2011; 212 pages. Full Title : Noggle Stones : Book 2 : The Tragic Empire. New Author? : No. Genre : YA; Fantasy. Overall Rating : 8*/10.
It’s been a year since the real world and the world of legends merged, and all is not well. The elves (“Aes dana”) are at war with the United States of 1899, and both in turn are threatened by a more sinister and evil force. The latter can call upon the undead to do its bidding, as well “turn” living creatures to the dark side. Both types of baddies are deadly; the only difference is that the former move slower than the latter.
Even worse than that, Bugbear the Goblin is chained upside down in an Aes dana dungeon, and the interrogation is about to begin. How much use will the Four Basic Precepts of Non-Logical Thought be to him now?
What’s To Like...
Noggle Stones – The Tragic Empire has the same “flavor” is its predecessor – a YA book that is mostly a light-hearted adventure; with some paranormal darkness mixed in for balance. As before, Wil Radciffe includes some neat drawings for the reader's enjoyment.
Bugbear is the main protagonist, and his “Illogical Thought” precepts will keep you chuckling. Manchester and Maga are back; so is Riley Ratcatcher. The Ogres play a smaller role, and there are a whole bunch of human and Aes dana characters to get to know. There’s even a way-kewl patchwork creature – part lion, part elephant – named Tembo, who hopefully will continue to show up in the series. And finally, if you’re a Teddy Roosevelt fan, you’ll love this tale.
Beyond the entertainment, the book has a serious message about prejudice – both of species and of cosmetic appearance. The ending is satisfying, albeit straightforward. The Ultimate Evil is not totally vanquished (indeed, it’s not even identified yet), which points to a sequel. That’s something to look forward to.
Kewlest New Word...
Seneschal (n.) : a steward or major-domo in a noble household; usually in charge of domestic arrangements and the administration of servants.
”Who do you serve?” he finally barked, after sifting through his better frustrations.
“Whom,” Bugbear said.
“And this Whom, from what kingdom does he hail?”
Bugbear sighed. “No,” he said with a shake of his head, which flaked off a crust of raspberry tart that had lodged in his mutton chops. “Whom is not a person. Rather it is the correct form of the pronoun you were attempting to use.”
The guard looked to Bugbear, tilting his head with curiosity... before suddenly catching himself as the large helmet almost pulled him to the ground. “And this pronoun,” the guard started, eyes narrow and hard as he attempted to regain his dignity, “How large are his armies?” (loc. 58)
Riley frowned as he nocked his arrow on the bowstring. “You should not have put so much confidence in us, Turdmore,” the beast boy whispered to the goblin. “The queen has not had time to practice with us of late.”
Tudmire smiled as he patted the boy on the shoulder. “Don’t let those bullies intimidate you, m’boy. Remember, what’s bad for the goose is good for the gambler.” (loc. 1415)
I bought Noggle Stones Book Two – The Tragic Empire for $2.99 at Amazon. Noggle Stones Book One – The Goblin Apprentice, is the same price. You really should read them in order.
“How can you kill what is already dead?” (loc. 2250)
My only quibble with Noggle Stones 2 is that, at 212 pages, it was over too fast. Noggle Stones 1 (reviewed here) is listed as being 390 pages, and that felt like the right length. Then again, maybe if the author had pumped another 200 pages into NS-2, I’d be griping that it was too long and too wordy.
There is a hint that Dragons may show up somewhere down the line in this series. And who knows what other beasts and beasties Wil Radcliffe might introduce? I find the non-stereotypical portrayal of the elves, ogres, patchworks, and goblins to be a real treat. 8 Stars.