Reading Through Time and Space: Mystical, Magical Deserts!
Published on Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 8:13am
Though the lush, wet spring weather is a pleasure in its own right, I can't help but sometimes yearn for searing heat, blinding sun and a climate so sparse and dry, you'd think lawn mowing and flash floods were just another urban legend.
For this installation of Reading Through Time and Space, let's grab a book and journey to the desert! To mystical, magical, unnamed deserts, where things are not always what they seem and just about can -- and does -- happen.
In The Magician's Apprentice by Kate Banks, a boy learns the hard way about both real life and about magic -- basically, that they're not so different after all.
Sold to a carpet merchant to work as a weaver, Baz experiences great loss, loneliness and cruelty. After a stroke of good luck and no small amount of hardship, he joins up with a traveling magician. This great and unusual man takes Baz under his wing. The man not only teaches him crowd-pleasing feats of illusion, but more importantly, that real strength and the power to change -- what sometimes people call magic -- are normal and accessible, even for an ordinary boy.
Free of fantasy but full of abstract thought, the ideas touched upon in the novel are accessible to younger children with guidance, and to adults who appreciate complex truths in simple packages.
Written early in Robin McKinley's prolific career, The Blue Sword was first published in 1982. That's way back before young adult fiction was really a "thing," and the truly butt-kicking female protagonists in fantasy literature were few and far between. One of these legendary heroines starts out as a restless girl named Harry, stuck in a far-off colonial military outpost led by her adoptive family.
There's not much excitement in Harry's life -- until she's kidnapped by the enigmatic and intriguing leader of a nomadic desert people who stand in opposition to the colony. Plunged into their language and culture, she slowly comes to thrive in her new life. Not only that, she discovers her own latent psychic powers, and finds out she's got quite a knack for sword-fighting.
For the first time, Harry's strength and determination are truly valued, rather than deemed "unladylike." And thank goodness! She's got a legacy to inherit and a kingdom to save!
Make sure to check back for our next fantastic reading adventure. Who knows where books will take us next?