________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 4 . . . . October 13, 2006


The Keeper’s Shadow. (The Longlight Legacy).

Dennis Foon.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2006.
412 pp., pbk. & cl., $14.95 (pbk.), $19.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55451-027-9 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55451-028-7 (cl. bd.).

Grades 7-11 / Ages 12-16.

Review by Sylvia Pantaleo.



Though Roan is exhausted, sleep is an unwilling companion. Whenever he closes his eyes he’s catapulted into a world of blinding pain. Everything is bathed in blood and there’s an intolerable pressure at the center of his being as if someone were splitting him in two.

Wrapping his bedroll tightly round his shoulders, Roan slips past the snoring doctors. Finding a mossy hollow not too far from the fire, he leans back against a frosty boulder and gazes at a fragment of starry sky. Why is he having these visions? Have Willlum and Stowe made their way safely to Ende? Could something terrible be happening to Mabatan in Kira’s village? Is he seeing what might one day happen to him?


Freewalker, the second volume of “The Longlight Trilogy,” ends with Stowe’s escaping from the City and killing one of the Brothers and a Governor. Near the beginning of the third volume, Stowe’s body is cleansed of Feller, but she has suffered from the Dirt Eater’s occupancy. Alandra, a young healer raised by the Dirt Eaters, willingly agrees to cleanse herself of Dirt and subsequently assumes the responsibility of protecting the 14 children who are holding together the planes of the Dreamfield.

     According to the prophecy, Roan is to lead a war against the Masters of the City. He is to receive help from the Brothers in his battle, but Roan is uncomfortable with an allegiance with the group who were responsible for the genocide of the Longlight people. However, Roan understands that the Brothers were misled by Darius in their murdering plot.

     Roan’s goal is to find a map of the Dreamfield, and he is told that one is stored at the library at Foresight Academy. Roan also learns that the Dirt Eaters’ most valuable records were kept in the library, but Darius, suspecting treachery, ordered the entrance to the building obliterated. However, two doctors, Othard and Imin, believe they have a map to the library. Roan, Lumpy and the doctors travel over the Farlands and through astral projection, a situation where Roan leaves his body, he discovers both the entrance to the library and the booby traps that have claimed the lives of previous searchers. Once inside the library, they meet Algie, a Gunther who has been in the library by himself for 40 years. During that time, one of his activities has been decoding the journal of Roan’s great-grandfather. Others, including the storytellers, arrive at the library and Roan and his comrades continue to strategize for the pending war.

     Stowe, who has been healing with her parents, has had to return to her body, although the healing process is incomplete. She joins Roan and the others who have traveled to the camp of the Brothers to plan the assault on the City. The members represent various groups, including the Wazya, the Brothers, the Apsara, the Storytellers and the Hhroxhi. Although they reach consensus about their actions to destroy Darius, Brother Wolfe still questions Roan’s leadership.

     Subsequent to his return to the library at the Academy, Roan sets out on a search for the Friend, the God of the Brothers. Successful in his quest, Roan makes an agreement with the God, and the Friend reveals more about what Darius has done to the Dreamfield and the role of the Overshadower. The group of allies also learns of Darius’s new weapon, the Apogee, developed to suck the life force out of people and feed the latter to the Overshadower. Stowe returns to the City, and she and Willum embark on completing their responsibilities that are fundamental to the plan to overthrow and Darius.

     Other plot developments include the creation of weapons that will immobilize the enablers that the Clerics (police officers) wear and that will destroy the Apogee, and the translation of more of Roan’s great-grandfather’s journal that describes historical events and the prophecy. The Dirt Eaters declare war against Roan as they do not want Dirt destroyed. However, he and his allies go to the Oasis and successfully defeat the underground dwellers. Roan then focuses his efforts on the war with Darius.

     Other allies penetrate the City, and Stowe and Willum are surprised by one individual’s reversal of allegiance. During the ensuing battle in the City, some of Roan’s comrades are killed, and others are emotionally and physically scarred, but eventually Roan is successful in destroying Darius and the Overshadower. The book ends with Roan’s traveling to his great-grandfather’s gravesite and offering him the prayer of Longlight.

     At the beginning of the book, Foon reviews the plots of the previous two volumes of “The Longlight Legacy.” He also lists and briefly describes the main characters of the Farlands, including the Brothers, the Apsara, the Dirt Eaters and the Storytellers. As well as the main characters of the City, Foon includes descriptions of the Masters of the City and the Gunthers. Both the plot summaries and the character descriptions are helpful to readers. Most of the third book, like the second volume, is told in alternating chapters, detailing the journeys of Roan and Stowe.

     Development of the multiple subplots and characters prolong the predictable ending of Roan’s successfully completing the hero’s journey and defeating the evil enemies. At times the multiplicity of conflicts detracts from the main plots. The book contains several Christian allusions as well as intertextual connections to other texts that chronicle the triumph of good over evil and greediness. The three books communicate many important messages about the human condition including the importance of believing in oneself, of working together and sometimes sacrificing oneself for the greater good, of valuing friendships and allegiances, and of accepting responsibility for the consequences of our actions. Foon’s trilogy accentuates the inevitable and destructive repercussions of greediness and abuse of power.


Sylvia Pantaleo teaches language arts courses in the Faculty of Education, the University of Victoria, in Victoria, BC.

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