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The Shadow of the Trojan Horse Paperback – 14 Oct 2012
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Still looking for their parents, Joe and Jemina are yet to be reunited with them but their search continues and I look forward to reading another of the Shadow series to find where they go next on their time travelling quests. One day they will find their parents and Max along with the children can happily stay in their twenty-first century world. Until then, there are a lot of adventures still to come!
Cassandra has been punished by Apollo so no one believes her prophecies any more. Aphrodite is the one that has arranged for the children to be in Troy. Cassandra is hoping that the children will be able to persuade her parents. She is able to tell the children that she has seen their parents who are lost somewhere in the past. She assures the twins that they will meet up sometime, somewhere cold.
Max, a Tonkinese talking cat, really comes into his own in this book. Not only does he feel guilty over something that he does when trying to help but he has a pretty scary adventure of his own when he is disguised as Hermes with winged feet to try and persuade the Greeks that the upcoming solar eclipse is a sign from the gods.
If you and your children have knowledge of the Trojan War then you will see how the author has kept many of the "facts" close to the original. If you are new to the Trojan War then I suggest you do what Jemima does at the beginning of the book and read the story of Troy before embarking on this adventure.
Just so you know there are two instances in this book where the word "hell" is used - "mad as hell" and "What the hell..?" This book, due to its subject, does depict violence and death but the original story of Troy, as you may well know, is not a pretty one either.
I love this series and have become hooked on it since book one, The Shadow of Atlantis. Max is really coming into his own, and the adventures would not be the same without him. This time, Max has a significant role to play, although his efforts to help end in disaster. However, in one of the funniest scenes of the book, he gets the chance to make amends although it's not quite the heroic role he anticipated. Dressed as Hermes, the winged messenger of the gods, Max tries to intervene to alter the fortunes of war. Alas, one cannot change the past, and those who must perish cannot be saved. Once again, author Wendy Leighton-Porter skilfully weaves a world of mythology, fantasy, and fact, and immerses her young protagonists slap bang in the middle of Homer's epic poem, The Iliad.
The adventure is a turning point for the kids and Max as they face the reality of brutal war, death, and destruction when Troy falls through treachery. The author conveys a subtle message about violence that will help kids decide what is and is not acceptable. Other life lessons come when they realise they cannot turn the tide of history. For once, they are mere small pawns in a gigantic battle involving no less than the gods of Olympus, who prove to be as weak and fickle as the humans whose lives they dominate. The kids learn about human qualities, some good, some bad: King Priam's pride and stubbornness; Hector's bravery, Agamemnon's cruelty, Cassandra's compassion and self-sacrifice. I found a change in the series at this point, as the book embraces deeper, darker, and more mature themes. The author does a wonderful job of not sugar coating significant events and life's realities.
However, all is not lost, history is fulfilled, and the kids return with a fragment of information on the adults' whereabouts. Cassandra's gift of prophecy has given them a glimmer of hope. Back home, Uncle Richard--hugely impressed by their avid interest in history and archaeology--provides them with some reassuring facts about the final fate of several characters. In addition, some interesting changes emerge on the domestic front. Uncle Richard and Charlie's mum Ellen are going out for a drink! Could this be something significant? We'll have to wait and see what transpires in the next adventure...
A helpful map, pronunciation guide, a list of characters, and the author's note placing Homer, Troy, history, and Greek mythology in context will add to young readers' enjoyment. If you are a parent wanting to get your kids entranced with reading, start them on this series. It's a great learning curve, with fun, action, adventure, and a unique story line.
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