Like a weird kind of long-lasting technology, the magic that ran the Spire is still active, and Genna and Catri learn a great deal about the last great battle between the nightlings and the humans a thousand years ago, that resulted in the humans serving as beasts of burden for the nightlings ever since. Assisting in their orientation to sun wizard history and ways is Jagan, a boy a couple of years older than the girls who was frozen into a magical sleep one thousand years ago by his parents – who never came back to wake him up. It is Catri’s impulsive kiss that does the trick.
Genna’s destiny as Sunrider can’t allow her to remain a scholar living in the lap of luxury, of course, and soon enough drastic events compel her to leave the Spire and plunge back into danger in order to rescue her loved ones – and to do not the easy thing but the right thing.
Genna’s brother Danrith and her friends Doyati and Yarri make only brief appearances in this story, which belongs to Genna, Catri, the dragon, and of course the cat. The mystery of who or what the cat is irritates Genna like an itch she can’t scratch – although she certainly tries. The cat, with his customary mixture of disdain and bad temper, puts her off – and somehow he remains as intriguing and attractive as ever, despite his penchant for clawing Genna at every opportunity.
We learn much more about the culture of Genna’s people and about the secret magic and traditions that certain people have passed down through the generations directly from the sun wizards themselves. Honor and integrity are valued highly, which makes sense for a people who are controlled almost entirely by hostile outside forces. What you can control – your own actions, your sense of right and wrong – becomes all-important. Readers will appreciate gaining an understanding of Genna’s people and will empathize with her uneasy feelings about the comfortable but restrictive environment in the Spire.
The tension of ever-present danger and impending doom that drove the plot forward in the first book only appears occasionally in this installment. Instead, we get a breather along with Genna, as she prepares for what appears to be an impossible challenge – to unite humans, nightlings, and the people of the moonroads. I, for one, can’t wait to find out how she and her friends and allies will achieve this.
Highly recommended for grades 5 to 8, but only if they’ve read book 1 – The Ruby Key.