A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, aside from a few fights, there's not much to be concerned with here, even though it's aimed at older kids. There's a human sacrifice and some brutal fighting. Among other themes, the book espouses a particularly proactive view of commitment to friendship that is unusual and refreshing.
What's the story?
Seeker After Truth, like his older brother, Blaze of Justice, longs to join the Nomana, a priestly warrior cult that protects the one true god from the coming of the Assassin. But his father intends for him to follow in his own footsteps as a scholar.
When his brother is disgraced and cast out of the Nomana, Seeker leaves their island home to find him. Along the way he befriends Morning Star, a girl whose mother left her to become a Noma, and Wildman, a young pirate who wants the power and peace the Nomana offer. Together they travel to the city of Radiance, ruled by priests, where a new weapon is being prepared to destroy the Nomana -- and their god.
Is it any good?
An intriguing premise and terrific characterizations mark the beginning of this series by author and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter (Gladiator and Shadowlands) William Nicholson. While there's not a lot of action in this first volume, the intricate and detailed process of setting up this odd little world, encompassing mythologies drawn from several different cultures, is fascinating to read.
The most interesting characters are the secondary ones, especially the hilariously childish and casually murderous Wildman. This is the kind of book that sneaks up on you, having more of an impact a day or two after you finish it. There are several subplots that wind their way through the book like vines and shoots and come twining together at the satisfying climax.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the central theme of faith. How are the inhabitants of Radiance so completely convinced of their faith? How do the priests and king use this faith? Why do people react the way they do when it is shattered? How is it different from the faith of the Nomana? Families also may want to talk about the book series. What is fun about them? Why would publishers be interested in printing them? If you were an author, what would be the appeal of writing a series -- and what would be the challenges?