The Wizards of Once – Written & illustrated by Cressida Cowell

Standard

wizards

(wish you could see the coppery accents!)

Hachette

September 2017

ISBN 9781444939576

Following twelve books in the How to Train Your Dragon series, devotees of Cressida Cowell’s distinctive quirky writing and illustrating are bound to be enchanted by this first in a completely new series.

Some of the most exquisite cover art I have ever seen promises a read chockfull of mystery and adventure and it certainly does not disappoint.

Xar is a small Wizard, the youngest son of Encanzo the King Enchanter. He is wilful, disobedient, reckless and often just plain naughty and a great disappointment to his father, especially as his Magic has not yet come in.  Fed up with this situation, Xar takes it upon himself to lead his retinue of assorted creatures and sprites plus his raven counsel Caliburn into the Badwoods (against all the rules) to try out his grand plan of trapping a Witch and stealing it’s magic. Of course, Witches are supposed to be extinct after the long ago wars between Wizards, Warriors and Witches but Xar has found a special feather which he is convinced is of Witch origin.

Coming from the opposite direction, that of the Warrior fort, a small awkward girl rides her pony accompanied by her protesting novice bodyguard, Bodkin. Wish is the youngest daughter of Queen Sychorax, leader of the Warriors and an imperious, dangerous person. Wish is often disobedient, reckless, and wilful – wait a minute – that sounds familiar! And a huge disappointment to her rather scary mother.

The reader will predict that when these two meet in the forest amid mysterious pursuers and strange happenings, that fireworks will occur. They surely do but as the tale goes on, a strange bond of alliance is forged between these two sworn enemies.  Also predictably Witches, it seems, are not extinct but like a lot of Magic, hidden and biding their time.

From start to finish this is a gripping read with Cowell’s usual touches of real humour and absurdity throughout. Darker and edgier than the Dragon books though, there is a real sense of menace throughout.

An audio book is being recorded by David Tennant and movie rights have already been picked up so it’s safe to say this is going to be another winning and highly addictive series from this creative writer/illustrator.

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards – perhaps with the lights on though!

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