Nar then!
Here we are with another book. This time it's Faeland's Champion by Mark Cushen. This is the follow up to 2021's middle grade fantasy Little White Hands. The story of a kitchen boy who dreams big to become a knight. Faeland's Champion picks up the story a little while later as we return to Faeland to pick up with Garlan as he is now training to be a knight

The kitchen boy he used to be seems like another life.

Garlan is almost two years into his training, and every day that passes brings him one day closer to realizing his lifelong dream of becoming a knight of Faeland.

But when an old friend shows up unexpectedly, Garlan is left with no choice but to set his dream aside and go forth into the wide world once again.

For a new enemy has surfaced—an enemy that threatens to destroy a very special piece of the page boy’s heart.

As if stepping out from the very trunks of the trees, a mysterious woodsman has appeared in the great Fae Forest, and is making his presence felt with the furious edge of his axe blade.

Driven by unclear motives and seeking vengeance for an unknown slight, the woodsman starts down a path of retribution that leaves the inhabitants of Fae Forest trembling before him.

To uncover the truth behind the woodsman’s fury, Garlan and his loyal companions must travel to strange and frightful places, and face brand new dangers of all shapes and sizes.
Can they find a way to stop this enemy before Fae Forest falls helplessly to the blade of his axe?

It may already be too late.

It’s been a couple of years since we joined Garlan Greatheart, the little kitchen boy, who in the previous adventure, Little White Hands, finally recognised his ambition of becoming a knight. 

In this the second book, we catch up with Garlan as he is in the midst of his training, and boy has this child grown. He is now in his thirteenth year and he has a severe case of the grumps throughout the first section of the book. Yep folks, Garlan is now a teenager and my goodness does it show. 

However, this adds an intriguing facet to his personality and reminds us that even the best of us have their off times. 

The story introduces us to Garlan as he is called upon by Trickster (the fox like guardian spirit of Faeland’s magic woods) to tackle a growing threat that could destroy the woods. Trickster reports that there has been reports of a demonic woodsman attacking the Fae forest and as a result, whole swathes of faeries are mysteriously disappearing. In response, Trickster has called upon Garlan to investigate. 

As usual, Mark Cushen’s writing is spot in in this book. However, there has been some development in his writing and instead of relying on action scenes to carry the book forward, his writing is more pensive in its execution, resulting in a more character driven narrative. However, this does not diminish the charm or the emotional resonance that this story has.

In addition to this, there is an expansion of the world as a whole, as we travel with the party to other parts of Cushen’s world and the story shows a more epic feel to its arc. 

Tonally, this book is a little darker than the first, particularly in some areas. However, Mark Cushen presents these facets of the book in an accessible manner that does not diminish the emotional impact of the set pieces.

As always, the characters are great, and they are fleshed out more in this book. Garlan at times is annoying and thankfully he does not lessen this and try to fluff it up, attempting to make it gallant and what have you. Nope it’s just plain annoying, and it also serves as a vehicle for Garlan to learn some valuable life lessons, such as humility, acceptance, and mercy. 

The plot itself has some rcognisable nods to classic fantasy and Mark Cushen embraces these influences and incorporates them into the story.

In terms of audience, this book is a middle grade book and identifies that its main age range is 11- 18. However, I think that this book is more suited to the lower end of the range, particularly with its whimsical aspects, but I gotta say that as an adult that has seen these age ranges pass a few times over, I can safely say that I enjoyed this whimsical aspect and appreciate its execution in the story. 

Fealand’s Champion is a great addition to the trilogy and I cannot wait to see where the story goes next.


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