Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Looking Glass Wars Bk 2: Seeing Redd

The Looking Glass Wars Bk 2: Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor (Egmont Press)
PB RRP $16.95
ISBN 9781405209885
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Alyss has made it through the Looking Glass Maze and defeated Redd. Now she has new challenges. The Heart Palace has been rebuilt after its destruction by Redd, but it doesn't feel the same to Alyss.

King Arch of Borderland arrives at her inaugural gala to inform her of threats from other sources. He secretly plans to take over Wonderland by force or any other means. He can barely hide his derision at Alyss’ position as Queen, but pretends a past alliance with her deceased father who he always despised because of his subservience to a woman, albeit a queen.

Arch’s Borderland is a male dominated nation where women are considered worthless chattels. It is a nation of nomadic settlements; a tribal land where each group stays isolated from the each other, free to live as they please as long as they acknowledge him as King, and his preferred laws were kept.

Jack of Diamonds and his parents have been cast into the Crystal Mines. They are traitors to be bought and sold in a world of power and politics.  But Jack is abducted by Arch for his own mercenary ends. Redd has returned after escaping to Earth, more vicious than ever, and Jack is throwing in his lot with her. Desperate to save himself, he grovels at Redd’s feet, with a plan to win over the border clans and destroy King Arch, thus giving Redd the union of the two lands.

For Redd to gain more power than Alyss, she must navigate the Looking Glass maze and retrieve her sceptre which will strengthen her power. After visiting the oracle-caterpillars, she manages this feat and is prepared again for war. Meanwhile Alyss and Dodge are slowly revealing their love for one another within the few free moments away from warring that they are able to steal together.

Hatter Madigan has taken leave for unrevealed reasons and we enter his secret life and see him as more than an outstanding warrior dedicated to serving and protecting the queen. He learns that Molly, Alyss’ bodyguard, is his daughter by the love of his life, Weaver, who has been killed. Each of the characters has a life apart from their role at the palace. These lives are revealed and the characters become human, rather than robotic beings that fight for the Queendom. These sub-stories are moving and the scenes of war and annihilation become secondary to the emotional upheavals of the characters’ lives.

Much keeps happening in Wonderland. The story is dense and thrilling, highly detailed and descriptive with battles and armoury; full of twists and turns like the mazes that have to be navigated. Betrayal, treachery and manipulation surround Alyss.

The next thrilling fantasy adventure, Arch Enemy, closes the trilogy. This series is highly recommended reading for the 15+ age group.

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