The Inquisition: Summoner, Book 2

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Inquisition: Summoner, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Gripping sequel shows heinously violent world of orc enemy.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Orcs, elves, dwarves, humans, and their demons, goblins, and gremlins interact in this fantasy world. Straightforward learning involves comparing the lore about each species in other books, such as Lord of the Rings, with the world created here. Book 2 continues to explore the idea of racial conflict, here among elves, dwarves, and humans. The orcs are the evil "other." For some outside-the-box thinking, readers can fathom when in real-world history very different cultures that had not traditionally gotten along had to band together, relying on the idea that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

Positive Messages

As with the first book, class struggles and racial tension are shown in their complexity, with hope about how friendship and trust can help bridge the divide. True evil is shown as the horrendously violent culture of the orcs, who show no mercy to other races or those within their own race considered weak. Defeating this type of evil becomes more important than the racial tension among humans, elves, and dwarves.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Fletcher continues to be a champion for peace among the races who are fighting against the orcs. And despite suddenly being thrust in the upper class, he doesn't flaunt his privilege like others. When he shows mercy to a creature others considered an enemy -- he can't stand by and watch it suffer -- he's later rewarded for it with help that saves him and his friends.

Violence

Orcs are about as violent as it gets, and they're mostly violent to one another. Even though for the worst of it, readers are watching (with Fletcher and friends) away from the direct action (through a scrying stone or from above), there are mass sacrifices and blood rituals (rivers of blood flow). Fights directly with the orcs involve gunfire, balls of flame, explosions, poison darts, swords, arrows, injuries, and death to some of the good guys. Details in the heat of the action include blood frothing from mouths and the sizzle of cooking corpses. A horrific scene involves enslaved gremlins eaten alive by rats as humans bet on the last one standing. One task of Fletcher and friends is to stab as many gooey, large goblin eggs they can; they kill hundreds of the creatures that way before setting the rest on fire. Two descriptions of life of a prisoner involve living in a cage and away from sunlight for over a year and nearly starving. Talk of explosions that killed many. Fletcher relives the moment his parents were overtaken by orcs in a dream. Talk of Othello's sister falling ill and being taken away from his family. Othello is publicly shamed at a trial when his beard is shaved in front of others -- dwarves never shave their beards. Talk of how the gremlins were enslaved by the orcs and their cruel treatment.

Sex

Some minor flirting and jealousy and what Fletcher thinks might be a kiss.

Language

Versions of "damn" and "goddamn" come up often. Plus "bastard," "hell," "bloody hell," "balls," "ass," "screwed."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Older teen characters drink at a bar but decide the home brew is awful and spit it out or throw it up. A whole room full of enslaved goblins is drunk and passed out on fermented coconut. Talk of orcs smoking tobacco pipes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Inquisition is the second book in the Summoner series featuring a world of demons, humans, orcs, elves, dwarves, gremlins, and goblins. There continues to be tension among the races of humans, dwarves, and elves, but they form an uneasy truce to defeat the orcs, an enemy whose heinously violent culture is on full display here, making The Inquisition notably more violent than Book 1. Even though, for the worst of it, readers are watching with Fletcher and friends away from the direct action, there are mass sacrifices and blood rituals (rivers of blood flow). Fights directly with the orcs involve gunfire, balls of flame, explosions, poison darts, swords, and arrows, with injuries and death to some of the good guys. Details in the heat of the action include blood frothing from mouths and the sizzle of cooking corpses. A horrific scene involves enslaved gremlins eaten alive by rats as humans bet on the last one standing. One of Fletcher and friends' tasks is to stab as many gooey, large goblin eggs they can; they kill hundreds of the creatures that way before setting the rest on fire. Compared with the violent content, the rest of the mature stuff seems really mild. Expect swear words to stay at the "damn" and "bloody hell" level, and one scene of teen boys drinking ends quickly -- it's a disgusting home brew they quickly spit out.

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What's the story?

Jailed for a year with only his demon Ignatius for company, 16-year-old Fletcher misses school at Vocans Academy and his friends and wonders if he'll ever be released. It doesn't help that his crime is allegedly ordering his demon to kill his archenemy, Didric. Didric's father just happens to own his whole town and has converted it into the very prison Fletcher's wallowing in. When he finally gets a trial, Fletcher is sure he's a goner -- especially when the Inquisition gets involved. If they don't hang Fletcher for hurting Didric, they have him on treason charges for attacking soldiers outside school when the humans tried to ambush a secret council of dwarves. The only reason the Inquisition is reluctant to hang Fletcher on the spot is that they need all the summoners they can get for a covert mission deep in orc territory. And despite all the rampant racism against dwarves and elves, the Inquisition knows they need their cooperation to bring the orcs down. Just by sheer numbers, the orcs have already won against humans alone, especially when they started breeding goblins by the thousands to fight for them. Who better than Fletcher, the only human with close summoner elf and dwarf friends, to head up this dangerous mission?

Is it any good?

Very occasionally sequels are better than the first book; with more action and more at stake than in Book 1, this Summoner sequel is one of them. And more is at stake in THE INQUISITION because readers finally get an up-close look at the orc enemy. If you thought Tolkien's orcs were nasty pieces of work, these beasts are probably worse. Scenes of blood sports and sacrifices will turn most stomachs. And the idea that Fletcher and friends are trapped among them makes for a nail-biting finish.

The potential for a hanging at the beginning of the book almost seems like a better fate for Fletcher than being handed over to the orcs. Fletcher -- and the reader -- endure two trials back to back in the first few chapters. Miraculously the courtroom drama doesn't drag the story down too much as curious secrets about Fletcher's past come out. The slowdown happens in the middle as Fletcher and friends prepare for battle. Fans of video games may enjoy the focus on a laundry list of weapons and potions they pack for the journey, as well as what demons they decide to bring along and their various levels and abilities. Readers who prefer more character-driven stories may long for a closer look into the minds of Fletcher and his friends instead. Anyone who likes a good action story will be riveted by the finish no matter what.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about orc culture of slavery, violence, sacrifices, and weeding out the weakest among them. Fletcher and friends were all alarmed when watching their bloody sports from a distance, looking away at the worst of it. Did you find yourself as uneasy as they were? Or did it matter less because they were orcs, not humans?

  • The truce among humans, dwarves, and elves is an uneasy one. How do the class struggles and racial tension here compare with those in our world? Is there hope that friendship and trust can help bridge the divide, in their world and ours?

  • Will you read the final book in the trilogy? Now that readers know the orc enemy intimately after this book, do you feel there's more at stake?

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