CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 15 . . . .March 21, 2008
Treason in Eswy. (The Warlocks of Talverdin, Book Two).
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2008.
176 pp., pbk., $9.95.
Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.
Review by Janet M. Johnson.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
Was this a long-laid plan, or panic? Had the princess wanted to flee? Her brother had written to Dugald that she was eager for the marriage, but who really knew? Dunmorra was a scary place these days, if you’d been brought up believing Nightwalkers were the monsters in every shadow, going to get you if you were a naughty little child."
Treason in Eswy, a sequel to Nightwalker, is part of the continuing history of a fictional island of Eswyland and the smaller kingdoms that form part of it: Talverdin, Dunmorra and Eswy. The setting is appropriate to a feudal society with all its hardships and with this exception - the two main antagonistic races are either mortal humans or the race of wizards from Talverdin commonly called Nightwalkers.
Being able to refer to a list of personae along with the very useful maps found in the preface would be beneficial to the average reader. Most fantasy readers are accustomed with the genre’s propensity to a large cast of characters in the fantastical setting such as this, but, with a year between the publication of the first book and the second, I think it would have been useful to me.
This second story tells the reader about the events leading to the unification of two kingdoms on the Island of Eswy and the continuing efforts of King Dugald and his half brother Maury to bring harmony to their world and peace between the world of the wizard and humans who share the island. In this episode, the reader is introduced to two main characters, Korby, a Fenlander witch, and the young Princess Eleanor of Eswy. Both of these characters will tell their stories from their own points of view, an approach which allow readers to get a very complete picture of the historical events that transpired during this time period, happenings which include exciting battles, rescuing a runaway princess plus various dangerous intrigues at court.
Johansen doesn’t bore the reader with facts and descriptions but tells the story with many scenes of strategic battles and narrow escapes. From beginning to the end, both Korby and the princess meet with many adventures. Readers are introduced to Korby when he is on a mission to spy on an enemy of Dugald’s court, and they learn that Korby’s special ability as a witch allows him to see visions of past events and look into the hearts of people. At the court in Ewsy, readers are introduced to the princess as she is playing her flute to take time out from a dreary court where her parents hate each other. Princess Eleanor’s special musical ability is important to her survival when she escapes her mother’s plans to marry her off to a much younger cousin instead of the match arranged by her father to King Dugald.
King Dugald has become a stronger, more definite ruler than the character met in the first book. Maury appears slightly older and more confident and still in love with Annot who wants to be married but cannot as the royal court of Talverdin would prefer that Maury marry another of his own race. Although this prejudice is not the focus of the novel, it is an interesting strand to connect the storylines between these two books. It also leaves a loose end to be resolved at another time. Although the political and romantic elements continue in this book, Johansen’s sense of humour continues in the same vein as initiated in Nightwalker and the plot as well as the fighting episodes are as exciting as ever.
Often the second book in a series is not as good as the first, but Treason in Eswy is every bit as good as Nightwalker.
Janet M. Johnson is a librarian and instructor at Red River College in Winnipeg, MB.
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