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Raider's Ransom: Flood and Fire Hardcover – June 1, 2011
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"Good-hearted, engaging protagonists, dramatic sea battles, a solid sense of humor, and a novel blend of medieval and futuristic technologies distinguish this notable debut."
"Filled with irony and buoyed by the hopes of its young protagonists, this swashbuckling tale will please a wide range of readers and lure them back for more."
"In her debut work, Diamand proves her fantasy chops by seamlessly weaving together two complicated storylines while vividly constructing an intriguing and entirely believable post-apocalyptic setting."
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Now doing a review of a book like this is difficult, particularly if you despise giving away plot elements, like I do, but I think I can safely say that I enjoyed the visit to Greater Scotland, and that I thought the conflict with the old 'remnant' of the Military computer was interesting and exciting.
Gripping, fun romp suitable for Middle-graders on up.
This book provides the gripping and action-packed completion to the tales of Lilly and Zeph, wrapping most things up nicely (and yet still leaving scope for additional tales to follow.) The writing is every bit as refreshing and sparkling as the earlier volume and the pages positively fly by. This American edition does lack some of that sparkle, though, for in the original British release, the language is noticeably richer and Lilly's linguistic mannerisms more endearingly individualistic than they have been rendered here, which is a pity and does the American audience a disservice, in my opinion.
As with the first volume, this is a very grown-up book for children (or else a very playful book for adults) trumping even the earlier book in its hilarious yet poignant goings-on. Emily Diamand manages to pack a tremendous number of ideas, action, humour, pathos, horror and excitement into this story which is simultaneously both huge fun and tremendously thought-provoking. "Raiders' Ransome" was a very good book; its sequel is an excellent book! Full marks!
Lilly, Cat, Lexy and PSAI have been on the run ever since the huge battle at Black Waters. But their little boat is no match for the big ships of the raiders. They have nowhere to hide, but refuse to give up. Just in time, a woman appears and leads them to a temporary safety. This stranger is a professor of silicon antiquities at Cambridge and has been searching for something like the PSAI for a long time. She invites them to go with her to Cambridge so she can study the computer. Since Lilly and her friends don't have many other options, and PSAI is running dangerously low on battery power, they agree to go with the professor. Little do they know that one of her co-workers is their old "friend" Aileen, who's been nothing but trouble to them. Their visit to Cambridge won't be as restful as they had hoped.
Meanwhile, Lilly and Lexy's friend, Zeph, is having some problems of his own. He has returned to the raiders in hopes of taking over his now dead father's job as Boss. While his father's second in command supports him, others don't, including Zeph's very aggressive brother, Roba, who is itching to take control. Before the brothers break out into a war of their own, the raiders' council arrives to settle the matter. The council is all set to take over their territory and enslave the entire family, but Zeph offers an alternate plan. He knows the raiders would love to own the last working computer and use it to defeat the English, and he offers them a deal. He will get the computer and its primary user, Lilly, and trade them to the council for his family's freedom. Zeph feels awful betraying Lilly and Lexy, but he doesn't have much choice; he must make the impossible life-and-death decision between his family and his friends.
Emily Diamand offers another awesome read with her sequel to RAIDERS' RANSOM. Both are unique looks at the future, following the destruction of society known today. She brings up many intriguing ideas, urging readers to think about the tough subjects of war, technology and the environment. As in the first book, she alternates points of view by chapter between Lilly and Zeph, which is a challenging task. But she does a great job of staying in character.
And speaking of characters, hers are very colorful and energetic. Lilly is courageous and independent, kindhearted and strong, while Zeph is defined by honor and bravery, yet struggling between right and wrong. Lexy is plucky and adorable with a wisdom beyond her young years. Even Cat is an intriguing character with his feline antics and complete dedication to Lilly. And one can't forget the computer with the grumpy and sarcastic personality; Diamand's sense of humor shines through PSAI. She also takes on the tricky job of writing in a unique dialect, including alternate spellings (cos instead of because, and rowbot rather than robot).
Those new to the series would be advised to start with the first book, as jumping in here might be confusing. Fans will be thrilled with the sequel as it continues to explode with action, adventure, humor and friendship, all with the strange twist of a future world.
--- Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman