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In this imaginative, fresh and entertaining medieval fantasy romp, young teenage Sir Roderick finds himself on a quest to locate Banfor, the one person who Queen Emily has declared will save Baronia from invasion by the neighbouring Nareeans. No knight-errant, Roderick’s lack of bravery is tested many times. But he learns through his adventures about the difference between fear and cowardice, and what it means to show real courage. James O’Loghlin makes witty asides to the reader through a third-person narrator, who relates Roderick’s episodic adventures.
The tone darkens in the final third of the story, when revelations of political intrigue and family secrets cause Roderick, and the reader, to reconsider what is truth and what is not, and what is morally right or wrong. All the dilemmas Roderick encounters are vividly filmic. The plot is complicated and multi-layered, but the action is nicely paced. A diverse cast of well-drawn characters adds to the overall excitement and lightheartedness; the feisty Ruby and the frustrated giant flying cockroach are standouts. Roderick is especially realistic, and the reader comes to know and care about him intensely. Of particular note is Chester the bear, whose wonderful speech patterns bring many laughs.