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Eaglesmount 3: Lake of Darkness (Eaglesmount Trilogy) Paperback – 4 May 2001
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Vair, the brave young pine marten, and his companions have made their way to Eaglesmount. The silver horn is theirs - and the Lord Owl has retreated. But their request is not over. Two truths are to revealed - why the eagle kings fell from the skies, and who will be their heir.
About the Author
Cherith Baldry lives in Reigate. She used to be a teacher, but gave up teaching three years ago to write full time - and since then has written for many of the best-known series around. Fantasy is her favourite sort of fiction - and the Eaglesmount trilogy is her first work for Macmillan.
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Each book of this series is short and fun, making them a good series to read at an earlier reading level than more classic Anthropomorphic Animal stories such as Redwall, Watership Down, Wind in the Willows, etc. It is easy to follow, and full of adventure. It would be loads of fun to read out loud to a group.
However it is filled with stereotypical plot devices and tropes. Rats and Weasels are the stupid, brute bad guys as always, though there are a few redeeming instances. There's a prophecy, and the truth is extremely predictable but there was a nice twist. There are strong female characters though the main character is male and the worldview is largely patriarchal, with Monarchy heavily supported. There is a strong theme of friendship, and the main characters are a little too lucky. Of course, the target audience probably won't be familiar with these things yet and will just enjoy the fantasy!
Also there are some nice Illustrations with some minor problems. I loved the fact that the text was interspersed with pictures, and it's great for the intended reading level. The pen and ink drawings were also of fine quality. However the illustrator did not do enough research on the animals they drew, if any. The pine martens are depicted with rodent-like teeth and a squirrellish appearance, and the villain animals can be impossible to distinguish what species they are intended to be. Rats, weasels, and wolves are very different animals, so it should not be possible to confuse them when looking at drawings of them. Pine martens are carnivores, not rodents, and look nothing like squirrels. In fact they actively catch and eat squirrels. I believe that children should be presented with accurate zoological facts and many of the illustrations present false information. As an educator or parent it might be a great learning experience to help an interested child draw these animals correctly and pick out errors.