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The Crown of Dalemark


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A magical adventure


Gr 6-9‘While this fantasy is rich with fascinating scenes and details, it's unlikely that those who haven't read the first three books in the series will be willing to unravel the labyrinthine plot. The story's engaging first part concerns Mitt, a sensitive, courageous young man who speaks his mind. An earl and countess assign him the unpleasant task of murdering Noreth, a teen who believes it's her destiny to seek the ring, cup, and sword that will allow her to unify the land and become queen. The author then leaps ahead 200 years and introduces Maewen, 13, who is sent back in time to impersonate Noreth. Maewen is quite clueless about her purpose, but adjusts to the strangeness of being in the past and on a quest remarkably quickly. Her followers accept her as Noreth without suspicion‘proving Wynne Jones's observation that people see what they want to see. There is an interesting uncertainty about whether the directive voice Maewen hears in her head is good or bad (it turns out to be that of the evil magician, Kankredin), and the concept of the Undying (godlike humans) is intriguing, as is the powerful role given to musicians. Some of the characters are very real and likable, but the events and reasons that sustain them are rather mind-boggling and tenuous. The moments of wittiness and tension make reading the novel a pleasure at times, but there is an omnipresent scattered feeling that results in a somewhat baffling whole. The long glossary is helpful.‘Vanessa Elder, School Library Journal

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