In book 8 of the Last Apprentice series, Rage of the Fallen, by Joseph Delaney, Tom has landed in Ireland with the Spook and Alice where they intend to bind the Fiend who is the devil. Alice and Tom are bound together by a blood jar that protects them from the Fiend who wants to take their souls to Hell and torment them for eternity (that story is in book 4). When the blood jar cracks, their mission becomes more desperate as the Fiend is able to partially materialize before them. Ireland is a land of powerful magic and Tom is being hunted not only by the Fiend, but a witch he thought he had helped Bill Akwright kill (book 5), Morrigan the powerful crow goddess witch, and mages who want to harness the power of the god, Pan, through an ancient ritual. Tom discovers an ancient and powerful sword that will aid him on his quest; plus, with the help of the witch assassin, Grimalkin, the three fight many adversaries in this action-packed horror story.
I don't like violent, horror stories but Delaney is an excellent writer with interesting plot twists and characters who struggle internally with the decisions they make. In this book, Celtic mythology is introduced and the Spook, who has been terribly upset by Tom's connections to the dark side, is less judgemental and not quite as black and white on the issue. At least he acknowledges when it has saved their lives and that the binding of the Fiend wouldn't have happened without the help of the dark witch Grimalkin. It doesn't make him happy, but at least he doesn't walk away. Alice's struggle with the dark side takes an intense turn in this story. She seems to be able to choose good when she is with Tom. I like how she represents a person's struggle with good and evil within themself. There are several symbolic images from Christianity used in the story. The goat that traps the essence of a god has a crown of thorns and must die at the hands of its enemies in order to be free just like Christ wore a crown of thorns and died on the cross unjustly. This seems to indicate the god represents goodness, but it isn't clear until the end of the story. There is also the Blade of Destiny that has eyes that cry tears of blood just as Christ sweat drops of blood as he prayed about his destiny on the cross. I might be way off on that one but it crossed my mind. The last Christian image is the way the devil had to be nailed to a rock through his hands and feet. Christ let his enemies nail him to the cross so he could defeat the devil. For the Fiend, it is a reversal of this. He must be nailed to a rock in order to bind sin versus Christ who set us free from sins. Interesting twist. Delaney was an English teacher before he became a writer and those teachers love symbolism - don't yah know ; )
I struggled the most with the violence in this story, but I sat with my eyes closed in "Saving Private Ryan" and parts of "Jurassic Park." If it doesn't bother you then you will like these books. I can't seem to put the books down even when a part of me wants to which is more of a testimony to Delaney's good writing than anything. That said, there is a suicide, too many heads being chopped off, a human eating a chicken raw, a dead mans eye's pecked out by crows and a human sacrifice in an ancient ritual. The violence has picked up a few notches in the last few books making it more middle schoolish. The reading levels in the first six books are from 4-5; whereas the last two are in the 6's.
Reading Level 6.6
:-) :-) :-) 3.75 out of 5 Smileys