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“Times are changing, and you can’t fight it —not with steel or spells or other old-fashioned notions. This is the age of opportunity, where anyone can rise regardless of birth or wealth,” Scream. –Let Sleeping Dragons Lie
Let Sleeping Dragons Lie
Will Travel #2
by Garth Nix & Sean Williams
Odo and Eleanor are excited to be knights. The only problem is that nothing ever happens in their sleepy little village. While Odo is happy to wait for some action to come his way, Eleanor is eager to go on the next adventure. Both knights know they are prepared to go on a quest, especially since they have their trusted and talkative enchanted swords.
When bilewolves attack the village, two strangers show up to dispatch the evil creatures. The strangers, Edga, and Hundred, are determined to prevent an unbearable imposter from taking the crown. Odo, Eleanor, and their swords join the quest. They will wander through unfamiliar lands, fight unseen enemies, and prepare for an epic battle.
The second installment of the Have Sword, Will Travel Series loses its humor and lacks a lot of the charm of the first book. When Odo and Eleanor join the quest, they meet two new characters, Edga and Hundred. Unfortunately, neither of these characters is relatable. Years ago Edga abdicated the thrown, and now he believes Kyndryk should be king. However, Kyndryk rarely appears. When he does, none of his actions prove he is worthy of becoming king.
Several new characters appear in book two. However, a bat that has been taught to recite letters in order to deliver messages is the most interesting character. All of the new characters are one-dimensional. Even though their quest is admirable, their personalities do not pop off the page. As the group travels to stop the coronation, the action lags. When the group finally makes it to their destination, a dragon appears, but his appearance is anticlimactic. Instead of adding an interesting element, the dragon does nothing to add to the story’s plot.
Readers who fell in love with Odo and Eleanor in Have Sword, Will Travel will be slightly disappointed in the sequel, Let Sleeping Dragons Lie. The simple plot, the slow pace, and the lack of enchanted sword action all add up to a mediocre sequel. If you’re looking for an excellent fantasy series, the Riders of the Realm Series by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez and the Max Tilt Series by Peter Lerangis both take readers on an adventurous journey full of wonder.
- “Four enormous, shaggy, wolf like creatures, each the size of a small horse” attack two people—Hundred and Edga. The man’s weapon “was a blur, leaping out to punch one bilewolf’s snout, then jab another’s forefoot. The woman was equally as adept, though she wielded a curved sword, the blade moving swiftly…”
- When Odo and Eleanor see the fighting, they also notice “three villagers lay dead or seriously wounded, their torn and jagged clothes still smoking from the bilewolves’ acid-spewing jaws.”
- During the battle against the bilewolves, Sir Halfdan rides his warhorse towards a bilewolf. “A bilewolf turned towards the galloping horse and charged, leaping at the last moment to avoid Sir Halfdan’s lowering lance…” Sir Halfdan “flicked the point up, taking the beast in the shoulder, the steel point punching deep. Bilewolf shrieked, the lance snapped, and then horse, knight, and dying bilewolf collided and went flying.” Sir Halfdan dies. Three other villagers are killed, but their deaths are not described.
- During the battle, a “bilewolf bunched itself to leap up at Odo…but Runnel’s sharp point cut through its leg even as it sprang. It fell sideways, yelping and Biter came down to separate its massive head from its body…” At the end of the battle, all the bilewolves are “slain, one with a crushed skull and the other with a sliced-open throat. All four carcasses lay steaming, the grass beneath them turning black and smoking…” The above battle takes place over six pages.
- Edga, Hundred, and some of the villagers sneak into the village’s manor house to take some men prisoner. Hundred “brought down the guard with one hand across her mouth and a forearm tight against her throat. The guard struggled for a minute, then fell unconscious.”
- The group sneaks into the manner when all of the men are sleeping. The group seizes the sleeping men, “swiftly trussing them up like livestock, wrist tied to ankles.”
- While the group is herding the men out of the manor, “the front door burst in, admitting the single remaining guard… Hundred tripped the guard and Odo fell on him, one knee pinning him to the ground…and they both tied him up.” No one is injured. The scene is described over three pages.
- Someone uses a craft-fire to have birds attack Edga’s group. “With a furious flapping of wings, a dozen black shapes converged on them from all sides, claws and beaks reaching for their eyes… Edga spun his staff overhead, knocking a raven to the ground. Hundred produced a whip and cracked it twice. Three birds fell dead, instantly slain.” Everyone is able to escape without injury.
- A hooded figure appears and when he gestures, “tiny darts hissed out of the trees, striking them each in the throat. Odo felt a string of pain, followed by a rushing, clouding sensation as darkness swept over him once more.” Everyone in the group becomes unconscious, but they wake up safely.
- When traveling into the urthkin’s tunnels, “something moved behind her [Eleanor] and she felt a tiny pinprick at the neck. ‘Move, tall one, and I will spill your lifeblood to the dirt,’ said the urthkin holding the curved knife to her throat.”
- Someone uses craft-fire to make birds and bugs attack Edga’s group. “An eagle and dozens of sparrows…swarmed from the sky. Scorpion, spiders, and ants issued from cracks in rocks…” The humans were able to run and escape the attack.
- When trying to stop Edga’s sister from becoming king, Edga’s group “attacked the backs of the watching Instruments. Two fell with throwing knives buried deep in their shoulders. Another two dropped with tendons cut in their ankles.”
- During the battle, “Odo lowered the shield from his face long enough to block a wicked slash to his ribs from a skinny woman… The blow jarred every joint in the left side of his body.”
- In order to stop the attacking birds, “Hundred’s blades caught the craft-worker. The bearded man went down with a cry, and his green-flamed torch went out. The animals were instantly released.”
- Hundred tries to stop Lord Deor. Hundred “threw a knife that glanced off his shoulder without doing any harm… The third bit into his neck, and he turned with a snarl.” The fighting is described over seven and a half pages.
- Trying to capture Lord Deor, Odo continues the fight. “Blood still flowed freely down his [Odo’s] side, and his smile was looking forced.”
- The huge rock where the fight took place began to crumble, and Lord Deor “with a cry, he fell into a fiery crack and disappeared. There came a sound like giant jaws crunching and he was gone.”
- As Edga’s sister tried to run, the dragon caught her and wrapped her in “his lightning-fast tongue. The dragon held her like that for a few seconds, then whipped his tongue back, sending the regents spinning dizzily away until she fell over a stone and lay there, sobbing angrily.”
- In the epilogue, an enchanted sword “lunged, killing the peasant with a single stab to the throat.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Edga asks Hundred to sing. “Give us a round of ‘Drunk Eyes Fair See What Fair Might Not Be.”
- While traveling, Edga’s group stops for the night. As they talk to other travelers, they “passed around a flask of warming spirits that made Odo’s eyes water, just sniffing it.”
- Someone uses poison darts to put Edga’s group “to sleep.”
- Eleanor calls someone a “slimy cumberwold.”
- Edga’s sister says he is a “dullard.”
- Eleanor tells Odo, “don’t be such a lubberwort.”
- Kyndryk’s grandmother calls him a fool.
- Edga’s sister says, “You’re supposed to be dead, you old fool!”
- Biter and his sister sword are enchanted swords that are able to talk and control their movements.
- Someone uses a craft-fire to deliberately call the bilewolves.
- Some people believe that “the dead were dead and likely to stay that way—unless talked about too much.”
- In order to help Edga grieve the loss of his friends, Odo built a grave. Hundred explains, “These are twigs and berries—an old Karnickan ritual, I believe. A stick for the body, a seed for the soul? To put grief to rest and let the happy memories thrive?” The group buries the stick and seed to represent the dead.
- Urthkin, “pale-skinned, reed-slender demi-humans” that have “paws like a mole’s, with digging claws,” only come out at night because light hurts their eyes. Edga’s group asks for permission to use the Urthkin’s tunnels.
- Edga and his group are taken to a forge that is able to create enchanted swords. Odo’s sword, Biter, asks a smith to repair a nick in his sword. Biter is “washed in sweet oils, bathed in three fires, hammered by a master smith.” Afterward, Biter’s memory comes back.
- Kyndryk paints a mural of a dragon. He chants, “Dragon, dragon, heed our call. Come to aid us, one and all. From a cruel and dreadful fate, save us now, ere it’s too late.” After Kyndryk says the chant several times, the dragon comes alive. “But the dragon was flying too low. The broad wings flapped almost carelessly a third and final time. Then, with a soundless crash that somehow made the stone quiver faintly underfoot, it struck the vertical cliff face and became a mural once more.”
- While trying to sneak past sentries, Odo “kept his face carefully neutral, praying his relief was perfectly concealed.”