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Sword of Waters (The Shield, Sword, and Crown) Hardcover – November 25, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Grade 5–9—This second book in the trilogy continues where Shield of Stars (S & S, 2007) left off, and it will be difficult for readers to follow if they're not familiar with the complex connections and tumultuous events in that book. Arisa takes center stage here, and her mother, the Falcon, the notorious bandit-thief turned commander of the army and navy of Deorthas, asks her daughter to befriend the prince and to find the Sword of Waters. With the help of her friend Weasel, Arisa sets about both of these tasks with mixed results. It is clear that there is more to Prince Edoran than meets the eye. His attitude and personality leave Arisa wondering if he's a conceited jerk or simply misunderstood. Her mother's fragile truce with the regent is another layer that confuses Arisa, and the political maneuverings and alliances are numerous. While searching for the sword, Arisa discovers a murder and a treacherous plot, and learns that things are not as they seem. Fans of the first book will be captivated as the layers begin to unfurl and plots and deceptions are exposed that could not have been predicted.—Genevieve Gallagher, Buford Middle School, Charlottesville, VA
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About the Author
Hilari Bell is a librarian in Denver, Colorado, where she lives with her family. Her favorite books are fantasy, science fiction, and mystery -- all the ingredients for a great novel! Hilari is also the author of the Farsala Trilogy -- Fall of a Kingdom, Rise of a Hero, and Forging the Sword -- as well as Songs of Power, A Matter of Profit, and The Goblin Wood.
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Once Arisa agrees to undertake the search, she realizes she'll need help from both Weasel and Prince Edoran. As she gets to know the Prince a little better, Arisa admits that, every once in a while at least, he isn't that bad. But the trio have barely begun their research when politics and jealousies threaten to overtake them. When Arisa uncovers a pair of secret plots and a deadly threat to the Kingdom's peace, a conspiracy that could shake Deorthas to its very foundations, she learns that not all dangers come from outside the palace walls.
As she did with Weasel's story in Shield of Stars, Hilari Bell has delivered a top notch fantasy novel in Sword of Waters. Fast-paced and dynamic, the wonderful plot compels readers to keep the pages turning. While the action is exciting and the intrigues suitably tense, it is Ms. Bell's characters that make this middle story of the trilogy shine. No one personality in this book is purely good or purely evil, they are all composed of multi-faceted shades of gray and their actions are shaped by their individual pasts, as well as the larger events of the present. The heroes and heroines can be petulant and jealous from time to time and the villains have moments of kindness and self-sacrifice. The depth of the characters is matched by Ms. Bell's brilliant world-building. Deorthas is so real you can see it your mind's eye. All of this combines to bring the story of the Sword of Waters wonderfully to life.
When chance leads Arisa to a possible den of traitors, she leaps at the chance to investigate on her own. In fact, I got the distinct impression that she prefers scrubbing tavern floors to the dancing lessons! The investigation takes a dangerous turn, forcing her to confide in the adults in her life. And that's when things get really bad. The return of the Sword of Waters only complicates things further. At the end of the book, Arisa is between the proverbial rock and hard spot, and there's no squirming out of it.
Edit: And now that I think about it, the plot really IS amazing, the circumstances genius, and the enemy intense! So five stars from me!