magic

Flyte

Septimus is trying to take his place as the youngest son of the Heap family, and the Apprentice to the intimidating Extra-Ordinary Wizard, Marcia (who is still wearing her purple python pointy shoes). Jenna is learning what it means to be the Princess. The Heap family has greatly changed; Silas & Sarah now live in the Castle along with Jenna, and are trying very hard to learn to manage the huge empty building, left bare and sad after 10 years occupation by the Custodian Army. Nicko is a Apprenticed to a boat-builder and lives by the Harbor. Sam, Jo-jo, Edd & Erik have decided to stay on in the Forest at "Camp Heap." Septimus lives in the Wizard Tower under Marcia's supervision. That leaves Simon... unfortunately he returns just as the book begins, bent on getting back at the twerpy younger brother who took (was offered) the Apprenticeship he'd long desired. He kidnaps Jenna, despite having grown up with her as his beloved little sister; to him she is now the one responsible for ruining his life and the cozy family life he once had. When none of the grown-ups believe that he would do such a thing, Septimus & Nicko set off to find her.

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Magyk

On a cold wintry day in the Castle, the Ordinary Wizard Silas Heap comes upon a newborn girl, lying (well wrapped but alone) in the snow. Quickly he takes the child under his robes and begins to hurry home to his wife Sarah and their seven sons-- the youngest of whom, Septimus, was born today. As he hurries to their warm tiny home in The Ramblings (a topsy-turvy extension complex of halls and rooms within the Castle walls), he is stopped by Marcia Overstrand, who today has become the ExtraOrdinary Wizard. "Tell no one you found her. She was born to you!" is her cryptic command, and she brushes by, leaving Silas dumbfounded. As he reaches home, he finds his wife sobbing and his six little boys too terrified to cry; Septimus has died! The tiny baby girl is immediately accepted into the family, in some ways filling the hole baby Septimus' death left in their hearts. They name her Jenna, after Sarah's mother.

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The Hobbit

A very ordinary hobbit finds himself in an utterly unlooked-for adventure, thanks to the meddling of Gandalf the Wizard. He never wanted to cross distant lands to get dwarven treasure back from a dragon! Or did he? Perhaps the Took side of the family was stronger in him than he knew? Regardless, he finds himself as the 14th member of an expedition to reclaim the gold rightfully belonging to Thorin Oakenshield- once King under the Lonely Mountain. Despite the lack of proper meals and lodgings, Bilbo begins to enjoy his adventure, despite encountering trolls, Beorn the wild bear-man, wood-elves, goblins, Wargs, a wretched Gollum creature, and one very greedy dragon (Smaug). Whatever would their company have done without Gandalf? They surely would have been eaten by trolls or goblins or both!

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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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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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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.

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