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Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Ancient Lands: Warrior's Quest-Search for the Ifa Scepter (Middle Reader)

Released December 2009

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

It isn't often that I find a fantasy novel that wraps its way into my head making me push aside other tasks to keep reading. With the intention of reading a few chapters before tackling housework and other mundane tasks, I curled up near the fire and read every page of The Ancient Lands: Warrior's Quest-Search for the Ifa Scepter in one sitting.

In the world known as Madunia, Hatari and his siblings plan to conquer every nook and cranny for complete domination. In this story, Hatari's armies have done well, but he and his armies of ogres remain unable to get control of the Kingdom of Ufalme.

King Jumbe, ruler of Ufalme, is concerned over a drought that is threatening his kingdom's welfare. He is unaware that his youngest son, Bomani, overheard him talking to his adviser. Fifteen-year-old Bomani wants to prove himself worthy of ruling the kingdom one day, and with what he overhears, a plan is hatched.

Legend has it that the gods grew unhappy after the theft of the Ifa Scepter. The king's adviser has a map leading to the scepter. If it is returned to the Kingdom of Ufalme, the drought will end and everyone's welfare will be saved. Bomani decides to make this his quest. Joined by a young sorceress, Farra, who still needs to develop her full powers, and Farra's wolf-pup Pupa, the trio set off to find the scepter and prove they are as powerful as the adults around them.

Descriptive, unusual creatures like the Shadowlight, a soul-sucking black mass; large flies with the legs and fangs of a spider; and grotesque fish, with five-foot tongues that have sharp nail like projections keep the reader and the heroes on their toes. Along the way, the heroes of the novel learn valuable lessons about themselves and the way they handle issues, particularly Bomani who has a tendency to think only of himself. Watching his character grow added layers to the novel making it incredibly enjoyable from start to finish.

If you have a fantasy reader in your house, I think he/she'd be well pleased with this novel. The plot moves swiftly, action never seems to slow down and the author, Jason McCammon does a great job creating undeniable images with words. For those who like to create mental pictures as they read, I found the descriptions, dialogue and setting sprang to life making it easy to visualize every detail.

Along the way, Farra uncovers a new quest, to find the five surviving shape-shifters. This sub-plot leads the way to a second The Ancient Lands novel. I, for one, can't wait to read it.

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