Friday, September 4, 2020

New Lands

New Lands
by Geoff Rodkey
Recommended Ages: 12+

Egg (full name: Egbert Masterson) has survived the assassination of his family by hot air balloon, falling in love with their killer's daughter, being captured by pirates, becoming best friends with a homicidal lunatic with a hook hand, and having to defend his family's ugly fruit plantation from a field hand mutiny on the one hand and an armed invasion on the other. The second book of his adventures finds Egg and his buddy Guts (the hook guy) under sail for the New Lands, a continent colonized by the short-eared Cartagers, who are sworn enemies of the boys' Rovian people. A map that now exists only in Egg's head is supposed to lead them to a buried treasure. But first, they have to get past kidnappers, more pirates, a tribe of natives who enslave other tribes, and a reappearance not only of Millicent Pembroke but also of her evil father, the not very jolly Roger.

It's a tale of youthful romance, survival on a strange continent, reuniting with old friends and enemies, and meeting new ones. Egg, Guts, Millicent and an Okalu girl named Kira seek out a treasure that could (if the legends are true) give the possessor invincible power, not to mention enough money to buy back the plantation that Egg bartered away for his workers' support. In the seeking, they find an ordeal of agonizing illness, an at least temporary return of some lost loved ones from the dead, and a religious ritual whose deadliness Egg only gradually comes to understand, due to a language barrier with the vile Moku tribespeople. Egg himself faces a supreme test and doesn't like how he scores on it. His path to riches doesn't run in a straight line and, indeed, doesn't come to its destination (at least, not in this book). But he also gains valuable knowledge, learns to stand up to someone who has terrorized him all his life, and says a couple of things to a couple of people that he really needed to say – such as "I love you," for one example.

For a middle book of a trilogy, New Lands makes a strong impression, full of surprising discoveries and growth for its characters. Their pain and joy are easy to share. Not to mention surprises, suspense, thrills, scenic and cultural wonders, and the promise of intrigues, battles and chases yet to come. This is Book 2 of the Chronicles of Egg, between Deadweather and Sunrise and Blue Sea Burning. Geoff Rodkey, whose personal website redirected to a pharmaceutical scam page three out of the four times I tried it just now, is also the author of four "Tapper Twins" books, a children's book titled Stuck in the Stone Age and a kids' novel We're Not from Here.

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