Friday, June 26, 2009

A Lesson in Magyk - Is it Harry Potter lite?


Call me shallow. But I picked up this book mainly because I adored the cover!! I mean seriously, doesn't it just radiate fun and fantasy?? Magyk: Septimus Heap Book 1 by Angie Sage (564 pgs, Harper Collins Kids, 2005) is the perfect way to finish off a little fantasy for the Once Upon a Time III Challenge, as well as a selection for the YAC 2009. It is also the first book in the Septimus Heap Series, that is so far up to 4 books.

Silas Heap pulled his cloak tightly around him against the snow. It had been along walk through the Forest, and he was chilled to the bone. But in his pockets he had the herbs that Galen, the Physik Woman, had given him for his new baby boy, Septimus, who had been born earlier that day.

On the day that Septimus Heap was born, there was trouble brewing in the Castle. As his father Silas was returning from a trip through the forest, he finds a baby wrapped tightly in the snow. Since there was no way he could leave the poor child to freeze to death, he bundled her up and hid her in his cloak. As he was winding his way home, Marcia Overstrand, the Apprentice to the Extraordinary Wizard, stops him and tells him that no one must know that he found the baby. He MUST say she was born to him. A strange request, but one that Silas would keep.

But when he reached home with his bundle, he is met by the Matron Midwife. She is rushing out of his apartment carrying a bundle. Silas' son Septimus had died. As the seventh son of a seventh son, there were high hopes in the wizard world for the boy, but apparently it wasn't meant to be. So he and his wife Sarah, took in the baby girl and Jenna filled the vacancy left by Septimus' death.

It was a few weeks later, that the Heap's found out exactly where baby Jenna had come from. The Queen had been murdered on the night she had given birth the to Princess, the heir apparent. Not only had the Queen been shot by one of the Custodian Guard's assassins, but so had Alther, the ExtraOrdinary Wizard. And although no one knew exactly what happened, the Princess was missing. It was presumed she was being held prisoner somewhere....but the Heap's knew differently.

All was well with the Heap family for 10 years. But on the day of Jenna's birthday, a knock at their door changes everything. The ExtraOrdinary Wizard herself, Marcia Overstrand had come calling (which NEVER happens). In the ten years since Jenna has been with the Heaps, life has changed if you are a Wizard family. No longer seen as a good thing, Magyk classes were cancelled. Although Marcia was still made ExtraOrdinary Wizard, a position of power, The Supreme Custodian had taken over the castle. He has spent 10 years trying to find the Princess. With spies all over the place, the guards had figured out that Jenna was really her. An assassin was on the way over to kill her. Only when she was gone could the Ex-ExtraOrdinary Wizard and Necromancer, DomDaniel, come back and fully take over the Castle.

The Heaps have to go on the run, taking Marcia and a little boy, Boy 412 from the Young Army, with them. Now the race is on to save Jenna....and themselves.

I kid that this book could be called Harry Potter Lite. But any books with wizards and magic are going to come up with that kind of comparison. It just can't be helped. Although, I figured the storyline out within a few chapters, the predictability certainly didn't detract from my enjoyment of this book. Magyk is a really fun read! Full of spells, white witches and wizards, it is a non-stop ride from beginning to end.

I loved the development of Boy 412, who had spent his entire life as only a number in the Young Army. And Jenna, who had taken the best of both being raised by the loving, bumbling Heaps and having Royal blood. She was tough and smart and kind. Certainly everything a future Queen should be. And even though she wasn't blood, the Heaps were ferocious about protecting her. You can actually feel the love they had for her.

Angie Sage has created a world of Wizards that is unique, even if the story is not. With a flare for storytelling, she sucks you in from page one...and doesn't let go. Even when the last page has been turned!

This is a perfect start to a fun series, and I know that I will definitely be reading the rest!! Aimed at kids from 9 - 12, this is still the perfect book for kids and adults alike. Even if you aren't a huge fantasy fan, I think you would enjoy reading this book/series. And if you are a fan....go out and find a copy!! Highly recommended!! 4.5/5

20 comments:

Susie Sharp Librarian said...

This whole series is great!Angie Sage is a really good author she has some juvenile fiction too the Aramita Spooky Series which is really cute!

Violet said...

I had seen this series in the bookstore and I was almost going to buy it just for the cover. But then I didn't.

I should have though. May be next time :)
Thanks for the review.

Beth F said...

I have read all but last in this series. It is lots of fun. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that I believe the audience is middle reader, which makes the series less sophisticated than HP.

Nymeth said...

I am a indeed a fan, so go and find a copy I shall :D

Debi said...

I've been wanting to read this series for a while (Annie really loves these books). There's just something about those fantasies aimed at that age group that just totally delights me! I'm so glad to hear how much you enjoyed it!

Tricia said...

I got the first two for my soon-to-be 9 year old daughter. I hope she likes them as much as you did!

Kris said...

I've seen this book at the store and was drawn to the cover too! So glad to read a good review, next time I'll probably buy it. haha!

Kailana said...

I own this book. I think I have since it came out. I should read it!

Carrie K. said...

I read Magyk and the sequel aloud to my kids - and we all loved them! We're planning to read the third book soon.

DesLily said...

I have these books and really enjoyed them too.. I am not very patiently, waiting for the next book to be released

dolcebellezza said...

I'd really like to read this to my class next year; they're generally crazy about fantasy! Your title made me smile about Harry Potter Lite...somehow, fantasy always leads me to the same comparison, as you said so well in your post.

Stephanie said...

Susie - Oohh. I haven't heard of the Aramita Spooky series! Great. Now I have to check it out too!!

Violet - Yeah...I picked it up because I loved the cover. I've been known to do that a time or two! Worked for me this time!

Beth F - Oh, I didn't mean it to be negative in any way that it was less sophisticated than Harry Potter. I really liked it. But you are right. The target audience is something I need to pay more attention to. I had some problems with the Fablehaven series because it seemed SO elementary compared to most of what I read. And that was the target audience. This book didn't strike me that way though.

Nymeth - I think you will enjoy this book..and the series. I had a lot of fun with it. Can't wait to finish the next one!

Debi - I figured Annie had read this. I think you would really like it. Delightful is a very good description!!

Tricia - I think your 9-year-old would really enjoy this series. I did!!

Stephanie said...

Kris - I well admit, I'm very shallow sometimes when it comes to cool covers. They suck me in. Then again, I get distracted by shiny objects all the time!

Kailana - I'm surprised you haven't read this yet. I really liked it. A lot more than Fablehaven.

Carrie - My kids are such readers themselves, they'd rather read to me. I bet the girls would really like this one!! I should give it a try with them!

Deslily - I knew you had said before you liked this series!! I'm really glad that I read this one. I'm not all that patient myself. Each time I start a series, I want to kick myself for not waiting till the series was written before starting to read them!

Bellezza - I'm sure you class will love it!! The whole Harry Potter thing. I think it's inevitable that comparisons are going to be made with any book about magic for a long time to come. Rowling seems to have set the bar. That's just the way it is. While not Harry Potter, I still really liked this book!

DesLily said...

foolishly I thought this would be a trilogy.. aren't most series trilogies?? lol.. but it's not long now for book 4 to come out..!

joanna said...

ooh, this sounds so good! I loved Harry Potter and haven't found anything similar, I'll have to try this, thanks!

Kristina said...

I picked this one up because of the cover as well lol. But I really enjoyed it! I have the second one Flyte on my TBR pile!

Darla D said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this one as much as I did!

Teddy Rose said...

That is a stunning cover!

sally906 said...

I finished Magyk this week as well. Gave it an 'A'. The great thing about it is that the next 3 books are all at my local library - woo hoo

Susan said...

Another book to read! It does sound fun, what a great review, Stephanie!