Book Reviews, Extended Reviews, Nonfiction Reviews, Religious Reviews, Spiritual Reviews

The Cloudy Corners of Creation by Mark Tate

Publisher: Outskirts Press.
Release Date: 2012
Image Source: link

Synopsis: Dr. Tate has written an introduction to the subject of the paranormal for seekers of all faiths, especially Christians. He has surveyed a large number of books, articles, websites, television, and radio programs in his presentation of the subject of the paranormal for those who might normally shy away from the subject. Included are chapters on UFOs, near death experiences, prophecy from non-Christian sources, and a host of other subjects. Anyone interested in the paranormal from a sympathetic but questioning perspective will enjoy this read. 

Review: When I heard of this book, I knew I had to request a review copy. The Cloudy Corners of Creation is right up my alley; a book that comprises an open-minded take on spirituality and a speculative look at the paranormal and occult. Mark Tate is a brilliant author and human. He is strong and resolute in his faith, yet still sympathetic towards those of differing beliefs. He realizes that ignorance is not the path to tread and takes steps to learn from non-Christian sources. One quote from his book on page 71 proves how open he really is and gives insight on a momentous yet true vision:

At this point in time, what is most needed in this world is understanding between different spiritualities and religions of the truth of who and what they are, what they practice, and what they believe.

This truth rings clear throughout his book as Tate tries to uncover or at least bring attention to the cloudy corners of God’s great creation. I can’t commend him enough for his bravery of walking where other Christians fear to tread. I hope his actions inspire others to blaze their own trails and realize dogma can be interpreted in more than one way. 

There was a tremendous amount of research put into this book, enough to satisfyingly back up the evidence Tate gives on the possible existence of the paranormal. The only criticism anyone could have is a lack of strong conclusion. Tate presents many questions in his book—with the support of strong evidence—but doesn’t wrap it up in a superbly satisfying way. I personally don’t consider this a failure. How else could one conclude a book on pseudoscience? Definite answers cannot be given. Instead, readers should look for insight that the author offers on spirituality and the fate of humanity. As he states on page 152:

…Perhaps God’s voice is quietly being whispered through many diverse places by diverse peoples to warn the world—You have used and abused the poor, the needy—men, women, children—all created in the image of God—for all of human history. You have raped and pillaged the earth—given by God to humanity to care for—for hundreds of years. You have acted as though the most evil things—murder, rape, neglect of parental duty, civilization’s laws, and your own consciences—taught by all religions—were approved by God or gods—you have made the end to be near—and it is…

If this message is to be taken literally, you will understand its foreboding nature. Humans have sinned nearly incessantly in all of recorded history. When Judgment Day arrives—if there is such a thing—our fate is sealed in a nice high quality envelope. Postage paid. Are we to pay for our misdeeds? Will God have mercy? Currently, faith is providing the only answer.

From reading The Cloudy Corners of Creation, I have learned much. I realize that we have to look at the unknown with both our eyes and our heart, and only then can understanding the truth become possible. I thank Mark Tate for this stunning realization.
All in all, as my first ever non-fiction review, things went pretty smoothly. The Cloudy Corners of Creation is an insightful read on the more speculative aspects of nature. Readers who are interested in the paranormal and occult with undoubtedly savor this. I look forward to a possible interview with the author which is always a plus. So until then, faithful readers, au revoir! 
Tate, Mark. (2012) The Cloudy Corners of Creation. United States: Outskirts Press
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Book Reviews, Fantasy Reviews, Normal Reviews

The Golem’s Eye (Bartimaeus Trilogy #2) by Jonathan Stroud

The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud

Publisher: Hyperion Books
Release Date: 2006
Image Source: link
Other Titles in Series: The Amulet of Samarkand (#1), Ptolemy’s Gate (#3), The Ring of Solomon (prequel)

Rating:
Characters- 20/20
Plot- 19/20
Writing- 19/20
Originality- 19/20
Recommendation- 20/20
Overall- 97/100 or A

Synopsis: At only fourteen, Nathaniel is a rising star: a young magician who is quickly climbing the ranks of the government. There is seemingly nothing he cannot handle, until he is asked to deal with the growing Resistance movement, which is disrupting London life with its thefts and raids. It’s no easy task: the ringleader Kitty and her friends remain elusive, and Nathaniel’s job — and perhaps his life — are soon at risk. As the pressure mounts, he is distracted by a new series of terrifying attacks in the capital. But is it the Resistance again, or something more dangerous still? To uncover the perpetrators, Nathaniel must take desperate measures: a journey to the enemy city of Prague and — worse — summoning once again the troublesome, enigmatic, and quick-witted djinni, Bartimaeus. Meanwhile, Kitty and her fellow rebels are planning their most daring exploit of all — one that will make their fortune and change the history of London forever.


A thrilling sequel to the best-selling Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem’s Eye is a roller-coaster ride of magic, adventure, and political skullduggery, in which the fates of Nathaniel, Bartimaeus, and Kitty explosively collide.

Review: The Golem’s Eye is a fantastic sequel to it’s predecessor; The Amulet of Samarkand. It could very well comprise the heart of the Bartimaeus Trilogy. The fast-paced turn of events invokes the childhood glee I used to experience during all my reading endeavors.  I enjoyed the return the protagonist—the sharp-tongued djinni that everyone should now be familiar with. Nathaniel was portrayed as slightly more aggressive than the previous novels, and his ambitions have anything but waned.

Since The Golem’s Eye takes place a couple years after the events in Amulet, readers should note how character relationships have changed, along with the positions those characters now hold. Indeed, Nathaniel’s increased aggression is probably the result of his rise to power in the government. He now holds commoners as beneath him—Although, hasn’t he always? I found Nathaniel’s antics hilarious as he continually proves his arrogance. His yearning for fame and recognition is pitying at times.

The character that truly struck me the most was probably Kitty Jones. She is both valiant and rebellious, but for the right reasons. Her truthful character is strong, a blockade of fortitude built by her past. She understands the nature of the commoner’s position, and the many flaws in the dominance of the magicians in society. Kitty stands for what she believes in, and values her partners as both friends and comrades. I have more sympathy for her, than Nathaniel.

Also, the character Bartimaeus is becoming increasingly mysterious. As readers become more familiar with his humor and personality, they are undoubtedly curious about the djinni’s past. Maybe we’ll get some insight on these mysteries in the next book, Ptolemy’s Gate.

Overall Grade: A
The Golem’s Eye is a superb sequel to The Amulet of Samarkand. It is the cleverly engineered, second installment of the Bartimaeus Trilogy. Anyone should should love this, I definitely did. Readers should try to understand the motives behind both Kitty and Nathaniel. Finding out what drives them will lead to a richer experience while reading. Also, the perplexing mysteries of Bartimaeus are as great as ever, but one step closer to being solved. I bid you adieu an invite you to check out this excellent series (if you haven’t already). 
Stroud, Jonathan. (2006) The Golem’s Eye. United States: Hyperion Books. 

Book Reviews, Fantasy Reviews, Normal Reviews

The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus Trilogy #1) by Jonathan Stroud

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

Publisher: Hyperion Books
Release Date: 2003
Image Source: link
Other Titles in Series: The Golem’s Eye (#2), Ptolemy’s Gate (#3), The Ring of Solomon (Prequel)

Rating:
Characters- 20/20
Plot- 19/20
Writing- 20/20
Originality-19/20
Recommendation- 19/20
Overall- 97/100 or A

Synopsis: Nathaniel is eleven years old and a magician’s apprentice, learning the traditional arts of magic. All is well until he has a life-changing encounter with Simon Lovelace, a magician of unrivaled ruthlessness and ambition. When Lovelace brutally humiliates Nathaniel in public, Nathaniel decides to speed up his education, teaching himself spells way beyond his years. With revenge on his mind, he masters one of the toughest spells of all and summons Bartimaeus, a five-thousand-year-old djinni, to assist him. But summoning Bartimaeus and controlling him are two different things entirely, and when Nathaniel sends the djinni out to steal Lovelace’s greatest treasure, the Amulet of Samarkand, he finds himself caught up in a whirlwind of magical espionage, murder, and rebellion.

Review: The Amulet of Samarkand is a quick, witty, and fast-paced fantasy. It is the first of the Bartimaeus trilogy, and in my opinion quite an eye-opener. I enjoyed this novel greatly, the wide palette of characters was quite striking. I particular enjoyed the thoughts of the lead character, a sarcastic and often narcissistic djinni. They were cleverly expressed in footnotes, which added to the character’s. . . finesse I should say.

Jonathan Stroud has created a very interesting fantasy world. In fact, I would classify it as an alternative history. Taking place in London, the seat of the modern-day British Empire, the plot revolves around Nathaniel, a preteen magician. London is riddled with such magicians, who comprise the ruling class of society. They control every aspect of the government, and summon powerful spiritual entities to keep citizens in check. Nathaniel is apprenticed to a fairly low-ranking magician, who he often holds in contempt. His ambitions surpass anything his master has achieved.

A pretty good book in general, The Amulet of Samarkand is sure to give anyone a laugh. I myself enjoyed it greatly. There is much to uncover about the mysterious Bartimaeus, which I’m sure readers will do in later novels. I believe, after I’ve reviewed the entire series, I might send Stroud an email requesting an interview. I hadn’t planned on requesting authors directly, but I’m very eager to have a conversation with this one.

Overall Grade: A
The Amulet of Samarkand is a good book for those who like sarcasm and often narcissistic characters. A fairly fast read, it’s sure to appeal to most people and give anyone a chuckle. Bartimaeus is a particular interesting character, one I believe will develop over the course of the series. Jonathan Stroud is a great writer, and I hope he will continue being so into the future.

Stroud, Jonathan. (2003) The Amulet of Samarkand. United States: Hyperion Books.    
Book Reviews, Extended Reviews, Fantasy Reviews, Top Rated Books (100/100 points)

Inheritance (Inheritance Cycle #4) by Christopher Paolini

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Release Date: 2011
Image Source: link
Other Titles in Series: Eragon (#1), Eldest (#2), Brisingr (#3)

Rating:
Characters- 20/20
Plot- 20/20
Writing- 20/20
Originality- 20/20
Recommendation- 20/20
Overall- 100/100 or A+

Synopsis: It began with Eragon. . . . It ends with Inheritance.
Not so very long ago, Eragon—Shadeslayer, Dragon Rider—was nothing more than a poor farm boy, and his dragon, Saphira, only a blue stone in the forest. Now, the fate of an entire civilization rests on their shoulders.

Long months of training and battle have brought victories and hope, but they have also brought heartbreaking loss. And still, the real battle lies ahead: they must confront Galbatorix. When they do, they will have to be strong enough to defeat him. And if they cannot, no one can. There will be no second chance.

The Rider and his dragon have come farther than anyone dared to imagine. But can they topple the evil king and restore justice to Alagaesia? And if so, at what cost?

This is the spellbinding conclusion to Christopher Paolini’s worldwide bestselling Inheritance cycle.


Review: Reading the Inheritance Cycle has been a journey like no other. Truly a phenomenal and capturing series, it has forever established a spot in my heart. I will never lose the memories of thoughts I garnered from my first time reading it. Inheritance, the final chapter of the series, was a bittersweet conclusion. Truly one of the best books I’ve ever read, the ending saddened me. I was terribly reluctant to finish it. I feel as if a dear friend has been lost. . .

Despite my evident nostalgia, the tremendous positive feelings I experienced during this recent read evaporate any melancholy that could be lingering. Inheritance brought about the excitement and stay-up-late-to-read nights that any reader worships and yearns for. Indeed, you may be wondering why I rated this book so perfectly. The same happened with Brisingr—my honest reviewing skills have fallen short. I could not and will not find anything wrong with this novel. I love it so.

One of the main things that really struck me about Inheritance was Eragon and Saphira’s round-world revelation. When the trio (Glaedr included) was traveling to Vroengard, the home of the ancient riders, they ran into a storm of colossal proportions. A description from page 471:

“Since dawn, the clouds had only increased in size, and up close, they were even more intimidating. Near the bottom, they were dark and purplish, with curtains of driving rain connecting the storm with the sea like a gauzy umbilical cord. Higher up, the clouds were the color of tarnished silver, while the very tops were a pure, blinding white and appeared as solid as the flanks of Tronjheim. To the north, over the center of the storm, the clouds had formed a gigantic flat-topped anvil that loomed over all else, as if the gods themselves intended to forge some strange and terrible instrument.”

The storm continues to give Saphira problems. The wind continually tries to push her off course, while the rain is blinding and threatens to completely diminish what remains of visibility. Forced to rise above the storm, Eragon uses energy from Glaedr’s eldunari to enact a self-preserving spell—one that preserves body heat and provides a stable atmosphere to breathe.

As they rise to a seemingly impossible elevation, the clouds thin and stars begin to appear. Eragon is enamored by the sheer beauty and colors of the twinkling lights. But even more amazing, as he finally lowers his gaze to the horizon, Eragon notices something unusual. Instead of the sky and sea meeting in a straight line—as they should—the juncture between them curved, like the edge of a huge circle.

“‘The world is round,’ he whispered. ‘The sky is hollow and the world is round.'”

This revelation was momentous, a true milestone in the character development of both Eragon and Saphira. Such illumination can only result in a drastic change of mind-frame. Throughout the remainder of the novel, readers should note the effects this had on the actions and thoughts of both, especially in the effort of finding their true names.

The paths of both Saphira and Eragon to finding their true names was another momentous event in Inheritance. Much introspection was put into the effort as they both struggled to uncover their aspects, even flaws. It was a joyous event when Saphira finally found hers, yet dampened by Eragon’s slight jealousy. Out of frustration from lack of insight, he decides to go for a walk.

Eragon is away for the remainder of the night. After clearing a rubble strewn courtyard in the ruins of Doru Araeba (the fallen city of the riders) he perches atop a stone pillar, simply ruminating. His ruminations lead him on an inner journey of self-reflection.

“Then, as the first rays of dawn brightened the eastern sky over the ancient island of Vroengard, where the Riders and dragons had once lived, he thought of a name—a name such as he had not thought of before—and as he did, a sense of certainty came over him.”

“. . . And then he gasped, and he found himself both laughing and crying—laughing that he had succeeded and for the sheer joy of comprehension; crying because all his failings, all the mistakes he had made, were now obvious to him, and he no longer had any delusions to comfort himself with.”

“‘I am not who I was,’ he whispered, gripping the edges of the column, ‘but I know who I am.'”

This is the ultimate personal enlightenment; finding who you truly are. All of your flaws, your mistakes, become evident when you truly realize your identity. After reading this, I wondered if it could happen in real life, an illumination of the highest. It is true that anything is possible.

All in all, reading Inheritance was a profound spiritual experience. Just as Eragon endeavored to find his true name, I delved into a deep state of introspection, finding comparisons in my own life to Eragon’s revelations. I gained much from this novel, probably the most I’ve ever received from fantasy. Realizations into the true nature of freedom, justified leadership, and fear were only a few. The greatest and most profound would have to be a new outlook of self. I understand now, that we are always changing. Our identity does not remain fixed. Actions and decisions of the past determine who we are now. To me, this is sacred knowledge. Who we want to be in the future can only arise by working on our actions now, at this very moment.

Overall Grade: A+ 
A truly remarkable conclusion to Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, Inheritance proves to a be more than any reader bargained for. Not that it’s a bad thing. A thrilling, heart-grasping, and rich fantasy, Inheritance combines a fight for freedom and marvelous revelations of the self. Readers will enjoy the immense character development that took place in Eragon and his comrades. Indeed, finishing this series, understanding that it is finally over, may be a more than sad event for many.

     

Paolini, Christopher. (2011) Inheritance. United States: Alfred A. Knopf.
Book Reviews, Fantasy Reviews, Normal Reviews

Stargazer (Land of Elyon #4) by Patrick Carman

Stargazer by Patrick Carman

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: 2008
Synopsis Source: 
http://www.patrickcarman.com/enter/elyon/

Rating:
Characters- 20/20
Plot- 20/20
Writing- 19/20
Originality- 20/20
Recommendation- 19/20
Overall- 98/100 or A+

Synopsis: When we last saw Alexa Daley, she had defeated a threat in homeland and was sailing with Roland Warvold across the lonely sea. She had no idea what adventures awaited her until now. After a tragic attack by an evil force, Alexa and her friend Yipes are stranded in a strange community known as The Five Stone Pillars. Each pillar of rock has its own secrets and its own challenges. As darkness descends, Alexa must risk everything to defeat it, even if it means taking to the skies.

My Thoughts: Stargazer is the fourth and final installment of the Land of Elyon series. It concludes the story of Alexa Daley as she struggles to triumph over the forces of evil while finding her true destiny. There are particular reasons why this novel should be commended as an excellent read. It combines unique and strong characters with an intriguing plot. Patrick Carman incorporated a bit of his soul in this novel, as all good authors do. For long-time fans of the series, Stargazer is no disappointment.

The book starts out with Alexa, Roland, and Yipes traveling upon the Warwick Beacon. The majestic ship is traversing the Lonely Sea, on its way to a land other than Elyon. Alexa greatly anticipates what Roland has to show her. The prospect of a new adventure is one she hungers for the most. I can relate to this in the way that I hunger for a good book. Every story is its own adventure. Fantasy can truly bend reality in a way that only readers understand.

When the trio arrives at The Five Stone Pillars, disaster strikes. The Sea Monster, Abaddon, who escaped from his pit of a lair in Elyon, had secretly followed the ship across the sea. Sporting a massive body and tentacles that can electrocute, Abaddon is looking for a new place to call home. And Alexa, Yipes, and Roland led him to the perfect place. In a rage, the sea monster destroys the Warwick Beacon, although an even greater tragedy is soon to come.

Hope seems nearly lost as Alexa clutches the top mast of the sinking ship. She believes her time is up and grief, but not for herself, overwhelms her. Just as her feet near the water below, a figure swoops out of the sky upon a swinging vine and saves her from an almost certain watery doom. Now upon the Five Stone Pillars, Alexa must fight to save the people she has befriended. She must convince them to trust her, and take her word that their home must be abandoned. Making new friends and adventures is only part of Alexa’s life on the pillars. Her destiny calls to her from the sky.

A fantastic and beautiful storyteller, Patrick Carman weaves a tale of imagination and destiny. Stargazer promises much excitement and even more colorful characters than the previous novels. A unique way of writing dominates Carman’s talents: the ability to instill a positive and spiritual outlook on life. This shines most brightly out of Alexa:

“My strength was returning as we went on. It occurred to me than that it was in times of struggle that I found the best parts of myself — courage, loyalty, and an unexpected peace — and I always discovered what I needed to break through and go on.” 

Overall Grade: A+ 
 Stargazer is the fourth an final installment of The Land of Elyon series. It represents the best of Patrick Carman and what the essence of faith and destiny is all about. Readers should look forward to much excitement and beautifully crafted characters. 
Carman, Patrick. (2008) Stargazer. United States: Scholastic Press
Allegory Reviews, Book Reviews, Fantasy Reviews, Normal Reviews

Into the Mist (Land of Elyon) by Patrick Carman

Into the Mist by Patrick Carman

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: 2007
Synopsis Source: Back of the book

Rating:
Characters- 20/20
Plot- 20/20
Writing- 20/20
Originality- 19/20
Recommendation- 20/20
Overall- 99/100 or A+

Synopsis- Before the walls went up. . . before the battle between Abaddon and Elyon. . . before Alexa Daley was born. . . there were two young brothers, Thomaas and Roland Warvold, whose pasts were as mysterious as their futures. Raised in a horrible orphanage and forced to escape into a strange, unknown world, Thomas and Roland found adventure wherever they turned–and danger wherever they looked. Their story is one of magic, exploration, fellowship, and secrets–all of which need to be revealed as the chronicles of Elyon unfold.

Review: Into the Mist is a fantastic inclusion to the Land of Elyon series. It brings veteran readers a much needed understanding of the plot and new readers an excellent introduction. I would label this installment a semi-prequel, as the book starts out directly after the events of The Tenth City, but the majority of the story is of Roland’s past as he tells his tale to Alexa. There are many interruptions in his tale (mainly by Yipes) and the story is brought back to the present-day events on the Warwick Beacon.

Into the Mist is a beautiful adventure of two brothers as they traverse a magical wilderness and make new friends. The magic of fantasy is evident in this book, along with the many qualities that contribute to a truly phenomenal story. It could very well be one of my favorite fiction novels of all time.

The story starts out with ten-year-old Roland and his eleven-year-old brother Thomas. Neither remember their parents, and they only have each other for family. Their earliest memories are of an orphanage, but their mischief and pranks eventually get them transferred to The House on the Hill. This cruel and horrible place is run by an even fouler woman by the name of Madame Vickers. The House on the Hill is run down and perched upon a town’s worth of garbage. Madame Vickers and her terrible son capture any unwanted orphans and force them to dig through the stinking, rotting garbage to find anything worth selling. The orphans are fed meagerly, and their sleeping quarters are located in the dark basement below the house. Roland and Thomas are in a nightmarishly grim situation.

One day, amid the rubble, Thomas and Roland find an old saddlebag that contains a strange piece of paper. The paper is inscribed with the words “Western Kingdom” and “Wakefield House”, plus an interesting symbol that matches a design on the brothers’ knees, a birthmark that resembles a tattoo. This is a calling for the boys to discover their true destiny. Out of curiosity (and maybe something greater) Thomas and Roland flee The House on the Hill to discover what the strange symbol means.

There are many reasons why I particularly favor this installment of the Land of Elyon series, but one is more prominent than all the others. During the story, Thomas and Roland are seemingly guided by curiosity throughout their adventures. One eventually learns that the godly force of Elyon has been the main influence on the lives of the brothers. He has been the drive that caused the boys to discover their destiny. Readers learn that Elyon has a plan for everybody and everything. Some people (Thomas and Roland for example) play a greater part than others in the grand scheme of things, but everybody has a part.

Into the Mist is both a fantastic prequel and continuation of the Land of Elyon series. This amazing fantasy is aided by its beautiful morals in creating a superb novel. After reading it, fans of the series should feel immensely satisfied and curiously thoughtful. It’s definitely a book that turns your attention to the more magical and philosophical aspects of life.

Overall Grade: A+
A beautiful continuation of the series awaits readers. A new outlook of the land of Elyon should arise after understanding the past of Thomas and Roland Warvold.  I highly recommend this book to those who like a good combination of adventure and morality. 

Carman, Patrick. (2007) Into the Mist. United States: Scholastic Press.
Allegory Reviews, Book Reviews, Fantasy Reviews, Normal Reviews

The Tenth City (Land of Elyon #3) by Patrick Carman

The Tenth City by Patrick Carman

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: 2006
Synopsis Source: Amazon

Rating:
Characters- 19/20
Plot- 19/20
Originality- 19/20
Writing- 20/20
Recommendation- 20/20
Overall- 97/100 or A

Synopsis: This is it; the final battle. On one side is the evil Victor Grindall and his horrific leader, the imprisoned Abaddon. On the other side is a girl named Alexa, who holds the fate of Elyon in her hands. If good is to win, Alexa must find a way to overcome the Lonely Sea, rescue her friend Yipes, and unlock the mystery of the Tenth City. Along the way, she will be attacked from above, betrayed by someone close, and guided toward a final gambit where everything will be put at stake – and great secrets will be revealed. This is the moment for Alexa to become a true hero…and to discover her real fate.

Review: The third and final installment of the core Elyon trilogy offers a very satisfying continuation to the series. Perhaps the best yet, book 3 reveals many mystical truths about the Land of Elyon. Alexa’s destiny begins to unfold as she fights to rid the world of Abaddon, the source of all evil. She isn’t alone is this pursuit, although. With the help of of her friends aboard the ship, Warwick Beacon, the forces of good may triumph.

The Land of Elyon series is comprised of a core trilogy, a semi-prequel, and the concluding novel. The first three books detail Alexa’s adventures in the Land of Elyon, as she struggles to fight evil. The semi prequel (Into the Mist) takes place directly after the events in The Tenth City, but most of the story is taken up by Roland’s tale of his childhood. The final novel (Stargazer) is of Alexa’s adventure at the Five Stone Pillars where she discovers her true destiny.

Once again, Patrick Carman weaves his faith into his writing. The descriptions of the Tenth City being akin to heaven is the final confirmation of the Elyon-as-God analogy. It is the place where those who have left the realm of the living go to have new and better adventures in Elyon’s own city. Often, Alexa mentions returning to the Tenth City when her own adventures are complete. This gives the entire story an epic feeling.

Unlike the previous installment, Alexa’s character is much stronger. It undergoes a great deal of growth and development and she ends the book both wiser and sadder than she began it. She realizes and understands the power of Elyon as the greatest force of good in the world, and her destiny to be his agent. Alexa learns that the beauty of the Tenth City will be waiting for her. Most surprising, though, is the final revelation about Alexa’s true lineage. She finally learns where her love for adventure comes from. I don’t want to give away any big spoilers, so you will have to read it for yourself!

The third installment of the Land of Elyon series could very well be the best yet. I enjoyed this adventure immensely and will cherish the spiritual impact it’s allegories have had on me. Patrick Carman managed to create a tale that is infused with moral themes such as power, lust, and friendship. Contemporary issues such as respect for the environment also arise in the plot. His characters are very original, diverse, and definitely believable. They have both good and bad qualities. All in all, this a great book which I encourage anyone to read. Although, for the necessary flow of events, I recommend reading the series from the beginning.

Overall Grade: A
A fantastic adventure and diverse characters await readers. Moral allegories such as God and Heaven are infused throughout the writing. It is recommended that the series be read from the beginning.

Carman, Patrick. (2006) The Tenth City. United States: Scholastic Press.