Syren (Septimus Heap) by Angie Sage
|Syren (Septimus Heap) by Angie Sage|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Stefan Bachmann|
|Summary: The fifth book in the bestselling Septimus Heap series is the best so far, with more Magyk, more excitement, and more adventure, all packaged up in Angie Sage's trademark warmth and wit. Highly recommended, but only if you've read the earlier books in the series.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 640||Date: October 2009|
|Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing plc|
After four books and 2,000 pages of plot far to complicated to recoup here, we meet ExtraOrdinary Wizard-apprentice Septimus Heap again, this time ship... um, dragon-wrecked on a lonely island somewhere far out at sea. And his dragon has definitely wrecked. Its wings are badly wounded, making escape for Septimus and his friends, Beetle and Princess Jenna, impossible. To make matters worse, there's something strange about the island they've become stranded on. It's utterly deserted except for a girl and a cat-shaped lighthouse, and an eerie voice is calling to Septimus in his sleep...
I'm going to say this first thing: don't pick up this book if you haven't read any of the other Septimus Heap books. Angie Sage doesn't spare a single word of her massive 600+ page-count reviewing the past adventures of her equally massive cast of characters. Furthermore, she likes to bring back minor sub-plots and characters from as far back as book one and wedge them into the current proceedings in clever ways. That's great if you've read the other books, but if not, everything will be terribly confusing and I don't think you'd enjoy it much.
Which would be a pity, because Syren is a fun, fun book and the best yet in the series.
Each chapter begins with a beautifully-detailed graphite illustration, followed by Sage's funny, feather-light prose. Her writing is what makes the whole thing such a delight. It's just as good at conveying flat-out hilarious moments (like a genie-summoning scene towards the beginning) as it is with the tense and slightly creepy ones. She's also great with her characters, describing all of them, even the naughty ones, with a certain warmth and humaneness. The downside is that the two main ones, Septimus and Jenna, sometimes seem a little flat next to all the colourful baddies and ghosts, scatterbrained villains and licorice-obsessed rivals. But it's not really their fault; the other characters are just so much more interesting!
The book before this one - Queste- I thought rambled a bit, so for anyone of the same opinion: Syren's plotting is quite a bit more taut and the pace rarely lets up.
I also wanted to mention that there are a lot of italics in both the dialogue and the narration. A few weeks ago I read The Hobbitt to my little brother, and kept thinking what a giant help it would be if Tolkien had used some italics, too, so that I could get the inflection right on his lengthy sentences, and so that Little Brother might actually, ya know, understand what Mr Baggins was up to. Syren is considerably easier reading, with or without italics, but I definitely think it would make a great read-aloud story for fantasy fans eight-and-up.
Anyway... This is a brilliant continuation of the series and definitely a must-read for anyone who has enjoyed the Septimus Heap books thus far. But again, don't start here if you are new to it all. Book one is almost as good.
Thanks, Bloomsbury, for sending a copy to The Bookbag!
Another series that tugs the Harry Potter premise in new and interesting directions is Sarah Prineas's The Magic Thief and it's sequel. The Well Between the Worlds (Monsters of Lyonesse) by Sam Llewellyn is also a great read, with terrific world-building and a wholly original spin on monsters.
You can read more book reviews or buy Syren (Septimus Heap) by Angie Sage at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Syren (Septimus Heap) by Angie Sage at Amazon.com.
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