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Wells in Desolation picks up right where First Flight left off. After discovering that his father was taken as a slave and sent to a foreign land, Kief and his small band of rebels hatch a plan to free him–and leave a rebellious path of destruction against the tyrannical invaders in their wake. Unsurprisingly, Kief’s haphazard rescue mission doesn’t exactly go as planned. The friends are hunted by brutal men searching for the stone and map given to Kief by his grandfather and are betrayed by those to whom they looked for protection. Along the way the friends are sold into a brutal form of slavery, where they must fight to the death for the entertainment of others. Their passion and skill help them escape and make some loyal friends along the way. Through it all Kief never waivers in his resolve to free his father from slavery and discovers that his destiny just might be much bigger than he ever dreamed it would be.

Just as with his last book, David Smith was able to scatter nuggets of wisdom and truth into a story filled with adventure. For example, as Kief and his friends enter a once clean and prosperous city, they are greeted by the Gar soldier’s and their utter contempt for those they are terrorizing. "Large piles of items the soldiers arbitrarily confiscated from the carts of goods lay strewn on the side of the road, some smoldered from half burned fires, while others had obviously been picked over for things the soldiers found useful for themselves. 'So much for the hollow promises of the Gars,' Tarc said, 'Tell me, when does tyranny not lead to this?' 'Lies and deceit can be as powerful as slugs and cannon fire,' Flinch replied."

So true. How often in history have tyrants risen to power, not by the point of a gun, but by impossible promises and words dripping with honey. We allow ourselves to be lulled into a comfortable sort of slavery with promises of prosperity without work and the release of responsibility from our shoulders. Then one day we wake up to find that those who were charged to protect do nothing but plunder and instead of being lifted up, we are all torn down.

As a sequel, I appreciate how we are able to go even deeper into the characters. Kief seems much more real than a lot of the heroes these days. Far too often the heroic characters are also larger than life or somehow saintly compared to the people reading them. Not Kief. Kief is impulsive, hard headed, and his tendency to act now and think later gets him into a lot of unnecessary trouble. His courage and single mindedness can often be mistaken for stupidity and selfishness and his friends are often charged with the task of reigning him in. In other words, Kief is very relatable as a main character. We all have flaws. We all make mistakes. We all need to be reminded to think about the bigger picture. I like being able to read about someone who makes mistakes, stumbles and falls and yet is STILL a good person who can make a difference in the world. He isn’t perfect, not by a long shot, but he still has some amazing strengths that are vital to their mission and as a whole, make the world a better place.

Courtney Wilson, www.ordinaryhappilyeverafter.com

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