In this second book of the "Guardians of Time" trilogy, the villainous Marduke has returned from the dead, even more twisted and deformed than before. The evil immortal Lathenia, goddess of chaos, and her Order (of Disorder) continue to meddle with history in the hope of changing the future into an age of misrule.
In the meantime, the Guard that tirelessly works to frustrate her plans faces frustrations of its own. As Lathenia racks up one timeline-altering victory after another, the prophecy that the Guard will defeat her begins to change in her favor. Ethan, a gifted young guardsman who just earned his wings, is preoccupied by a concern that his troubled mother may attempt suicide. Matt, Ethan's apprentice and supposedly destined leader of the Guard, has yet to come into his powers and grows more frustrated and uncertain each day. And Matt's sister Isabel, whose healing power and psychic visions make her critically important to the Guard, will risk the wrath of an immortal being to search the underworld for her soulmate Arkarian, who has been taken prisoner by the forces of chaos.
More seriously, Isabel will risk her life and the lives of Ethan and Matt, who go with her into a realm of horror from which they might not return. Without them, the Guard will lose more and more ground to the Order in their battle over time. And what do they have working for them? Besides Isabel's healing powers, they have Ethan's ability to create totally convincing illusions, such as a boat you can actually row across a river; the advice of a winged, pig-snouted, implike creature who has offered them his dubious loyalty; the desperation of a ghostly little girl to get in touch with her loved ones; the defection of one of Lathenia's minions, who also turns out to be a surprise traitor to the good guys (though not a very big surprise); and secrets and powers that Matt and Arkarian don't even know they have—while the latter, gravely wounded, is running out of time.
What lifts this series above the ho-hum teen-angst-laden fantasy adventure? To be sure, it offers plenty in the angsty teen department, including a creeping suspicion that a whole bunch of characters will be paired up as "soul mates." But it also has some spectacular images and weird hazards, such as a gigantic eight-sided pyramid of colored glass, a magical tunnel that forces you to face your deepest secret, and a lake of frozen acid that bursts into flame everywhere you step on it. Also there are time-diving expeditions into medieval France and ancient Rome, and a high school history classroom used as a litmus test to measure how the war to protect the timeline is going. (Hint: As the dress code goes, so goes civilization.) It's not high literature. It's not even high fantasy. But it may give teen bookworms a bit more than the average showcase for the words "I would have ruled the world if it hadn't been for you meddling kids!" The other two books in Australian author Curley's popular trilogy are The Named and The Key.
Saint Louis USA
Recommended Age: 14+
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