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The Second Siege: Book Two of The Tapestry Paperback – August 24, 2010
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From School Library Journal
ISBN:9780375938962Grade 5–8—Fans of The Hound of Rowan (Random, 2007) will love this sequel. Those who haven't read the first book will simply be puzzled. In their second year at Rowan Academy, Max McDaniels and his roommate David Menlo, a mystic, discover that they must live with the Witches to fulfill a pact made years before they were born. To keep them and the Book of Thoth safe from the demon Astaroth and in the hands of Rowan agents, they are "kidnapped" by an ally. While on the run, the Red Branch offers to activate Max to be its newest agent. Initially, Max demurs but after dodging danger in Europe, finding his mother in the land of the Sidh, discovering his real father's identity, and having several harrowing encounters with Astaroth, he embraces his identity as the reincarnation of Cuchulain and joins as a full-fledged agent. The Second Siege is chock-full of magic, myth, and adventure, and has some fun and interesting characters and an intense, engaging plot. That said, without the background information from the first book, it will be hard for readers to follow.—Lisa Prolman, Greenfield Public Library, MA --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
It’s Max McDaniels’ second year at Rowan Academy, a contemporary American boarding school where students are trained to fight against supernatural foes. He and his sorcerer roommate, David, along with several others, human and non, are embroiled in a quest to stop the demon Astaroth from finding the Book of Thoth, which holds the key to all creation. As governments fall to Astaroth, Max and David travel across Europe and beyond in search of the book’s location. Proud, emotional Max and frail, calculating David suffer realistic setbacks and humbling experiences that change them, while Astaroth is delightful in his sly, polite wickedness. Neff’s writing is infused with history and myth, and a sense of adventure: add well-rounded characters, and this makes for a captivating read. New readers should start with the first book, The Hound of Rowan (2007) as this one doesn’t look back, but the dark conclusion and its potential consequences will ensure an eager readership for the third. Although Neff will not escape Harry Potter comparisons, in this volume he moves into his own distinctive voice. Grades 6-9. --Krista Hutley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The story does a very good job of blurring myth, history, fantasy and the current world. Some aspects may seem less than credible at times, such as entire nations seeming to succumb to the Enemy in a matter of months, but honestly with magic and power hungry politicians I suppose most things are possible.
The new characters are really awesome. I always love Neff's characters, as the have a very real quirkiness about them.
With the revelation of secrets, Neff expertly guides the reader beyond our world and back without once being inconsistent or choppy.
Clearly, he is a brilliant story teller and can appreciate characters' eccentricities as compelling rather than off-putting. There are even moments of sheer brilliance, and it was great to see Max feel safe enough to be vulnerable with David.
Bravo. 3.5/5 stars because of the aspects that need to be worked upon.
Flaws: It's the small stuff in the people that's missing. As a rule, this series so far lacks proper character development. The characters are various, interesting, and likeable, but they are like single images whereas the opportunity for dimension is frustratingly overlooked.
--Max's character seems to shift without much explanation, or at least reflection. It is not until the very end of the book that Neff focuses on the shift between the Max of Hound of Rowan and that of Second Siege--I literally am referring to the very end of the book. He's still courageous and a lover of personal and universal justice, but any quirks are non-existent. Perhaps this is simply the nature of the protagonist?
--David's character and his constant quirkiness--and chronic cold--is dimmed and at the same time called to the forefront. He plays a very large role in the story, which he deserves, yet I feel he gets the short end of the stick. David is admittedly my favorite character, and I was annoyed at how very unmoved he was at the loss of his dominant right hand. I would have been appeased by one moment of weakness from the strong, wonderful boy, but he only once mentioned that it was strange to not have his hand, claiming he could feel his nonexistent fingers itching. Bah, come on Davie. You're a frail little blonde with enormous power, but you're still 13. You wouldn't be so unaffected that you'd fail to realize that something very much a part of you such as your dominant hand would be stripped away. Oddly, I praise Neff at the same time as I shake my head at his oversight; David's strength and persistence are accented upon by the loss of his hand and his resolution the moment he recovers.
--And don't worry about most other characters, they simply aren't developed, save Miss Boon and Cooper. As a word of encouragement, Neff portrays very interesting villains, who are equally well-developed.
--The only potential relationship done right was that of Miss Boon and Cooper. I was thoroughly annoyed when Max kisses Sarah's hand--the girl he did not even want to consider going to the dance with the previous year--and even more enraged when Cynthia was decidedly thrust upon David as a consolation prize, literary vomit. Don't get me wrong. I love Cynthia and David. In my mind, David would not go for someone like Cynthia or Lucia or Sarah or Julie Teller... See if you catch my drift. He's too exceptional to be dimmed, he needs an equal or to remain single.
--Oddly, I was also put off by Max's relationship with his mother. It was just bizarre to me. It was not because it was unlikely, it was, perhaps, just strange given the circumstances.
--In terms of non-romantic relationships, I was disappointed that Miss Boon never made an appearance or even was mentioned after the group had returned. She never visisted David in the medical wing or anything, she just faded to the background. I was annoyed simply because she seemed to be stepping in as one of the most central characters, only to shuffle back once characters with great potential like Lucia, Cynthia, Sarah, and Connor took her place at Max's side.
Also, I didn't like how Max hated Mr. Morrow so greatly. It seemed natural as it is in Max's nature to despise betrayal, yet there was no time in the previous book or the beginning of this book, or a mere sentence of explanation, to show that Max's shock had turned to anger upon finding out the man had endangered them all.
Minor Stuff - Misspelling of "Muoñz" on page 473
This second volume is a worthy successor to "Hound...", and certainly stays true to the characters and the plot that was set in motion in that volume. Potential buyers should be aware, however, that the story has now moved into the realm of the epic. By that I mean the conflict is global, other magical factions are involved, other planes of existence have been opened up, and the range of demonic bad guys has been expanded. That's fine, up to a point, but there is a possibility you will be disappointed by this expansion.
Big fantasy is harder to write, and lots of times the characters get lost in all the work it takes to keep the big picture in focus. Many readers drifted away from series like Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time because of this problem. Sometimes I think the genius of Lord of the Rings is that it manages to tell the grand epic tale without ever leaving the point of view and the up close reality of just a few central characters.
Anyway, because of the direction in which it is moving I thing the series has lost a bit of its charm. On the other hand, there is a lot more adventure, combat, intrigue, and big magic. That may actually make this book more appealing to some than the first volume was. And, Max and David are still compelling enough characters that you will probably want to see them through their odysseys.