From #1 New York Times best-selling author Patricia C. Wrede, the fantastic conclusion to her tale of magic on the western frontier.
Eff is an unlucky 13th child...but also the seventh daughter in her family. Her twin brother, Lan, is a powerful double seventh son. Her life at the edge of the Great Barrier Spell is different from anyone else's that she knows.
When the government forms an expedition to map the Far West, Eff has the opportunity to travel farther than anyone in the world. With Lan, William, Professor Torgeson, Wash, and Professor Ochiba, Eff finds that nothing on the wild frontier is as they expected. There are strange findings in their research, a long prarie winter spent in too-close quarters, and more new species, magical and otherwise, dangerous and benign, than they ever expected to find. And then spring comes, and the explorers realize how tenuous life near the Great Barrier Spell may be if they don't find a way to stop a magical flood in a hurry. Eff's unique way of viewing magic has saved the settlers time and again, but this time all of Columbia is at stake if she should fail.
©2012 Patricia C. Wrede (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
I have now read all three books in this trilogy and I sincerely hope that Wrede's readers will convince her to turn this into a series. I can see plenty of paths she could take towards turning out more books about this interesting young woman.
Over the arc of the trilogy, I really enjoyed the unfolding of her personality, from a disregarded and dismissed child to struggling adolescence to blossoming young woman. I don't want to provide spoilers, but I find that while Lan is an admirable and deserving young man, Eff is by far the more creative and interesting character.
I enjoyed the interplay between events in our history and how they differ in Eff's. And I really enjoyed learning that both Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were seventh sons of seventh sons. (We should have guessed.) 8-)
I kept thinking during the first book in this trilogy that she kept hanging revolvers on walls and then not shooting them (see Wikipedia article, "Chekhov's Gun") It was revealing in this book to see all those guns being taken down and used. Clearly, this entire series was mapped out before she completed the first one.
To sum up: Don't start with this book. Read them in their proper order: "Thirteenth Child", then "Across the Great Barrier", and then this one.
Willy Wonka of it
If you've listened to the first 2 books in this series, then you won't be too surprised by this one.
As usual, the story plods along, with remarkable scenes littered amongst the pretty mundane. Oddly though, it's enjoyable. You never feel like you're rushing anywhere; you're just along for the ride, taking in Eff's daily life as we meander to the end game. It's a bit similar to some of the earlier Harry Potter books in that way.
The downside of this type of story telling (aside from it being slow, which can be a pain if you're not enjoying taking it all in), is that there is much discussed and revealed during the story (indeed, the entire series) that never gets resolved.
In most stories, most of what you hear about is fairly important. In these types of stories though, you hear about so much that it can be hard to figure out just what's important and what is just a tidbit. Sadly, many of those tidbits that seem to be going somewhere never do, and you're left to fill in the blanks in your mind. A shame for such a wonderfully-crafted universe.
Overall however, I enjoyed it. For the shippers, Eff finally "settles down" in this book, and thankfully those parts of the story aren't mushy or annoying. In fact, it doesn't interfere with the story at all; it adds to it.
I'd hoped this wasn't the end, but given that there's an epilogue, I guess it is. Great series.
I LOVE HISTORY!!!
This series is easy to read and totally captivating. Patricia's ability to create a world that is both magical and familiar makes her one of my very favorite writers.
Eff (of course) is my favorite character because of her mild mannerism as well as her sarcastic wit.
Amanda Ronconi's performance quickly draw's the listener into the plot.
I was hooked from the very beginning of the first book and wanted to listen to them all immediately
Patricia Wrede's storytelling is unhurried yet sets a good enough pace that makes you want to keep going.
She also imbues her characters and the setting with an integrity that remains consistent through all three books.
The series has been compared to "Little House on the Prairie", and I agree - in all the good ways.
every day is a busman's honeymoon
so fun. a great real female protagonist, terrific narration, and a compelling story. well worth a listen for grown-ups and kids!
This is the third in the series and wrapped it all up brilliantly. Since each book is short, I listened straight through, and I did get tired of all the recap at the beginning of each new novel, but it does mean you don't have to start with the first. Though I'd highly recommend doing them in order.
Amanda Ronconi did a good job of narrating. I thought she slightly overdid the accents, however. I got very tired of that folksy, frontier accent and with the Scandinavian accent of the Vinland professor. On the other hand, I thought she did great with Wash's southern drawl.
Ecological morality play
The culminating scene in which Ef's hidden talents save the day for everyone. If I say more here, it will be a major spoiler.
Amanda does a wonderful job of channeling Ef. She also does a nice job with voices for other characters. Her mild midwestern twang is perfect for this frontier setting.
Mostly, I find this trilogy very soothing. The main character is a strong female who doesn't run around putting men down or even doing a lot of earth shaking things other than pursue her family obligations and her personal ambition -- which is to go West beyond the barrier. She has support and guidance from her parents, and a bit of sibling squabbling. She is unusual, and has been somewhat misunderstood by extended family and neighbors. Ef is believable, human, and the character is consistently considerate of others.
I have enjoyed this trilogy very much. I own several paperback copies of Patricia Wrede's work, and have always found her writing enjoyable. This series is a bit different from her previous work, and is a refreshing change. Amanda Ronconi is an excellent reader, and I would like to find more of her work.
"Like nothing else"
I've never read another book in this 'genre' (alternate magic version of America in frontier times) which in itself makes the book interesting. It is well written & an amazing, fully formed alternate history with interesting characters & a fun concept. It can sometimes get a little confusing working out what places are supposed to be in our world when everywhere has a different name but that's a tiny niggle like the fact that the series felt like it had been written as one long book & then hacked into chunks so it would sell, doesn't ruin the story at all, it just broke the spell a little bit.
My only real niggle was the main character (a girl) felt a tiny bit wet to me, but I like my female leads to be shooting of bullets in one direction & witty retorts in the other.
I would whole heartedly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys fantasy, alternative histories, stories of the frontier &/or exploration books.
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