The Song of Glory and Ghost: Outlaws of Time, Book 2

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
The Song of Glory and Ghost: Outlaws of Time, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Strong girl steps up in wild time-bending fantasy.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

This is a fantasy series, but it's packed with elements of science (from physics to what Seattle might look like in the wake of a volcano erupting), history (especially of Seattle, from primordial to postapocalyptic), and mythology (especially Navajo and Aztec), all presented as intriguing enough to call for more exploration.

Positive Messages

Dedication, courage, friendship, loyalty, and self-sacrifice are all strong themes here. There's also a sense of heavy responsibility to be and do what you're destined for.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Snake-armed, time-traveling hero Sam Miracle returns, committed to killing the evil, murderous Vulture (who's killed Sam many times in other times) before he has a chance to destroy the world. His self-appointed sidekick Gloria, aka Glory, comes to the fore here with courage, loyalty, self-sacrifice, quick thinking, and a fierce protectiveness. Suspended between life and death, their time-traveling mentor Father Tiempo mostly observes their efforts to save him, but his teachings serve them well. Sam's sister Millie tries to keep the boys well-fed and out of trouble. Cindy and Speck, the rattlesnakes implanted in Sam's arms, are rattlesnakes, but their instincts and teamwork often save the day. Many kids and adults, including relatives of some characters, have surrendered to the dark forces behind the Vulture.

Violence & Scariness

Quite a bit of death, combat, and mayhem in numerous times before the final battle with the Vulture (who's just added to his long list of crimes by throwing innocent tourists out the window of the Space Needle). There's a comic-book quality (snakes for arms?) but plenty of scary stuff: monsters who travel back in time to kill a future hero by removing his heart and cutting it in half; skinwalkers and other undead beings from Native American and other mythologies; and sea monsters, pirates, a kid who cut off his own finger on a dare, and a raft of supernatural beings hell-bent on evil and world domination.

Language

One "damned" to describe being sent to hell.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Song of Glory and Ghost, the second book in best-selling author N.D. Wilson's Outlaws of Time series, features 13-year-old heroes with unusual time-bending powers and character traits that serve them well as they pursue a world-destroying villain and try to save their mentor from being murdered as an infant. Characters meet violent deaths, and there are scary monsters aplenty, including ancient, evil Aztec goddesses, Navajo skinwalkers, and other undead beings enslaved by the dark side. There are strong messages of responsibility, courage, perseverance, loyalty, and friendship. The wild narrative jumps crazily in time and space en route to an epic battle, throwing in a wild mishmash of worlds and genres from the Old West to postapocalyptic pirates. But Wilson makes it all work, wrapping up some storylines while setting up many to come in future installments.

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What's the story?

Opening almost a year of time travel after the events of Book 1, THE SONG OF GLORY AND GHOST finds Sam Miracle, now 13, racked with guilt -- not for saving his sister Millie from a horrible death but because saving her allowed the evil Vulture, an Old West outlaw with supernatural powers, to escape, and he's been destroying past, present, and future worlds ever since. Now, along with Cindy and Speck, the two rattlesnakes embedded in his damaged arms, he's trying to find and stop the Vulture and undo the destruction -- which was impossible enough, and then time-shifting mentor Father Tiempo disappears. Trying to support Sam, his faithful sidekick Glory is on her own desperate quest to save their mentor before evil Aztec monsters kill him in infancy. Along the way, she learns about her own powers and cosmic destiny and gets help from the Angel of Death himself.

Is it any good?

With the wild cosmology, chaotic time-shifting, comic book sensibility, and character development of much-tried teen heroes, there's a lot happening in this imaginative installment. It's a lot to keep track of, with monsters, mythology, some really nasty villains, and death and destruction in numerous timelines. The Song of Glory and Ghost is a wild, exciting ride, especially for tween readers, who may feel much the same as Sam and Glory's new redheaded fangirl from postapocalyptic Seattle:

"What would you do if you were me, living on smoked fish and twenty-year-old enchilada sauce, and then two comic book characters show up? Even if you are bad, I'm still glad I jumped through that hole after you."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about time travel in The Song of Glory and Ghost. Why is time travel such a popular theme? If you could travel to another time, where would you go?

  • Part of the story in the Outlaws of Time series involves one of the characters writing books about the adventures, often long after they've taken place. How do you think your older self would see the things you're doing now?

  • Many of the characters in this series were once in the foster care system. Do you know any kids who are in foster care? How are their lives different from yours?

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