A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Time Jumpers is the fifth and final book in the Five Kingdoms series from fantasy author Brandon Mull, who developed a big fan base from his Fablehaven and Beyonders series. If kids have already read some of Mull's books, they'll find this series less violent and a little less complex than Beyonders. Yet while it's less violent, the main character, Cole, still assumes he and his friends are heading to their death when they decide to take on a god-like magical being called a torivor. There are fights with swords (one magic sword flies into a chest, killing a man instantly), arrows (a leg injury), and tables thrown at attacking soldiers. Magical powers are used to scramble minds, and a giant disappearing/reappearing snake bites its victims and makes them disappear -- a few characters are assumed dead and mourned. Animated statues attack, and characters are kidnapped. Cole continues to be thoughtful and selfless in this series. He gives a moving speech to his friends about bravery and about how we live and die matter.
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What's the story?
In TIME JUMPERS, Cole wakes up in the back of a truck, tied up alongside two princesses. They're taken to Owandell, King Stafford Pemberton's former advisor who's now bent on capturing all five princesses and releasing the god-like torivor, Ramarro, from prison. When the king's soldiers attack, the trio are freed, and Cole goes before an ailing king to tell him the risk that Ramarro poses if he's released: All kingdoms will be under Ramarro's power or destroyed entirely. The king makes Cole his personal agent, and the queen provides him with a Wayminder named Violet. As a Wayminder, Violet can open portals and travel anywhere in the kingdoms. Thanks to Violet, Cole tracks down the last princess, Elegance, his brother and friends also trapped there from Earth, and Grand Shapers, some of the most magical people in the Outskirts. No one thinks it's really possible to stop a torivor, but with Cole's unique power to lend those around him power, a small chance remains to save the five kingdoms.
Is it any good?
Great elements of fantasy quest tales coalesce in this series finale -- a nearly unbeatable foe, no conceivable way home again, cool magic -- but the story's momentum is too often interrupted. Time Jumpers starts out promisingly. The main character wakes up tied up in the back of a truck with two princesses and is interrogated by the king's turncoat advisor. In just a few pages, there's a rescue, a prison cell, an audience with the king and queen, and the introduction of the fastest way to get around: via Wayfinder. Cole is given his own assistant, Violet, who can open portals all over the kingdom, one after another, with a boost from Cole's power. But, oddly, when we start jumping around to gather allies, the story really stalls. Author Brandon Mull has a habit of making the reader sit through multiple retellings of what's happening in the story every time Cole gathers up another helper on his quest. That would be a great time-jumping opportunity right there to keep us moving. We also don't need to know the whole history of Wayminders and other magical disciplines as part of the main event, though it'd be great in a glossary.
Still, fans of Mull, and there are many, are used to his propensity to overexplain his worlds. And pushing through to the finale is as rewarding as always. Big-hearted Cole really brings the story home with his selfless heroism.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the different styles of magical powers in Time Jumpers, and the whole Five Kingdoms series. Which powers are the most creative? Which would you like to have?
Cole is on a quest in this whole series -- a common story type, especially in fantasy. What does he find? How does he change? How does this series end like other quest tales (such as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Lord of the Rings)?
Will you read more by this author? Have you read his other series?
- Author: Brandon Mull
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Space and Aliens
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Aladdin
- Publication date: March 13, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 448
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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