The Cadet of Tildor

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Cadet of Tildor Book Poster Image
Girl trains as elite soldier in sword-slashing fantasy.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The Cadet of Tildor features a number of sword fights, and the author takes care to make them realistic and reveal the strategy behind various maneuvers.

Positive Messages

Major characters in The Cadet of Tildor, including Renee and Savoy, follow codes of honor that dictate their behavior. The conflicts in the novel arise when their black-and-white beliefs bump up against the gray realities of war, magic, and life on the streets. Renee, in particular, must learn to compromise for the benefit of those she cares about.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The protagonist of The Cadet of Tildor, Renee de Winter, starts the novel wanting nothing more than to graduate from the Academy and become a Servant to the Crown. She struggles mightily and, in an act of weakness, cheats. She spends the rest of the book trying to redeem herself.

Violence

The Cadet of Tildor is a gritty, pseudo-medieval fantasy filled with sword fights that sometimes end in bloodshed and fatalities. There are also scenes of gladiatorial combat and a street encounter in which a gang-rape is narrowly averted.

Sex

Renee in The Cadet of Tildor is obviously attracted to Commander Korish Savoy, but they do not actively pursue their interest in each other.

Language

The language in The Cadet of Tildor is a little salty, but not gratuitously so, given its pseudo-medieval setting. There are a few instances each of "hell," "damn," "ass," and "bastard." Characters swear by "the gods" and the "Seven Hells."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One of the characters must take an illegal (and fictional) drug in order to control his magical powers. Otherwise, Renee and the other main characters in The Cadet of Tildor do not indulge in drinking, drugs, or smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Cadet of Tildor is a gritty, pseudo-medieval fantasy with sword fights that sometimes end in bloodshed and fatalities. There are also scenes of gladiatorial combat and a street encounter in which a gang-rape is narrowly averted. The language is sometimes salty, but characters mostly swear by "the gods" and the "Seven Hells." An illegal (and fictional) drug that controls magic is part of one subplot.

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What's the story?

Having lost her mother and estranged from her father, Renee de Winter wants nothing more than to be an elite soldier-in-training at the Academy of Tildor. Her chances are jeopardized by the arrival of Korish Savoy, a hard-nosed commander reluctantly recalled from active duty, someone who seems unwilling to cut Renee the least bit of slack. The entire kingdom seethes with political turmoil, with two warring criminal families plotting to bring down the young, inexperienced Crown. Throw in some powerful and illegal magic, and Renee, Savoy and their compatriots are embroiled in conspiracy and warfare.

Is it any good?

THE CADET OF TILDOR sometimes feels as if it aspires to walk in the footsteps of George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones, minus the over-the-top sex and violence (and overwhelming page-count). Author Alex Lidell is not nearly as fluid or daring a writer as Martin, but who is on his or her first outing? The novel has plenty of straightforward action and adventure and features a resourceful female protagonist forced to make uncomfortable, often dangerous choices.The prose in The Cadet of Tildor might be occasionally awkward and the political machinations of the plot a tad murky, but the novel presents an interesting fantasy world populated by multidimensional characters.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why readers are attracted to coming-of-age stories. Why do stories about schools, academies, and university hold such power?

  • What kinds of conflicts are common between teachers and students, no matter what the school setting or time period?  

  • Why are some drugs illegal? How does the government decide which should be regulated?

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