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Rogue Knight: Five Kingdoms, Book 2

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Rogue Knight: Five Kingdoms, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Slow storytelling in an intriguing fantasy realm.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers can compare many aspects of Elloweer with Sambria, the kingdom from Book 1, and with other fantasy realms they've read about: the kind of magic in it, the beings that inhabit it (both good and scary), the terrain, the government (is there always an evil king?), and more. They also can think about how much work it is for an author to create all the aspects of a new world out of his or her imagination.

Positive Messages

Good vs. evil is the central struggle, and extreme bravery is required, both in battle and in decisions; although it's easier to run away from trouble, loyalty toward friends and a just cause win out. There's also a nice bit about not underestimating someone's abilities based on age or stature.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Cole is a very thoughtful and deliberate character who chooses loyalty to his friends over personal safety. He discovers some of his talents in Book 2 and uses them bravely.

Violence

Skirmishes where limbs are hacked off, and some human and animal deaths from arrows, swords, battle axes, a flail, and evil magic -- including two sad deaths -- but the gore is not described in detail. A slaver threatens Cole with the loss of his hand, and there are a couple kidnappings. Two knights duel to the death. Talk of all those killed in past duels with the Rogue Knight, and whole villages overtaken by an evil magical force. Reminders how the princesses lost their magical abilities (thanks to their father the king staging their deaths and imprisoning them).

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rogue Knight is the second book in the Five Kingdom series from fantasy author Brandon Mull, who developed a big fan base from his Fablehaven and Beyonders series. If kids have already read some of Mull's books, they'll find this series less violent and just a little less complex than Beyonders. There's still an average amount of fantasy violence with characters injured and killed by arrows, swords, battle axes, a flail, and evil magic. There are a couple of sad deaths, a knights' duel to the death, and some kidnappings, and Cole nearly loses his hand to vengeful slavers. Cole remains a valiant main character who chooses loyalty to his friends over his own personal safety.

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What's the story?

After defeating Carnag in Book 1, Cole, Princess Mira, Jace, Joe, and Twitch don't stop to celebrate. The High King, Mira's tyrannical father, still has Mira's sisters locked up and hidden around the five kingdoms, and they need to be found before their stolen magical powers form into something even scarier than Carnag. Mira sets her sights on finding her sister Honor first. Their first step: Get magically disguised in special gossip houses called Confidence Lounges to find out where to start looking. After some sleuthing, they learn she may be in the neighboring kingdom of Elloweer. Cole also finds out his friend Dalton may be enslaved in Elloweer and working as a slave in one of their most secretive Confidence Lounges. He's determined to save him while helping Mira find her sister. It's a good plan, but on the ride to Elloweer their caravan is overtaken by the infamous Rogue Knight and his men, who recognize Mira and kidnap her. Suddenly there are three rescue missions underway. Will Cole find Mira, Dalton, and Honor before a destructive magical power overtakes Elloweer?

Is it any good?

ROGUE KNIGHT suffers from many of the same issues as series opener Sky Raiders: The storytelling is just too slow. Cole and Mira spend too much time in the Confidence Lounges getting disguised and casually taking in gossip, and there's too much backstory on the Rogue Knight and all his duels and the whole system of duels in the kingdom. 

What Rogue Knight does well is what author Brandon Mull always excels in: world building. And, in this series, he's tasked with creating a new form of magic and a new way of life for each of the five kingdoms. The magic of seemings is pretty cool, and so are the crazy hermit grand shapers and their abilities. Mull also adds a bit more whimsy to his world this time; the scene with slime for dessert is pretty great. The series' strengths will definitely be enough to keep fans reading.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about different kinds of magic. Would you like shaper abilities, or would you like to make your own seemings? Or would you like to save the day with your magic like Cole does?

  • What do you think of the Five Kingdoms series so far? Will you keep reading? What do you think the third kingdom will be like?

  • Would you decide to stick with Mira like Cole does or strike out on your own to find your friends? What reasons does Cole give for staying with Mira?

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