Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Grey Griffins, The Clockwork Chronicles, Book 1, The Brimstone Key

Authors Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis pair up for a second series of their Grey Griffins characters. Friends Max, Harley, Natalia, and Ernie are staring their first year in the "local" Knights Templar training school, Iron Bridge Academy. But what would a school year be for the Griffins if not a threat to the known world? An brilliantly evil man from the past, Otto Von Strife, also known as the Clockwork King, has returned after most thought him defeated for good. Von Strife's previous plan was to steal the souls of changelings - humans who have been infused or affected by faerie blood giving them special powers - and put them into his clockwork army. There many changelings at Iron Bridge and Ernie is one of them. As changelings start to disappear from Iron Bridge it can only mean that Von Strife has started his work again. The Griffins, with help from Max's bodyguard Logan, friend and fellow Templar techie Monti, and a smattering of other interestingly named characters (Throckmorton the gargoyle is my favorite) must stop the Clockwork King before he rebuilds his army and opens the gate to the Shadowlands - where the most evil of creatures are bound.

While the pacing can be jarring and the writing questionable at times, the adventure is still fun. I have read another review that complains about the constantly shifting perspective. I, however, find it refreshing that the storyline is not bound to the perspective of the natural hero - Max. Rather it gives others in the Griffins a chance to flesh out their emotional characters. Particularly, I enjoyed seeing things from the most timid of the group, Ernie, who eventually sheds his fear to lead fellow changelings to hunt down Von the next book.

Bits and pieces of sci-fi technology make appearances in the book, like EMPs (Matrix anyone?) and hovercraft/blimp type ships (Star Wars). Obvious from the previous series is an about face towards steam punk (how many times will I read the word "corset" in a book with 3 male lead characters?). All of this can be a bit obnoxious to a grown up, but as the intended age of this book is late elementary to early middle school, I don't think this will make a bit of difference. I think this will appeal to boys who like comic book heros, sci-fi movies, adventure, and danger.

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