The River of Sand: Epoca, Book 2
By Andrea Beach,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Exciting second book in sports-themed fantasy.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Fantasy meant to entertain.
Sports are important and valuable. They teach us many things and allow us to develop physical, mental, emotional, and social skills. But they aren't the answer to everything, especially when not everyone has access to them. Being the best at something doesn't matter if everyone doesn't have the opportunity to at least try it. Don't be afraid to use your natural abilities to their fullest, or to be your best, natural self even when others don't understand you or your talents.
Positive Role Models
Pretia, 11, is a brave, loyal friend willing to sacrifice for others. At first she tries running away from her problems but learns that problems don't disappear just because you put off dealing with them. She also learns to show who she really is to the world, and by doing that gains acceptance and the knowledge that when she becomes the ruler of Epoca she can do things her own way. Rovi, also 11, is a great model for empathy, courage, and loyalty to friends. He learns that he can be more than just one thing, and that his loyalties don't have to be divided between them. Boys and girls compete with and against each other in all sports on equal footing.
Violence & Scariness
Mostly scariness from characters in danger, usually of being caught but also from being sucked into magical quicksand. Lots of dark, eerie atmospheres, and an important plot development happens in an underground place where it's mentioned that people were used in blood sports a long time ago.
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Some mean-spirited verbal taunting.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mention that a parent was addicted to the fictional drug "somnium."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The River of Sand is the second book in the sports-themed fantasy series Epoca, conceived and co-written by the late NBA star Kobe Bryant. The series was originally planned to have four to eight installments, and co-author Ivy Claire explains in the afterward the feeling that the series can't continue without Bryant's guidance, which may bring up for readers the tragic deaths of Bryant and his daughter. There was an overall story arch planned, and Claire lays out several important plot points for readers who wonder what would have happened to the characters. There's no violence, but a location where blood sports were played long ago is important. There's lots of scariness and suspense from characters in danger from fantasy elements, dark and creepy atmospheres, and the outcome of an important sporting event. There's no strong language but there is some brief, mean-spirited verbal taunting. There's a brief mention of a fantasy drug called "somnium" and that a character's father was addicted to it. Sports-related themes are important, including the benefits of sports, and a strong theme emphasizing the need for equal access to sports for everyone.
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
THE RIVER OF SAND finds Pretia, now 11, excited about returning to the elite sports academy Ecrof for her second year. This year the Junior Epic Games are being held, which only come along once every four years. Pretia is devastated when her parents forbid her to go back to Ecrof and try out for the Epic team because they're afraid of unrest in the host city. Rovi, who's also 11, is excited about the Epic games, too, because the host city is Phoenis, where he grew up, and he's looking forward to seeing his old friends there. Unbelievably, it's precisely his old gang the Star Stealers who are accused of causing all the trouble in Phoenis. In order to compete in the Games and free the unjustly imprisoned Star Stealers, Pretia and Rovi will be pushed to their limits. But can they break through those limits toward a better future for all of Epoca?
Is It Any Good?
This second installment of a sports-themed magical fantasy series continues the excitement while shifting its focus to letting your abilities shine and bringing equal access to sports for everyone. It's unfortunate that co-creator Kobe Bryant's tragic death means The River of Sand brings an abrupt end to a series that was planned to be much larger, but readers interested in where the story was headed can find some answers in the Afterword. There's less violence, but lots of excitement and suspense from characters in danger, and lots of dark, spooky atmospheres. Kids will relate to Pretia and Rovi as they start to envision a better future for everyone, and which they themselves can help bring about. It's also a good opportunity to talk to kids about the benefits of sports, and why it's important that everyone who wants to has the opportunity and access to playing organized sports.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how The River of Sand shows Pretia and Rovi as role models. What are their character strengths? What are their weaknesses? Do you like them, or admire them?
Did you read Epoca: The Tree of Ecrof first? If you did, how does this one compare? Are there any big changes or differences between the two? If you didn't read it, would you like to now?
Why is it important for everyone to be able to try a sport if they want to? What are the benefits of playing sports? What are your favorites, or which ones would you like to try?
- Authors: Kobe Bryant, Ivy Claire
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Sports and Martial Arts, Adventures, Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Granity Studios
- Publication date: December 15, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 416
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: February 23, 2021
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