Aleks Vasin wants to be a hero in Siberene’s famous army. But Rensav barracks is no place for heroes, let alone a 17-year-old dreamer. It’s brutal, corrupt and violent. Without money or powerful friends, Aleks won’t survive. In a bid for freedom, he heads far, far north, to the great city of Syvana, where skyships roam the heavens and a boy who doesn’t want to be found can stay hidden – until he meets a girl, and an inventor, and then danger finds him…
Published by Bloomsbury in June 2015
Pages - 416
Reviewed by Isabella Samuels
There is a science to successful children’s fiction, and the British market is the best in the world for consuming it, a quarter of all book sales last year being made in the Children’s and YA department. Bloomsbury in particular have a well-practised knack for finding such gems: Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, Louis Sachar’s Holes and, of course, Harry Potter…
The Almost King is no exception to this rule, this thrilling and adventure packed new addition to the house’s repertoire has the makings of a classic. The novel is the second instalment in the Tellus series, set in the same exciting world as Take Back the Skies but with a new cast of intriguing and lovable characters. Readers will eagerly anticipate the other four forthcoming instalments which are set to further expand our Tellian (?!) horizons with more new characters and their own plotlines, each book with the ability to ‘stand alone’.
The Almost King was gripping and exciting to read like nothing I’d read in a long time. I was reminded of the feeling I’d experienced when reading some of the favourite books of my childhood. The style of the set-up and the language, though both good, faded to insignificance as I became enthralled in Aleks’ quest. Saxon has created a world which evoked a kind of Peter Pan nostalgia within me: skyships, eccentric inventors and evil army captains, blended with mad-cap escapades, humour and a dash of romance.
It is the characters that are the real driving force of the novel however, all endearing and intricately developed. Drazan and Zhora were my favourites, providing the majority of the humour, it was hard not to be reminded of beloved Fred and George. This instalment is bound to gain popularity and momentum for the series, especially with boys. The daft humour, fast paced plot, the ‘Thunderbug’ skyship and the male lead all having strong appeal.
For any aspiring writer, too, this book is a must. Saxon being only twenty years old, having found a contract with Bloomsbury at just seventeen, the novel is an imaginative, sophisticated and inspirational accomplishment.