With his faithful friends and mystical stone, Kief sets out on his greatest adventure yet, to seek passage across the dangerous seas in search of the dreaded Wells in Desolation. But there is more to fear than enemy soldiers and the pillaging rogues of the sea as others seek the power of the stone. Kief encounters new friends that help him along his journey and reveal secrets about his past and destiny. But one truth threatens to doom the fate of The Dark Eagles...
Wells in Desolation picks up right where First Flight left off. After discovering that his father was taken as a slave and sent to a foreign land, Kief and his small band of rebels hatch a plan to free him–and leave a rebellious path of destruction against the tyrannical invaders in their wake. Unsurprisingly, Kief’s haphazard rescue mission doesn’t exactly go as planned. The friends are hunted by brutal men searching for the stone and map given to Kief by his grandfather and are betrayed by those to whom they looked for protection. Along the way the friends are sold into a brutal form of slavery, where they must fight to the death for the entertainment of others. Their passion and skill help them escape and make some loyal friends along the way. Through it all Kief never waivers in his resolve to free his father from slavery and discovers that his destiny just might be much bigger than he ever dreamed it would be.Just as with his last book, David Smith was able to scatter nuggets of wisdom and truth into a story filled with adventure. For example, as Kief and his friends enter a once clean and prosperous city, they are greeted by the Gar soldier’s and their utter contempt for those they are terrorizing. "Large piles of items the soldiers arbitrarily confiscated from the carts of goods lay strewn on the side of the road, some smoldered from half burned fires, while others had obviously been picked over for things the soldiers found useful for themselves. 'So much for the hollow promises of the Gars,' Tarc said, 'Tell me, when does tyranny not lead to this?' 'Lies and deceit can be as powerful as slugs and cannon fire,' Flinch replied."So true. How often in history have tyrants risen to power, not by the point of a gun, but by impossible promises and words dripping with honey. We allow ourselves to be lulled into a comfortable sort of slavery with promises of prosperity without work and the release of responsibility from our shoulders. Then one day we wake up to find that those who were charged to protect do nothing but plunder and instead of being lifted up, we are all torn down.As a sequel, I appreciate how we are able to go even deeper into the characters. Kief seems much more real than a lot of the heroes these days. Far too often the heroic characters are also larger than life or somehow saintly compared to the people reading them. Not Kief. Kief is impulsive, hard headed, and his tendency to act now and think later gets him into a lot of unnecessary trouble. His courage and single mindedness can often be mistaken for stupidity and selfishness and his friends are often charged with the task of reigning him in. In other words, Kief is very relatable as a main character. We all have flaws. We all make mistakes. We all need to be reminded to think about the bigger picture. I like being able to read about someone who makes mistakes, stumbles and falls and yet is STILL a good person who can make a difference in the world. He isn’t perfect, not by a long shot, but he still has some amazing strengths that are vital to their mission and as a whole, make the world a better place.
If you thought the the first book was a bit light on action, just read this one. It does what a good sequel should: it continues the story. Okay, so what's going on? Following the events of the previous book, Kief decides to exploit the mystery behind the white stone he found by boarding a merchant ship with Tarc and Flinch, (view spoiler). However, they later found out that they've been sold to a prison called Oolong's Crpyt where battle royale-esque type battles that just happen to be the only way to escape. During their "stay" at The House of Death they meet Zuta, who quickly became a favorite character of mine. He has a pretty interesting backstory and gets a ton of good lines later in the book. After they narrowly escape when they are cheated out during a fight, our now quad-group happen upon a village where they learn of a prophecy concerning Kief and his white stone. From the villagers, Kief finds out (view spoiler). In my opinion, this book improves on a lot of things: character's personalities, actions, events, all the good stuff. Overall, I enjoyed this read front to back. Kudos to the author for creating an ending that made me cry actual tears at for the first time, and I am not a person who cries very easily at the end of books!
This book was a phenomenal read! For all those who wish for a gripping adventure tale that is impossible to put down until the very last word, Wells in Desolation is for you. Each meticulously-designed character brings the thrilling plot to life through daring ventures over land and sea. I was especially impressed by David Smith's great understanding of human interactions, strengths and weaknesses. I highly recommend this book to all those adventure-lovers who treasure freedom, loyalty and friendship and want to find a world where characters value these above all else.
David R. Smith does it again and pulls you into the rich and fantastically real world of Fundautum. Smith's masterful use of words magically bring life to the seas, lands, and cultures beyond what was explored in the first book, First Flight. The beautiful illustrations in the book just adds to the intrigue of their world. The characters are extremely believable and their interactions another strong point of Smith's storytelling abilities. I don't recommend reading Wells in Desolation without reading First Flight beforehand; I'd go as far as to recommend actually rereading First Flight right before you start Wells in Desolation because it really does just pick up where the first book leaves off (no plot recaps, no character reminders, etc.). With that being said, I literally finished the book exclaiming "Noooooo!" both at shock at how book #2 was concluded and in mild frustration that I have to wait for book #3 to find out what happens to this ragtag bunch of unlikely heroes. What a great adventure to witness and a such an enjoyable read!
Kief and his friends travel through grand adventures including encounters with pirates, gladiator-style imprisonment and the perils of completing a cross-continent quest. "Wells in Desolation" has good momentum, and author David R. Smith keeps the action coming. Younger teenagers and older gradeschoolers will likely be highly entertained by the book.