The seventh son of the seventh son, aptly named Septimus Heap, is stolen the night he is born by a midwife who pronounces him dead. That same night, the baby's father, Silas Heap, comes across a bundle in the snow containing a new born girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take this helpless newborn into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son Septimus? (from Goodreads)
I am rereading this series! It’s been a while since I first read these books, and all I can really remember about them is that they make me feel all cozy.
The Septimus Heap books are really good MG fantasy about family and love and friendship and BETRAYAL omg. I particularly like the characters, who (though somewhat broadly drawn) have levels of complexity that make reading their stories really fun. As an added bonus, during this reread I suddenly understood the importance of character who I’d previously skipped over.
Take Jenna, for instance. The first time I read Magyk, I wasn’t much sold on her. Eh, I thought, she’s a secret princess and she spends most of the book running away from danger. So what. She’s not even the main character because that is Septimus Heap who is a boy and a fancy wizard and a chosen one, besides. So there!
In this reading, though, I suddenly GOT IT. I understood Jenna! More importantly, I understood the POINT of Jenna. Just like Septimus is more than just a fancy wizard kid, Jenna’s is more than a fancy princess lady. She’s every bit the main character as Septimus is– his story is her story, and vice versa. Also, she’s a WONDERFUL person. So she can’t make people explode with her mind. So what? She’s smart and she’s brave and she’s caring! Yay!
So that was an exciting thing to happen. Another exciting thing: Flyte fixed the thing that really bugged me in Magyk, namely Jenna’s dad.
In Magyk, nobody gave a crap that he just disappeared after Jenna was born. They didn’t even know his name! Which, as I said on Twitter or Goodreads or something, was VERY strange to me in a book series that is so hardcore about Family. However, I guess that whole thing about Jenna’s no-name dad was a fluke or a LIE or something because he shows up in Flyte and the same person who said she didn’t know him TOTALLY DID. Which raises even more questions, like: was that just bad writing or is there some conspiracy or what?
As good as Magyk was, Flyte is even better! And not just because it’s got dragons in it.
See, it does something totally unexpected with its characters: One of the good guys? Turns bad! Or exposes his badness– whatever, he’s totally the villain now. (I think he gets better later, but for the next several books he’s definitely the main baddie.)
I can’t really talk about WHY I like that twist so much without spoiling those of you who have not read the series yet, but basically (and vaguely): I like it because it is unusual. In a book series full of happy families, to have a character turn from that standard storyline and go do something else? So cool!
It takes the standard fantasy conventions and twists them a little. Not enough to break the story, or to make it terrifying, but just enough to keep things interesting. Huzzah!
That said, Flyte is a little annoying because the Helpful Adults from the first book turn into Obstructions. They basically spend the whole book worrying and ignoring trouble and then getting in the kids’ way. It’s completely understandable, because one adult is being hounded by a dark entity and thus isn’t up to her usual level of helpfulness, and the others are in shock/denial that the good guy character is now bad, but STILL. It’s extremely frustrating to read! (In fact, I think Flyte is one of the most frustrating books I’ve EVER read.)
However, as frustrating as it was for me to read it, as a story element it’s really good for the kid characters. They use this opportunity to gain some independence and level up their awesomeness. I can’t remember what happens in the next book, Physik, but I’m hoping it continues the theme of supportive adults and kick-butt kids. If I were still a kid, I think I’d find that sort of thing very empowering, y’know?
Read: June 29-31, 2013 (Magyk) / August 4-5, 2013 (Flyte)
This post written whilst feeling like utter crap. And my bagel has gone all cold. Woe!