Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Book 3- Atlantis Lost and The Monster War

Barron, T.A. Atlantis Lost (Atlantis Saga #3)
November 8th 2016 by Philomel Books
Copy provided by the publisher

After Atlantis Rising and Atlantis in Peril, we find the denizens of the various worlds once again thrown into turmoil. Narkazan has been defeated, but has been held at bay by the Veil, which has recently been destroyed. Promi and his sister Jalady decide that they must retrieve the Starstone in order to keep it safe. It is currently being held by Atlanta, Promi's love. Newlyweds Shangri and Lorno, also fearing for Atlantis' future, contact Promi when Mistwraiths and other creatures threaten their home. They are joined by Graybeard, an entertainer who might prove to be useful... or deadly. When Narkazan and his monsters are on the loose, the Universal Bridge collapses, making it difficult for Promi to venture from the spirit realms to help out when Atlanta is injured. In the end, Promi must make a difficult choice. Can he save those he loves, Atlantis, or the world? If he can't save them all, how will he make the choice?

Barron's rich world building evokes classic high fantasy novels such as LeGuin's Earthsea Cycle or Anne Mccaffrey's The Dragonriders of Pern. Both Atlantis and the spirit world are lovingly described, and in between the fights with monsters there are plenty of leisure.y, Hobbit-esque moments with mint tea and honey and cozy hearthsides. 

There is never much doubt that Markazan and his minions must perish, or that Atlantis will come to an end, but keeping the fates of the characters up in the air adds a great deal of suspense. Promi and Atlanta's fragile romance is at risk, and Shangri and Lorno must decide how they are going to go forward. 

Some unexpected demises occur amidst the heated battles, but in the tradition of Tolkien and Lewis, there is plenty of action to keep the reader moving forward. This three book set is fine alone, or read in conjunction with Barron's other fine work.The covers are appealing, and I can see the set being a great gift for a voracious middle grade fantasy reader. 

Of course, I am NOT the target demographic for this one. I kept getting distracted thinking that Narkazan sounds like a drug you give someone who is overdosing on opiates, and thinking that none of the worlds felt Greek at all, in part due to the description of baked goods! 

Gratz, Alan. The Monster War (The League of Seven #3)
July 12th 2016 by Starscape
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Archie Dent is not up for an adventure right now, having found out his origins in The League of Seven and The Dragon Lantern. He'd just as soon curl up in a corner and never emerge, but Mr. Rivets isn't having it. The Mangleborn are rising again because people are using lektricity, and Philomena Moffett is using the power of the dragon lantern and must be stopped. Mr. Rivets gets Archie kidnapped on purpose so he can investigate the gang that is stealing homeless street children, and Archie meets the blind Gonzalo and his talking ray gun, Senor X. Feeling that Gonzalo is another member of the League, Archie hangs out with him, and the two manage to have a number of adventures, including finding the last member, before joining up with the others. Things are becoming very dire, and they know that Philomena must be defeated before she manages to turn the world over to the Mangleborn and the Manglespawn. 

Gratz states in his biography that he tried to include all of the elements that his younger self would have enjoyed, such as "tentacled monsters, brains in jars [and] windup robots". He does an excellent job of this, and also includes plenty of sound effects like "KerrrrrrrrWHOOM!" and "Boom. Ka-thoom. Raaaaawr. Yeaaaaaaa!" I don't know why more middle grade books don't include sound effects-- it adds a lot to the bashing of tentacled monsters. 

The addition of Gonzalo, who relies on Senor X to help him navigate the world, and the enigmatic Martine are good ones, and seeing the league at work in its entirety is interesting. While there were a few moments when I thought that they would dispatch Philomena and the book would be over, and I was disappointed that she managed to somehow disappear, this certainly added to the dramatic tension and made me cheer when she was finally neutralized. 

Archie's self doubt and reluctance to fight were an interesting twist, but given his origin, completely understandable. He adds depth to a novel that otherwise would have been a much simpler exercise in bashing monsters. 

Readers of Westerfeld's Behemouth, Ross' The Fog Diver and Oppel's Airborn will enjoy this alternative look at 1800's America with its Steampunk machines, multicultural characters, and plenty of sound effects.

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