Thursday, September 26, 2013

Death of a King—Andrew H. Vanderwal

This was another book that I received via the LibraryThing Early Reviewers lottery. Such an awesome program!

This book's synopsis mentioned time travel and William Wallace, so of course I had to request it.

I have to say, I wish that I knew more about the history of Scotland, and specifically the William Wallace period of history. I really know nothing. I haven't even seen Braveheart...Even so, this was an adventurous read.

Although it ended up being a very interesting, engrossing read, there were some things that were difficult to adjust to. The dustjacket and the synopsis both say, "From the Author of The Battle for Duncragglin." Nowhere does it say that this book is, in fact, a sequel of that book. Which would not be  ahuge deal, excpet for there are characters that are not in the synopsis of the book on the dustjacket, and just kind of show up, without any explanation of who they are. Now, if I had read the first book, I would've known. (As the book goes on, some things are made more clear if you read between the lines.) 

Once I got over that, and figured out who these seemingly random characters were, things moved right along. The basic story focuses on a boy called Alex, who is trying to track down his parents. They went back in time in an attempt to save the life of a king (King Alexander) who died and apparently set in motion the events of the Wars for Scottish Independence. Apparently they were never given a lecture about time travel and not interfering with past events. Like with many time travel tales, something went wrong. Of course, they were unable to stop the death of the king, and because they foretold it happening, it was assumed they were involved in the plot to assassinate him so they were sentenced to death.

Alex travels back in time to attempt to find them and save them, and along the way, provides the famed William Wallace with some much-needed information about how battles are meant to go. As you do, when you time travel.

After Alex had been there for a bit (and gone through varying degrees of pretending to be mute so that people would not notice that he spoke differently), he was joined by some fellow children - the ones I mentioned earlier who seemed to pop up out of nowhere - who were apparently some kids that he was staying with in Scotland before he time traveled. They join him in the journey, and the kids run around Scotland trying to find Alex's parents.

I have to say, it was all quite exciting. I wish there had been some more talk about how the time machine worked - it was a bit hokey, with animal heads on the wall of a cave that have to be turned a certain way to indicate where in time you'd like to end up. Perhaps there's more information about the mechanics of it in the first book. I also really appreciated that one of the characters is a girl that Alex meets in past Scotland who has had her hand cut off; I don't appreciate that she got her hand cut off, but I appreciate that there was a fairly main character who was not perfect.

Of course, all's well that ends well. As if there is any other way when time travel is involved. Quite an exciting book. I'll probably go back and read the first one.