Monday, March 28, 2011

The Aedyn Chronicles: Flight of the Outcasts

Flight of the Outcasts, Alister McGrath's second volume of The Aedyn Chronicles continues the story of Peter and Julia, and their journeys to the fantastical land of Aedyn. When Peter and Julia decide to run away from their evil stepmother, their unkind stepsister Julia follows them. Suddenly, they find themselves in the foreign land, flying on the back of an enormous falcon.

The Aedyn Chronicles are reminiscent of The Chronicles of Narnia. In this allegorical land, the Lord of Hosts reigns. However, as Peter and Julia return to Aedyn, they are horrified to find the land ravaged and a sinister volcano about to erupt. It seems the citizens had long forgotten to call on the Lord of Hosts, and are now enslaved and working in mines. They are being forced to search for the second half of a medallion, prophesied to bring power to the owners. Julia and Peter are quickly pressed into service, but Louisa manages to escape. As she serves in the infirmary, her spirit softens, and she realizes she knows the second half of the prophecy. The prophecy states: “The two come together; the two become one/With union comes power, control over all/Flooded by light, the shadow outdone/The Host shall return; the darkness shall fall.”

After several narrow escapes, Julia is able to return home and collect a necklace her grandparents gave her. The children reunite the necklace with the second half of the medallion, and are thrilled when the Light drives back the darkness.

What I Like: McGrath uses vivid description to contrast the lands of England and Aedyn. His transition from the real world to the fantasy world is so believable, I even felt like I was flying with the children on the back of the falcon.

I also like the way McGrath shows Louisa's change of heart. Julia and Peter make conscious choices to treat Louisa well, even though she has been mean to them in the past. Louisa is a good reminder to all of us people can and do change.

The black and white ink sketches lend the book an air of age and authenticity. The engaging story, believable characters, and unique illustrations will especially appeal to readers who like C.S. Lewis' Narnia series.

What I Dislike: The resolution seemed very abrupt. McGrath spends a lot of time setting up the story, but resolves everything quickly in the last chapter. The ending seemed too convenient, and was not developed as well as the rest of the story.

I also didn't like the fact the falcon did not talk at all at in the children's first encounter with him, but in their second encounter, he began talking to them. Even though he was wise and encouraging, it seemed incongruous to have the falcon remain silent at the beginning, when they had so many questions, but begin to talk later.

Rating: Very Good

Age Appeal:

Publisher Info: Zondervan, 2011; ISBN: 978-0-310-71813-0; Hardcover, 172 pages, $14.99

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