________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 6 . . . .November 12, 2004


Freewalker. (The Longlight Legacy Trilogy, 2).

Dennis Foon.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2004.
387 pp., pbk. & cl., $12.95 (pbk.), $19.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55037-884-8 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55037-885-6 (cl.).

Grades 7-12 / Ages 12-17.

Review by Sylvia Pantaleo.

***1/2 /4



This [Newlight] is Roan's first real home since Longlight was annihilated and he's continually reminded of his birthplace. Sometimes he mistakes the children's laughter for that of his old friends or imagines his father just under that tree, reading one of his books, or his mother carving a new door for the main hall. They would have loved this land. Once, Stowe would have thrived here.


A year has passed since Roan, Lumpy, Alandra, and the 14 children escaped from the Brothers. Guided by Roan's snow cricket, the group discovers a beautiful valley seemingly unharmed by the Abominations. With the assistance of four workers from the underground community of Oasis, the group establishes a community. However, one day the 14 children suddenly fall into a coma-like state. Roan believes that the children's condition is connected to their excursions to the Dreamfield with Alandra. She explains the reasons for these trips, but Roan does not completely trust Alandra as she is a Dirt Eater and he questions her allegiances.

     In order to save the children, Roan and Lumpy embark on a journey to find the mysterious boy that Roan has seen and spoken with in his visions. However, when the three actually meet, Roan and Lumpy discover that the boy is really a girl, Mabatan. With the help of Mabatan, Roan discovers his dream-form in the Dreamfield, as well as the whereabouts of the 14 children: they are iron statues holding a fissure together in the Dreamfield. Mabatan explains, "Those who eat Dirt fight to control this place. Their battle has made the rift. If it is not stopped, the rift will grow. The children will break and be lost. This place, you call it the field of dreams, it will be forsaken and we will change. This vast emptiness that lies beneath the children will overtake us" (p. 93). Thus, in order to rescue the children, the conflict over Dirt must end.

     Along their journey to the City to find Stowe, the trio is given shelter from the murderous clerics (City soldiers) by the Blood Drinkers, a group of people who live underground. Initially Roan despises and fears the Blood Drinkers or Hhroxi, but once he learns of the people's history and the truth about their attack on Fairview, he ashamedly admits that he killed some of the Blood Drinkers. Hhroxhi legend speaks of the Fourteen who will mend the world, and, although the Blood Drinkers understand that Roan was protecting the children at Fairview, Hhroxhi law states that blood demands blood. Roan's survival of the violent retributive act affirms to the Hhroxhi that he is indeed the guardian of the children. The trio leave the Hhroxhi and join a thespian group, led by Kaymor, the storyteller Roan met previously on his travels.

     Meanwhile, Stowe has become more and more powerful. The Masters of the City train her for deeds that will further their cause and needs, but Stowe, because of her ability to travel outside of her body, has eavesdropped on their conversations. Stowe schemes to depose of those who think they control her. She also learns that Raven, who she thought was her friend and protector, was one of the Brothers who slaughtered the people of Longlight. Stowe has become addicted to Dirt and seems to require more and more of the substance to make her journeys to the Dreamfield. Stowe learns how to transform herself into a diamond in the Dreamfield, and in her altered form she transgresses the wall constructed to keep out intruders. During her first venture through the wall and into enemy territory, Stowe believes that she has killed one of the Dirt Eaters, Ferrell the lizard. However, she later discovers that Ferrell has inhabited her body and mind and is spying on Darius and the other Masters of the City. One of Stowe's protectors, Willum, is very concerned about her well-being but Stowe is suspicious of those around her and questions Willum's trustworthiness. Stowe returns to the Dreamfield intent on capturing one of the Dirt Eaters but something goes amiss and during a confrontation, a Dirt Eater is killed.

     Stowe and Roan eventually meet in the City during a play, but Stowe, who is disgusted by what she has become, refuses to takes Roan's hand. She escapes into the crowd and finds refuge in a truck. On the truck's journey to its destination, Raven and some of his men become the escorts for the vehicle. Stowe travels to Fairview, but, in order to save herself, she must kill Raven and the Governor.

     Roan meets Willum on the night of the play and Stowe's disappearance. He learns that Willum is an ally, and Roan receives vital information from him. Roan and Lumpy use sets of wings developed by the Gunthers in the City, descendants of one of the four original groups who left the City years ago, and the pair set off on a journey to find Kira, Saint's former mate. The second volume in the Longlight Legacy ends with Stowe's drifting into a deep and dark sleep and with Roan's learning of his destiny to lead a great war against the City.

     In Freewalker, Foon tells the stories of Roan and Stowe in alternating chapters, except when their paths cross in the City. The book provides additional information about the historical events that have led to the current geographical and political positions of the survivors of the Last Battles. The novel has strong characterization, and tension and conflict within and between characters permeate the book. Although I did not find the pace as quick as in the first book in the series, Freewalker is an engaging read. Readers will appreciate the synopsis of The Dirt Eaters provided at the beginning of Freewalker.

Highly Recommended.

Sylvia Pantaleo teaches courses in language arts in the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria, Victoria, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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