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The Wizard Test    by Hilari Bell Amazon.com order for
Wizard Test
by Hilari Bell
Order:  USA  Can
Eos, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover

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* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Unlike most fantasy novels, Hilari Bell's The Wizard Test is not part of a trilogy or series, making it an ideal book for middle-readers wanting to try the genre. Like most fantasy novels, it includes a battle between good and evil; however, the sides are not clearly delineated, leaving many ethical choices for the hero to struggle through.

Dayven has always disliked wizards. On his mother's death bed, Dayven promised her that he would become a Guardian like his honorable father, not a wizard like his traitorous maternal grandmother. Dayven is well on his way to a Guardianship, as he works hard as a Watcherman to the Lordowner alongside his older cousin Soren. Dayven's perceived destiny is threatened, however, when he is forced to undergo the wizard test that every Tharn boy must take upon his fourteenth birthday. Like a bad dream come true, Dayven learns that he is a wizard. However, the Lordowner assigns him the task of spying on the wizards in exchange for a Guardianship. Unable to refuse such a prize, Dayven joins the wizard Reddick as he heads to an enemy city for unknown reasons. Once in enemy territory, Dayven finds himself confronting hard choices, and must decide which path to take.

Many tales of fantasy are almost allegorical in the number of moral issues covered. I found the issues that Dayven confronts to be more ethical than moral, making it refreshingly different, yet not straying from the basic tenets of the genre. Bell's discussion of environmental issues and differences between societal types in the story makes The Wizard Test a wonderful read for middle schoolers, tieing in to different aspects of their studies. I think most will find it fun, no matter what the reason for originally picking up the book I know I did.

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