“To love is to be selfless. To be selfless is to be fearless. To be fearless is to strip enemies of their greatest weapon. Even if they break our bodies and drain our blood, we are unvanquished. Our goal was never to live; our goal is to love. It is the goal of all noble men and women. Give all that can be given. Give even your live itself.”
When Cyrus Smith is given the Dragon's Tooth and introduced to the mysterious Order of Brendan, his world changes forever. The Order of Brendan coexists with the transmortals—famous figures in history who achieved immortality and now roam the earth. The most dangerous of the transmortals are locked up in the Ashtown Burials, but there are certain people who would like to free them for their own nefarious ends.
One of Wilson's motivations for creating the series was the fact that, growing up, most of his favorite children's books were set in England. He decided to create a book series for American readers (i.e., his kids), in which the children had adventures in this world. His goal is always to show readers how magical their own world is. This finds characters, Cyrus and Antigone Smith, using real world skills to solve their problems and defeat the villains, instead of relying primarily on magical powers or artifacts.
As usual, N.D. Wilson has interesting things to say about life and death, in the context of a multi-layered plot and a cast of quirky characters. This time he weaves in literary allusions and real historical characters to create a unique and compelling premise. The books are fast-paced and exciting, but Wilson doesn't shy away from violence and some rather disturbing elements. This isn't a series for the faint-of-heart.
Nevertheless, N.D. Wilson's intent is not to terrify readers, but to show them that the world is actually full of terrible things, albeit ones that can ultimately be overcome. The message of the series is clear: Good will always triumph over evil, though sometimes the road to victory is longer and more painful than you expect.
To date N.D. Wilson has only written the first three books in his planned five-part series. Thus far Ashtown Burials has young and old readers alike eagerly anticipating the fourth book. But is this series worth reading now, or is it worth just waiting until the entire series is out? Well, with Wilson himself not sure of a release date for his fourth book, it depends on your perspective. Be warned, the third book ends on a cliffhanger that will leave you metaphorically (or maybe literally) shaking your fist at the sky in anguish.
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