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Shield of Stars by Hilari Bell - YA fantasy and SF
...for adult readers!
cheddartrek
ya_f_sf
cheddartrek
Shield of Stars by Hilari Bell
Hey there everyone. I just finished reading an engaging YA story and had to share it with someone. Fortunately I know just the place for that. =)

Title: Shield of Stars (Part I of the Shield, Sword, and Crown Trilogy)
Author: Hilari Bell
ISBN: 1416905944
Genre: Action/Adventure
Plot summary: A young clerk, formerly a pickpocket, escapes when his beloved mentor is arrested for treason. He embarks on a journey to rescue the only person who trusts or cares for him.
Verdict: One of my new favorite YA reads, meaning I quite enjoyed it.

Shield of Stars follows a familiar pattern to many, though I never once felt like I was reading something I had read before.  Weasel, the main character, is a fourteen year old clerk to Justice Holis.  He had been a pickpocket up until the age of 11, when he tried to pick Holis' pocket and his life changed for the better.  Holis is part of a conspiracy to remove the Regent from control of the kingdom, as it will be years before the King is old enough to rule, and they don't particularly like the Regent.

Holis' group is trying to go about things legally, though the laws they intend to use are archaic, but the Regent gets wind of the plan and tries to have them hung for treason before it goes too far.  There are other groups attempting to remove him from power as well, though they aren't as scrupulous about doing it legally.

Weasel is, in my opinion, an excellent protagonist.  He is flawed, but I found myself very sympathetic to him and his cause.  His cause is simply to get his beloved Justice out of prison before it's too late.  He doesn't care who rules the kingdom, nor does he have an overly strong sense of morals... he just wants Holis safe and everything else be damned.  He realizes that Holis doesn't think this way, but as he says when it is pointed out to him, Holis would have to be alive to scold him about it so he'd best get to work on that.  He doesn't want anyone to die, and it comes as a bit of a shock when he realizes that some of the actions he has taken to free Holis may have lead to the deaths of people who didn't deserve to die.

The plot stays fairly realistic, without delving too much into the fantastic, but there is a sense of the Fantasy genre lurking about in this adventure story.  As far as this book is concerned, the shield, sword, and crown are simply long-lost (but powerful) symbols to the people.  Foreshadowing suggests that something more magical may be at work.

The books are not overly religious, but there is some talk of churches and faiths.  Weasel himself sees churches primarly as a place he used to sleep and eat occasionally before he met Holis.  I suspect that faith may come slightly more into play in the latter two books; no "real life" faiths are mentioned.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to the next in the series.  I may check out something else by the author in the meantime.  The only other Hilari Bell novel I've read is "The Prophecy," which I wasn't too impressed with.  Has anyone else read this one yet?  I wouldn't mind discussing parts of it, but I didn't go into too much plot detail here because it is a recently published book and spoilers are bad.

Current Mood: cheerful cheerful

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Comments
matril From: matril Date: April 18th, 2007 03:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
As it happens, I just recently picked up a book at random by Hilari Bell (I'm fairly certain she's the same author as this one). It was called The Goblin Wood and I enjoyed it well enough. It managed to include a lot of fantasy/adventure conventions without feeling too clichéd. Maybe I'll check out this series.
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