Friday, May 9, 2008

Dragons in Our Midst Part 3: Circles of Seven

Title: Circles of Seven

Series: Dragons in Our Midst #3

Author: Bryan Davis

Genre: YA (10-14) Technological Fantasy

Excerpt from “The Monogram,” Chapter 1 of Circles of Seven:

Danger!

Billy’s internal alarm blared. Something evil approached, creeping up slowly through one of the hallways of the huge English mansion. Sitting back in an easy chair, he closed his book and flicked off the floor lamp at his side. He waited, allowing his eyes to adjust to the dimness of the unfamiliar bedroom. Only a ray of moonlight seeped in from the window on the opposite wall, its yellowish white glow casting odd shadows across the oak floor.

He slowly rose to his feet, cringing at the sound of the creaking boards under his heels. He tiptoed to the door and pushed it silently closed, carefully releasing the knob and begging the latch not to click.

Icy dread crawled along his skin. The sense of danger grew in intensity with each creak from the bowels of the centuries-old house. Not able to sleep, he had decided to read a book of King Arthur lore borrowed from his teacher, Professor Hamilton. As he sat in the corner, he had thought the postmidnight noises were simply trees brushing the windows or maybe his host puttering around on the first floor. Now, as the clock on the wall ticked past 3:00 a.m., he knew better.

Two teenaged anthrozils (half-human, half-dragon race) enter the seven circles of Hades to rescue long-trapped prisoners.

The Writing: Circles of Seven has settled into the rhythm set by the previous two books without becoming static, the intensity of this story picking up where book two left off. The pace does slack for a couple chapters after the fast beginning, but it only builds pressure before diving back into the conflict.

The weak point of this story, like the rest of the series, is the emotional connection to the characters. While enough has been built to keep the reader wondering and worrying about the characters, there is missing that deeper level that can leave the reader breathless or on the verge of tears with a plot like this.

On the other hand, the good plotting has improved so that the reader becomes confused only a couple times and then for only short periods of times.

The premise, however, is what makes this book worth reading. The strongest point of the writing by far, these fanciful (and perhaps not so fanciful) what-ifs intrigues the mind and tickles the imagination. Thus the curiosity about this mythology will pull the reader along when other parts weaken.

Finally, I also appreciated how Mr. Davis seems to broaden the humor—especially with the addition of Larry the supercomputer—to ease the tension that could otherwise overwhelm.

The Story: The spiritual threads almost invisible in book one have now come to the foreground. At every turn, the main protagonists are faced with complex decisions and temptations that test them not only physically, but spiritually on many levels. Circles of Seven even confronts those times when we are confused and only God seems to know the truth.

As for the other areas of concern, violence and death is the main one faced in Circles of Seven, yet how can you expect otherwise when you consider they are supposedly traversing the circles of Hades? But while Mr. Davis does not shy away from this, he is very careful to depict it in a low-key manner that will not fill the mind with gruesome pictures.

Summary: Circles of Seven captures the imagination in a way that the previous two books only hinted at, providing an exciting adventure for young adults and thought-provoking read fro adults. It’s especially good for intellectual readers who want ideas to stretch their minds.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars

Order Circles of Seven here, and don't miss the reviews for book one, book two, and book four!

1 comment:

Galadriel said...

Bonnie and Billy are sent into the Circles of Seven to rescue prisoners. But in a land of deceit and temptation, whom can they trust? From an abandoned town to an island castle to a deep chasm, this story is a feast for the imagination and emotions. The climatic battle is better than any movie because of the realistic characters whom you can identify with.
This book contains elements from Arthurian legend, Dante's Inferno, and even bits of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. A great story that can be used to introduce others--I actually read Dante's Inferno because of this book.