Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

August is "Up to Date"
The titles for August represent a few different things: my new job at a library, the end of summer classes, and the desire to be 'up-to-date' on my favorite series. I obviously have a fantasy leaning, but then again, fantasy easily lends itself to series. The selections are more varied in their reading level. Artemis and Charlie Bone are written for a middle school/early teen reader, while Inkdeath (at nearly 700 pgs) and Brisingr (at nearly 800 pgs) are for teens or seriously devoted readers.

**WARNING: these contains spoilers for those new to the series, so be forewarned of that.**

The Inheritance series began as the novel of an 18 year old, was self-published by his parents, and then picked up by a major publisher, only to become a NY Times Bestseller. What a cool story. An even cooler story? Eragon and Saphira's discovery of each other--Rider and Dragon, the only ones not under the King's control--and their quest to overthrow King Galbatorix with the help of the Varden, the elves, the dwarfs, and even Urgals! Written in the classic fantasy style of Tolkien, Paolini captures the adventure, the emotion, and the magic of a boy and his dragon.

Brisingr (as any following this series know) is the ancient word for fire. Eragon has met and faced many trials before this book begins. He has lost many people who were dear to him, and has been transformed into a half-human/half-elf. With his increased abilities, and the teachings of his elf master Oromis, he walks a dangerous and frequently difficult path, trying to act in the best interest of all of Alagaesia. His cousin Roran has joined up with the Varden, and together they are learning that strategy is often more important than ability.

Politics factor heavily into this book, as Eragon learns an adult lesson. He must deal with the promises he made to so many people and groups, many with differing opinions on what he should do. Nasuada has taken over the Varden, and must deal with her own issues of loyalty and leadership. His ultimate fealty to the Varden is sometimes at odds with his devotion to the elves, and his brotherhood with the dwarfs. He frequently feels the need to be in three places at once, and learns the peril of trying to prioritize other people's lives. While he prepares to again face his brother Murtagh, and his new dragon, Thorn, he must also increase his spell casting abilities. Since Murtagh stole Zar'roc, he is also in search of a new weapon that will be worthy.

Galbatorix has new, horrifying tricks of magic up his sleeve, not for the faint of heart. Oromis has the key to the secret of his parentage. Running out of time before a key battle, Eragon must visit once more with the elves in the hopes of learning the secret to Galbatorix's vast supply of magic, and perhaps the answer to his defeat. Will he make it?

"He smiled. You're right, though. I should have discussed my plan with you. I'm sorry. From now on, I promise I will consult with you before I do anything you don't expect. Is that acceptable?
Only if it involves weapons, magic, kings, or family members, she said.
Or flowers.
Or flowers, she agreed. I don't need to know if you decide to eat some bread and cheese in the middle of the night," (Paolini pg. 220, 2008).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
The Fellowship of the Ring (LOTR series) by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lost Years of Merlin by T.A. Barron

Paolini, Christopher. (2008). Brisingr. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, NY.

Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

The Inkheart trilogy captured me from the first page. The writing is superb, the story is fascinating. The intertwining of reality and a world brought to life through reading is the dream of every reader. But for Mo and Meggie, it is far from ideal. Characters from the story come to life, while people from their world disappear into the book, most notably Resa, Meggie's mother.

In the concluding book Inkdeath, we begin in Ombra. The character of the Bluejay has begun to resemble Mo more and more. Finally reunited with Resa, Meggie and her mother begin to form a bond. The Black Prince and the strolling players mourn the loss of Dustfinger, but strive to find a way to keep the people from being persecuted. Mo knows that eventually he will have to find a way to kill the Adderhead.

Orpheus, meanwhile, is busy making himself rich by reading into existence all sorts of mythical creatures-even for the Inkworld! Fenolio is frustrated, unable to write, and watches helplessly as more and more tragedies befall his two favorite characters (the Black Prince and the Bluejay). Farid spends more and more of his time with Orpheus in the hopes that he will bring Dustfinger back from the dead. Everyone believes his hope is ill founded.

The Piper crosses a line when he kidnaps many of the village's children, and demands the Bluejay surrender himself or he will send the children to work in the silver mines. Faced with no alternative, and the safety of the children at stake, what will Mo do?
"Blue as the evening sky, blue as cranesbill flowers, blue as the lips of drowned men and the heart of a blaze burning with too hot a flame. Yes, sometimes it was hot in this world, too. Hot and cold, light and dark, terrible and beautiful, it was everything all at once. It wasn't true that you felt nothing in the land of Death. You felt and heard and smelled and saw, but your heart remained strangely calm, as if it were resting before the dance began again.

Peace. Was that the word?" (Funke, 2008).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Funke, Cornelia. (2008). Inkdeath. Chicken House/Scholastic: New York, NY.

Charlie Bone and the Beast by Jenny Nimmo

The Children of the Red King (or Charlie Bone) series has the familiarity of school fiction, the intrigue of a magical fantasy, the constant pull of a mystery, evil villains that you love to hate, and the rich back story of the Red King. The King's Children even have magical powers. What's not to like?

As you may have suspected, trouble follows Charlie Bone wherever he goes. His Grandma Bone, and his great-aunts are always up to no good. The evil children of the Red King are always out to get him, and even some of his teachers are on their side. He has a bad habit of 'traveling' through pictures, and sometimes meeting strange people while he's there. But things have started to look up. His dad is back, and he has some great friends to back him up. Then he gets stuck with the new kid.

The latest installment Charlie Bone and the Beast begins to deal with the ability for people to change. People are very rarely all good, or all bad. They can change based on the influences around them. At the end of book five, Charlie Bone and the Shadow, Charlie and his friends get some help from a very unexpected source. This time around, it is their job to help him. Manfred's anger is even more potent than before, and he blames Charlie for all his misfortune. The new addition to Bloor's Academy is Dagbert Endless. He smells of fish and matter-of-factly tells his dorm mates that he drowns people. As one of the endowed, he quickly seems to side with Manfred. He begins to turn Charlie's friends against him. Even Cook is dismayed by his arrival, and the delicate balance of good and evil is threatened.

With Charlie's parents on a second honeymoon, who is he to turn to for help against the dark forces at work? Even his great-aunt Venetia has bewitched a man into marrying her so she can use his son's endowment. Many of the adults he has relied on in the past seem unable to give him the support he wants, and he begins to rely more on his intuition.

There is the mysterious kettle shop, and the other old magical shops on Piminy Street. The Red Knight is seen wearing the King's Cloak. The so-called Wilderness Wolf is being hunted, and creatures not-quite-human seem to be following Charlie. He knows it all points back to Ezekiel and the Bloors, but how? Events begin to converge, and Charlie must risk himself to maintain the balance.
"All at once Dagbert straightened up. He fixed Bragger with his aquamarine eyes and said, 'My name is as endless as the ocean and I drown people.' Bragger's feet slipped off the rain and he landed on his back on the floor. Nobody laughed," (Nimmo pg. 56, 2007).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo (Children of the Red King, Book 1)
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Nimmo, Jenny. (2007). Charlie Bone and the Beast. Orchard Books (Scholastic): New York, NY.

Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer

 The Artemis Fowl series incorporates action, adventure, fantasy, cool fight scenes, using your brain to overcome brawn, and the importance of forming lasting friendships with people. Even interracial or interspecies ones! Master Fowl doesn't always do the right thing, but he learns from his mistakes. His wit keeps me coming back. Pick up this series (if you haven't) if any of that sounds up your alley.

The newest installment of the Artemis Fowl series doesn't disappoint. Artemis is back, with Butler and Holly in tow. This time around, they are trying to save Artemis's mother from a mysterious disease, Spelltropy. The fairy folk thought they had wiped out this disease long ago, but Artemis fears he contracted in while in the time continuum, and passed it onto her while trying to heal her. Unfortunately, the cure for the disease has also been wiped out.

The team has to go back in time to find the key to Mrs. Fowl's antidote. With the help of No. 1, Artemis and Holly travel back to before they have even met! A much more devious 10-year old Artemis has plans to wipe out his future mother's only hope of survival! Artemis vs. Artemis, anything could happen--and it does.

Colfer does a good job of keeping familiar characters a part of the story, Mulch Diggums makes an appearance, as does Foley. One other character appears, but I won't give that away. He does a fantastic job of explaining some unanswered questions, and setting up for even greater adventures. We see a much more mature Artemis this time around, one that thinks about others before himself. Quite a change from Book 1, but a welcome one.
"If I had done nothing then nothing would have needed to be done," (Colfer, 2008).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Artemis Fowl (Book 1) by Eoin Colfer
Magyk (Septimus Heap) by Angie Sage
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Colfer, Eoin. (2008). Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox. Hyperion Books for Children: New York, NY.