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The Tyrant's Nephew by
Sophie Masson
Random House Australia 2006.
ISBN: 1741660599

11+  The Tyrant’s Nephew is the third in the series, Chronicles of El Jisal, however it can be read as a stand-alone. It is the story of Omar, a quiet boy who has been chosen to be the heir of the Vampire, the dictator of Mesomia. He is brought from his peaceful refuge in the country to live with his uncle. On the way to the palace his car is attacked and he is rescued by Latifia a young girl and Keeta the cat, who is a jinn in disguise. As dark events unfold, he gradually begins to realise the enormity of the evil that his uncle perpetrates and tries, with the aid of Keeta, to help overcome the spell that his uncle’s magician has cast on Latifia.

This is a story of courage. Omar is initially an unlikely hero who did not choose to be the tyrant’s heir. He is afraid and finds it difficult to withstand the pressures of life in the palace. However he realises that he can’t let Latifia die and although fearful, embarks on a series of adventures to find an antidote to the spell. Readers will enjoy the vicarious thrill of riding on a magic carpet and climbing dangerous mountains and will also emphasise with the boy who has unwillingly become a hero. Omar knows that he can’t take on all the troubles of his uncle’s rule but he does know that he must do his best to save just one person. That is a very valuable lesson for the readers.

Masson researched dictators before writing this book and there are clear parallels here with the reign of Saddam Hussein. It would be a useful book to use if a class was studying political systems and dictatorships.

Pat Pledger


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