Monday, August 16, 2010

The Silver Blade Review (Sally Gardner)

As the French Revolution descends into nightmare, Yann Margoza, a mysterious and extraordinary practitioner of magic, uses his skills to confound his enemies and help spirit refugees out of France. If he fails, their fates lie under the blade of the guillotine. But the question of Yann's true identity and the kidnapping of his true love, Sido, expose him to dangers that threaten to destroy him. With Paris on the verge of collapse, Yann must summon all his strength and courage to rescue his beloved Sido and outwit the devil's own - this time for good.

I will start off by saying that I like The Red Necklace better than its sequel. Sally Gardner likes weird in her stories, and The Silver Blade is certainly no exception. I thought the first one was weird! Well, the weirdness factor is vamped up for this two-book series's finale. While the weirdness in The Red Necklace didn't detract from the story, it did in this one because it was so embedded in the storyline.

Kalliovski isn't dead, naturally. The devil has claimed his soul and brought him to life. Whether or not that is literal, I am still not entirely certain, but judging by how Kalliovski meets his demise in The Silver Blade, I am thinking that it is meant literally. I mean, Kalliovski can't go out in the daylight (no, he isn't a vampire), he lives in the catacombs, and he has one skeletal hand. And I don't mean a hand so withered it looks skeletal - it really is just bone. At least, I think . . .

That is one problem - and appeal - to Sally Gardner's stories. You are never certain whether something is meant to be taken literally or if it just figurative; if it is the character's way of expressing how they viewed something, or if that is really what they saw. It is hard to put into words what exactly I mean. It is like there is a sheer screen laid over the true image, and if you look closely you can see a ghastly rendition of what is being said. It can be very frustrating in her stories, but it is also, oddly enough, what I like about them.

That said, I must reassure you that all of the characters are just as likable, sensible, and good as they are in The Red Necklace. Yann and Sido's love for each other is given more of a forefront, but it isn't at all annoying. Not a slushy young romance that is common among Young Adult authors. Yann does react violently and irrationally to the news that he is Kalliovski's son, and I was worried that Sally Gardner would pull in the annoyingly common theme of the hero fighting against his becoming like his father. Give that twist a rest already!! But that didn't happen, and I was immensely pleased. Yann took a week to recover from the shock of it, which is covered in one swift chapter. He forgives and moves on, though isn't quite as rational in his escapades as he once was. Still, Yann does in the end act rationally. And I cannot sing Sido's praises enough. What an intelligent girl! She has a good, strong head on her shoulders.

I wish Sally Gardner had laid off on the weirdness. I absolutely loved Kalliovski as a villain in The Red Necklace. He was creepy, he was intelligent, he was completely cloaked in mystery, and he had things in control. But the magic and supernatural aspects of The Silver Blade really take away from Kalliovski. I could no long respect him as an intelligent villain. He was no more scary than your common bad wizard sitting in a tower all day. About the only thing that kept him even a little bit on the creepy villain side was his flair for the rich and immaculate dress. I was sorely disappointed in the sort of villain Kalliovski had sunk to. Really, dear Count, I expected much better of you!

The Silver Blade by Sally Gardner will find its way into my collection, if only because I liked The Red Necklace and don't like having incomplete series.
Star Rating: 3/4 (liked it)

Others in This Series:
1)The Red Necklace
2)The Silver Blade

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