So There I Was...: Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones by Brandon Sanderson
"So there I was, slumped in my chair, waiting in a drab airport terminal, munching absently on a bag of stale potato chips.
Not the beginning you expected, is it? You likely thought that I would start this book with something exciting. A scene involving evil Librarians, perhaps--something with altars, Alivened, or at least some machine guns.
I'm sorry to disappoint you.... However, it's for your own good. You see, I have decided to reform. My last book was terribly unfair--I started it with an intense, threatening scene of action. I promise to no longer be deceptive like that in my writing. I won't use cliff-hangers or other tricks to keep you reading.
Oh, by the way. Did I mention that while waiting at that airport I was probably in the most danger I'd ever been in my life?
I ate another stale potato chip.
But what can you expect from a enigmatic narrator who frequently points out that he is a Liar, with a capital L? There are plenty of cliff-hangers, deus ex machina escapes, and more than a touch of stop-action asides in which our hero Alcatraz is left dangling (and his readers with him) at the point of destruction by arcane monsters while he takes us off into several pages of ruminations upon the Smedry family's quirky missions. But for the considerable legion of readers who doted upon Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians, the eagerly awaited sequel, Alcatraz Versus The Scrivener's Bones, has not disappointed.
Alcatraz, the thirteen-year-old scion of the peculiarly gifted Smedry clan, a family which exists in two alternate universes, Hushland (roughly Earth) and the Free Kingdoms, the true home of his line, is waiting for Grampa Leavenworth Smedry, whose "talent" is always to be late, to pick him up at the airport for a special mission. Grampa is late, of course, (no surprise here) leaving Alcatraz to fight off a squadron of evil Librarians before he is snatched up into a flying glass dragon piloted by his cousin Australia and old comrade-in-arms Bastille, her mother the Crystallian knight Draulin, and his uncle Lord Kazan, or Kaz, Smedry, whose gift is getting lost at opportune times. After a dogfight with a missile-firing fighter piloted by a part human-part machine bad guy called Kiliman, the Dragonaut crash lands and Kaz manages to lead the motley crew to the opening of the Library of Alexandria, where Grandpa Smedry's footprints (visible to Oculators Australia and Alcatraz) lead.
Suffice it to say that many cliff-hanging, snare-trapping misadventures ensue underground as the wicked Wraiths try to impel the heroes to trade their souls for one of their millions of books, adventures in which Alcatraz eventually comes face to face with his eternally freshly dead ancestor Allekatrase the Lens-Wielder, First Bearer of the Dark Talent and learns that his talent, the power of breaking, lies at the center of the circle of life. This quest also reunites Alcatraz with Gramp Smedry and his own father Attica Smedry, who apparently is the only being to sell his soul to the Wraiths and then earn it back.
If this plot sounds messy, that's because it is. The maze of subterranean passages which form the Library of Alexandria is nothing compared to the maze of printed passages by which this story line is delivered--not to mention Alcatraz's witty asides, some a whole chapter in themselves. Readers who loved this style in the first book will find plenty of what they liked in this sequel. And, as Alcatraz himself tells us in his Epilogue, there's plenty more where these two came from:
There you go. Book Two of my memoirs. It's not the end, of course. You didn't think it would be, did you? We haven't even gotten to the part where I end up tied to that altar about to be sacrificed! Besides, these thing always come in trilogies, at least. Otherwise they're not epic!
Labels: Fantasy Fiction (Grades 4-9)