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Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and [parenting magazine] (https://store.focusonthefamily.com/singleitem/checkout/donation/item/goaa-thriving "magazine"). It is the second book in the "Summoner” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Fletcher Wulf trained at Vocans Academy for a year to be a summoner. He won the tournament to earn his spot on the king’s war council. Before receiving his reward, Fletcher was arrested for the attempted murder of Didric and has been sitting in a jail cell in Pelt for a year, awaiting his trial.

On the day of his trial, Fletcher learns that in the two years since he fled Pelt, Didric survived Ignatius’ attack, but the fire-breathing demon left him scarred and awaked an ability to summon. Didric has been granted a lord’s title and Pelt’s lands have been turned over to him.

Didric has been at Vocans for a year, training be a summoner. Pelt has been turned into a massive prison complex for Hominum, and Pelt’s other residents have been evicted from the city limits.

Arcturus arrives in Pelt and defends Fletcher at the trial. He proves that Ignatius attacked Didric in self-defense. Rook, determined to have Fletcher and Othello found guilty and put to death, accuses the boys of killing some men during an ambush. Fletcher realizes that Rook and the Favershams are determined to convict Othello, causing more rifts with the dwarves.

Fletcher pleads guilty to save Othello, and just when he thinks he will be put to death by hanging, his old weapons master, Sir Caulder, enters the courtroom and claims that Fletcher is the son of nobles Edmund and Alice Raleigh.

Sir Calder tells the courtroom that after the orcs attacked the Raleigh estate, Edmund’s demon flew newborn Fletcher as far north as it could go, which was outside of Pelt. Fletcher was found and raised by Berdon, and he never knew his true heritage or noble birth. With Fletcher’s parents dead, he is the sole heir to the estate, and as a nobleman, Fletcher can be pardoned of crimes by the king.

The king believes Sir Calder and gives Fletcher a full pardon. The other nobles are furious and demand proof of Fletcher’s nobility. Since members of the Raleigh family are said to be immune to manticore venom, Fletcher is held down and stung by a manticore, a giant demon with the tail of a scorpion. The pain is intense, and Fletcher passes out from it, only to wake up in elven territory, being cared for by his friend, Sylva.

Sylva tells Fletcher that she used elven medicine to purge the venom from his body. Fletcher thinks that since he got sick from the manticore venom, he failed the test. It’s not until Fletcher meets with King Harold that he is told that he is a Raleigh. If Fletcher were not, he would have died within minutes of being stung. Instead, he twitched around on the ground for an hour, and by then, everyone knew he was immune. Then the elves flushed the venom from his system.

Fletcher is declared a noble and heir to the Raleighshire estate and lands. Fletcher has been pardoned by King Harold and given Edmund Raleigh’s gryphowl demon, a birdlike creature named Athena. As the winner of the tournament, Fletcher won a place on the king’s war council, which he is now given.

At the council meeting, nobles, dwarves and elves decide to publicly solidify the alliance among the different races amid rising tension and unrest. After getting information that a noble woman, thought to be Lady Cavendish, had been in orc captivity for years, the council decides to launch a rescue mission and provide scrying glasses to the public so they can watch the groups (made up of recent human, elven and dwarf graduates from Vocans) working together. While in orc territory, the groups are also tasked with destroying hundreds of goblin eggs. The orcs incubate the eggs beneath a giant pyramid shaped structure and use the creatures as soldiers when they hatch.

After the council meeting, Fletcher flies back to Pelt with his former instructor, Lovett, on her demon, Lysander. Fletcher sees his adoptive father, Berdon, and the other villagers, who Didric drove out of Pelt, about to get into an altercation with soldiers. Fletcher convinces them to travel to his lands in Raleighshire and build new lives there. Afterward, Fletcher returns to Vocans to watch the final match of the tournament, where Cress, a female dwarf, beats Didric.

After the tournament, Rook briefs the young summoners on the mission and stresses the importance of them meeting the Celestial Corps — the demons that will fly them back home — at the designated time. If they miss the evacuation window, they will be left in hostile orc territory.

Teams are chosen and grouped as four cadets, one sponsor's demon and one guide. Fletcher, Othello, Sylva, Cress with Lysander and Jeffrey are put in a team. Jeffrey is an assistant to Electra Mabosi, a botanist, biologist, chemist and demonologist working in Vocans. Electra gives the team potions that can restore health and magical strength in an instant.

At first Fletcher is unsure about Jeffrey joining his team, but Electra convinces him that Jeffrey is needed. There are four teams in total, including Fletcher’s team.

Fletcher and his team meet at an abandoned tavern to receive uniforms and weapons, and to plan their strategy. Before leaving for the mission, Fletcher, Othello and Jeffrey go to see the front lines of the war. At the front lines, they see a wide trench where the soldiers hold the line. Behind the trench, they see soldiers walking amid a mess of campfires and large tents. They go into one of the tents for a drink and see men gathered around a pit placing bets on which gremlin will survive a pack of ravenous rats.

Most of the gremlins are eaten, but Fletcher manages to rescue the last surviving gremlin, and he names it Blue. He plans to release Blue in the jungle during the mission. As they are leaving the tent, a bomb explodes. The boys manage to escape alive, but many soldiers are killed.

When Fletcher, Othello and Jeffrey get back to the tavern, Othello’s father, Uhtred, is angry that the boys were near the explosion. Recent bombings have been blamed on dwarves and their sympathizers. Uhtred does not want Fletcher and Othello to be under suspicion.

The next day, the mission begins, and the teams are dropped off by the Celestial Corps in the jungle, deep in orc territory. They discuss their various routes and split up. Fletcher and his team narrowly avoid being discovered by an orc raiding party. Then instead of moving forward with their mission, they turn back to help another team.

The battle is bloody, and Fletcher narrowly avoids being shot with arrows from someone on his team. Sylva thinks Cress is trying to kill Fletcher, but Fletcher doesn’t think the dwarf has a grudge against him. After the battle, the team is captured by gremlins, but they are saved by Blue, the same gremlin who Fletcher saved and released into the jungle. Blue takes them to the gremlins’ warren, where they meet an old, female orc shaman named Mother. She tells them that not all orcs are bad, but the ones raging war on Hominum capture other, peaceful orcs and gremlins and force them into servitude and war. The gremlins help Fletcher’s team by taking them through the jungle to the great pyramid, a sacred site to the orcs.

They meet the other teams and wait until almost morning to carry out their mission. The teams have arrived on one of the orcs’ holy celebration days. Looking through scrying glasses, the teams see orc youths playing games where the losers are sacrificed on the top of the pyramid and their bodies drained of blood.

The teams split up in the pyramid and find ancient artwork depicting a great albino orc and humans in battle. Fletcher, Sylva and Othello hide during an orc religious ceremony, where they see the symbols the orcs use to access a different part of the ether. There, they are able to capture powerful demons and knowledge critical to the war effort.

They also see that the blood that was drained from the sacrifices is used to magically grow the goblin eggs gestating in the caves beneath the pyramid. Fletcher is shot with arrows by a teammate, but is saved by one of the healing elixirs.

The teams start destroying the goblin eggs, and Rufus Cavendish runs off to save his mother, with Fletcher following him. They free her and other human and gremlin slaves, but some of the goblins have hatched and attack the teams. Fletcher’s team is last to leave for the extraction point, and they are attacked by the orcs’ demons. Sylva’s demon sacrifices herself to save the team, and Fletcher causes a cave-in to block the demons from reaching them. Jeffrey kills Rufus and shoots Fletcher’s team with paralyzing darts.

Jeffrey admits that he believes in racial purity and hates Fletcher for befriending elves and dwarves. He has been working with the Forsyths to kill Fletcher, and he plans to blame it on Cress, which would turn public opinion against dwarves. Fletcher summons enough power to blast Jeffrey, killing him.

When the others regain movement, they notice a summoning pentacle carved into the floor and figure out how the orcs survive in the ether. They open a portal, and Lady Cavendish, who has been mostly unresponsive since her rescue, recognizes Athena as the bird flies through the portal. Fletcher realizes that the woman who has been in captivity for 16 years is not Lady Cavendish. She is Alice Raleigh, his mother. Cress takes her through the portal, and Fletcher jumps in after them.

Christian Beliefs

None

Other Belief Systems

Mother is an orc shaman who lives with the gremlins. The human teams see weaker orcs being sacrificed to various gods in an orc religious ceremony. Summoners are able to summon demons. Demons fight for the summoner. Summoners and demons possess supernatural powers.

Authority Roles

Fletcher learns that his parents didn’t abandon him, but died in an orc attack. Edmund held off the attacking orcs while commanding his demon, Athena, to fly the infant Fletcher to safety. After learning the truth about the Raleighs, Berdon is uncertain if Fletcher still loves him, but Berdon remains a loving adoptive father who is very supportive of Fletcher. Arcturus also remains supportive of Fletcher, like an older brother, even though they are not related by blood. Lady Forsyth is Fletcher’s aunt but she, her husband and her children despise Fletcher and plot to have him murdered.

Uhtred and Briss, Othello and Atilla’s parents are fiercely supportive and protective of their sons.

Profanity/Violence

Profanity includes: h---, bloody, b--stard and d--n. God’s name is used with knows, ---dam and my. An offensive phrase may be screw it.

Fletcher, Othello and Arcturus are restrained, kicked and punched during the trial. Fletcher is stung by a manticore and writhes in pain for an hour before elven magic drains the venom from him. Fletcher, Othello and Jeffrey go to the war front and see men betting in gremlin fights. The gremlins are eaten alive by ravenous rats.

Fletcher sees a memory from Athena of his parents and their soldiers being attacked by an orc army. Fletcher’s team and Isadora’s team fight an orc raiding party, killing the orcs, goblins and their demons. Jeffrey tries to kill Fletcher by shooting arrows at him. Mother shows Fletcher and his team scenes of orc raiding parties capturing and indoctrinating young orcs. She tells them that she followed the boy she loved as he was forced to become a soldier, and how he beat her almost to death when she tried to rescue him.

At the pyramid, the team sees stronger orcs sacrificing the weaker ones on altars to various gods. The blood is collected and used to incubate goblin eggs. The teams burn hundreds of goblin eggs and kill live goblins. Jeffrey successfully shoots Fletcher with arrows. Jeffrey kills Rufus and paralyzes Fletcher’s team with poisonous darts. Fletcher kills Jeffrey by blasting him with power. Sylvia’s demon dies while protecting the team.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Dwarf women remain veiled in public. Cress, a female dwarf, attends Vocans, fights and goes unveiled, much to Atilla’s disgust. Atilla demands that she cover herself to remain modest, but Cress points out that dwarf males don’t cover their faces and that wearing a veil is her choice.

Cress tells Fletcher that dwarven boys have been known to run away with humans, even though its taboo on both sides. Cress’ brother ran away from home to be with a human woman and was shunned by the community.

Othello thinks Cress likes Fletcher. When Fletcher survives an attempted assassination, Sylva kisses him briefly. Mother tells Fletcher and his team that the orc boy she loved was kidnapped and forced to be a soldier.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Alcohol: Fletcher, Othello and Jeffrey go to a bar and buy ale. Jeffrey gets drunk.

Gambling: Men place bets on which gremlins will survive fights in a pit.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

12 and up

Genre

Fantasy

Author

Taran Matharu

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Feiwel and Friends, a division of Macmillan

Released

On Video

Year Published

2016

Awards

Unknown

Reviewer

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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