Second Son Read Along: Chapter 28 + Epilogue

Second Son Read Along

The last day of the read along! Also, happy 7th birthday to King’s Warrior! In celebration of its birthday, King’s Warrior is available for free on kindle today and tomorrow only!

Ah, the final chapters.

Chapter 28

This short chapter may end the book, but it begins a new chapter for Brant. With the birth of his son, he finds a new purpose in life, a new adventure to set out upon. Symbolically, on the day his son is born, Brant buries the implements of his past and the sole remaining items he has kept with him from Llycaelon and sets his energy wholly and completely towards this new adventure.

“Now I have died twice,” he whispered, “but I have died this time that I may truly live and discover what life may be.”

Epilogue

“And so the Dragon’s Eye rises and sets and another story ends.”

And here, at the end… or rather, the true beginning, we get another glimpse of our wandering minstrel, Kiernan Kane. And his words hold a portent and clues of adventures to come… and though Brant does not yet know it, his story is not yet complete.

Discussion Questions:

1. How did you feel about the way this book ended?

2. Was there anything you particularly liked or disliked about the way the story ended? Anything you feel was left as too much of a loose end? Anything you’re hoping for in the rest of the series?

3. General reactions to the book as a whole?

Not a question, but just wanted to say, “Thank you!” to all who read along with me! It was fun! I hope you enjoyed it, and that the rest of the year holds many more wonderful books for you to discover!

~ jenelle

Favorite Fantasy for Kids

February Fantasy Month Banner

Here we are at the end of the month already! What a wild, fabulous ride this Fantasy Month was! I am beyond thrilled at how much fun this was, and a HUGE thank you to all my dear bloggers who helped make it possible and worked so hard on their ends and really made this entire event super easy on me! Seriously, this entire month went off without a single hitch!

I also want to thank all of YOU, dear Readers, for joining us on this epic quest to make it the best Fantasy Month ever! To everyone who faithfully played the hashtag game, joined in the blog tag, and left wonderful comments on all the various blogs… this event wouldn’t work at all without you. Thanks for your support and help in making Fantasy Month worth doing!

I will be back to announce the Fantasy Month Giveaway Winner next Monday, but then I’ll be taking a hiatus from online stuff in general for a while as, Lord willing, we will be moving into our new house before the end of March, and so there will be a frenzy of last-minute finishing touches (mostly closet shelving), as well as packing and unpacking and general mayhem and chaos for a while. And then I really do need to get working on Turrim Archive book 5! So… all of that means I’ll be a little quiet for a bit.

Today I am closing out our Fantasy Month fun with a list of my favorite fantasy books to read with children. One of the reasons I fell in love with the fantasy genre was because my dad read so much of it to us kids throughout our growing up years. I already talked a little bit about children and fantasy in my post about Fairy Tales, but it is so important to read to our kids. And I think it’s important to read them fantasy. I shared a C.S. Lewis quote about that… but how about we hear from someone else on the subject? Someone who had nothing to gain from the recommendation?

 

But where should I start? And what are some good, wholesome fantasy stories that I can read with my kids that will teach them moral lessons as well as take them on epic adventures of imagination?

I’m so glad you asked! As a side-note, all of these recommendations are also ones that my dad read to me as a kid (except for the James Riley ones, those I only discovered last year), and now I am enjoying going through many of them with my own kids (haven’t made it through all of them yet, but we’re working through the list!)… so these are all very personal recommendations.

 

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

You can’t go wrong starting here. And while I personally enjoy reading these books in TRUE “chronological” order (where you stop before you get to the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and you go read The Horse and His Boy before reading the final chapters of TLTW&TW… that’s a little hard core if you’re starting out by reading these to your kids)… so instead I recommend reading them to your kids in published order. That means you start with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe first. Let them experience the wonder of Narnia first by stepping through the wardrobe with Lucy. Let their imaginations soar as you read them the tender allegory, and introduce them to the stunningly beautiful story of redemption with the Pevensie children.

Then move on to the more adventurous stories of Prince Caspian, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and the Silver Chair. Then go back in time a bit and read The Horse and His Boy, followed by The Magician’s Nephew, and ending with The Last Battle. It is a journey I guarantee you’ll enjoy taking with your kids.

These are wonderful books for children that are also enjoyable to read as an adult… so it should be a delightful experience for the whole family… even if not everyone is as avid a fantasy fan as… well… me!

 

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Even if you never read them The Lord of the Rings… The Hobbit is a fantasy staple! Written more for children and in a less archaic style, I know lots of people who love this book even if they don’t love fantasy as a general rule. There is a timelessness about this story about a young hobbit whose life gets upended by a horde of unexpected visitors and the adventure he gets swept up in.

A gaggle of dwarves, a mysterious wizard, more scrapes and dangers than you can count… and at the end of it all…. a dragon might be waiting! This is an adventure I’m sure your kids will enjoy you taking them on from the comfort of your couch (or wherever you best like to read together!)

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

I enjoyed reading this with my daughter when she was only about 4 years old. Most of it went over her head because there are a lot of bigger words in this book, but she seemed to enjoy it anyway, and I’m a big fan of expanding vocabularies! Another classic, this story is such a beautiful one about having faith and staying strong even when you’re the only one who can see the truth. An all-time favorite of mine, I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander

This sweeping epic saga has everything a fantasy book needs and more. Follow Taran on his coming-of-age journey. Together you will make friends, rescue a damsel… who… wait… did she even NEED rescuing? fight villains, gain a little wisdom, and learn that the true measure of a person’s worth has little to do with your last name and everything to do with what you do with the talents and circumstances that life hands you. Another favorite from my childhood, I recently re-read this series for myself and found that they aged quite well and were every bit as awesome as I remembered. Can’t wait to read these with my own kids!

The Light Princess by George MacDonald

I mentioned this in my list of original fairy tales, so I’m not going to rehash it here, but this one is such a beautiful story it definitely deserves to be on this list. There are puns (“light” doesn’t mean exactly what you might think it does) and a bit of an allegory as well with a sweet happily ever after at the end, like all good fairy tales should have.

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Another classic fantasy tale, if you’ve only ever seen the play or movie, I feel that you are severely missing out. (I know it was originally a play). But the book has such a fun narrative style that is both whimsical and yet contains an ever-so-gentle bit of snark, for example, “John’s Neverland had a lagoon with flamingoes flying over it, while Michael’s Neverland had a flamingo with lagoons flying over it.” Which is one of my favorite lines from any book, ever, and never fails to make me laugh when I think about it.

The story of a boy who won’t grow up, and a young girl on the edge of childhood who must decide whether or not to follow his example… this is more than just a tale of children pretending to battle pirates in a magical land of fairies and mermaids, it is a tale of what it means to be a child, and the vast difference between “child-like” and “child-ish.”

The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye

Meet Princess Amythest Alexandra Augusta Araminta Adelaide Aurelia Anne of Phantasmorania whose final fairy godmother, dusty from travel and truly appalled by the lack of sense her colleagues have shown in their gift-giving decisions, decides to gift this youngest daughter of the king with the decree, “You shall be ordinary!”

Everything changes for Amythest… from then on known as simply Amy… but she really wouldn’t have it any other way. She is comfortable with her plain brown hair, upturned nose covered in freckles, and gray eyes… so long as she gets to climb out of her window and go play in the forest – unlike her six older sisters who always have to worry about their complexions and which boring prince or duke they shall marry.

But when Amy’s lack of suitors becomes apparent, her parents decide to take drastic measures to hire a dragon for princes and knights to try to defeat in order to win the princess’s hand… for by the time they do, her parents reason, it will be too late for them to back out, even if she DOES look ordinary. But this is a plan Amy just can’t agree to, and so now she must take matters, and her life, into her own hands. For the good of her future… and the kingdom… because a rampaging dragon can cause QUITE a lot of damage!

Just recently read this with my kids and they ALL loved it.

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede

I’ve talked about this series before and mentioned it in my fairy tales post so I won’t say a ton more about it here. It is one of my favorites forever and I love it to pieces. I love the humor, the characters, the dragons, the magic system, and all the fairy tale references. I also love that the main trait of the main character is her pragmatism. You don’t see that in many characters, and I love how the author pulled it off and made it endearing.

Dragon of the Lost Sea by Lawrence Yep

This series is a truly glittering diamond in the rough. So very few people know about it, but it is another favorite of mine. The main character is a displaced Princess of Dragons with the ability to shapeshift into human form. On her quest to recover her people’s stolen homeland, she meets a mistreated orphan boy named Thorne and they end up teaming up together. Shimmer doesn’t think a human has a lot to offer, but Thorne proves her wrong time and again.

This beautiful tale of unlikely friendship, redemption, and self-sacrifice is one you won’t want to miss. As an added bonus, this series has a somewhat far-eastern feel to it, which is somewhat unique as well as highly enjoyable.

Half Upon a Time by James Riley

If you enjoy fairy tales and lots of humor mingled with your adventure, then you will love James Riley’s “Half Upon a Time” trilogy. Meet Jack (no, not Jack and the Beanstalk Jack… actually, his son) as he prepares for life as a hero of fairy tales…

…or not. See… Jack doesn’t do so well at hero-training.

But then a real-live princess drops out of the sky and into his life, and it’s up to him to help her. (At least, he thinks she’s a princess… that’s what her sequined t-shirt says, anyway). Problem is, this princess isn’t from around here… and she’s not used to the world of fairy tales and the way things work there.

Intrigued yet?

I’ve only come to this series recently, but it has quickly made it onto my Top Favorites list. So fun and funny! And if you make it through these and enjoy them, then head right on over to James Riley’s OTHER series, “Story Thieves.” That one is about a young girl named Bethany… whose father is a fictional character.

Because of this, she has the rare ability to actually jump INSIDE books and wander around in the plots, interacting with the characters. Unfortunately, it also means that she somehow made her father disappear INTO a book when she was little… though she didn’t know what she was doing then.

When Owen, a boy at her school, discovers her secret, his enthusiastic nature encourages her to take him into a book and that he’ll help her find her father… well… all SORTS of mishaps start to occur!

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

Last on my list is a little more sci-fi than fantasy… but I still think it deserves its place here. This book is simply gorgeous. I just finished reading it to my kids and it was every bit as powerful as I’d remembered.

I honestly don’t know if I have the words to express how much this book means to me. The first time my dad read this one out loud to me, I was about 6-8 years old, and I remember we had reached about the halfway point and I decided I absolutely couldn’t wait any longer to find out what happened. So during the afternoon when he was at work, I got the book down off his nightstand and curled up with it in my room and finished it. I remember vividly how hurt he looked when I told him what I’d done, I think maybe he thought I wouldn’t want to continue listening to him read it or something… but it wasn’t that. I still very much DID want him to read it to me, and he did continue until we finished, but it was the first book I can remember where I HAD to know what happened next. It was the first time I encountered a book I literally could not put down until I reached the end. If I had to attribute my life-long love of reading to a single book-experience… it would have to be that one.

Don’t watch the movies. They’re awful. Simply…. awful. Even if they weren’t based on a beloved book, the movies would be bad (especially the new one, which is an especially horrible specimen of movie-ness with its stilted acting, psychotic directing, and lack of any discernible plot). I beg you, don’t judge this book by its movies!

A Wrinkle in Time is a story about a girl and her brother who must go on an arduous quest to find their missing father, who disappeared without a trace a few years ago. Along the way they will make strange friends, battle an evil darkness, and discover the true meaning of love and family… all woven around a theme of good vs. evil and wound with threads of Biblical truth. This one is truly an epic and glittering diamond in the sci-fi/fantasy genre.

~ jenelle

Second Son Read Along: Chapter 27

Second Son Read Along

All the fun of Fantasy Month and the read along are coming to a close. It’s been such a blast, and I’ve been enjoying the annual celebration of my favorite genre all month long, and when it’s over… I’m gonna need a nap!

Anyway, let’s dive into chapter 27 and see what things are happening in the world of Tellurae Aquaous before the final pages are turned, shall we?

A war of attrition

The constant attacks on the borders of Llycaelon by the seheowks are beginning to wear Seamas down. Worried about her husband, Llewana turns to Seamas’ best friend to try and understand why Seamas has grown so quiet and withdrawn lately, but even though Tobias understands much of what their king is struggling with, he does not know everything that weighs on his sovereign. Seamas is king, but he is troubled and burdened by the guilt of his own misdeeds of the past, while also being harried on one side by the constant frustration of the seheowks and on the other by untrustworthy counselors…

A new beginning

Meanwhile, back in Aom-igh, Brant has never been happier. Imojean accepted his marriage proposal, the seheowk threat has been vanquished, the roads are safe, King Arnaud’s rule is secure, and Brant is working on his own little homestead. The warrior has hung up his sword and finds himself surrounded by a village of good people who appreciate his work ethic and are more than willing to befriend their new neighbor.

Also, I’m sorry you don’t get to see Brant and Imojean’s wedding. It was quiet and small.

A family ride

Once again we time hop forward a bit (approximately 10 years) in the middle of a chapter. In that time, the threat of the seheowks has been basically neutralized, and Seamas, having a rare good day, decides to take a day with his family to go riding and show his son around the country he will one day rule.

But in the midst of this peaceful, happy moment as a family… tragedy strikes.

A formal apology

My dad keeps asking if I am ever going to issue a formal and public apology to Ky. The answer is “yes.” This is it. I am sorry. When I began writing Second Son, I had no intention of making his life so miserable. I fully expected him to be a jerk and kind of a bully even as a kid… but then the story… as it so often does, decided that it was going to wander off in its own direction and all of my carefully laid plans flew out the window. Ky surprised me. I did not mean to make him a tragic character, he was very much supposed to be a fairly cut-and-dry villain… but I learned long ago to listen to my characters when they take the reins of the story, they’re usually right.

I am sorry, Ky.

Discussion Questions

1. Do you think I owe Ky/Seamas that apology?

2. Who do you think Llewana wanted Seamas to forgive?

3. How did you feel about Seamas’ conversation with his mother at the end of the chapter?

~ jenelle

Interview with a Cat-Elf

February Fantasy Month Banner

Today I am heading into the realm of the fae to interview a most intriguing character. But first, a little bit about the book she’s from – a new novel from H.L. Burke, To Court a Queen.

HTo Court a Queen_Internet Use(1)e doesn’t want to get married, but he wants to be a frog even less.

Knight errant, Devin, takes a shortcut through the woods, only to be captured by fairy forces. The fairy queen has run out of breathing males to fight for her hand, and Devin, while not ideal fairy stock, is breathing–for now. 

Telling a vain fairy queen you’d rather not be her one true love is a ticket to life on a lilypad, so the knight agrees to face three challenges to win Queen Agalea’s hand. When a clever servant girl offers to help him navigate the trials in order to stop the constant bloodshed of the courtship ritual, Devin jumps at the chance. However, as he balances “flirting” with his “beloved” and overcoming tasks specifically designed to kill him, he finds his heart drawn to his new partner in survival. 

I had the privilege of beta-reading this story, and it is such a fun tale! Like everything else I’ve read from this author, it was full of a delightful blend of heart and snark. I am eager to read the finished product. If this sounds up your alley, you’re in luck, because it released a few days ago!

GET YOUR COPY


I open my eyes and find myself in a strange, and yet beautiful garden. As I gaze about I can see that various trees are inexplicably bearing both spring and summer fruit at the same time. Nearby a fountain burbles happily. A figure darts through the door of the small cottage before me and I follow. Inside, I clear my throat and the figure whirls to face me.

“Whoa, hold on there, I’m not an enemy!” I exclaim, holding up my badge and notebook in as non-threatening a gesture as I can manage. “I’m a reporter with the InterFiction Gazette. I just wanted to ask you a few questions. I know this isn’t a great time, but it’s the best I could come up with.”

The figure relaxes slightly, but her pointed ears twitch slightly, and now that my eyes have adjusted I can see the brown tufts of fur at their tips. She tilts her head to one side. “You’re not a fairy–human, right? How did you–Oh, nevermind. Look, I’ve got a bed to hide under, but if you can get out of here before the fairies get here, I’ll answer whatever questions you have … within reason.” Sevaine slides under the bed. 

Startled by her sudden disappearance, I open my notebook and pause… it’s a bit awkward interviewing a character who is hiding under a bed. “Uh… so… can you begin by telling my readers a little bit about yourself? You are a fae, right? But there are more than one kind of fae… so… what kind are you?”

Sevaine’s muffled voice rises from her hiding place. “Felys. We’re not a very flashy sort of fae. No real magic, or the sort we have is more the everyday kind. It makes us agile, clever, we tend to land on our feet. We’re good hunters and live in trees … people like to call us ‘Cat-Elves’ but that’s kind of an oversimplification. We don’t have tails, you know? We don’t eat mice … exclusively.” 

I suppress a chuckle, I don’t want her to think I’m laughing at her, but the mice thing…. eeesh. “If I’m remembering correctly, you have just met and spoken with a human named Devin. Can you tell me why he’s here in your realm and what you think of him so far?”

Sevaine emits an irritated groan. “Well, he’s here because Queen Agalea ran out of fae victims–I mean “suitors.” She has had this long running contest that challenges men to win her hand by completing three trials. Unfortunately, people keep dying in the attempt, and the smart males have all fled the kingdom rather than face her death trap of a competition. Poor Devin just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, so she’s ‘volunteered’ him to face the trials. As for what I think of him.” She sticks her head out from beneath the bed, her eyebrows melting together. “I think he’s smarter than he lets on. He’s trying very hard to appear flippant and careless when he should be scared out of his mind, but I’m fairly certain that’s bravado, not idiocy … at least I hope so. Anyway, he seems quick on his feet, and between that and his ability to lie to the queen’s face and get away with it, he might have a chance to survive this. If he listens to me, that is.” 

I nod in sympathy. “I hope he listens to you. This Queen Agalea sounds like a monster. But… not to pry too much, from what I’ve seen of the fae, I’m surprised to find one willing to help a human. Why do you care what happens to this one?”

Sevaine’s gaze grows distant. “The queen has hurt so many people. It’s not so much about Devin–I mean, Devin’s fine, but I have only spoken to him once for maybe ten minutes–as it is about stopping this madness. Every man who has died in the trials has been someone’s friend, son … brother.” Her voice cracks. “If you saw that happening over and over again, and you thought you could stop it, wouldn’t you try? I have to try. Devin isn’t the first man I’ve attempted to save, but he’s only the second to ever listen to me or accept my help. The other–” She slips back under the bed. “I’d rather not talk about that right now.” 

I can feel that her interest in the conversation is waning, so I quickly speak up. “Just one more question, real quick: If you could ask your author to change one thing about your story, what would it be and why?”

Sevaine sticks her head back out and squints. “Author? Story? Did you perhaps sample some of the queen’s wine? It has strange effects on humans sometimes … or are you being metaphorical? It’s hard for me to tell with humans sometimes.” She fiddles with her ponytail. “I guess … well, I’d be kind of selfish to pick anything except ‘the queen hasn’t killed all these poor helpless men,’ wouldn’t I? If that’s not on the table, I’d like to have some magic … maybe something that would let me turn Agalea into a gnat.” She stiffens. “Do you hear someone coming? I really can’t let them catch me here.” 

My badge starts to glow and I grimace, my time in this world has been far too short. I’d love to stay and explore a bit more, but I don’t want to interrupt what happens next in this story. “Well, I have to get going. Thank you for talking with me!”

“No worries. Watch out for the winged hounds on your way out. They don’t really like strangers.” Sevaine disappears under the bed for the last time. 

Winged hounds? Startled, I whirl around, but before I can see anything else the scenery dissolves around me and a moment later I’m back in the mundane (but possibly safer) world I call “home.”


Ah, Sevaine. She’s a really neat character and I hope you enjoyed meeting her today as much as I enjoyed interviewing her. And if you like Han Solo even a little bit, you’re sure to love Devin, the other protagonist of this book!

introducing H. L. Burke

Author Bio:

Heidi-107H. L. Burke is the author of multiple fantasy novels including the Dragon and the Scholar saga and The Nyssa Glass YA Steampunk series and Coiled. She is an admirer of the whimsical, a follower of the Light, and a believer in happily ever after. 

Stalk H.L. Burke around the interwebs – it’s easy to gain her favor, just bring Psych gifs and cat pictures!

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~ jenelle