The fourth tale of Septimus Heap delivers action, adventure, magic, and a good share of surprises.
The tale begins when Nicko Heap and Snorri, who in a previous book found themselves transported out of their own Time, discover a clue that might allow them to return to their home Time. However, the path home is a tricky one: Nicko and Snorri must find their way to the mysterious House of Foryx, "the place where all Times do meet." Once they are there, the difficulties are not over. Finding and entering the House of Foryx is hard enough, but once they are in, they must wait for someone from their own Time to enter before they will be able to leave and return home.
Meanwhile, the notes regarding Nicko and Snorri's preparations for this journey have survived until Septimus's time, under the care of the long-lived alchemist Marcellus Pye. Using the notes and lists that Nick has left behind, Septimus and Jenna are able to figure out what it is that Nicko and Snorri are attempting, and set off to reach the House of Foryx themselves, so that their appearance might allow Nicko and Snorri to return to the correct Time. However, their plans are complicated by the pernicious ghost of Tertius Fume, who contrives to send Septimus against his will on a Queste from which no apprentice wizard has ever returned.
While the plot rambled in places, I enjoyed the overall arc of the story, and in the end I was glad for the slow development at the beginning which built up to the climax. Sage's characterization was impressive; I got a good idea of the relationships that had formed between characters in previous books, as well as a sense of their internal states and motivations. Her large cast of secondary characters was deftly managed as well.
As a newcomer to the series, getting my bearings was slightly confusing, but after a while I began to understand the backstory better, thanks to the author's hints and insinuations at what had happened before this book. There were still moments when I felt like I was missing out on something--moments where I was sure that the emotional impact would have been greater had I read the previous three books in the series--but overall I was still able to enjoy it, and would recommend it thoroughly.
Reviewed by: Candace Cunard
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