Did you enjoy Jack Shian and the King’s Chalice? Well here is the eagerly awaited second volume in the Shian Quest trilogy.
The action this time moves from Edinburgh to the Western Isles and Andrew Symon again weaves his tale of fantasy based on fact but brought into the modern world. These stories are intended for children aged 9-12 but the quality of writing will make them attractive to anyone who likes an adventure story and who is interested in Scottish (and in this case Irish) folklore.
In the first book the Brashat were the enemy to be overcome. This time we meet another people, the Kildashie, ostensibly friendly towards the Shian, but let’s just say that Jack is suspicious and his suspicions prove to be well-founded.
Prophecies have to be met and the second Shian treasure, the Mapa Mundi, has to be found and interpreted in order to restore harmony to the Shian world. Jack, whose quest to find his father is somehow linked to the loss and finding of the Shian treasures, is the one who can do this.Â There is a moralistic tone, in that only someone with a pure heart can make the magic work, but Jack is no goody-goody and neither is everyone else. We all have our weaknesses. The author’s concept of morality and redemption are no doubt related to his being a Street Pastor and he is not afraid to allow Evil to have its day. But we know all will be well in the end.
At 258 pages, this is a long read for a children’s book and there is a degree of suffering and violence that would probably merit a 12 rating at the cinema. I enjoyed the plot, the build up of tension, the way that folklore is woven into the plot and the characters (though I think I would manage without quite so many!).
The final book is already written and it will be interesting to see which direction Andrew Symon takes after this…