CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 17 . . . .April 13, 2007
Retribution. (Triskelia Book 2).
Toronto, ON: Penguin Canada, 2007.
302 pp., cloth, $25.00.
Grades 7-11 / Ages 12-16.
Review by Ann Ketcheson.
Reviewed from Uncorrected and Unpublished Proofs.
Seth was feeling more like himself now. It was all in the power he commanded over others. By taking what he needed and getting what he wanted he grew metaphoric inches until he felt taller than anyone and capable of just about anything. He needed to feel that way if he was going to meet the challenges he'd set for himself. And when he had to steal or cheat or lie he just reminded himself that it was for the greater good....
Before them a tiny cottage sat tucked away in the forest, a delicious plume of smoke promising warmth inside.
"Showtime," Seth said as they approached the door, the knives they'd acquired in their last mission out and at the ready. On cue, Amon flung open the door and they strode in as if they were coming home for tea after an easy afternoon ride.
The shocked family was halfway through supper: father, mother, sister, brother, and an infant in the mother's arms. Seth grabbed the boy in a chokehold and pressed his knife to his throat. He was maybe ten, maybe twelve. Perfect.
The mother screamed.
Once again, Carrie Mac thrusts her readers into a dark world of adventure, fantasy, murder and war in this second volume of the "Triskelia" trilogy (see The Droughtlanders, bk. 1). Along with other survivors, Eli and Sabine are fleeing to the relative safety of Cascadia after the Triskelian massacre which left thousands dead. Their brother, Seth, is trapped and near death when finally rescued from the rubble of the battle. Because many think he was responsible for the massacre, Seth is compelled to go into exile, and he eventually finds himself in the city of Triban. There, he pulls together a number of street boys to form an army, the Boys' Army of Triban. His ambition is to train this force well enough to fight a war against the Keys and ultimately end that regime.
In the course of the novel, Sabine becomes the new Triskelian leader whose job is to organize her people. Zenith tells her, "You have a passion to start the revolution. You will lead the Droughtlanders to their emancipation. You and your generation will be the ones to liberate us all. It will not be easy. This is war. There will be much bloodshed."
The third member of the trio, Eli, is filled with questions and searches for answers wherever he can. Unlike his siblings, he does not believe in war as a means to achieve his personal goals or the goals of his people.
And so the main characters continue from the first book in much the way the reader would expect: Seth is the 'bad boy' and 'hawk,' while Eli is his opposite, the peacemaker or the 'dove.' Although the circumstances have changed, Mac does an excellent job of carrying through the personality traits of the main characters from the first volume of the trilogy. The lesser characters are not as well delineated, however, and one feels that often they haven't as much individuality. One character could often be interchanged with another.
Despite being fantasy, the plot is well-constructed and flows along believable time lines. The themes of war, rebellion and retribution continue throughout the novel and are realistic themes of our own times, evident in most events covered by our modern media. Mac paints a world of constant struggle and brutality and very little humanity, but this, too, doesn't seem like much of a stretch from our international news headlines. The novel might be considered too sophisticated for some students at the recommended age/grade level since the topics of drug addiction, sexuality, abortion and violence are visited throughout the book, and Mac deals with them in a graphic style. We are thrown into the midst of a very dark world, and the author does nothing to soften the blow. All 300 pages seem unrelenting, with very little chance to simply relax and let the story flow in an enjoyable manner. Mac is too hard-hitting for that. There are times when readers might plead, "Just let me out!" but Mac does no such thing.
The three siblings are united at the end of the story and given potential roles for the next volume of the trilogy. But can they achieve their goals, or are their personalities and methods just too different from one another? Wisely, Mac will not answer this question until the third book appears!
Ann Ketcheson is a retired teacher-librarian and high school teacher of English and French. She lives in Ottawa, ON.
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