Sunday, February 6, 2022

The Weeping Tide

The Weeping Tide
by Amanda Foody
Recommended Ages: 10+

The world of the Wilderlands is a pretty wild place, teeming with Beasts (with a capital B) that carry Lore (with a capital L) – what you or I would call magic – in greater or lesser concentrations. Some of them can bond with humans, who become Lore Keepers and can learn to use the specific powers that come with their type of Lore Beast. As for the Wilderlands themselves, they include six regions around the world – the Woods, the Sea, the Desert, the Mountains, the Jungle and the Tundra – each with its own community of Lore Keepers and its own Beastly ecosystem.

All this is important to grasp as you join almost-12-year-old Lore Keeper Barclay Thorne on his latest adventure. Barclay is a former Elsie; that is, he's originally from the Elsewheres, the parts of the world that don't have Lore or Beasts as a rule. He accidentally bonded with a Lufthund (a wolf-like Beast that gives him speed and control of the wind), and now he's trying to learn how to control it as an apprentice Guardian (a type of Lore Keeper that keeps wild Beasts under control). Along with two other youngsters, Viola and Tadg, he is apprenticed to a Lore Master named Runa Rasgar, a.k.a. the Fang of Dusk, and as this adventure starts, they arrive at the Sea – a chain of islands that, lately, has been under attack by monsters of the deep. The Sea's Legendary Beast (that's the most powerful kind), a kraken named Lochmordra, has been going berserk and destroying entire islands, one at a time, while a white, foamy stuff called the Weeping Tide rides along with it, devouring any living thing it touches. Carnivorous algae, basically.

While the adult Lore Keepers are busy trying to figure out what's causing Lochmordra to rise, Runa's apprentices join with those of her bitterest enemy, the Horn of Dawn, to run their own investigation. Tadg's late father, who died in Lochmordra's jaws while trying to catalog Sea Beasts, has left behind some clues. Barclay finds more in an old adventure novel. Aided by sea creatures that enable them to breathe underwater and swim at high speed, as well as their own Beasts and their Lore, the kids get closer and closer to locating Lochmordra's lair. There are only a couple problems. One of the kids, for one, intends to destroy the Legendary Beast. For another, someone is trying to bond with it, which would probably destroy the Elsewheres and possibly the Wilderlands as well. And no one has a better chance of stopping both of them than one ex-Elsie who continues to struggle with his identity, doubting whether he'll ever be Lore Keeper enough to control his powers.

This is the second "Wilderlore" book, coming in after The Accidental Apprentice, and continues down a similar current of fun – if perhaps a more watery one. The kids get up to lots of high-spirited rule breaking and (more or less) friendly competition. Everyone has a story that leaves issues for them to deal with, especially the adults. The mystery is alive with red herrings, deception, betrayal, and opportunities for the apprentices to test and (in most cases) prove their friendship. It's a scenic voyage for the imagination with lots of quirks, beauty spots, and things for both the mind and the heart to dwell on. If nothing else tells you what I think of this series, I'll have you know that after reading Book 1, I looked out for Book 2 and bought it on the first opportunity. Also, I described the concept of the series to my dad and he promptly ordered me to bring him the first book next time I see him. Since there are six Wilderlands, I'm guessing (and hoping) there will ultimately be at least six books in the series. Don't keep us waiting, Foody!

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