ArchEnemy: Exciting finish to one of the best current YA series

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews Frank Beddor The Looking Glass Wars 3. ArchEnemyArchEnemy by Frank Beddor

PLOT SUMMARY: The power of Imagination has been lost! Now it’s all about the artillery as AD52’s, crystal shooters, spikejack tumblers and orb cannons are unleashed in a war of weapons and brute force.

As Alyss searches wildly for the solution to the disaster that has engulfed her Queendom, Arch declares himself King of Wonderland. Meanwhile, deep within the Valley of Mushrooms, the Caterpillar Oracles issue this prophecy: “Action shall be taken to ensure the safety of the Heart Crystal. For Everqueen.” But who is Everqueen?

As the metamorphosis of Wonderland unfolds, enemies become allies, bitter rivals face off, and Queen Alyss and Redd Heart must both confront their pasts in this thrilling, no-holds-barred conclusion to the New York Times bestselling series…

CLASSIFICATION: The Looking Glass Wars trilogy is a mix of fantasy, science fiction and historical fiction that audaciously reimagines Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. In The Looking Glass Wars trilogy, characters die, blood is spilled and the villians are scary, but overall the books adhere to their YA rating. Even though aimed toward a younger audience, I would still highly recommend the series to adults as well as younger readers…

FORMAT/INFO: Page count is 384 pages divided over three Parts, fifty-eight chapters, a Prologue and a Coda. Also includes interior illustrations provided by Vance Kovacs (AD-52 breakdown, Part One),

Tae Young Choi (Part Two), Jennifer Bricking (Part Three) and Brian Flora (Part Four). Narration is in the third-person via multiple characters including Alyss Heart, Redd, Arch, Dodge Anders, Bibwit Harte, Hatter Madigan, Homburg Molly, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, etc. ArchEnemy is the concluding volume in The Looking Glass Wars trilogy after The Looking Glass Wars and Seeing Redd, and wraps up the series nicely while also leaving openings for possible sequels.

October 15, 2009 marks the North American/UK Hardcover publication of ArchEnemy via Dial Books. Cover art provided by Vance Kovacs.

ANALYSIS: ArchEnemy is the third and final volume in The Looking Glass Wars trilogy, and what a finish it is! In the wake of events in Seeing Redd, most notably the activation of WILMA (Weapon of Inconceivable Loss and Massive Annihilation), Imagination is now diminished throughout Wonderland and various factions are taking advantage, including King Arch of the Boarderlands and an anti-imagination rebellion led by the Lord and Lady Clubs. Unbeknownst to all are the dire repercussions that the lost Imagination is having on Earth. To make matters worse, the enigmatic caterpillar-oracles are pursuing their own agenda, one that includes the Heart Crystal, the mysterious Everqueen, and Homburg Molly who is still reeling from the terrible loss and shocking revelations experienced in Seeing Redd.

Backed by electric pacing, heart-pounding action, interesting subplots like Alyss & Redd working together and the events played out in Oxford, and satisfying resolutions (Alyss vs. Redd, Dodge vs. The Cat, Hatter M & Homburg Molly, Alyss & Dodge, etc), the story is one of ArchEnemy’s greatest strengths. Other strengths include the book’s witty humor (Redd’s home turned into a tourist attraction, Bibwit’s incessant chatter, and the caterpillar-oracles’ love for tarty-tarts are just a few examples) and Frank Beddor’s glowing imagination. Personally, what I love most about ArchEnemy, and the trilogy as a whole, is the creativity of the author. It is evident in everything, from Wonderland itself (Wondertropolis, Outerwilderbeastia, Boarderland, Everlasting Forest, Chessboard Desert, the Pool of Tears, Mount Isolation, Valley of Mushrooms) and his unforgettable cast of characters to the technology used in the trilogy (Glass Eyes, AD52s, cannonball spiders, crystal shooters, mauler rifles, whipsnake grenades, spikejack tumblers, the Crystal Continuum), as well as Wonderland’s flora and fauna (jabberwocks, gwynooks, hollizalea) and even measurements (spirit-dane lengths, gwormmy-blinks, lunar hour).

Comparatively, The Looking Glass Wars trilogy may lack the substance, characterization and complexity of such popular children’s series as the Harry Potter books, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and Garth Nix’s Abhorsen Trilogy, but as a whole is just as fun and entertaining. In the end, ArchEnemy closes out Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars in exciting fashion and cements the trilogy as one of the best new YA fantasy series currently published.

The Looking Glass Wars — (2004-2009) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Alyss, born in Wonderland, is destined to be a warrior queen. After a bloody coup topples the Heart regime, Alyss is exiled to another world entirely, where she is adopted into the Liddell family, renamed Alice and befriended by Lewis Carroll. At age 20 she returns to Wonderland to regain her sceptre, battle Redd and lead Wonderland into its next golden age of imagination.

Frank Beddor book review 1. The Looking Glass Wars 2. Seeing ReddFrank Beddor book review 1. The Looking Glass Wars 2. Seeing Redd 3. ArchEnemyFrank Beddor book review 1. The Looking Glass Wars 2. Seeing Redd 3. ArchEnemy


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ROBERT THOMPSON (on FanLit's staff July 2009 — October 2011) is the creator and former editor of Fantasy Book Critic, a website dedicated to the promotion of speculative fiction. Before FBC, he worked in the music industry editing Kings of A&R and as an A&R scout for Warner Bros. Besides reading and music, Robert also loves video games, football, and art. He lives in the state of Washington with his wife Annie and their children Zane and Kayla. Robert retired from FanLit in October 2011 after more than 2 years of service. He doesn't do much reviewing anymore, but he still does a little work for us behind the scenes.

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