Free Lance and the Lake of Skulls by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

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Free Lance and the Lake of Skulls by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

Stewart Lance.jpg
Buy Free Lance and the Lake of Skulls by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Dyslexia Friendly
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A series opener with a nameless questor struggling to counter his own reluctance and more on just one more errand.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 96 Date: June 2017
Publisher: Barrington Stoke Ltd
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781781127148

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Our hero is a free lance – one of the traditional self-employed men, going round the country, jousting when he can, doing fantastical errands when they come up, all with no fixed employer. But the lack of fixed income hits home at times. And at those times, those fantastical errands, however nightmarish they can clearly be, get to be all the more appealing…

This, with a nameless hero, his poorly horse (who does at least have a name) and the errand to find a crown dumped on top of a pile of skulls in the middle of a godforsaken mountain lake, is very much in the fantasy fiction realm. It would seem to provide very little that is new, but it does, purely by dint of who publishes it. Barrington Stoke have the status of chief dyslexia-friendly publishers here in the UK, although of course it's not just that reading impairment they cater for. Their recognisable form is tinted, large-print pages, so anyone can get the clarity from the page they need, books built to last, and compelling stories.

And let's face it – they've chosen compelling book-makers here. This duo has been responsible for some mammoth successes in the world of juvenile fiction, and brings their own firm qualities to this volume. So yes, the story offers little in the way of surprise, and it's a straight fantasy quest tale, but they still go above and beyond. They leave the fact one of the characters is not exactly as they first appear very subtly underwritten; they have a light touch with metaphor and simile that's just enough to enhance our man's first-person narrative; and they bring the same very recognisable qualities to the artwork here (to such an extent I sometimes wonder if they can draw any other female face!).

For the record, this book is deemed to read as if for an eight-year-old, but to have an appeal to those aged nine and up. So even the mildest of reading handicaps is catered for here – but that's not to say I wasn't. The simple tale was simply very well told, and anybody should consider this worth their time. It was first published back in 2003, and is the first in a trilogy of stories. I can see an audio book exists of all three that may well help certain readers follow the narratives along the page. Either way, these pages were an easy pleasure, and I'd urge you to consider them.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

The First Hunter by Robert Swindells is more dyslexia-friendly fantasy, set in prehistory, no less.

Buy Free Lance and the Lake of Skulls by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Free Lance and the Lake of Skulls by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Free Lance and the Lake of Skulls by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Free Lance and the Lake of Skulls by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell at Amazon.com.

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