Monday, October 2, 2017

MMGM: The Wizard's Test

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick:

The Wizard's Test, by Hilari Bell
The Wizard's Test

Written by Hilari Bell
Cover illustrated by Cliff Nielsen
HarperCollins, 2005
Ages 10+, Lexile 720L
176 pp, 32000 words


Themes:
Fantasy, Destiny, Colonialism


Opening:
"Wizard born!"
Dayven reached for his sword hilt as he spun in search of the speaker. Early in the morning the courtyard was crowded—not only with Watcherlads like Dayven, who'd come for a little extra sword practice, but also with adult Guardians, who were there to increase their skills with sword and lance. Someone had put a lot of effort into that hissing whisper, to make it audible over the clang of metal on metal...but who?


Thoughts:
The Wizard's Test is a stand-alone fantasy novel about an apprentice in a feudal system who must embrace his sordid wizard heritage to spy on his lord's enemies in order to attain his goal of Guardian in the army. Bell's books are self-described as "morally ambiguous." In each that I've read, she poses ethical questions to both the characters and the reader, usually dealing with consequences, violence, or cultural enmity. This book fits that mold. It rather reminds me of Lloyd Alexander's books rather than Avi's. Avi consistently makes you care about the rogue, the thief, the liar, and then ridicules the opposition so the reader is compelled to agree with the main character's decisions. Both Bell and Alexander make you care about characters from both sides of an issue, and challenge you to decide what you might do in a similar situation. They want you to think before you act. This book is one of Bell's earlier works, and doesn't show the mature writing style of her later books. It does however include interesting world-building, deft plotting, subtle humor, and charming characters. Thought-provoking and age-appropriate with some battle scenes.


Bonus: 
1. If you are interested in learning more about Hilari Bell, you can find an early interview on Writers Write, her publishing ventures on Publisher's Weekly, and a personal perspective from the author at the start of her career on the Enchanted Inkpot.

2. I love Hilari's Shield, Sword, and Crown trilogy about a young man's quest for the enchanted objects which will save his world. She has written loads of other books which you can find on her Goodreads page.

3. Looking for books with a similar vibe?
The Ascendance trilogy or Mark of the Thief series by Jennifer Nielsen and covers by Ken Choi and Larry Rostant, respectively.
The InkHeart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke with covers by Carol Lawson.
The Westmark books or The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha by Lloyd Alexander.
Keeper of the Lost Cities series by Shannon Messenger, covers by Jason Chan.

Reviewed by Literary Rambles
Mark of the Thief #1
reviewed by Karen Yingling

Queen's Thief #5 reviewed by
GeoLibrarian and Ms. Yingling
Reviewed by Middle Grade Mafia

The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha,
by Lloyd Alexander,
Illustrated by Laszlo Kubinyi
Keeper of the Lost Cities series
reviewed by Cindy and Michelle



Check out all the recommended titles for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday for October 2, 2017 available on Shannon Messenger's Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe.

Feel free to leave your MG recommendations in the comments. Thanks!


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