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Twilight of the Elves: The Adventurers Guild, Book 2

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Twilight of the Elves: The Adventurers Guild, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Fantasy sequel fueled by action, humor, zombie elves.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Complicated vocabulary in context of story -- e.g., "concussed," "dolorous gaze," "insinuate." Concept that different languages focus on, emphasize different concepts, and that our "language shapes the world around us -- shapes how we see it." Opportunities to discuss refugees, racism, prejudice, cultural identity.

Positive Messages

Your homeland can be imperfect, with some people who are cruel, and unjust laws, but "a city isn't just one thing"; it also contains "acts of kindness and grace." "You have to work with others, people who see things differently than you do, in order to overcome life's greatest challenges." There's not just one right way to do things; different cultures have different viewpoints and practices, and we should respect them.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Female characters are fierce warriors, excel at magic, and are leaders (e.g., elf queen who leads people into battle). Young people in the Guild support the elven refugees. They talk freely about, and thoughtfully consider, issues of cultural difference, cultural imposition, language differences, racial prejudice. Zed is multiracial (half-elf, half-human) and thinks about his heritage, as does Fel, who's from a minority group of elves.

Violence & Scariness

Descriptions of battles with monsters can be graphic: "black blood oozed from its severed limb." Lotte uses her sword against the monster, "its legs sliced out from under it .... Then she hacked away some more." Maggots in eye sockets of the undead. 

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Twilight of the Elves, by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos, is the second book in their fantasy series, The Adventurers Guild. The chapters alternate between the points of view of two boys who are best friends, but there are plenty of strong, active girl characters, including the bravest young warrior and other females in leadership positions. The apprentice adventurers battle zombie elves and monsters, so there's violence and gore; for instance, severed zombie heads and limbs. Though the book is an action-packed fantasy, it touches on real issues such as refugees, racial divisions, and preservation of minority cultures.

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What's the story?

In TWILIGHT OF THE ELVES: THE ADVENTURERS GUILD, BOOK 2, zombie elves have attacked the elven city of Llethanyl, so refugee elves flood into Freestone, where they're confined to a makeshift tent city. The queen of the elves, Me'Shala, enlists the young apprentices of the Adventurers Guild for a secret mission to try to save Llethanyl. Their plan? To assassinate the necromancer who's raising up and controlling the army of dead elves. But there are dangers loose in the forest as they travel: undead elves and other monsters. Will the young apprentices be able to fight them off? When the mission is completed, will Zed decide to live with the elves or with humans? Will Zed and Brock mend their broken friendship? And can they control the powerful forces that still threaten them?

Is it any good?

The second book in this fantasy series is slower to spark than the thrilling first book, but it does catch fire, and fans of the wisecracking young adventurers will find their fun. Twilight of the Elves: The Adventurers Guild, Book 2 relies on nonstop action adventure, and quip-filled banter, as did the original -- though oddly, it doesn't hit its stride until about halfway in, when the kids trek out to save the elven city. Before that, the action feels choppier, and like an overlong prelude. Also in the first half, buddies Brock and Zed are estranged, which restricts the banter. Once all the kids team up to unite for the mission, the quips and humor fly, and the story's more fun.

Authors Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos again use their fictional fantasy world to draw parallels to current events and societal challenges. The elves are refugees, confined to a tent encampment. Some angry citizens consider them aliens, chanting, "Freestone first!" Also, prejudices and divisions among the three kinds of elves parallel racial prejudice. And Zed deals with being multiracial, half-elf, half-human. All of which can spur thought and discussion among readers, allowing them to consider hot-button topics at a comfortable fantasy remove.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the friendship in Twilight of the Elves: The Adventurers Guild, Book 2. Have you ever had a friend pull away from you the way Brock distanced himself from Zed? What caused the rift in your friendship? How did it resolve?

  • Have you ever felt torn between two worlds or identities, the way Zed feels half-human, half-elf? How do the various parts of your identity contribute to making you the person you are?

  • Does the hostility toward the elven refugees seem similar to any situations in the real world today? What about the divisions among the three kinds of elves, the prejudices some elves have against others?

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