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“Once there was Magic. It was a long, long time ago, in the British Isles so old it did not know it was the British Isles yet, and the Magic lived in the dark forests.”
The minute I read/listened to these opening lines of this wondrous tale of Xar, “a wild young boy who belonged to the Wizard tribe”, youngest son of Encanzo, the Enchanter, King of Wizards, I was hooked.
Xar is trying to find his magic at any cost because it’s embarrassing that his Magic has not yet come in even though he has turned thirteen. He is disobedient, disruptive and always taking chances. Hence the reason he and his followers are in the Badwoods, an area which he is banned from entering, but he is determined to trap a witch so that he can steal their magic in time for the Spelling Competition, where he hopes to beat his brother Looter.
Wish is the daughter of Queen Sychrax, leader of the Iron Warriors. She and her (assistant) bodyguard, Bodkin, have snuck out of the palace to explore the Badlands. Unfortunately, Wish and Bodkin are trapped by Xar’s witch’s net, and he decides to kidnap them. He takes them back to his father’s castle and hides them in his room while taking part in the Spelling Competition.
A very unlikely friendship forms between Xar and Wish, more out of necessity thanks to Xar capturing a really bad witch. He has to rely on Wish to help him destroy this evil he’s re-introduced after aeons of the land being “witch free”.
Xar learns that sometimes his bad, rude and disobedient behaviour is not the answer, while Wish learns that life is not just about the Iron tribe, but also includes magic, sprites, wolves, giant talking trees and that she, too, might have more than a touch of magic hidden within herself.
Thanks to my granddaughter I met and fell in love with Cressida Cowell’s series of books “How To Train Your Dragon.” So when I discovered that Cressida Cowell had started this new series, I knew that Rozzi and I had found yet another special set of stories to share.
Cressida Cowell has a way of telling a story that grips the reader from the very first sentence. The characters are unique, but you feel as though there might be a touch of that character hidden within yourself, giving you the encouragement to try something outside of your comfort zone.
I must add that getting David Tennant to narrate the story makes the Magic come more alive and somehow gets the characters to live inside your head as you listen to his various accents for each human, creature, animal or witch. A truly gifted narrator and Cressida Cowell’s books can only grow in magnitude thanks to his input.
Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.
I’ve not read anything by Cressida Cowell before (I know, stupid, right?) but this will certainly not be the last book of hers I read. This was a delight from start to finish and I can see why she was chosen as the current Children’s Laureate.
The characters are fantastic and almost escape from the page they burst with so much life. The illustrations – by Cowell herself – perfectly match and enhance the feelings evoked by the story. Because of the way the story is written and illustrated, it’s almost impossible to imagine one without the other.
The story itself takes place over 24 hours yet so much is crammed into that time it almost makes the head spin and you can’t help but feel exhausted for the characters by the end. But in a wonderful, “I want to read more of this” way. Thankfully, there are more books in the series.
I know I’m not the target audience, but such a delightful book transcends the boundaries of age and other demographics and I wish this book had existed when I was a child.
Our whole family has been counting down the days for this one. Having all loved HTTYD I was just hoping it would be worth the wait - and it absolutely was. This really is a cracking story, beautifully illustrated. It has everything and we just want more NOW!
We love this series! After reading this book, we have purchased the next book in the series as soon as it was released. We have also bought several copies for friends. One of our favorite books! We love how there are two main characters, one a boy and one a girl, who are different than others in their immediate family and community. There are several themes to explore such as friendship, overcoming obstacles, being true to yourself, learning difficulties/ dyslexia, resilience... the list goes on. The story is captivating with its vivid imagery, character development, and plot. We would recommend to children and adults.
This is to be a present for my granddaughter so I have not read the whole story but the illustrations ( by the author ) are beautiful and it looks as if will capture the imagination of any young person.
I read this to my nearly 6 year olds at bedtime. Luckily they fall asleep quite quickly usually because some of the book does get quite dark and scary. When it does get to that level, the author quickly brings back some humour with the main characters Xar and Wish. It also highlights how old enemies can work together when the young get involved. I wonder when the film will come, based on the is book, it will be on a par with Harry Potter.
So far, this book is awesome! Reading currently in progress. Bought for a 12/13 year old girl and she loves it! She has not put the book down which makes a refreshing change to see her holding a book and not an iPad! Excellent! The illustrations and drawings make the story even more exciting. We will be purchasing some more for Christmas gifts, ideal present for 12+