________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 17. . . .January 9, 2015


Lives of Kings.

Lucy Leiderman.
Toronto, ON: Dundurn, 2014.
389 pp., pbk., EPUB & PDF, $12.99 (pbk.), $8.99 (EPUB), $12.99 (PDF).
ISBN 978-1-4597-2355-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4597-2466-2 (EPub) ISBN 978-1-4597-2465-5 (PDF).

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Jenice Batiforra.

** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



In the travel magazine about the French Polynesian islands, there was an article about cultural heritage being preserved in the jungles in the form of witch doctors. A man or woman wearing so much straw and paint that it was impossible to tell what he or she really looked like was the main image in the article. I sighed.

"Think of it this way. They're kind of like the island psychologists," Garrison explained.

"Are they the ones that drilled holes in people's heads to get the demons out?" Seth asked.

"Probably not," Garrison said dismissively. "And if they did, I'm sure they don't do it anymore."


I was skeptical. While Seth and Moira seemed to think a witch doctor would cause more harm than he or she was worth, I doubted any such person existed. It seemed to be a tourist attraction, if anything. But I was tired of feeling helpless, and the incident on the beach, as well as every other fire-related thing, was nerve-wracking. I had to make sure I wouldn't hurt anyone. My desperation not to be a danger probably led me to my next comment.

"Okay, let's do it."


Lives of Kings, the second novel in the “Seven Wanderers Trilogy”, picks up where Lives of Magic concluded and continues the story of Gwen Carlisle and her companions, Seth, Moira and Garrison, as they search for the last three magical warriors. Having won the last battle against the magicians that tried to steal her magic, Gwen is now distraught at being separated from Kian.

     The novel is told from two perspectives. The first third of the book is told from the alternating first-person narrative of Gwen and second-person narrative of Kian. It was disappointing to find Gwen diminished to a whiny heroine early in the novel. It was painful to read the first few chapters, particularly the scene where her magic was released by a kiss. When she wasn't mooning over Kian, she could be found complaining about the heat. Thankfully, she snaps out of this funk and eventually becomes a powerful heroine that outshines her love interests.

      Kian's narrative redeems his actions from the last novel. In Lives of Kings, readers discover more about his past life and how he arrived in the modern world serving the enemy, the Godelan. His story describes a Roman-occupied Britannia and the bitterness he feels at having been left behind. He is convinced by one of the Godelan that he could find his lost brother, the rightful High King of their people, the Riada. Yet despite this welcome back story, the problems of awkward names and lack of descriptive details that began in Lives of Magic, continue.

      Judging from the number of times that the novel jumps from one place to another, it seems that the story is meant to have an international scope. A chunk of the novel involves Gwen et al. flying from Tahiti, to Dublin, to London, Sydney and finally Peru. Yet the reader can hardly tell the difference from one place to another as the only detail that can be discerned is where they plan to sleep and their experiences at the airport.

     Aside from this issue, Leiderman delivers on her promise to provide more information about the other wanderers. In Lives of Kings, the reader learns more about Seth and Moira. Gwen's memories reveal that Seth and Moira are the High King and Queen of the Riada. Whereas Moira was largely absent in the previous novel, here we find an intriguing young woman who is eager to use magic to her advantage. Gwen's memories reveal that Moira was not a sniveling wife who was jealous of her husband's lover. Rather, she was an ambitious woman with eyes only for the throne. In Seth, we find a born leader, one who isn't afraid to sacrifice his personal feelings for his people. The novel also introduces two new wanderers: Michael and Diana.

     Though the middle section of the novel was sluggish, the ending made up for it in spades. Gwen and her motley crew battle against the magicians once more, and this time, Leiderman didn't hold back on the details. Action-packed and grisly, the second novel ends in a cliff hanger. Readers who enjoyed Tamora Pierce's “Circle of Magic” series will enjoy the novel.

Recommended with Reservations.

Jenice Batiforra was previously a Branch Head Librarian at the Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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