Book Review: The Knights of Crystallia by Brandon Sanderson
A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Series: Book 3 of Alcatraz
Publisher: Starscape (April 19, 2016)
Length: 320 pages
How do I know when I have series addiction? Clearing my reading schedule and dropping everything the moment I get my twitchy fingers on the sequel is a pretty good indication. I simply adore these Alcatraz books! The first four installments are being re-issued this year, with The Knights of Crystallia being the third book to get the fully illustrated hardcover treatment, and my latest fix.
After their narrow escape from the Library of Alexandria, Alcatraz Smedry’s friends are ready to help him take the next step—his first visit to the Free Kingdoms. Finally, our young hero will get to see where his family comes from. The only thing dampening Alcatraz’s spirits though, is his father’s aloof behavior towards him. You’d think reuniting with your long-lost son after thirteen years would be cause for more celebration, right? But no, Attica Smedry seems to care only about himself, and doesn’t even appear to notice that it was Alcatraz who masterminded the plan to save all their lives.
But soon, Alcatraz is distracted from his disappointment. The wonders of the Free Kingdoms turn out to be as amazing as he’d imagined, and the best part is, Alcatraz discovers he is famous! While he grew up in the Hushlands unaware of his true origins, Free Kingdomers have known about him for years, making up fantastical stories about his exploits.
Still, it’s not all just fun and games. Alcatraz’s friend Bastille is about to go on trial, in danger of being stripped of her knighthood. The king is also about to make a deal with the evil Librarians, one that would bring peace but also deal a huge blow to the Free Kingdoms. And worst of all, Alcatraz finds out his mother is in town, sneaking about and surely being up no good. All of these events must be related somehow, but can Alcatraz keep the fame from going to his head long enough to figure it all out?
After three books, I’m amazed this series can still keep me laughing the way it has been, or maybe I shouldn’t be shocked at all, since one should never underestimate the cleverness of Brandon Sanderson. His character Alcatraz is still as devious, sarcastic, and rambling as ever, but with each installment he comes up with new ways to make this shtick feel new and interesting. This particular point is so important for me; because while I may be beyond the targeted age group for this series, sometimes I do feel as though I have the attention span of a middle grader. Yes, I confess—I need fresh jokes and creativity in order to keep me reading, especially when it comes to children’s books, and thankfully this series delivers.
Alcatraz continues to be fun and enjoyable on so many levels. Kids will love the crazy adventures of our main character and his friends, and adults can also laugh privately at the underlying jokes while appreciating the subtler themes and important messages that the stories are trying to convey. By their very nature, these books are so unpredictable thanks to Alcatraz’s zany style of storytelling, but by the final pages I’m always impressed at how everything comes together. So far, each book has given me a moment where I want to cheer and pound my fists on the table at the same time, yelling, “This is brilliant! It all fits so perfectly! Why didn’t I see this coming?” Even if I can’t always guess what’s going to happen, with three Alcatraz books under my belt, you’d think I would be used to Sanderson’s kooky brand of well organized chaos by now.
A fantastic sequel, The Knights of Crystallia is another fast-paced, hilarious and exciting installment which I liked even better than the previous book, since it also does so much more in furthering the events of the overall series arc. Alcatraz continues to play his cards close to his vest, teasing more big things to come, and we’re getting no sign that things are slowing down. Seems I have a hard time being patient when it comes to anything by Sanderson, whether it’s his adult novels or Young Adult/Middle Grade–I can practically feel the serious withdrawal symptoms coming on as I’m already craving the next book.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Reviews of Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians (Book 1) and The Scrivener’s Bones (Book 2)