Heather Fitzgerald has done it again!
“The Flaming Sword,” released November 1, 2016, is the outstanding sequel to “The Tethered World,” which I also reviewed here.
“The Tethered World Chronicles” is a unique, fun and thrilling young adult fantasy series following the adventures of the Larcen family, who have been charged with the safekeeping of the Tethered World, a secret, underground world filled with not-so-mythological creatures.
Before I give my thoughts on the sequel, however, let’s first take a look at the description:
“Sadie Larcen and her family are slowly recovering from their life-altering trek to the Tethered World. That is until their aunt arrives clutching a mysterious letter and sporting a black eye. The letter that Aunt Jules shares with the family writhes with sinister implications. A new and menacing enemy has slunk from the shadows and is conspiring to seize the most powerful piece of weaponry in the land: The Flaming Sword of Cherubythe. The sword must—at all costs—be kept from the enemies who lust for its power. The threat extends to Sadie’s autistic brother Brock. As High King in training, he now resides in the Tethered World, within close proximity to the sword. It’s apparent that drastic measures will be required by all in order to protect what’s most important. Can Sadie once again confront her disabling fear, stare evil in the face, and walk away whole—let alone alive? How can one teenage girl and her family save a sword with the potential to start a world war? Will lines be crossed even as Sadie’s faith is tested? Sadie knows it’s going to take a lot more than strength, grit, and courage to survive.”
To say that this sequel doesn’t hold back on the action, danger or suspense is an understatement. It doesn’t pull any punches, especially where main character Sadie and her younger brother Brady are concerned.
One of my favorite things about this series is the characters. The Larcen family is just as lovable as ever, and I feel just as invested in their safety and happiness as I did in the first installment. Furthermore, there is a huge variety of interesting, unique, believable (and sometimes terrifying) creatures–some of whom I was glad to see return from the first book, as well as few new additions. I’m thinking particularly of the extremely creepy and awful gargoyles. Eek! Those guys give me the willies.
I particularly loved Sadie’s character arc in the first book, involving her personal struggles of fear and trust in God’s plan, and seeing her grow along the way. That adventure taught her to look past her own selfish desires and self-pity and to trust in God’s control over every situation. But then she got to go home and return to “normalcy,” at least that was the plan. Unfortunately for her, “normal” isn’t really an option. 😉 So I was happy to see this theme return and put to the test the second time around. Sadie is really pushed to come to terms with her role in the “family occupation” (despite wanting nothing to do with it), and she faces all sorts of temptations and dangers that threaten to discourage her from following through. What’s worse, she has to face the majority of it alone, after being separated from her family. While I definitely missed Sophie’s spunk and adventurous spirit in this book, removing the little sister (and all other family members and mentors) was in retrospect probably a good thing for Sadie. Unlike last time, she is forced to no longer rely on the strength and support of others to guide her. There are no crutches or excuses for her to fall back on. As a result, Sadie’s faith is really put to the test and she must find the strength and courage to overcome each situation on her own (with the Lord’s help) if she’s to be reunited with her loved ones.
By the end, her amount of growth–even since the previous book–surprised and encouraged me. She transforms from a fearful, reluctant, resentful teen into a strong, courageous young woman who not only accepts what needs to be done, but chooses to run towards the danger and put herself at risk for the sake of her family and friends. That is Sadie’s best quality–her love for and loyalty to family. Time and again, this quality overcomes her crippling fear and spurs her to heroic and selfless deeds for the sake of others.
Part two is thrilling, nail-biting, and satisfying on almost all counts. I say “almost,” because the ending clearly is meant to leave you hanging to an extent for the final book. As such, the lack of an epic final battle and complete closure isn’t necessarily a negative thing, as it entices the reader to pick up the next book in the series.
As far as I’m concerned, I absolutely cannot wait for what is certain to be a thrilling conclusion!
Best of all, this series is a great choice for clean, fun, family-friendly fantasy and I would highly recommend it.