Septimus Heap: Magyk by Angie Sage. Narrated by Allan Corduner.
Septimus Heap: Flyte by Angie Sage
This children’s fantasy series got starred reviews when it came out a couple of years ago, and I just got around to it, listening to the first book in the series and reading the second. The story is set in and around the Castle, a walled city surrounded by wild woods and marshes, with what seems to be an advanced pre-industrial tech level but very well-organized society. As the first book opens, Silas Heap, a not-to-skilled Ordinary Wizard, is wandering through the woods looking for something to help his ailing newborn seventh son, when he comes across an abandoned newborn baby girl. He scoops her up and takes her to his wife, just as the midwife runs out carrying his own baby and yelling that he is dead. It’s pretty obvious that little Septimus isn’t really dead, what with the whole series being named after him and all, but never mind. Fast forward ten years to young Jenna’s tenth birthday. We learn that she is the Princess, her mother the Queen having been assasinated at her birth. Jenna was rescued by the ExtraOrdinary Wizard and left for Silas and Sarah Heap to find, in the hopes that she would blend in with such a large family. Alas, she has been discovered. The ExtraOrdinary Wizard finds out only just in time. The rest of book is spend first running away from the usurpers and the evil wizard DomDaniel, and then trying to find a way to reclaim the Castle. On the way, they rescue a small Young Army Expendable, Boy 412. And of course, by the end of the book everyone knows who Septimus Heap is. The plot is a wee bit predictable, but we expect this of children’s books. The writing is more modern in tone that I generally expect in a classic fantasy, but it works out well. The characters and the suspense keep the story entertaining. There are sailing ships large and small, dragons, and secret passages.
In the second book, Septimus Heap is now apprentice to the ExtraOrdinary Wizard, Marcia Overstrand. (As the seventh son of a seventh son, he has impressive magical abilities.) Jenna is openly recognized as the Princess and is living in the Castle with the rest of the Heap family. The only flies in the ointment are the disappearance of the oldest Heap boy, Simon, and the Shadow following Marcia. When Simon suddenly reappears in a black cape on a black horse and kidnaps Jenna, Septimus is the only one who believes that Jenna needs rescuing. Could the evil DomDaniel somehow have survived being eaten by the Marsh Brownies? A second solidly entertaining entry in the series. My only beef with the book version is that in the middle of otherwise contemporary-sounding text, magical terms are spelled archaically and bolded, as if they were vocabulary terms to be studied. Otherwise, the typeface is cute, the layout and illustrations attractive. I’ll probably still read the third one once I get through the rest of my pile.