The Sky Warden & the Sun
by Sean Williams
Published by Harper Collins Australia
Matthew Long's Rating: 3 out of 4
Sean Williams' Second Book of The Change picks up right where his first, The Stone Mage and the Sea, left off, with both Sal and Shilly on the run from the Sky Wardens. Both of them have lost the only family that they have ever known, and now all they have is each other. They both have the goal of reaching the Interior now, Sal to go find his mother's family, Shilly to find Lodo's old teacher, the Mage Van Haasteren. But first they have to make it to the boundary between the two lands, with the Sky Warden Shom Behenna in pursuit. Even after managing to make it to the Interior and finding Mage Van Haasteren, Sal and Shilly's life doesn't get any easier. They have to first convince the Mage that he should take them both in and teach them, and then deal with the rift that is created by Shilly's lack of contact with the Change. The bright spot though is the new friend that they have both made in another student there, Skender, the Mage's son. Through their time at Mage Van Haasteren's school, Sal is still trying to find his mother's family, and ultimately succeeds. But they are not what Sal expects, and have their own plans for him. And a determined Shom Behenna has tracked Sal through the Interior, intent on bringing Sal back to the Sky Wardens, and carrying a secret connection to Sal and these events.
Again, Williams' writing holds its own here, making both Sal and Shilly very human and real (although Shilly is a little too whiney and times), and introducing some well rounded supporting characters to help them on their way. He also does well to avoid any predictability even though a large portion of the novel involves Sal and Shilly being chased across both the Strand and the Interior. Each situation is different, and the way in which they both react and get out of it is different each time. The rift that appears between Sal and Shilly is also well handled. Both of the characters are but teenagers, and while the underlying problem between them is the great divide in their powers, the reasons behind Shilly's jealousy are pretty normal. Even though it was Shilly that wanted to seek out the Mage, Sal is the one that gets more attention from the Mage, and advances a lot quicker. Due to the only way that she can touch the Change being through another person who can touch it, she has to rely on someone else to advance in power, and will only be able to do so up to a certain point.
Again, there isn't that much that stands out as lacking in the book. There are small things, but every book has them. The only ones that really stick in my mind are that while we know that Sal and Shilly spend a fair bit of time with the Mage and learning from him, we don't get to see all that much of this. I would also have liked to have had a bit more about the Storm Weavers who are hinted at throughout the book, but it is fairly likely that this group will be revealed in the next book, The Storm Weaver and the Sand.
One very well described scene where Shilly gets her leg broken while they are on the run. Gross, but accurate.