Raven Flight, by Juliet Marillier

Three Guardians to find, all in different corners of Alban; three branches of knowledge to master; and then, the disparate talents of humankind and Good Folk to be brought into an alliance strong enough to stand up against the might of Keldec and his Enforcers…all that in a scant year and a half? When I had thus far failed to exchange even one word with the Folk Below? It was…I must not say impossible. I was one of Regan’s rebels now, and I must not even think it. ‘Ill try my best,’ I said.

Safe in the shelter of Shadowfell, the rebel base, Neryn is rebuilding her strength and learning what her skills as Caller might be able to achieve. She knows that, if she can master her gift, she will be a powerful tool for the rebels to defeat the King and free Alban of his tyranny. But mastering her gifts will take time, and suddenly time is something she doesn’t have. If the Rebels’ plan is to work, she has only eighteen months to learn what she needs to know, and gain the support of the Good Folk.

As soon as winter ends, Neryn is on the road, seeking out the three Guardians who can teach her what she needs to know. Each is in a remote corner of Alban, and travelling in a kingdom where her magical skills are perilous should they be discovered is difficult. Her companion is Tali, a fighter who will defend her with her life, but who would rather be elsewhere. As they travel, both face challenges which will test them beyond their limits.

Raven Flight is the sequel to Shadowfell, and the second in the trilogy. For a reader new to the series, it doesn’t take long to get caught up in the tale, though reading the first would be an advantage, and, one suspects, rewarding. Marillier’s characters are engaging, the world captivating and the story tightly woven. Whilst, as is necessary in a trilogy, the ending leaves the reader wanting more, the end point is in itself satisfying, with enough of this instalment resolved, and equally enough hints at what is yet to come.

A really satisfying tale.

Raven Flight (Shadowfell)

Raven Flight , by Juliet Marillier
Pan Macmillan, 2013
ISBN 978174261224

Available from good bookstores or online . Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

That Boy, Jack, by Janeen Brian

“…Captain Trelwaney will take you on as well. We can both start work on the picky-table. And we can both earn money.”
I stood frozen, eyes wide.
“I knew you’d be pleased,” said Gilbert. “I have to go now. See you later.”
He didn’t say when and I didn’t ask.

Jack and Gilbert have been best friends for years, and have made a pact that when they’re older they’ll work together in the copper mines, just like their fathers do. But Jack doesn’t know how to tell Gilbert that the thought of working underground terrifies him. On top of that, he loves school and learning, and his mother is keen for him to succeed there. So, when Gilbert is suddenly responsible for the family income, and leaves school to start work, Jack is torn: should he keep the promise he made to his friend, or should he follow the path his heart is keen to take?

That Boy, Jack is a story of friendship and courage, set in and around the South Australian township of Moonta in the 1870s. Depicting aspects of Australian history which may be unfamiliar to young readers, the story will appeal both to young history buffs and to any reader who simply likes a story of adventure. Jack must work hard at home, as well as at school and paid employment, and young readers may be surprised at just how much was expected of a twelve year old boy in the time period. As well as friendship and courage, the story also explores issues including education, family, health and even left-handedness.

Brian weaves a story which allows the reader to experience both this history and the personal journey in an intimate, exciting way.

That Boy, Jack

That Boy, Jack, by Janeen Brian
Walker Books, 2013
ISBN 9781922179005

Available from good bookstores and online.