Have Sword, Will Travel by Garth Nix and Sean Williams

Odo and Eleanor did not set out to find their destiny. At best, they were hoping for eels.
‘I’ve never seen the river so low before,’ said Odo as he climbed down the banks and began to trudge through the thick, reddish mud. He’d walked along and waded in the same stretch of the Silverrun for what felt like every single day of his life. Like his days, the river was always much the same. But now, there was a lot more mud and a lot less river.

While searching for eels, Odo unearths a sword in the mud beside the river. He can’t believe that he is the sword’s ‘true master’. Neither can Eleanor. It’s HER dream to be a knight, not Odo’s. But the sword is adamant – Odo is now Sir Odo, and before long, the trio are off on a quest. This makes the sword, called Biter, and Eleanor very happy. Odo’s still not convinced, but gives in to the entreaties of the other two. And a big quest it is too, destined to take them to many places and into many dangerous adventures.

Have Sword, Will Travel’ is Book 1 in a new series from Garth Nix and Sean Williams. It follows the adventures of two young friends who learn a lot about themselves as they travel far from their homes. Biter, the sword, has a very traditional notion of what it means to be a knight, and is keen to impose these notions on every situation they encounter. But, although Odo and Eleanor are young, they are very good at working together and solving problems. There are additional mysteries throughout that will surely surface in subsequent titles. Ideal for introducing young, competent readers to fantasy, ‘Have Sword, Will Travel’ is also jam-packed with humour. Recommended for mid- to upper-primary readers.

Have Sword, Will Travel, Garth Nix & Sean Williams
Allen & Unwin 2017 ISBN: 9781742374024

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

Escape from Wolfhaven castle, by Kate Forsyth

The wild man looked down at the huge dog and said, ‘Quiet now.’

To Tom’s surprise, Fergus stopped growling, his ears pricking forward. He wagged his shaggy tail.

‘Tell your lord,’ the wild man repeated, urgency in his voice, ‘danger comes.’ Then he turned and loped away through the forest. As he disappeared into the shadows, he flung back his head and howled like a wolf.  An answering howl came from the east.

Tom is just a kitchen hand, so when the wild man in the woods tells him that danger is coming, nobody wants to  take Tom’s concerns seriously. But the wild man is right – danger is closer than anyone can guess.  Soon Tom is on a quest – an impossible one –  with Elanor the Lord’s daughter, Sebastian, a knight in training and Quinn, apprentice to the witch. Together they must escape the castle and then set out to find four magical beasts.

Escape from Wolfhaven Castle is the first in an exciting new fantasy series for younger readers, The Impossible Quest. The young characters are varied and each intriguing in their own way, the situation gripping and the cast of supporting characters also strong. Along with a fast moving plot and plenty of twists and turns, there is plenty here to hook young readers and have them eagerly awaiting the next instalment.


Escape from Wolfhaven Castle (Impossible Quest)

Escape from Wolfhaven Castle, by Kate Forsyth
Scholastic, 2014
ISBN 9781743624067

Available online and from good bookstores.

The Silver Door and The Third Door, by Emily Rodda

The Doors are magic, Faene,’ Rye broke in, as the young woman turned her repraochful gaze on him. ‘They could lead … anywhere. The Golden Door led Dirk here. But I am certain that Sholto would have chosen the Silver Door. So to be sure of picking up his trail, we must go through the Silver Door ourselves. Do you see?

Now that one brother is safely back from beyond the Golden Door, Rye is determined to do anything he can to rescue his other brother, Sholto who, he is sure, will be beyond the Silver Door. Only then will he be ready to venture beyond the third door, the wooden door, in a quest to rid Weld of the menace of Skimmers, creatures who come in the night to eat anything that moves.

The Silver Door (Three Doors)

The Silver Door continues the adventures of Rye and his new friend Sonia as they work through their dangerous quest. Weld has been under seige for too long and, for too long, the young men of Weld have ventured through one of three magical doors in an effort to discover the source of the Skimmers and thus destroy them. With both of his brothers gone through the doors, and his mother now forced into a pauper’s life of service, Rye is determined to reunite his family and find a way to free Weld.

The Third Door (Three Doors)

In The Third Door the adventurers venture through the third and final door in their attempt to end the quest they began when they entered the first door.

Young fantasy lovers will delight in the adventures of Rye and his friends, with intriguing characters, twists and turns, magic and satisfying resolutions. Whilst each book is fairly self contained, they are best read as a trilogy.

The Silver Door , ISBN 9781862919136

The Third Door, ISBN 978186291914
both by Emily Rodda
Omnibus, 2012

Froi of the Exiles, by Melina Marchetta

Beside their own balconette was another that belonged to the room next door. After a moment the girl with the mass of awful hair stepped out onto it. She peered at Froi, almost within touching distance. Up close she was even stranger looking and it was with an unabashed manner that she studied him now and with great curiosity. Her brow furrowed, a cleft on her chin so pronounced it was as if someone had spent their life pointing out her strangeness.  Her hair was a filthy mess almost reaching her waist. It was straw-like in texture and Froi imagined that if it were washed, it might be described as a darker shade of fair. But for now, it looked dirty, its colour almost indescribable.
She squinted at his appraisal. Froi squinted back.

Once he was a foundling, and growing up Froi had no idea where he belonged – only that he needed to be quick and wily to survive. Now, though, he is happy living in Lumatere, serving the Queen and her consort, Finnikin. This is where he belongs. But a stranger arrives, seeking someone to go on a mission in the kingdom of Charyn.  And, Froi, it seems, is the perfect candidate. Soon he finds himself at the palace of the enemy king,w here he assumes the disguise of one of the young men chosen tot ry to impregnate a princess and thus break a generation long curse.  But the princess proves a surprise packet, and Froi is also drawn to others in the court, threatening to steer him away from his mission. It seems the kingdom of Charyn may hold the key to Froi’s mysterious past, as well as his future.

Froi of the Exiles is an emotional roller coaster of a book. There is the joy  – such as seeing Finnikin and Isaboe working together to restore Lumatere, anguish – of women separated from children, of lovers forced to live apart – and horror. Lots of it. There are mysteries of parentage, bonds and betrayals. And there is  Quintana, the troubled, trapped princess who nobody likes or understands, but on whom the future of a nation rests.  It isn’t an easy book, with so much emotion, but the characters, and their troubles, are so finely drawn that it is a tough ride the readers wants to take.

Lengthy, at almost 600 pages, the gripping sequel to Finnikin of the Rock,stands alone, so not having read the former should not stand in the way of reading this one.


Froi of the Exiles
Froi of the Exiles, by Melina Marchetta
Penguin, 2011

This book is available in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.