4 out of 4 stars
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The Circle of Six: Emily’s Quest by Dan Sanders is an epic fantasy that focuses on Eostra Day, a pagan holiday known today as Easter. The story starts off in ancient Greece, and the author works some well-known historical figures into the story. The action really begins when the characters travel through a portal to Earth’s twin world: Annwyn.
A group of six creatures must work together to stop an evil entity and his minions from causing destruction and disharmony on Annwyn and Earth. Emily, the main character, is a rabbit. Well, she starts out as a bird, but that’s a long story! She is chosen to be the leader of the Circle of Six by the goddess Eostra. I was wary about identifying with a rabbit, but the author did an excellent job of allowing the reader to see the world through a rabbit’s eyes, while still giving the character enough human-like emotions to relate to.
This world of Annwyn is very complex. The explanations of the world and its unique attributes are spaced out and logically placed throughout the book. I liked the use of Thoughtspeak, a method of telepathic communication used in Annwyn. Water, air, fire, and earth are manipulated and used by the denizens of the world. Many of the creatures and cities are defined by which element they work with. The politics in the world are complex yet very interesting, and also tie into the use of elements.
There are probably over twenty characters in Circle of Six. Each of the many characters is different enough in name, appearance, and personality that I had little difficulty telling them apart. I loved how the main characters grew and changed over the course of this book, often overcoming personal barriers. They learned to work together despite their many differences. There was a very positive message underlying this story.
While there was a positive message, the story has a serious tone. Sometimes I had to take a break due to the intensity of the events. The Circle faced overwhelming odds. At times, it seemed like their victory would be impossible. The fight scenes could be grim, and the effects of war were not presented lightly. I thought that some scenes may be too intense for younger children.
Artifacts and magical items can be clichéd and overpowered in the fantasy genre. While there are plenty of magic items in Circle of Six, these items were appropriate within the story. The magic items were not easy to master. The powers of the magical artifacts were evenly balanced with the characters’ choices and actions.
The underlying goal of this book is to explore the pagan holiday Eostra Day, which celebrates rebirth and the return of life to the land. The origins of some common Easter symbols, such as the rabbit and eggs, are explained during the course of the tale. We see themes such as good versus evil, life and rebirth versus destruction and death. Socrates' famous cave allegory is discussed and referenced throughout the story. While these themes were explored, the story could also be taken at face value and enjoyed simply as an action-filled fantasy. I am familiar with the pre-Christian roots of this holiday, so nothing in this book came as a shock.
There are very few problems with this book. There are a few typos, but nothing major. I thought the ending was a tad childish compared to the rest of the book. Neither of these issues were a big deal for me since every other part of the book was so good!
I give this book 4 out of 4 stars. The story, the characters, and the descriptions are excellent. The plot is masterfully woven together and has great pacing. The story is intense at times, but I found it engaging and readable. There is a positive message, which was a plus. This 420-page fantasy tale is aimed at young adults but can be enjoyed by teens and adults alike.
The Circle of Six: Emily's Quest
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