Wardragon, by Paul collins

A door opened. Ras and three guards appeared, escorting Jelindel dek Mediesar. The Wardragon waved the guards out and they withdrew. Jelindel did not take her eyes off the Preceptor’s mailshirt. The Wardragon heard her soft intake of breath. Good, he thought. She recognises her true nemesis. The one who will unmake her.
>>>HAVE YOU BEEN HARMED<< ‘Depends what you mean by harmed,’ said Jelindel, managing to keep most of the shock out of her voice. ‘Kidnapped in the night, shackled, exiled to this place, dragged here without a by-your-leave…’
Jelindel thinks the Wardahgon is destroyed and the mailshirt is safely buried, but something strange is happening in Q’zar, and now she must once again face the mighty Wardragon. This time the Wardragon is one with the evil Preceptor, and working with another former enemy, Fa-red. It will take all of Jelindel’s abilities, strength and wits to defeat the Wardragon. If she doesn’t, magic will be lost.

Wardragon is the fourth in the Jelindel chronicles and brings together Jelindel’s friends and foes from previous volumes, as well as a range of new characters, in a dramatic finale. There is action and drama, with twists and turns and some interesting character development as Jelindel searches for herself in the midst of the turbulent times by which she is faced. Jelindel’s companions Zimak and Daretor also grow and change in the course of this instalment.

For readers new to the series, there is enough back story to make this self contained, but those who have the previous instalments will be at an advantage.

An absorbing fantasy from a superb talent.

Wardragon, by Paul Collins
Ford Street, 2008

Trust Me, edited by Paul Collins

This fat and juicy collection, writes Isobelle Carmody in this book’s introduction, is like one of those dessert plates where you get to try a little bit of everything, so that you can decide what you’ll order next time as a full-sized portion.This wonderful analogy is just part of what Carmody has to say on the topic of genre and on the content of the anthology, but it a very clever way of describing what is on offer here.

Trust Me is an anthology offering short stories, poetry and illustration from fifty of Australia’s best known creators for children and young adults. From the sheer silliness of Andy Griffiths’ The True History of Sir Donald BADMAN, to the horror of Lili Wilkinson’s The Babysitter and from the romance of Carol Jones’ Under/Over to the beauty of Meme McDonald’s Farewell Song, there is something for every taste, as well as plenty to ignite new tastes. Readers are offered samplings of a range of genres including fantasy, horror, science fiction, history and poetry. What is common is the high standard of the various offerings.

Wonderful for individual reading, this would also be suitable for classroom use and school library collections.

Trust Me, edited by Paul Collins
Ford Street, 2008

Vampires of Quentaris, by Paul Collins

Rad held his breath as a squad of tall humanoids passed by within yards of his hiding place. Vampires. The creatures had long, flowing hair, inhuman faces with jaws like those of snakes and jutting razor-sharp fangs. They were exquisitely dressed in black and maroon garments. Cloaks with strange hieroglyphs inscribed upon them hung from their shoulders as they strode purposefully down a trail. Their elegance seemed incongruous in this underworld.

When Rad de La’rel returns from a trip into the rift caves, he is shocked to find Quentaris unguarded. Quentaris is at war with neighbouring Tolrush, and every able-bodied fighter has gone. Taking advantage of the lack of security, vampires have come through the rift cave and are ready to take control of the city. Rad must fight this scourge, but he can’t do it alone and willing helpers are hard to find in the face of such a formidable foe.

Vampires of Quentaris is one of the final two titles in the Quentaris Chronicles series produced by Lothian books. The city of Quentaris is built near rift caves which open into countless worlds, and make Quentaris both a place of adventure and the site of diverse troubles. The arrival of vampires in the city makes for an exciting adventure which young fantasy fans will enjoy.

Exciting stuff.

Vampires of Quentaris, by Paul Collins
Lothian, 2008

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Allira's Gift, by Paul Collins

A deafening roar filled her ears. Shouting erupted and she jerked around to find its source. “Ohmigod,” she mouthed.
Part of the castle gate had been blown to smithereens. A lingering green mist like cannon smoke wafted on the still air. Debris lay scattered across the immediate area. Through the mist surged a horde of small, green-skinned creatures.

Allira and Steven are not terribly impressed with the country town of Coradgee, the town where their father grew up, but it seems they’re here to stay, at least until their missing grandfather is found. Fergus Hart has vanished without a trace, and the children’s father has come home to try to find him. But home isn’t quite as he remembers it. The farm house has been replaced by a huge castle, a castle which Allira feels is pretty special. As reality and fantasy clash, Allira finds just how special the castle is. The goblins who work there are at first visible only to her, but when she finds herself swept up in dangerous events, Steven is there ot help her.

Allira’s Gift is the first title in the new World of Grymm series from Australian fantasy master Paul Collins. With a host of fantastical creatures both familiar and unfamiliar, and plenty of action, it will appeal to readers aged 10 through to young adult. Illustrated by Danny Willis with black and white drawings of key characters and events, and in a sturdy hard cover format, this is a keeper, sure to be enjoyed over and over and with readers looking out for the next instalment, due for release in June 2008.

The World of Grymm: Allira’s Gift, by Paul Collins and Danny Willis
Five Mile Press, 2007

The Forgotten Prince, by Paul Collins

Reviewed by Jess Whiting

Crocodile Sal had her work cut out for her. Her prac exam, Deceit and Daring 101, was proving to be more difficult then she could ever have imagined. It had seemed so straightforward when she was given the paper. Get a legitimate job and stay in it for at least three months. During this time, steal something really valuable and use it in a successful, diabolical crime.

Crocodile Sal is an apprentice thief. She has been trying hard to pass her latest exam and prove herself to the thieves Guild. But when Sal stumbles across Waldo Pritlock, an actor, she finds herself putting her skills to the ultimate test.

Waldo claims to be the true Prince Timaris of Hadran. Sal embarks on a difficult journey to find out the truth behind the mystery of the Forgotten Prince.

The Forgotten Prince is an exciting novel for fantasy lovers ages 10 and up. Another story based in the world of Quentaris, filled with adventure, mystery and great characters. Not the most descriptive book, but it makes up for it with an irresistible story line.

A thrilling plot

The Forgotten Prince, by Paul Collins
Lothian, 2006

The Lost Ship, by Paul Collins

Tammy and Dayne aren’t impressed that their parents are spending their holidays digging up the beach looking for a long lost ship. So, when they notcie a group of tourists heading off for a cave tour, they beg to be allowed to go too.

In the caves, though, strange things happen. When the children decide to hide from the tour group they find that the caves are not as boring as they first thought. They also learn a little more about the lost ship their father is searching for.

The Lost Ship is a yellow level title in Macmillan Education’s Breakers series. Young readers will enjoy the eerie elements of the story, although some may be left a little confused by the rushed ending.

Aimed at a reading age of 8.5, The Lost Ship is suitable for classroom or individual reading.

The Lost Ship, by Paul Collins
Macmillan Education, 2003

The Off-Worlders, by Paul Collins

Doyle is excited when he sees what looks like a spacecraft landing in the valley. He races out of the house with his dog Mastiff, ready to investigate. Little does he expect to meet and make friends with an alien who can talk to him using telepathy, and is here to save the world.

Together Doyle and his new friend, Bigel, must convince the residents of Diamond Valley and its enemy neighbours in the dome, to work together to defeat an invading force.

Part of a classroom educational series, The Off-Worlders is surprising in its hard-hitting plot. This is no simple boy-meets-alien-visitor story. Instead it looks at a futuristic Earth where society is divided into the haves and have-nots, with big domes housing populations hiding from the after-effects of nuclear war, and preying on those who live outside of the dome. The arrival of the alien Bigel proves to be the catalyst for the breaking down of the divisions, at least in Doyle’s part of the world, but not before some life and death escapades and serious battles.

Collins tells a story which is high on action and interest, yet with language which is accessible to readers aged 10 to 12. In essence, he manages to make the text realtively easy to read, whilst keeping the plot at a level which does not patronise pre-teen readers.

Part of the Breakers series from Macmillan Education, The Off-Worlders will appeal to young science fiction fans.

The Off-Worlders, by Paul Collins
Macmillan Education, 2004