The rogues: Accidental heroes by Lian Tanner
The rogues series. Allen and Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760293529
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Fantasy, Power, Magic. When the country was over run by the invaders from Halt-Bern, five hundred years ago, they called the land Neuhalt, and built a city they called Berren around the Grimstone, the Saaf place for ceremonies. The Bayam begged the invaders not to do this, but they did not believe in magic, so scoffed at the Saaf. One Bayam survived inside the Strong-hold, waiting her chance and when an idle-cat strolled by speaking to her, she began looking for a child who could take on her powers and bring back the magic.
But this child Pummel has come to the city to be a Sniffigator, a member of the force which clears the streets of any vestiges of magic, and then she spies another one, a girl, Duckling, come to the city with her scheming grandfather. He is after a young boy to be the dupe in his scheme to enter the citadel and Pummel is enveigled to leave his post and join them. The trio gets inside the Strong-hold, and Pummel is offered to the Heir as a companion, but both children are taken in, and once the trio stays the night they are trapped inside the place, never to leave.
So begins a multi layered and breathless fantasy tale that will impel its readers to follow the exploits of the two children in the Strong-hold. Each member of the large cast of characters is entrancing, complex and fascinating, living on the pages as the readers follow their journeys.
Duckling finds that she hums and this brings up a little wind about her, while Pummel can do things others cannot. Each child has an aura of magic recognised by the Bayam, and when on their first night in the Strong-hold, they foil a plot to assassinate the Heir, things become very tense. Others have been beheaded before them, so they come to see themselves not as companions but protectors of the Heir and his rise to the Faithful Throne. But who to trust? Duckling keeps secrets from Pummel and certainly distrusts her grandfather. She is as fearful of those around her as Pummel is trusting.
This is the first in a series of three stories about the duo, Pummel and Duckling, and their attempts to bring back the magic to the Grimstone.
With lashings of humour, the story is cleverly told with readers highly involved with the trail these children wander.