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At first glance I assumed that this was going to need a quick read of the author's previous works, but I was wrong. While it is indeed part of a longer series, the skill of the storyteller manages to weave any nuggets of knowledge from previous events seamlessly into the narrative so that we are not in the dark.
Young Bobby Pendragon has a quest; he must stop the evil Saint Dane from accomplishing whatever his nefarious purpose is as he journeys about changing history. Like the TV show Sliders, Travellers journey via a portal to other worlds. Some are the same world, Earth, but in different points of his historical time. Others appear to be elsewhere entirely. Bobby Pendragon must navigate the portals, called flumes, to pursue his foe, enlisting the help of his friends, Courtney, Mark, and Dodger, while hiding the truth of their mission and origins from the local residents, lest they too negatively affect the historical path of that territory.
This time it is the territory of Ibara at stake, as people and technology from the different territories are mixed, with St Dane hoping to tip the balance in his favour at this turning point in the history of the world of Rayne. Told from both third person points of view as the action happens around us and via journals passed from one territory to another via rings of unknown origin, its a tale that Heinlein would have been proud to have penned in his juvenile fiction years. Like the best of Heinlein, this is as much a tale about coming of age and growing up, as it is about stopping a villain and coming to the aid of others.
Like Heinlein and His Dark Materials, there is also a darker element in play, with questions about the nature of existence and of good and of evil. It's about personal choices and the difficulty of making the right ones when your heart wishes for another ultimate outcome. It's a story sure to enthrall the young adult reader while being quite interesting enough to engage the adult reader as well. With its untechnical language and straightforward plot, it is a pleasant and uncomplicated read that nonetheless has enough twists and turns to raise this from the pedestrian to a fine read full of action and surprises.
This review first appeared on The Book Bag.