Who wrote this book and when?
Garth Nix. January 2001.

Film version?
Negative.

Who are the main characters?
Tal – a Chosen boy trying to save his family from a conspiracy
Milla – an Icecarl girl trying to save her way of life by gaining sunstones with Tal’s help
The Codex – a sentient book which has been hidden for decades
Adras – a male Storm Shepherd
Odris – a female Storm Shepherd
Zicka – a Kurshken who helps Milla
Sushin – the head of Tal’s color level (a social status), for some reason, working against Tal
Gref – Tal’s younger brother, taken captive by a mysterious person

What’s it about?
The first hint that this book will be a little different is the introduction as the Codex as the premiere narrator. The entire first chapter is written from the Codex’s point of view. It sees Tal and Milla as the encounter the Storm Shepherds but loses track of them at the same point we did at the close of the second book. Tal and Milla have unknowingly activated a spell which requires them to give the Storm Shepherds a life. Instead, Tal attempts to bind the Storm Shepherd to him as his Spiritshadow. Milla interrupts, upset that Tal is speaking the Crone’s prayer and ruins the only chance Tal has. So Tal offers the Storm Shepherds their freedom from the hill in return for voluntarily being the Spiritshadows. Milla is enraged – this disqualifies her from any hope of a normal Icecarl lifestyle, much less that of a Shield Maiden. She renders Tal unconscious and runs off, her Spiritshadow – the female Storm Shepherd named Odris – trailing in her wake. From this point until near the end of the book, Tal and Milla are on their own separate adventures, forced to survive with only the help of their (sometimes incompetent) new Spiritshadows and in search of entirely different things. Tal is determined to find the Codex, and Milla is determined to escape Aenir.

Why is this book a classic?
It’s not.

Why should I read this book?
It’s the best so far in the series.

Has it won any awards?
Nope.

Favorite quotes:
“‘There is only one thing I want to know before we run,’ said Milla.
‘What?’ asked Tal.
‘Why is your hair green?’
‘A creature vomited on it,’ said Tal wearily.” – p 171

Anything else?
I couldn’t figure for the longest time where I recognized this plotline from. Certain things just seemed very familiar to me for some reason or another. Then I realized that there are a few major plot components which correlate with the game Kingdom Hearts. I’ve been playing this game a lot lately, (hence not as much reading getting done and not as many posties), and the concept of shadows, shadow guardians, keyholes, light weapons, and even sentient books are quite familiar.

Personal thoughts:
This has been my favorite book in the series so far. Possibly because there were a lot more fantasy aspects. Possibly because we finally got past main character development and more into plot development. Possibly because it had some dang funny parts. Or possibly because I have a “thing” for third installment in a series being my favorites. “Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Horse and His Boy,” (if you go chronologically in the storyline), “Return of the King,” “Revenge of the Jedi,” Leviticus. Just kidding on that last one. But it is odd.

For the first time since they met, we don’t have to put up with Nix’s introspective look into Milla and Tal’s relationship. The two are split up soon after arriving in Aenir, and forced to deal with what they encounted in their own separate ways. And there is the Codex, which is possibly the coolest part of this story introduced as of yet. Nix’s imagination explodes onto the scene when he develops the creatures in Aenir. From talking little lizards (I pictured the Geico Gecko), to a house that lights on fire everyday burning everything inside but remaining untouched itself, to pieces of sod which smother/crush you to death like an anaconda. I was highly impressed. And partially because the seemingly superfluous scene of the Beastmaster game in the first book came into play here. The creatures Tal gave us great detail on now show up in Aenir, which allows Nix to throw the terms around and not worry about us being clueless as to what Tal or Milla is facing. I could throw in another rib at Paolini, but I gave up ripping him apart for Lent.

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