Series: Septimus Heap, Book 2
Author: Angie Sage
Illustrator: Mark Zug
Narrator: Gerard Doyle
Pages: 532 pages
Discs/CDs: 10 CDs, 11 hours 30 minutes
Publisher/Date: HarperCollinsChildren’s Books, c2006.
In no time at all, Thunder reached the Great Arch. Jenna expected Simon to slow down and turn the horse around to go back to the Palace, but instead he yanked hard on the reins, and the horse veered abruptly off to the left and hurtled down Cutpurse Cut. [...]
“Simon!” protested Jenna. “Where are we going?”
“Shut up!” Jenna thought she heard him say.
“You heard. Shut up. You’re going where I take you.”
Jenna twisted around to look at Simon, shocked at the sudden sound of hatred in his voice. She hoped she had misunderstood what he said, but, when she saw the coldness in his eyes, Jenna knew she had heard right. A sharp chill of foreboding jumped through her. (46-47)
Immediately after Simon returns home after almost a year away, without a word to his parents or siblings, he kidnaps his foster-sister, Princess Jenna and races out of the Palace. Simon and Septimus’s parents are reluctant to believe that Simon would do such a thing. Septimus knows better, and sets off to find her in the next two days so she can visit the Dragon Boat before MidSummer Day. Along the way, Septimus finally meets the rest of his six brothers, has to control the Dragon Boat, and discovers that there might be something else going on in addition to Jenna’s kidnapping.
I’m really enjoying listening to this series as audiobook. The only disadvantage of listening to the audiobook, which is narrated quite nicely by Gerard Doyle, is that you don’t get the benefit of the map and the other illustrations included in the opening pages of the book and primarily at the chapter breaks. Upon looking at the printed copy, I’m actually glad that I didn’t read it, because I think the different font used to name spells would have probably proved distracting.
Angie Sage knows how to appeal to her audience, whether it’s the frozen underground ice highways or the naivety of the adults who just can’t accept the fact that Simon has kidnapped his sister, even when it’s staring them right in their faces. Septimus’s discovery of an old friend stretches the story just a little, but the action that comes in fast and furious spurts will encourage readers to make quick work of this second book in the series. Taking place about a year after Magyk, Septimus and Jenna solve their problems with very little grown-up assistance as readers see they have grown up and are acquiring new skills. Mixing magic with action creates a sure-fire hit that will appeal to a wide range of audiences, and make the rather long book fly to the finish. Readers will be clamoring for the rest of the series.