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The Seventh Tower #2
Castle
by Garth Nix

Published by Scholastic


Scott's Rating:   3 out of 4


First up, it is important to note that this is NOT a Star Wars book. It is a new series of fantasy books produced by Lucas Books, the publishing division of Lucasfilm. This is the second book in The Seventh Tower series.

Tal and the Icecarl Milla finally make their way into the Castle with the help of the Ice Maidens and the Crones. Once inside, they immediately stumble across an old Sunstone, thus partly fulfilling their mission to find two sunstones. However, they must press on.

Tal takes Milla to his great uncle Ebbitt. He tells Tal that they need to find out who is out to get the family, and the only way to do that is to find a book called the Codex. It contains a listing of every shadow paired with every human and can reveal who the mysterious attacker is.

Unfortunately, the gang is ambushed. Tal is put in prison while Milla is taken to the Hall of Nightmares. The Hall is run by a half-human, half-shadow torturer who enters Milla's dreams and turns them into nightmares. However, he soon gets more than he bargains for as Milla fights back.

Later, with the help of Ebbitt, Tal escapes and frees Milla. They then set off in search for the Codex which is hidden in the spirit realm of Aenir - the source of the shadows and the sunstones. Tal and Milla must essentially die in order to cross over to the spirit realm where their mission continues.



Scott:

    I enjoyed this book much more than the first simply because it dispensed with the setup and got to the heart of the story faster. There's a bit more straight up action and adventure. Now that you know the rules of the game, you can play in the universe much more freely.

But despite treading familiar territory, new corners of this world are explored. We meet the Ice Maidens and the Crones which seem to be inspired from the Valkaries of Norse mythology. We meets more Shadowguards. We visit the spirit world of Aenir, as well, where all these magical things come from. It's interesting to explore.

Milla continues to develop into an interesting character. She's a lot like Tenel Ka in the Young Jedi Knights books. Tal seems a bit whiny and stuck up, so he's harder to like. By the end of this book, though, the two start working together and learning from each other. This promises to make the third book even more interesting.



Scott:

    The action and the general storyline are good, but it's going to take a little bit more to keep me interested. So far this is standard fantasy fare. Something needs to jump up and happen in the storyline to keep me tuned in.

And just when the reader gets settled into the world introduced in the first two books, the end of this books throws us into a completely new world with a whole new set of rules, new creatures, and new situations. It's a bit much to have to take in. There's barely even a chance to get oriented. The introduction of this world probably should have waited just a little longer.



Scott:

    Tal must wade through what seems like the sewers of the castle. Nasty!


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