Physik (Septimus Heap #3) by Angie Sage
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (March 11, 2008), Paperback, 576pp / ISBN 0060577398
Genre: Fantasy, Childrens’/YA
Find @ Amazon or IndieBound
Read: October 2009
Challenges: Countdown 2010 (2007 #3)
It’s been a while since I read the Septimus Heap #2, and even longer since I read the first. And I had actually tried reading this one a few months ago and couldn’t get through it. Then I got the newest book (#5) in the mail and decided to catch up, so I forced myself through #3.
Summary from Amazon:
When Silas Heap unSeals a forgotten room in the Palace, he releases the ghost of a Queen who lived five hundred years earlier. Queen Etheldredda is as awful in death as she was in life, and she’s still up to no good. Her diabolical plan to give herself everlasting life requires Jenna’s compliance, Septimus’s disappearance, and the talents of her son, Marcellus Pye, a famous Alchemist and Physician. And if Queen Etheldredda’s plot involves Jenna and Septimus, then it will surely involve Nicko, Alther Mella, Marcia Overstrand, Beetle, Stanley, Sarah, Silas, Spit Fyre, Aunt Zelda, and all of the other wacky, wonderful characters that made magyk and flyte so memorable.
With heart-stopping action and a dash of humor, Angie Sage continues the fantastical journey of Septimus Heap.
Okay, I’m sorry, but I had a very hard time finishing this book. It was seriously hard work getting to the middle, where things finally started interesting me and I finally became excited by what was going on. I have no idea why! Does it just start out more slowly than the other books? What’s going on with this one that made it so difficult to get through?
It’s got loads of good stuff in it, even in the bits that bored me. Queen Etheldredda screamed “baddie” as soon as she showed up, and I knew she was planning something evil. It made me really anxious and tense, waiting to see what she was going to do, actually. I love it when villains are proper villains, and it was a nice change from Simon (who I actually feel very sorry for). It’s also got time travel! It’s got alchemy…kind of. It’s got spooky letters and heaps of dragon poo and people not listening to each other and malicious gossip and, oh, okay, that’s probably why I didn’t like this book as much as the others.
One of the things that really bugs me in this series is how much time is spent describing what the “commoners” are saying about Jenna/Septimus/Marcia/etc., and then how nothing is ever done about it! Not that I’m expecting Jenna to behead anyone who spreads rumors about her, but where’s her publicist? Her adviser? Where’s the official-newsletter-from-the-princess thing? Doesn’t anyone care about Jenna’s public image at all? And what about the wizards and their public image? Are they just relying on “it’s always been this way, so they can’t do anything too bad to us”? Hello? What happened when the last queen died, eh? (Hint: anarchy!)
I remembered that Jenna was being tutored by…SOMEONE. But the contrast between the bustling castle of the past and the practically empty castle of the present, frugally run by Sarah Heap (which unfortunately means it’s dark, empty, and thus very depressing), really brought highlighted some of the problems I have with this series.
Maybe I just forgot some details from the first two books, but surely there must be someone willing to, I don’t know, kick things up a notch? Or is Mrs Heap simply too intimidating and no-one dares contradict her castle-keeping style? Well, I’m sorry, Mrs Heap, but a castle is not a bungalow. It needs people to run it, and look after it, and to make sure things keep working for years and years. And someone needs to pay a bit more attention to public image, or else a) how are people going to know what sort of person their future queen if they have to rely on speculation? and b) who is going to want to obey their ruler when that ruler can’t even be bothered to speak to her subjects once in a while? Public speaking! It’s a good thing, you know?
I have a whole lot more to say (what about laws? what about public works? who approves them? Jenna? What does she do besides go to lessons and visit Septimus?) but I think I’ll leave it there. The adventure aspects are nice, and I do like Septimus and Marcia (and Beetle), so I’ll keep reading the series. But I’m not sure how I’m going to cope with this sort of lackluster, halfhearted monarchy for much longer. It’s really distracting, and it makes me rant (obviously).
I know, they’re supposed to be light-hearted (mostly; people do die, after all, and later there’s themes of forced servitude and possession), fun, exciting kids books, but I suppose I’m just really surprised that something wasn’t already worked out regarding this, especially considering how much detail and hard work is obviously put into the series. I know too that it’s supposed to be Septimus’ story, but Jenna gets a lot of screen time and her job affects the wizards’ as well, you see.
But maybe something will be done about those things that bug me in the subsequent books. And, surprise! I did manage to ignore this stuff in books four and five. I suppose book three just rubbed me the wrong way. But now I can move on, huzzah, huzzah. 😀