CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 3. . . . October 4, 2002
The Seeker is the second installment of Margaret Buffie's fantasy trilogy, "The Watcher's Quest." In the first book, The Watcher, Emma Sweeney finds herself in the middle of a conflict involving her sickly sister, Summer, and a cast of ruthless characters that morph into different identities and slide back and forth at will between worlds. By the end of the novel, Emma discovers that she and Summer also have alternate identities and that they are, in fact, from a world other than Earth. Furthermore, they are going back to that world.
Book II picks up the action in Argadnel where Summer has taken to her royal position as Suzarain Elen like a duck to water. Too young and inexperienced to rule on her own yet, she is surrounded by power-hungry individuals who are doing their utmost to influence her actions. But as long as Summer's Earth mother is in the picture, their control over the Suzarain is limited. As for Emma, she is immersed in Watcher Training, learning to master such feats as transmuting (becoming invisible), morphing to other identities, flying, telepathing, and transporting between worlds - of which there seem to be hundreds.
The first fifty pages of the novel are devoted to providing necessary background information from Book I, as well as establishing the current setting and introducing the new cast of characters. The plot finally gets underway when, in an effort to lift her mother from the melancholy state that is slowly killing her, Emma breaks the agreement she has with Fergus and returns to Earth to see her father. However, this isn't a particularly fruitful venture, since her father's memories have been wiped out, and like his wife, he seems to be fading away. To make matters worse, Fergus is ready to kill Emma for her actions. But when she beats him at Fidchell, honor forces him to reconsider, and he sends her on a dangerous quest to find and bring back the Sweeney's natural daughter. If she is successful, he will give her father back his memories and allow him to visit his family in Argadnel. If Emma fails, she will lose her life.
The quest is more or less a real life Fidchell game, and Emma's experience playing with Fergus serves her well. Her sidekicks in the adventure are Tom, a watcher who has been turned permanently into an owl as a punishment for his treachery against Fergus, and Cill of Barroch, a likeable collection of leaves and bark that Fergus has enslaved. As in most quests, Emma also enlists the aid of many others as she battles the obstacles in her way.
One of Emma's greatest obstacles, however, is herself. Stubborn, impulsive, and outspoken, she lands her little crew in jackpot after jackpot. Only Tom's cooler head and wisdom save the day. Eventually, of course, they find Ailla, the Sweeney's real daughter, and Fergus, though he isn't happy about it, keeps his end of the bargain - at least for the time being.
The Seeker is 368 jam-packed pages. The sheer number of unique characters and settings is overwhelming. Though a glossary and list of character and place names at the back of the book provide some assistance, illustrations would definitely be an asset. For maximum appreciation, this is a book that needs to be read more than once.
Kristin Butcher lives in Victoria, BC, and writes for children.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.