Friday, December 9, 2011

Fantastic Friday: The Amarias Adventures by Amy Green

The Quest for the Scorpion's Jewel
written by Amy Green
Warner Press, 2011
ISBN:  978-1593174323
Interest Level: Grades 3-6
Reviewed from e-galley received from publisher through NetGalley.

BLURB:  The Amarias Adventures begin when 15-year-old Jesse befriends a band of young warriors and risks his life to find a cure for their poisoned leader, Parvel. Though Jesse has a crippled leg, he is asked to join the remaining warriors--part of an elite fighting force known as the Youth Guard--on their mission for the king. Facing danger at every turn, Jesse, Rae and Silas journey over treacherous mountains and across a scorching desert. To make matters worse, an unknown enemy seeks to end their quest before it has even begun. Where is Parvel's God when they need Him most? And with so little information to guide them, how will they ever complete their mission and find the Scorpion's Jewel? Will they even escape with their lives?

I found this book rather intriguing.  First, the setting is a land known as Amarias, which is divided up into districts each with its own governor and subculture.  The features of the land make Amarias very similar to earth, desert, mountains, forests, etc.  I also found it interesting that the main characters, Jesse, Rae, and Silas don't get along and Jesse joins the group over Rae and Silas's objections.  Part of the plot involves these characters learning how to work together despite many differences.  I appreciated how the strengths and weaknesses of the characters all played a role in the story.

One of the most interesting features of this story was the introduction of a villain that isn't completely evil.   Most fantasy's have a villain who is clearly and emphatically evil.  I found Demetri a character with plenty of strengths and weaknesses, but also a character worth redeeming.  I'll be interested to see if that happens.  He has unfortunately been coerced into doing the evil king's dirty work, eliminating Jesse, Rae, Silas, and Parvel.  If he doesn't his brother will be killed.  I did wonder however, if Demetri, who is supposed to be very clever and intelligent, really believed that Aleric and the king would keep their word to him.  Is he really that foolish? It didn't seem quite consistent with Demetri's character.

The writing was clear and crisp and doesn't slow down the fast moving plot.  The character development moves along fairly naturally.  The religious aspect seems a bit awkward and forced at times, but not enough to jolt the reader from the story.  Overall, I found the book enjoyable and exciting to read.  The rapid plot moves the story along quite well.  I also appreciated the fact that the book was not 300+ pages long. 

Escape from Riddler's Pass
written by Amy Green
Warner Press, 2011
ISBN:  978-1593174330
Interest Level: Grades 3-6
Reviewed from e-galley received from publisher through NetGalley.

Jesse and his friends have escaped execution, only to realize that Parvel, whom they left behind, is in danger.  They return to Jesse's village only to find that Parvel has been kidnapped by the Rebellion.  Silas finally reveals why he has such strong feelings against the Rebellion and they set out to find and rescue their friend.  But first they must find the Rebellion's hideout. 

Like the first book, The Quest for the Scorpion's Jewel, this one moves at a nice clip taking the reader across mountains and into caverns and pits.  I enjoyed this book as I did the first one.  This one does have a bigger emphasis on belief in God and morality, but it fits in fairly smoothly for the most part.  It doesn't feel like religion is being forced on the reader, but it is clear what the author's personal beliefs are, this may make some readers uncomfortable.  It didn't bother me however.  There is some character development here as Jesse, Rae, and Silas all continue to struggle with their own demons but the focus is on the action and movement of the story.  Once again the book is a nice length for those who can't or prefer not to read the huge fantasies that have become so common. Recommended for those who enjoy an interesting adventure with some religion mixed in.

I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

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