Paladin, by Dave Luckett

Sam finished up at nine. He put his hoodie on and came out of the back entrance of the Little Burger Hut in the Warramar Mall. Finny was waiting for him. So they walked home together. Sort of together, but apart.
‘You going to get into trouble, coming home late?’ Same asked, after half a block or so. Finny didn’t even bother to shrug. ‘Trouble? No. the later the better. It’s payday. He’ll probably be pissed.’
‘That’s good? Isn’t he worse when he is?’
‘Maybe. Now way to know.’
She went back to staring at the footpath.

Sam and Finny are school outcasts both. Sam plays football, and works at the Little Burger Hut, so despite not being super-popular, he gets along. Finny is different, tall and skinny with dark hair, she shuns sympathy and shrugs off high school bitching. Her stepfather is a drunk and very free with his fists. She and Sam are friends, although Sam’s not quite sure what sort of friends. Then Sam interrupts a mugging in the park on their way home from work and their whole world changes. Literally. It seems that Finny and Sam both have skills that are needed in a land at war. One of Sam’s strengths is an ability to know, wholeheartedly, what is right. It’s a skill he will have great need of as he and Finny journey through the strange land they find themselves in.

Paladin is a story for all teenagers who know they have a place but just can’t seem to find it. It is there. A Paladin is not a place but a calling. Paladins are what in medieval times were called Knights. They have bravery and physical prowess, but they have more. And it would seem they are born, not trained. Sam moves between the two worlds, struggling to understand just where he fits. Truth and justice are strong themes as Sam undertakes the rites of passage. Sam is caught between two worlds, neither of which is perfect, as he tries to make sense of what is right and what is other. Fantasy worlds are often created to sustain a series, but Paladin is complete in and of itself. Which is not to say there’s not enough material for sequels… Recommended for lower- to mid-secondary readers.


Paladin, Dave Lucket
Omnibus Books 2010
ISBN: 9781862918672

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

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