Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin
Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy
Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words
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Scott Collins was born and raised in Southern California but relocated to the
area following the birth of the first of his two sons. Days' End was his debut novel and Scepter is the first in a middle grade fantasy series. In addition
to writing, he enjoys spending his free time (with two kids that's not much
time) running and cycling. Please feel free to visit his website and facebook page. Denver
Since King Argyle's men came and took their parents to be slaves three years ago fourteen year-old Daniel and his eleven year-old brother Aidan’s survival has been dependent on the lessons learned from their parents, as well as their own unique powers.
When the gathering party comes to take Daniel away on his fourteenth birthday, Aidan uses his little-known gift to fight off the kings men. His only goal is to save his older brother from a lifetime of serving Argyle and escape into the wilds of the kingdom of Castiglias. Fleeing the only home they have ever known, they must avoid Argyle's men, werewolves, and a fire-breathing dragon looking for an easy meal.
What begins as a fight to save one boy and then disappear unexpectedly turns into a battle against the evil forces of Argyle, a war that may affect the lives of not only the many children waiting to be taken, but the existence of the kingdom itself.
As this epic adventure begins, Daniel is agonizing over being taken away leaving Aidan alone to fend for himself. Daniel seems resigned to accept his fate; however Aidan has a different plan. The sibling rivalry between these two brothers was wonderfully depicted and realistic as they faced the challenges set before them in their journey. All of Scott L. Collins’ characters were strong and well rounded, Olivia provided a nice counterbalance between the brothers and Lilly, her blind sister, showed handicaps didn’t have to be a hindrance. There were a lot of great lessons to be learned in this book as these kids fight back evil forces and learn to deal with injuries and sickness on their own.
The author paints beautiful pictures of this fantasy world with some horrifying elements that are not too frightening for the middle-grade audience it is intended for. As the book draws to a close the kid’s journey turns into a quest that will bring peace and harmony back to the kingdom of Castiglias. I have a good feeling about this series turning into a challenging adventure full of battles of wit and cunning as well as an outright war as this small band rallies allies for their cause.
I enjoyed this novel a lot but I think it could use some condensing in the first half of the story. I found there was a lot of repetition that could be edited out that would not affect the story. At other times the story was slowed down by the mundane chores where the author spends more time telling us daily routines, unlike later in the book when the kids are actually having conversations as these tasks are taking place. I think this proves the author is getting more comfortable with the story and his characters. This is a very promising new series and I can’t wait to see how it all moves forward and what elements are brought into play next.
Other than the tightening up of the prose there were no significant issues that I noticed.
Rating: **** Four stars