Father of Dragons

Our rating: ****

Once again, spoiler alert. With the by now familiar cliffhanger endings, this next-to-last book in the series is full of revelations and battles, all moving toward the final book, All My Holy Mountain, coming in April.

After his capture in Shadow in the Deep, Benjiah is still in the custody of his father’s murderer. The remaining Kirthanin army is fleeing before the unending pressure of Malek’s hosts. Aljeron and a few of his band have reached the base of Harak Andunin, despite terrible odds. A surprise awaits them in the form of Valzaan, the prophet. Yes, I said Valzaan. Alive. He joins them in their trek up the mountain and into the gyre of the Father of Dragons, Sulmandir. Thankfully, Sulmandir is alive and, after some debate, agrees to help them by awakening his children. Benjiah’s prophecy of the “four races” is on its way to fulfillment with the union of the Great Bear, Men, and Dragons. Aljeron prepares to lead his remaining followers across the Zaros mountains, where they will join the retreating army of Kirthanin in a final, desperate stand.

This book kept me on the edge of my chair. I kept wondering how the goodguys could possibly get into a worse predicament, and then a new disaster would take place. Wylla gets captured, Benjiah’s under a death sentence, a couple of goodguys get killed, (goodguys who have been with us since the first book), Malek has been revealed, and, trust me, who he’s been masquerading as is a bit of a shock, and on top of it all the goodguy armies are forced to surrender! Everything seems hopeless, then Aljeron finds the mysterious “fourth race,” Sulmandir arrives and . . . the end. Sorry, you’ll have to wait until April to find out.

The Water Horse

Our rating: ***½

After a storm hits the west coast of Scotland, eight-year-old Kirstie finds a strange thing on the beach. It looks like a giant mermaid’s purse. She and her younger brother Angus smuggle it home and into the bathtub, and soon it hatches into a strange creature. Their grandfather Grumble tells them it is a Water Horse and that this little creature eventually will grow to be fifty or sixty feet. And grow it does. Over three years it outgrows the goldfish pond and even the lochan nearby. Where will they put their beloved pet?

They name the Water Horse “Crusoe” and, especially when he’s younger, he’s a fun character, though he never says anything. A good book. The short, last chapter may give some of you a fun surprise when you read it. Kirstie is not always the kindest to her younger brother, but it’s not too bad.

Kneeknock Rise

Our rating: **½

The small village of Instep lies at the foot of Kneeknock Rise. All of the villagers are frightened of a monster that they call the Megrimum, which lives on the rise and howls every time it rains. But the villagers are also proud of the monster, so they have a fair every year to show off the monster. One year, young Egan comes to visit his aunt and uncle at fair time, and his cousin dares him to climb Kneeknock Rise. Is the Megrimum really up there?

Although this story is quite predictable (you probably know how it ends), it is also enjoyable enough to read while waiting for the next book blockbuster. Babbitt spins a tale that will delight readers, which should influence them to read one of her better stories.

One Hungry Monster

Our rating: ****

An increasing number of hungry monsters create general chaos at a boy’s house as they look for something to eat.

Everything here is in rhyme. For the first ten pages or so, the monsters ask to be fed. For the next ten, the boy brings out food. To finish the book, the monsters play with their food until the boy gets fed up with them (no pun intended).