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Sunday, 18 October 2009

Review: Syren (Septimus Heap Book 5)

Author: Angie Sage
Release date: 5th October 2009 UK
Genre: Fantasy series
Target audience: 9+

The Septimus Heap Series
Book 1: Magyk
Book 2: Flyte
Book 3: Physik
Book 4: Queste

The following overview of Syren is taken www.septimusheap.com. It is a wonderfully interactive site.

Septimus ends up on a captivating beautiful island. He’s stranded there with his badly injured dragon, Spit Fyre, along with Jenna and Beetle. There are some strange things about the island, including a Magykal girl named Syrah, a lighthouse that has lost its Light, and an eerie presence that sings to Septimus – can he escape the persistent call?

Trouble is also brewing for Lucy and Wolf Boy, who have become entangle with nefarious sailors at sea, and for Milo Banda, Jenna’s father, who is harboring a mysterious treasure chest in his ship’s hold...

NB: I read the US copy of the book which was kindly sent to me by Newman Communications.

Syren continues from the moment where Queste ends. I highly recommend that you read Queste before embarking on this book. At this point in the series, you really do need to know the characters to truly enjoy it. Syren is over 600 pages long and although the words are well spaced on the page, the book is still a long read.

As the overview says, Septimus, Jenna and Beetle find themselves stranded on a strange and beautiful island that holds a deadly secret. Meanwhile Wolf Boy is untaking his own mission and happens to run into the rather annoying Lucy Gringe. Syren follows the two separate stories (as is the pattern of the previous books) and they come together as the novel progresses. In this novel we meet more new characters and see the development of other background characters like Lucy from the earlier books.

The novel begins with Septimus safely back in the Wizard Tower. The magical world of Septimus's home is my favourite part of the series. I love the Manuscriptorium, the Wizard Way and the Castle. This is Sage's distinct fantasy landscape and it is enchanting. We also see Aunt Zelda out in the Marram Marshes with Wolf Boy and the development of his role in the coming novels.

Sadly, I really struggled to get through the middle of the novel. Sage creates her world with so much detail that the plot became stagnant at times and made me rather frustrated. I can't help but feel like there are just too many characters populating these books. The scenes in the port were in my frank opinion rather boring. To illustrate my point regarding the slow pace of the plot, the Syren from where the title of the book is taken does not make an appearance until past page 400.

Thankfully, the book picks up pace from this point onward and I really enjoyed the end of the novel. When the two stories finally come together the action unfolds at a fast pace and is gripping reading. I have to say I was slightly disappointed that Sage did not include the scene where Jim Knee follows Septimus's most important command. I don't want to give too much away. Surfice to say, I had been reading about his sense of foreboding for over a hundred pages and then it was resolved in a couple of sentences.

I love the first three books in the series and highly recommend them for fans of Harry Potter. They are very different books but have the wonderful charm of learning to be a wizard. Queste and Syren are almost one super long book. I liked them but did not enjoy them as much as the others. I wish Sage would use the world she has created with the Wizard Tower more and stop taking her characters on ridiculously long journeys. Sometimes less is more. Overall, if you like this series, you should read Syren and like me keep your fingers crossed that the next book focuses more on Septimus's fascinating magical education.


The Book Bug said...

I'd like to read that, but I need to catch up on the series, I havent finished Flyte, it has been on my TBR pile for ages.

The Book Owl said...

Nice review. I've yet to read Magyk, but it's in my TBR pile.

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

Good to know. I have read the first three, I think, if I can rememer now. I really like to world she creates as well but you are right about the detail and the amount of characters.

I have a copy to read and review too but it's farther down on my list right now.

Thanks for the review.

Pizza said...

I haven't even considered buying the first book 'Magyk' considering I see it all the time in a book store. The cover nor the summary on the back do not appeal to me.

Simcha said...

I've been seeing these books around bit I didn't know if they were any good. I think I'll pick up the first book in the series and give it a try.

Rebecca said...

I liked your review. I've been waiting for Syren to be released for a really long time. I loved the rest of the series. But I agree with you about the long journeys thing. There should be some more magyk lessons in the sixth book.

Chicklish said...

It's great to read this review. I have this book for review but I haven't been able to find a reviewer who has read the others, so it's been sitting here a long time. I've been wondering how important it is to start from the beginning, and it sounds like it might be essential.

Thank you for such a thoughtful and interesting review!

P.S. If anyone UK-based sees this and would like to review this book for Chicklish, please let me know! (Becky - I hope you don't mind me saying this here! If you do, though, please feel free to delete this comment!)

Becky said...

Luisa, I do not mind at all. I'm only too happy to help. I hope you find a taker!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Sweet review :)

saLdycAb said...

Hey, hi.,.,

i have been addicted with the series and i want to know if there will be really a sixth one?

i've searched the net for that a while ago and i was jumping when i noticed someone waiting for it.,.,,

pretty cool review, you have.,.,,heihehi.,.,

got to agree that it became stagnant in some parts,.,

but the ending was teerribley cute and made me screech for good..,whhahha!!!!

i just wanna read the series again before the sixth one come out.,.

by the way,.,.i want to have a copy of Septimus Heap: The Magykal Papers,.,,.can you tell me where to get it???hehe