ANGIE SAGE was born in London and grew up in the Thames Valley, London, and Kent. She loves the sea, spooky old houses, and time traveling (the easy way, by reading history books). Angie has created many books for children, including the New York Times bestselling series Septimus Heap and Araminta Spookie. She lives in England. Visit her online at www.angiesage.com and on Twitter @AngieSageAuthor. Mark Zug has illustrated many collectible card games, including Magic: The Gathering and Dune, as well as books and magazines. He lives in Pennsylvania.
Sage's debut novel, the launch title of the Septimus Heap series, introduces the seventh son of a seventh son, destined to have deep magical powers but who, as the book opens, appears to have died soon after his birth. Silas Heap, the father (who is also a wizard), has just returned home after discovering a newborn baby girl in the snow, and finds Septimus being whisked away from mother Sarah by the midwife. On the heels of these events, Marcia, the newly appointed ExtraOrdinary Wizard, commands Silas to raise the baby as his own, which he does and names her Jenna. The author quickly reveals the girl's heritage via a busybody tavern owner who passes along some gossip: it seems the Queen was assassinated and the baby princess disappeared. The tale then jumps ahead 10 years, where readers find corrupt wizard DomDaniel trying to finish off the royal line. A chase lands Jenna and friends at the island home of the matronly Aunt Zelda, at which point the pace slows dramatically. The author introduces several subplots, summarized rather than dramatized, incorporating many cameos (e.g., Jenna's best friend and Simon's fianc?e are mentioned in passing), and one boy claims to be Septimus. The author eventually reveals the real Septimus in a clever, if predictable, turn of events, making way for the next installments. Ages 9-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Gr 4-8-A wide cast of characters battle the forces of Darke Magyk in a well-realized world of fantasy. At birth, Septimus Heap is carried away for dead, and his father, Silas Heap, is entrusted with a baby girl. When the villainous Supreme Custodian tries to assassinate the now 10-year-old Jenna, who, it turns out, is the daughter of the murdered queen, the girl flees to the Marram Marshes along with some family members, the ExtraOrdinary Wizard, and a young army guard known only as "Boy 412." Pursued by the servants of the Necromancer DomDaniel, and aided by an engaging array of magical beings, they finally prevail in a satisfying and fairly exciting conclusion. Despite the hefty length, the novel is quite easy to follow. Many creative magical elements, such as the deliciously repulsive Magogs, add to the fun. Frequent point-of-view shifts give a well-rounded picture of the multiple plot threads and add many opportunities for light humor. On the other hand, with so many characters represented, it's hard to feel strong empathy for any of them. Jenna, the Queenling, and Boy 412, in particular, nearly emerge as full-blooded individuals at times, but neither quite stands out as an engaging hero. Villains are well drawn and varied, and most are more comical than truly menacing. The ease with which a once-formidable enemy like the Hunter is finally dispatched, however, detracts a bit from the eventual triumph of the protagonists. Overall, this is a fine choice for fantasy readers looking to delve into a new world with lots of magic, plenty of action, and a few neat surprises.-Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
A deliciously spellbinding series opener.--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)