The Teeth of the Gale
by Joan Aiken
The third adventure of Felix Brooke finds him at age 18, studying at the University of Salamanca, and doing his best (on grandfathers orders) to keep his nose out of the increasingly turbulent politics of post-Napoleonic Spain. It soon becomes a lot more difficult.
For a novice nun named Juana, who happens to be the love of Felixs life, has requested his aid on behalf of her beautiful cousin Conchita. Conchitas husband, an escaped political prisoner believed to be insane, has absconded with their children, and she requests Felixs help getting them back. Felix agrees, but he soon realizes that there is more to this rescue mission than meets the eye. It has something to do with Spains vicious political rivalries, something to do with a fortune in money and property, and again something to do with a lost treasure, the location of which many people think Felix knows.
Getting through this adventure with his own neck intact will be hard enough, but Felix also has to find out what's the right thing to do and how to do it even if it means helping an allegedly mad enemy of the state escape while surrounded by dangerous and desperate people. At the same time, he is tied in knots by his growing love for Juana, while his chances of being able to act on it seem to slip away a little more every day.
Felix is a very excellent young hero. All his misfortunes become an occasion for great adventure, and all his good fortune seems to be the least that he deserves though, if I may offer one criticism of this book, I would say that Aiken comes down rather heavy with the good fortune end of things. At the end I almost wondered mind you, I say almost whether Aiken meant to be taken seriously, so neatly did she sew everything up. Yet at the same time, the final sentence of the book leaves you reeling, wondering whether another chapter or another book was intended.
Alas, we cannot ask; Ms. Aiken passed away in 2004. But even so, this is a very satisfying trilogy, beginning with Go Saddle the Sea and Bridle the Wind; possibly an even greater achievement than her award-winning series beginning with The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.
Recommended Age: 12+
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