Recommended for ages 9-14
In this sequel to 2014’s Red Sun, Sam Baron has freed Orkney from the Red Sun, but is now a prisoner of Catriona, leader of the Volgrim Witches. She’s determined to bend Sam to her will and use his half-god, half-witch power to mold him into the formidable force that will crush Odin and help her gain rule over Orkney and beyond. Fortunately, Sam’s not alone; his three best friends, Keeley, Howie, and Leo, find themselves drawn back into the fray to help save Sam. Each given their own quest, the three friends will learn more about themselves in this adventure.
Full disclosure: I didn’t read The Red Sun, and that’s to my detriment. While I could pick up the general gist of the story through exposition and dialogue that discusses previous events, I would have gotten more from Kalifus Rising if I’d read the first book (and now, it’s on my TBR).
This is a solid quest fantasy that your fantasy readers will love. I appreciated that it was a team effort to save Sam, and I love that each friend had a quest that taught them about themselves; some were given quests they didn’t feel cut out for, only to discover the inner strength to achieve the objective. It’s inspirational, which is the point of really good fantasy, isn’t it? The story concentrates on the importance and power of friendship: a key theme for middle graders; there are also great scenes where Sam reacts exactly like a tween/teen would when faced with a seemingly insurmountable task. He tries to convince Catriona that he’s moved over to her side, while relying on his inner strength to remind himself where he really stands, but as Sam – and by extension, the reader – learns, going it alone can be a tough and scary thing; the danger of losing yourself is real and having people around you to remind yourself of who you are is important. (And so is having a kick-butt mom, if I may say so, myself,)
Kalifus Rising debuted as the #1 hot new release on Amazon, so ride the wave and treat your fantasy readers to the Legends of Orkney series. Booktalk and display with Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Jasmine Richards’ Secrets of Valhalla, Keira Gillett’s Zaria Fierce trilogy, and K.L. Armstrong’s The Blackwell Pages series.
There’s a great Legends of Orkney webpage that includes a link to BattleKasters, a downloadable game based on the series! You want to see the trailer, right? Of course you want to see the trailer.