Genre: Fantasy — Middle Grades/Young Adult
Series: Alcatraz #3
Publisher: Starscape (April 19, 2016)
Length: 320 pages
My Rating: 4 stars
The Knights of Crystallia is the third installment of the Alcatraz series by Brandon Sanderson. For those who don’t understand what a series actually means and where you should start reading it, Alcatraz Smedry is nice enough to help explain all this as this book begins.
I know that some of you Hushlanders have trouble counting to three. (The Librarian-controlled schools don’t want you to be able to manage complex mathematics.) So I’ve prepared this helpful guide.
Definition of “book one”: The best place to start a series. You can identify “book one” by the fact that it says BOOK ONE on the back cover. Smedrys do a happy dance when you read book one first. Entropy shakes its angry fist at you for being clever enough to organize the world.
Definition of “book two”: The book you should read after book one. If you start with book two, I will make fun of you. (Okay, so I’ll make fun of you either way. But honestly, do you want to give me more ammunition?)
Definition of “book three”: The worst place, currently, to start a series. If you start here, I will throw things at you.
Defintion of “book four”: And . . . how’d you manage to start with that one? I haven’t even written it yet. (You sneaky time travelers.)
And that, my friends, is a sample of the trademark tongue-in-cheek silliness of this addictive middle-grade series. A tale which has followed young Alcatraz from unhappy foster child to son of the famous Smedry family of the Free Kingdoms. His Grandpa Smedry having whisked our young hero away from the boring Hushlands (the real world you and I live in) to enter the adventure filled world where the Free Kingdoms wage a constant struggle to keep the Earth free from Evil Librarian control. Magic, oculatory lenses, knights, and even more wondrous (and awful) things revealing themselves to our young hero.
But Alcatraz isn’t really a hero. At least, he doesn’t believe it. Instead, he describes himself as “a liar, a sadist, and a terrible person.” But since his fans (because Alcatraz has A LOT of them both in the Hushlands and the Free Kingdoms) believe he is, he has “come to the conclusion that the only way to convince you readers that I’m a terrible person is to show you how arrogant and self-centered I am. I’ll do this by talking about my virtues. Incessantly. All the time. Until you’re completely sick of hearing about my superiority.”
Not that Alcatraz really does that. Instead, The Knights of Crystallia shows our young Smedry getting his first taste of the Free Kingdoms, discovering what it really means to be a “Smedry”, learning he is as famous as Elvis ever dreamed of being, dealing with his friend Bastille’s trial, and attempting to stop a peace proposal by the Evil Librarians, which would hand over the Kingdom of Mokia to them!
There really is a lot of cool stuff to love in this book, but it all depends on whether you dig Brandon Sanderson’s humor. I mean, Alcatraz’s self-depreciating silliness and quirky observations aren’t for everyone, and I’ve encountered people who are turned off by it as well as the middle-grade story style. Myself and my son really dig it however. And since I have a college degree and am a recognized expert in book reviewing, you should just except my opinion already and go buy the book. (Read the novel, and you will get the joke I’m telling in that last sentence.)
But, anyway, The Knights of Crystallia delivers everything a great MG (Is that even the correct acronym for middle-grade? Shrug.) story needs. Adventure. Laughs. Magic. Cool, awkward teenagers. And even some words of wisdom here or there. (“Fame is like a cheeseburger. It might not be the best or most healthy thing to have, but it will still fill you up . . . It isn’t until years later you realize what it has done to your heart.“) So give this series a try (Alcatraz prefers you begin with book one remember?) or give it as a gift to a cool MG-er who likes awesome, magical adventures.
I received this novel from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.