Review: The Wizards of Once

cover-wizards of once.jpgTitle: The Wizards of Once
Author: Cressida Cowell
Series: Wizards of Once #1
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Age Range: 9+
Available: Sept 19th


From the bestselling author of How to Train Your Dragon comes an exciting high-adventure series – set in an ancient, magical time, full of Wizards, Warriors, Giants and Sprites.

This is the story of a young boy Wizard and a young girl Warrior who have been taught to hate each other like poison; and the thrilling tale of what happens when their two worlds collide.

Perfect for boys and girls who love fantasy adventure …

Once there was Magic, and the Magic lived in the dark forests.

Wizard boy, Xar, should have come in to his magic by now, but he hasn’t, so he wants to find a witch and steal its magic for himself. But if he’s got any chance of finding one, he will have to travel into the forbidden Badwoods.

Xar doesn’t realise he is about to capture an entirely different kind of enemy. A Warrior girl called Wish.

And inside this book, at this very moment, two worlds collide and the fate of the land is changed forever.

In a whirlwind adventure, Xar and Wish must visit the dungeons at Warrior fort, and face the evil Queen.

But something that has been sleeping for hundreds of years is stirring …

Source: ARC from Hodder Children’s Books via Amazon Vine

This was fun. Wizards and warriors, not-very-heroic heroes, magical beasts, scary monster witches, a talking raven and a magic spoon, all set in ancient Britain – what’s not fun about any of that? Illustrated throughout in Cowell’s distinctive sketchy (yet clever) style, this book is perfect for any child who love fantasy, even if they aren’t strong readers.

Xar and Wish are very, very different. Xar is confident and headstrong, foolish and selfish, and not particularly likeable for most of the book. He wants magic and doesn’t care how he gets it. And yet, there are times when a better person emerges – he does care about his friends, whether they’re sprites, animals or human, and there is some hope that he might eventually learn from all his numerous mistakes. (Maybe.)

Wish couldn’t be more different. She’s uncertain and strange, shy and hesitant, yet really nice. She isn’t a natural Warrior because she tends to ask questions and not accept the her mother’s rules just because she should. She’s smart too and friendly. I liked her a lot and loved seeing her grow stronger through the book.

Alongside these two are plenty of friends – from assistant bodyguard Bodkin, to friendly giant Crusher, along with snowcats and sprites, that cute magic spoon and poor put-upon Caliburn, the talking raven who is charged with the impossible task of keeping Xar sensible. We also see two very different parents in the leader of the Wizards and the leader of the Warriors, ruling over a wild wooded world full of fun details and scary threats.

I really enjoyed this – the characters, the plot, the illustrations – the whole book was a joy to read. It’s exciting and silly at times, dangerous and dark at others, but once started I didn’t want to put it down. So if you have any magic or adventure loving children in your life, hand them a copy of this. I’m pretty sure they’ll enjoy it too. I can’t wait to read the next one.

The Wizards of Once is out September 19th.
Visit Cressida Cowell for more details.


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