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Book review: 'Air Keep' keeps the Farworld story of Kyja and Marcus moving

Published: Sunday, April 28 2013 3:00 p.m. MDT

"AIR KEEP: Farworld, Vol. 3," by J. Scott Savage, Shadow Mountain, $19.99, 358 pages (f) (ages 8-11)

Readers who follow the adventures of Kyja and Marcus will be interested in the third book of the Farworld series, "Air Keep."

The two young heroes continue in their quest to contact all of the basic elementals — water, land, air and fire — to try to save their worlds from the evil Dark Circle.

They've enlisted the help of the masters of water and land. Now they're looking for the air elementals, the Aerisians.

Kyja has always been unable to do magic. She's unaffected by it, too. So she starts out feeling inadequate and odd as everyone on Farworld can perform magical feats from childhood.

Marcus was injured as an infant, so he's in a wheelchair and crippled by a bad leg and arm. He spends much of his time avoiding bullies.

When the two get together, assisted by an aging wizard, they make an unlikely pair destined to do great things.

But they accomplish the impossible — over and over again, actually.

This book is full of adventurous and challenging moments as Kyja and Marcus battle all kinds of odd monsters and strange circumstances.

Author J. Scott Savage has overturned just about every physical law and reality to create beings of water, air, even of butterflies and frogs.

It's a mental exercise just to keep up.

There's a racing snail featured throughout that apparently is famous for his speed yet never seems to actually move.

There are beings who control the elements of the worlds throughout the universe yet can be trapped in their own spheres.

It requires a bit of suspension of reality to buy into this story.

But it's harmless and entertaining as Kyja and Marcus trudge along, often "jumping" between worlds by some kind of "magic" Kyja doesn't recognize as remarkable.

Young readers who like fantasy fiction will like this book, but it's a good idea to read them in order. (There are to be five in the series.)

It makes for an easier trip keeping up as the story moves quickly and the drama never stops.

Kyja is kind and likable. She never passes on an opportunity to help somebody else, often at her own peril. Marcus is driven to protect Kyja and discover what his true destiny is.

There are some recognizable devices in the story, such as the time spent in the Abyss of Time when Marcus has to choose between "Is," "Was," "Will Be" and "Never Was." It feels a lot like Scrooge's trips to see himself in the past and future.

There are also patterns that feel like Harry Potter and Fablehaven stories, but that's forgivable given the genre Savage is aiming toward.

Savage keeps it clean, refreshingly busy and full of villains like The Summoner and characters like Mr. Z and Cascade who warrant further discussion.

It's not a restful book, but fine for its audience.

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: haddoc@desnews.com

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