The Forbidden Stone (The Copernicus Legacy) by Tony Abbott

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The Forbidden Stone (The Copernicus Legacy) by Tony Abbott

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: Wade Kaplan and his three friends expect to enjoy a relaxing spring break at home—but within hours they are chasing across the globe in search of mysterious artefacts, pursued by the ruthless members of an ancient Order. And with the fate of the world at risk, not to mention their own lives, failure is not an option.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 426 Date: January 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780007547340

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If you like your fiction full of heart-stopping adventures, mysterious cults and constant danger, then you'll love this book. Codes, puzzles and ancient secrets abound, and there is no doubt that the publisher's comparison with the novels for adults written by Dan Brown is justified. There's drama and deadly peril on pretty well every page.

Wade receives a strange, coded email from his father's former professor, whom he has known all his life as Uncle Henry, but within hours the old man is dead in circumstances which look highly suspicious. The four young people accompany Mr Kaplan (himself a professor of astrophysics) to the funeral in Germany, but soon find themselves plunged into all sorts of mysteries, including more suspicious deaths. Their decision to investigate begins a saga of adventures which will span six generously-proportioned novels and six shorter novellas, not to mention the extra activities to be found on the series' website. Readers will be challenged and encouraged to think, to work out codes for themselves, to study the night sky and to look back into history to find out more about the brilliant and enigmatic thinker Copernicus. Thus, the book functions on two levels, as a rip-roaring, scare-a-minute thriller, and also, for more reflective readers, as a prompt to further investigation.

The villains in this book are particularly creepy, especially the strange woman with mismatched eyes called Galina Krause, and this, plus the fact that the complexities of the plot are fairly sophisticated mean that the book will probably appeal more to older pre-teens and young adults. Galina comes over as utterly cold, utterly focussed on her goal, and there are copious hints of a bizarre and frightening life history which make her determination to succeed even more sinister. The book is told from various viewpoints and even contains the occasional hint of a budding love, though it's more of a crush at this stage: nothing sloppy or over-emotional to detract from the edge-of-your-seat stuff!

So, our heroes set off on a quest which even in this, the first book, takes them across several countries and situations from sleepy Italian museums (and a wonderfully flamboyant Italian driver who courts destruction and disaster at every turn of the wheel) to the misty and bug-ridden jungle of Guam. They meet allies and traitors, they swing constantly between terror and wild hope, and every ounce of their considerable knowledge and skill is needed in order to survive. Truth be told, a fair amount of suspension of disbelief is required as the story unfolds: the father is all too ready to allow his children and their friends to risk their lives, and there is a rather lucky rescue near the end, but the tumult of action and danger and excitement will carry most readers past those small points. After all, if you can accept the major premise of the book, that the whole world is in danger if twelve ancient artefacts fall into the wrong hands, then these are indeed minor details, which take very little from the pleasure of reading.

For more thrilling adventures with a touch of intellectual challenge, try Ruby Redfort: Catch Your Death by Lauren Child: heaps of codes, clues and dangers to keep you reading!

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