The Lost Runes

by Jane Welch

Reviewed by Coral

Life has not improved all that much for Caspar and his family since the last book. His mother, Keridwen, still lies trapped beneath the ice in Vaalaka; the Vaalakans still march on Torra Alta; the soldiers look upon Caspar's father, Baron Branwolf, with some distrust, because of the pagan women he allows into his kingdom. And those are only the problems they know about (one problem Branwolf remains blind to is that Dunnock was not the only spy he had in his midst)!

Now, in order to save his home and country, Caspar, along with Hal and Brid, must travel into the heart of Belbidia: Farona, home of King Rewik and his Inquisitors. Because deep within the city lies a rune-covered cauldron that holds the key to finding the Druid's Egg - Torra Alta's only hope for salvation.

Does that last bit sound a little needlessly complicated to anyone else? I thought the Druid's Eye was the all-important object they needed, when did these others ones pop up? Or did I miss something in the first book? Whichever, I still think it's a pathetic plot contrivance to dump our main characters in the center of the "new" religion's power.

Wow, did any of you know Brid was beautiful? Because it gets repeated almost every single chapter. The petty jealousy Caspar feels towards Hal because of Brid worsens in this book. In Caspar's mind Hal can never be good enough for her. He even hits Hal when Hal and Brid start one of their religious discussion-arguments, not to mention the childish tantrum he throws in the closing pages.

There are a lot of needless obstacles and characters in this book. It's like everyone in Belbidia is conspiring to keep them away from Farona. From superstitious villagers to enclaves of crazy pagans, one right after another. As for the new characters, what was the point of Cybillia besides to make Brid jealous? And the mercenary Ceowulf, did he even have a point?

And, why didn't Branwolf ever consider the fact that Dunnock may not have been working alone? I mean, I know the Vaalakans are almost at his gates, but before sending his brother and son off on their own (especially considering he just got them back) you'd think he'd check to make sure no one would be relaying his plans to the enemies? Not smart.

Grade: C