Monday, March 15, 2010

Peter and the Sword of Mercy

And now, for your reading pleasure, the fourth and final volume in the Starcatchers Trilogy: Peter and the Sword of Mercy, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson!

It's 1902, twenty-some-odd years after the tumultuous events of Peter and the Secret of Rundoon. Peter, along with the Lost Boys and everyone else on Mollusk Island/Never Land, hasn't aged a day, but outside, time has passed. Molly Aster has married George Darling, and they have three children-- John, Michael, and Wendy. The latter is the most troublesome, just like her mother.

One night a strange visitor from Molly's past visits her with grave news. It's James, one of Peter's original Lost Boys, and he is working with Scotland Yard. He is suspicious that Prince Albert Edward, under the influence of Baron Von Schatten, is being twisted. And who does he think Von Schatten is? Well, it's a blast from the past, and I'll give you a hint: his name starts with Lord and ends with Ombra.

But why is Ombra in London (again)? The Cache-- a secret store of starstuff that fell to Earth centuries ago and is hidden underground. Of course, it's near impossible to find, and can only be opened with a key that is impossible to use. What is this key? The Sword of Mercy, a legendary broken sword kept with the Crown Jewels.

Molly (and Wendy, who listened in on her talk with James) know they'll need help. Someone who knows all about starstuff from personal experience. Someone with a youthful vigor who can fight Ombra. I'll give you three guesses as to who, and the first two don't count.

(Yeah, it's Peter.)

This volume has a different feel from the first three, a mix between The Da Vinci Code and the most recent Indiana Jones movie. There's a nice treasure hunt vibe, mixed with a new generation of resourcefulness a la Wendy. The writing is solid, as always, and I like how this is really a direct "prequel" to Peter Pan. It was also good to give some more permanent closure to loose threads that the original three Starcatchers books created that weren't present in the classic.

But there is one distinct problem that this book's existence, however fun, brings about. The entire plot, to a small degree, feels pointless, because all the pieces need to be in the same place at the ending as they were at the beginning. It nagged at my mind throughout the reading, and detracted from the novel's sense of urgency, which was already not very high just because of its nature as a prequel.

Still, it's nice to see these characters one last time, and I'd still say that the Pseudo-Prequels are worth a read. And that's my two cents on this series, flying pretty furiously through all the reviews in the space of a week. And more reviews will be up soon.

My rating: 8.5/10

Coming Soon: FANG.

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