Shield of Stars: The Shield, Sword, and Crown #1
Simon & Schuster, 2007 (2007)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
hield of Stars
begins a new YA fantasy series,
The Shield, Sword, and Crown
, that's reminiscent of Lloyd Alexander's classic
trilogy. The young hero is a clerk to Justice Holis who took him in after Weasel - in true Dickensian style - tried to pick the judge's pocket. The epic opens with Holis's arrest for treason - he has been working with others to bring down corrupt Regent Pettibone, who unfortunately strikes first.
hough Weasel initially flees, he makes his way to the palace, disguised as a footman, and manages to contact the young prince, pleading with him to help the Judge and his fellow conspirators. Though Prince Edoran manages to buy them time before their trial and inevitable execution, Weasel is imprisoned in an old storeroom (the palace's dungeons being filled to the brim after the recent arrests). There he befriends the mysterious Arisa Benison, an athletic country girl who turns out to have all sorts of unexpected talents and connections. These include reading Tarot-like fortune telling cards, one of which opens each chapter of the book.
hrough Weasel's cleverness, they make their way through the floor to another chamber, with a hidden doorway. Weasel stumbles upon an ancient shield (whose touch gives him a '
sudden surge of dizziness
') and finds an escape passage. Since Weasel is determined to save his mentor, they head into the countryside seeking potential rebels - the
(followers of the old, forbidden religion) and the
(a more ruthless version of Robin Hood). After a series of exciting adventures and narrow escapes, Weasel convinces the latter to implement a risky plan to enter the palace, capture the Regent and save the Justice.
o it unfolds, with a few twists and turns of plot, as well as dexterous wiggles around the letter of the law. A new Regent is appointed as well as a new lord commander of the army. All seems to have ended well, but Weasel '
had a sinking feeling it wasn't going to be that easy.
' Of course not, it's only the beginning!
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