Seeing Redd: Better than the first book

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book review Frank Beddor Seeing ReddSeeing Redd by Frank Beddor

For me, Alice In Wonderland is one of those unforgettable tales that has been imprinted onto my imagination for as long as I can remember, alongside such classics as The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars, and remains one of the most beloved stories of our time. So when I heard about Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars, which supposedly told the true story of Alice Liddell and a Wonderland that was real, I was definitely intrigued and picked up a copy. Even though the book was somewhat aimed toward a younger audience and was a little rough around the edges writing-wise, I enjoyed The Looking Glass Wars.

In The Looking Glass Wars, readers are introduced to a world quite different from the one depicted in Lewis Carroll’s books. Earth and Wonderland are parallel universes connected by portals (The Pool of Tears). Wonderland itself is a fantastical landscape where magic (White Imagination / Black Imagination) and advanced technology exist side-by-side. Alice Liddell is actually Alyss Heart, future queen of Wonderland whose empire was usurped by her evil aunt Redd. The Hatter is really Hatter Madigan, the queen’s personal bodyguard and expert fighter; the White Rabbit is Bibwit Harte, the Heart family’s tutor; the Cheshire Cat is the Cat, Redd’s deadly assassin; Tweedledee & Tweedledum are represented as General Doppelgänger who can split his body into two personas: Doppel & Gänger; the caterpillars are actually oracles; and Reverend Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, is the writer who twisted Alyss’ real-life confessions into the fairy tale that became known as Alice In Wonderland. There are countless other ‘departures’ from the story readers know, but it’s best if you discover those on your own as Mr. Beddor’s vivid imagination is one of the major highlights of the series.

As far as the actual plot in The Looking Glass Wars, I won’t get into any specifics, but basically Alyss finds her way back to Wonderland, joins a group of rebels, and somehow defeats Redd. Needless to say, it’s probably in your best interest to read The Looking Glass Wars before starting on Seeing Redd, which takes place not long after the first book. In Seeing Redd, Alyss is dealing with the difficulties of being queen, which not only includes rebuilding her empire after the devastation wrought by Redd’s reign, but also facing new threats from such enemies as the chauvinistic King Arch of Boarderland, and dealing with her personal feelings for the Captain of the Palace Guard, Dodge Anders. Subplots include Arch’s devious plan for taking over Wondertropolis which involves Hatter Madigan and a weapon of mass destruction (WILMA), Homburg Molly (Alyss’ personal bodyguard) discovering who her parents are; Dodge Anders whose duties are threatened by his need for vengeance against the Cat, and of course Redd who may not be so defeated after all…

If you enjoyed The Looking Glass Wars I daresay you’re going to like Seeing Redd even more, which I think is better than the first book in many areas. The writing for one is tighter and more accomplished; because a lot of setup was taken care of in The Looking Glass Wars the pacing is much faster and there’s more heart-pounding action; the fabulous cast of characters return along with some cool new faces such as Arch’s bodyguards Ripkins and Blister, an evil version of Bibwit Harte (Vollrath), and such creative villains as Master Sacrénoir, Siren Hecht, et cetera; and Mr. Beddor’s imagination is wilder than ever. As far as the story, it’s a little bit darker, but still appropriate for PG audiences while also appealing to mature readers, and the ending comes to a nice stopping point even though it’s the middle volume in the series. In short, everything that made The Looking Glass Wars such a fun read is multiplied and improved upon in Seeing Redd and my only complaint is that I have to wait now for the final book in the trilogy.


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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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