ABOUT THE BOOK
When thirteen-year-old Ronan Truelove's seemingly ordinary mom snatches him from school, then sets off on a high speed car chase, Ronan is shocked. His quiet, nerdy dad has been kidnapped? And the kidnappers are after him, too? His mom, he quickly learns, is anything but ordinary. In fact, she's a member of an ancient order of knights, the Blood Guard, a sword-wielding secret society sworn to protect the Pure—thirty-six noble souls whose safety is crucial if the world as we know it is to survive. Now all those after-school activities—gymnastics, judo, survival training—she made him take, make sense. For suddenly Ronan is swept up in a sometimes funny, sometimes scary, but always thrilling adventure—dashing from one danger to the next, using his wits to escape the Bend Sinister, a posse of evil doers with strange powers. Falling in with two unlikely companions, Greta, a scrappy, strong-willed girl he's never much liked and Jack, a devil-may-care teenage pickpocket, Ronan is left with only his wits and his mom's last words of advice: Trust no one. That's a lot for an ordinary kid to deal with. But then again, maybe Ronan's not ordinary at all.
Wow, what a ride. For young readers who like their books action packed, this book definitely fits the bill. While adult readers will need to suspend disbelief (men in suits waving swords on the freeway?), younger readers aren't as likely to have as big a problem with this. And once one moves past the unbelievable parts the reader is left with a book that moves at a breakneck pace from the time Ronan's mother picks him up at school and they go on the run from the evil scientist society, Bend Sinister, until the shocking conclusion, where Ronan has to make a difficult choice. I do like the fact that Ronan's continuous training helps explain some of his near escapes. The author does a decent job of setting up the premise of the series (the guard protects the 36 Pure souls from destruction) without slowing down the action. A nice fantasy read for middle grade readers who prefer action to character development.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Ronan Truelove barely survived his first encounter with his father and the Bend Sinister. Now, he’s determined to become one of the Blood Guard, a sword-wielding secret society sworn to protect thirty-six pure souls crucial to the world’s survival.
Eager to prove he’s got what it takes, Ronan is sent on his first mission with his friends Greta and Sammy to visit a weird-sounding school and take a series of tests called the Glass Gauntlet. Paper and pencils and nerdy scholarship—where’s the life-or-death challenge in that?
But the Glass Gauntlet is actually something much more dangerous: head-to-head competitions against ruthless opponents. Nothing and no one are what they seem. Who can he trust, and who will kill him? Ronan has to figure it out fast because his enemies are multiplying, and soon he will have to pass the ultimate test: facing his father again and standing up to those who threaten not only him and his friends but also the world.
Carter takes the reader on another rapidly moving adventure with Ronan and his friends. Ronan is anxious to become a Blood Guard but has a hard time doing it with the Bend Sinister still on his heels, his father is unwilling to let him go it seems. Between escaping his father's clutches and participating in a competition named the Glass Gauntlet, Ronan, Greta, Sammy, and Jack have their hands full. The story is full of adventure and action with more than enough interesting twists and turns. This series works especially well for readers who prefer action to character development. There isn't really time for much character development with Ronan and company always on the run. But then a lot of young readers are more interested in the action part anyway. A fun series for young fantasy lovers.
INTERVIEW with Carter Roy
*What is your favorite thing about writing fantasy for young readers?
It probably boils down to what some people call the "sense of wonder." Younger readers are just more willing to suspend disbelief. If you say Superman leaps into the air and flies, they will take it at face value, trusting that you will fill in the explanation for that flight later on in the story. Adult readers, on the other hand, get bogged down with the mechanics. How? they ask, and get thrown out of the story. Younger audiences read with a greater generosity of spirit.
*If you could be a character in The Blood Guard/Glass Gauntlet who would you want to be and why?
I most identify with Jack Dawkins, so I suppose he would be my pick if I had to choose one of the characters. I love that he maintains his good humor in the face of adversity, and that he is willing to die again and again for a cause he believes in. To paraphrase an old Morrissey song, he looks at danger and he laughs his head off. My kind of guy!
*What's the funniest thing a reader has ever said to you?
A reader wrote to ask where he should go to join the Blood Guard, and was there an age requirement. I admire the heck out of that kid—he's got guts and a good heart—but I was glad to be able to tell him that at the moment the Blood Guard are not taking on new inductees.
*What advice would you give a young reader who wants to be a writer?
A lot of teachers will tell you to write what you know. The problem with this advice is that it suggests that the only stories a person is qualified to write are the ones he or she has actually lived. But that's bunk. The true meaning is more that you should write stories that tap into emotions that you know—the emotional fabric of a story is what makes it matter to us as a reader. (That's one reason why J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings resonates so much—the hobbits and dwarves he wrote about were stand-ins for the fellows he knew who lost their lives in World War I. Their bond was a real one, just transferred into a fantastical world.)
So I would tell a young writer to write what you love. If you love fantasy stories, then by all means, write those sorts of stories. You'll have more fun doing it, and the reader will pick up on that. And also, of course, add those real emotions to the fantasy to make it feel more real. What would you feel? What do you fear? What is your wildest dream? Give those to your characters and see them come to life on the page—whether they are roaming through middle earth or the local middle school.
1 print set of The Blood Guard and The Glass Gauntlet
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