The Sword Thief (The 39 Clues) by Peter Lerangis

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The Sword Thief (The 39 Clues) by Peter Lerangis

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: The third in the series of the globe-spanning adventure offers more urgent drama, more underground goings-on - and some surprises at least amongst the expected mediocrity.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 160 Date: April 2009
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 978-0545060431

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This book, and the other nine in the series, is reliant on the whole idea of breathlessness. The panicked rush felt by the reader, itching as the ten books are gifted us months apart, and felt as they upload the codes from the game cards bought with each book and with ever-increasing bonus packs elsewhere, is supposed to be on a par with the shenanigans Amy and Dan Cahill face on their globe-trotting life-or-death search for 39 clues that allow them access to some undreamt-of mystery target.

The reviewing gods didn't deem it necessary for me to read book 2 in the series, so I missed out on Venice and the second clue, but we're already moving (breathlessly) on, trying to get on board a plane for Japan and being kiboshed by one of the many other competitive rivals in the hunt for the clues, set up by an old matriarch's will. But this volume hardly draws breath to look back on what's gone before - there is more reference to future purchases than books one and two, and the story so far is summarised with barely two lines.

Everything is done at a pell-mell pace, and the drama relies on supposed twists and turns. It doesn't matter whether something good or bad happens for Amy and Dan, the bickering, intelligent child heroes, there will always be some rival Cahill on hand to turn up and inspire more unlikely goings-on. A lot of them will be completely expected - especially as, not for the first time, the search for clues involves spooky, dangerous subterranean aspects - but at least there is a link between our goodies and the baddies that we would not have been expecting.

I still have no idea as to what the mystery to be revealed in the tenth book will be. I don't even know why, or how, we've reached book three with only two of the 39 clues polished off. But there is a grudging respect for the whole conception of the franchise - the pester-power with which you need more and more cards to complete your online interaction with the series, and on a more literary bent, how the people plotting it all have wrapped the whole world's culture and history up into one grand family's heritage. Thus the characters, both good and bad, are linked to Mozart, the Yakuza, and much more.

It's a grudging respect only, mind. I'm a little afraid of something so big, so compelling, being a chance for people to sell middling adventure/mystery drama to youngsters in huge volumes. I'm a little bewildered by the allegation that Moscow is halfway between Venice and Japan, as this book has it. And I'm convinced by the evidence of book three that the idea of having different people pen each and every episode only shows that we can expect formulaic, medium quality writing throughout, with little to completely enthrall, but absolutely nothing to worry about.

I think I hoped after reading the first book the series would have a little more to it than this entry, but there is nothing particularly wrong with this thriller. It will mean very little to anyone arriving fresh, so knock off at least a star from our Bookbag rating if you haven't been reading and playing along so far. If you are a Cahill, courtesy of your prior purchases, my recommendation won't mean much - you'll already be in the queue for this and rest of the saga.

We at the Bookbag must thank Scholastic for our review copy.

For young thriller fans, there is more drama to be had with the series including the title Dead Man Talking (Spy Girl) by Carol Hedges.

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Buy The Sword Thief (The 39 Clues) by Peter Lerangis at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Sword Thief (The 39 Clues) by Peter Lerangis at


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