The Monsters of Otherness
by Kaza Kingsley
In Book Two of Erec Rex the heir apparent to the magical kingdom of Alypium begins a series of magical tasks testing his claim to the throne. As Erec begins a new course of studies under a frankly dodgy pair of tutors, he faces a growing heap of challenges. The Stain brothers continue to contest Erec's claim to the throne. Protest demonstrations and snarky memos show that he is hated by the people he is destined to rule. Meanwhile Erec keeps receiving suspiciously enthusiastic fan letters.
Baby dragons have been disappearing. War is brewing with the creatures who inhabit the wasteland of Otherness. Two of Erec's siblings have been abducted and replaced by lookalike assassins. An evil "Prince of Peace" has laid plans whose fulfillment will be fatal to Erec and, indeed, to the whole world. All that, plus the first two of twelve seemingly impossible tasks, fall on Erec's young shoulders just when his best friends Bethany, Oscar, and Jack seem to be growing away from him in their own, fateful directions.
Erec's second adventure is filled with the unexpected. There's the mystery of who is really behind the kidnapping of Danny and Sammy Rex. Even more mysterious are the clues Erec picks up to his own shadowy, ominous past. It's a time for a boy with a magical, royal destiny to learn about seeing past appearances. It is a time for a future king to practice compassion and justice, to face the uncomfortable results of telling the truth, to decide whom he should and shouldn't trust, to resist the tempting allure of pure power, and to learn how to balance superhuman powers with his human frailty.
So there's plenty going on in The Monsters of Otherness. Don't be surprised if, at times, it moves a bit faster than you can comfortably follow. Erec himself seems to be dragged along at a swifter pace than he can keep up. Within a very short time he meets trolls, dragons, harpies, hydras, and other creatures both wondrous and scary. He navigates through a bureaucratic maze, sticks his hand into the well of the fates (eww), solves one mystery only to be confronted with another, and simultaneously wins and loses a series of contests. He befriends an unusually resourceful butler, makes signal use of a magic scroll, and sees a friend fall in battle. He experiences sacrificial love. He struggles for self-knowledge. And he continues fighting to win a scepter he fears to hold - for good reason! - only because the idea of his enemies holding it is more terrifying still.
All this is almost too much for a single book, but it is only the second part of an ongoing series. And when it ends, Erec has made it through only two of the twelve tasks required of a would-be king. So plenty of adventure remains in store for us. The third book, titled The Search for Truth, was released in June 2009.
St. Louis, USA
Recommended Age: 12+
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