TeenLit Book Reviews

January 2007

The Sword of Straw

Amanda Hemingway

Amanda Hemingway's The Sword of Straw is an excellent book for readers 13 and up, and I would rate it a 4. THe main character is Nathan Ward, a boy who dreams like all men do, but his dreams are real! He travels to other worlds and times in these dreams. He cannot make these dreams happen, and if he does force them to happen, he never ends up where and when he wanted to be. The dreams are explined by particle physics and quantum physics. Hemingway's descriptions are detailed, from Woody the woodrose, to Nathan's friend Hazels malevolent spirit Lilliat. The book is centered around findign the Sword of Straw (The Traitor's Sword). to add to the Grail, which is in Nathan's Uncle Barty's possession. But who 'Uncle Barty' really is, is open for disscussion. A spirit keeps possessing teenage boys to steal the Grail from Barty. Nathan visits the land of Winderslee. The princess's, Nell, father has been ill for years, after he was stabbed by the Traiter's Sword, and the wound will not heal. (This is reminiscent of the story of the king who was stabbed by the lance that pierced Our Lord's side in a King Arthur story) Nathan finds himself falling for Nell, while his best friend, Hazel, is dealing with love problems of her own. Hazel turns to Lillait, who is really someone who Hazel knows is evil in disguise, for help. This help, however is not what Hazel wanted. Nathan does everything to help Nell and her ill father. But when Nell tells him that she thinks he's the 'mysterious stranger' from prophecy, Nathan is confident that he is not the one. He isn't pure of heart, or especially brave or strong, he's an English school boy who dreams. The story is given a down to earth feeling amid the fantasy by Nathan's problems; with a bully at school, parental problems, games with his friends; Hazel's anger at him because he isn't spending time with her, and the school hierarchery at Hazel's school. An enthralling read that I would definitely recommend!
Reviewed by Kirsten. Grade: ----- in Ohio, - Link directly to entry
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