The second novel in the Obernewtyn Chronicles. We are back in the Land, two years after Madam Vega, Alexi and Ariel were overthrown at Obernewtyn by Rushton and friends, and of course Elspeth. Obernewtyn has been thriving, and slowing gathering a large number of Misfits, who are all working on their talents, in individual guilds (Empath, Farseeker, Coercer, Healer, Futureteller and Tecknoguilder). Elspeth is the guild mistress of the Farseeker guild. The book follows an expedition down to the lowlands to explore a Beforetime library, find a powerful talent that they have detected and set up a safehouse in the capital Sutrium. Of course nothing goes to plan, and they are captured by Henry Druid, Herders and are on the run from soldierguards. What’s more the fate of Obernewtyn rests on the outcome of the expedition.
The second book is very similar to the first because everything is still being introduced, and life as ‘free’ Misfits at Obernewtyn has to be described and their little community is new to us, and we knew nothing about it. But it is very different, Elspeth no longer has to fear about being exposed at Obernewtyn as a Misfit, and for the majority of the story we aren’t even at Obernewtyn. We get to explore the world a bit more, and find out more of the Beforetime, which I am really interested in. So it is really exciting when I found out that Isobelle Carmody, is planning on writing ‘The Beforetime Chronicles’ and has signed a contract to write them, but of course ‘The Red Queen’ still needs to be released and Obernewtyn Chronicles completed. Still, I cannot wait to find out more about the Beforetimers, but I know that they will be present in the next few books in one way or another.
Most importantly we learn more about Elspeth’s destiny and what she needs to do, and why. Elspeth was in a very serious situation with her feet after the firestorm, and without the Agyllians, she would be dead. Sure it might sound like one of those ‘coincidences’ that are a bit too unlikely, but it isn’t unbelievable. Okay if you get past the fact that there are birds that are highly intelligent and have their own council and are able to see into the future (this is fantasy after all!) then it was a neat way to ensure that Elspeth is healed and survives. It also allows Atthis (the Elder) explain to Elspeth that she is the Seeker and must destroy the weaponmachines, otherwise the world will be completely destroyed with no chance of recovery. Not only that we now know there is a Destroyer, who is basically the ‘Antichrist’ and will work against Elspeth (though I don’t think directly) and is ‘trying’ (I wonder if it is intentional or if it is accidental, when they use of the weaponmachines, if it comes to that) to destroy the world. I just had the insane thought, that what if this Destroyer has ‘allies’ like Atthis, and there is some opposite animal figure that is helping the Destroyer and telling them of their destiny, just like the Agyllians and Elspeth. I just had the even more insane thought that what if the Agyllians are helping both Elspeth AND the Destroyer. I mean if I pretend that the Destroyer is Ariel (not sure if I actually think he is this, it is just a theory because it seems right, but this could easily be a red-herring) he was nearly dead after the Zebkrahn machine incident. What if the Agyllians (or some anti-Agyllian) came and picked him up and healed him, and then released him to the Druid. Maybe they are ‘duty bound’ to ensure that both the Seeker and the Destroyer exist and know of their destinies, because without one the other cannot exist (now that just sounds like Harry Potter). Who knows, it is an out there theory, what do you think?
Speaking of Harry Potter, there are quite a few connections between the two stories, and a lot of parallels that could be drawn between the two series. I mean both main characters are orphans (Elspeth seems to have spent a lot longer with her parents, and obviously she had a brother, though he is gone too now. Just saying, is it some sort of requirement that child protagonists, are like orphans, or have terrible childhoods?) and are sent to these ‘magical’ castles where they discover their powers (Obernewtyn and Hogwarts). They both have special destinies to save the world from something (Voldemort and the weaponmachines), though Elspeth has learnt of her destiny a lot earlier than Harry (but I would guess that they were of a similar age around the time). They both seem to be outcasts and ‘revered’ (Harry was famous, and Elspeth is powerful) even in their own communities, one big difference though is that Elspeth doesn’t really have strong friendships. Sure she has Matthew and Dameon (though we haven’t seen much of their relationships since they became ‘free’ as they were hardly included in ‘The Farseekers’) but it’s not like Harry, Ron and Hermione. I guess she also has Maruman and Ghaltha, but those dynamics are very different, Maruman guides Elspeth, though he is very cranky and reculsive, and Ghaltha hasn’t been around much but as of yet, they aren’t ‘friendly’.
Continuing on this sort of ‘theme’, Harry Potter (the series) and Obernewtyn both have an immense amount of characters, all of whom seemingly have their own backstory (in Obernewtyn, many of the characters have yet to be fleshed out, but they are there waiting). And I’m sure that both have a lot of foreshadowing and things built into them that on first read, mean nothing, but once you have read the book (or entire series) become obvious and you can see the significance of such things. I’m not saying that Obernewtyn is ‘as good’ as Harry Potter, because they are very different, and obviously Harry Potter is immensely popular (I love it myself) and is a highly loved series, but there are similarities between the two stories. I think Obernewtyn is still a wonderful story, and there is a lot more to be explored, that will surely make things even better and more exciting, but so far (we still need to get past all the introduction, and get into the real, juicy, storylines) things are lacking, but I am not in the slightest complaining about them. I cannot wait to continue on into the series!