-smooth, the characters are engaging enough to make me want to read the next book. I am enjoying the relationship of Horace & Will progress from competitors who do not get along to trusted allies and best friends.

Students familiar with Roman history will delight to recognize the historical Horatius Cocles, who, along with two of his officers, defended a bridge against the Etruscans by destroying it behind himself. Horace, Will and Evanlyn, anyone?

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The Battle of the Labyrinth

Entertaining, especially would be great for students learning about the Greek myths. This book has an absolutely hilarious (and insightful!!) chapter in which Percy & his friends are interrogated by a thoroughly modernized Sphynx... yes, it is a wonderful satire on the standardized method of testing.

Cautions? As with this whole series, the parents of the protagonists are immoral; every child (except Athena's children) are conceived outside of wedlock, often as a result of broken promises, and are raised in broken homes. Makes for a nebulous moral backdrop. BUT this is an accurate representation of the old myths.

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The more I read, the more I see!! J.K. Rowling is the queen of narrative misdirection; I can see why she loved Emma (Jane Austen), which is a book ALL ABOUT thinking you know where the characters and plot is going, and being totally wrong. This book is amazing at that! For any who haven't read the sequel I won't spoil anything, but I will say that this book does a wonderful job making you lean one way, and then letting go so you fall over. :)

Bottom line? This book is chock-full of lessons on mercy and trust. But really, it's incomplete without Book 7!!

Cautions? The death at the book's end is in some ways unexpected, and it is very very sad. I cried. Some of the material is clearly for older readers-- the boy-girl relationships are quite full of "snogging" (kissing), though this is poked fun at and shown to be immature.

Series: 
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The Last Olympian

The Percy Jackson series wraps up without disappointment. The good guys win, and are rewarded, Percy chooses doing the right thing over immortality, and of course gets the right girl. I liked seeing the gods' personalities develop over the series, turning them from cardboard mythological characters to real people.

Cautions? As with this whole series, the parents of the protagonists are immoral; every child (except Athena's children) are conceived outside of wedlock, often as a result of broken promises, and are raised in broken homes. Makes for a nebulous moral backdrop. BUT this is an accurate representation of the old myths.

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North! Or Be Eaten

Ryan & I LOVE Andrew Peterson's music.

We also love children's books. Especially children's fantasy.

So when we found out that we could get both Andy P & Fantasy in one package, we were eager to try it out. Andrew Peterson has recently begun to try his hand at another form of word-art. Not only is he still writing songs; he's now also writing a children's fantasy/adventure series called The Wingfeather Saga. Ryan & I read Book 1 (On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness) aloud to each other in the first year of our marriage, and lent our copy out to as many folks as we could. Book 2 came out ON our second wedding anniversary (August 18th '09), so of course we planned to order and enjoy our own copy. Imagine our excitement when we got a chance to participate in the North! Or Be Eaten blogtour! Basically, we got our own free copy of the book, and then "have to" write up a blog post on it during this week. Oh, please don't throw me in the brier patch! =D (Although it does sort of feel like I'm back in school with book reports due, lol.)

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