Book review: 'The Dark Eagles: Wells in Desolation' is a fun adventure for middle readers

By Miranda H. Lotz

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, March 29 2014 1:00 p.m. MDT

"THE DARK EAGLES: Wells in Desolation," by David R. Smith, Fundautum Publishing, $16.99, 315 pages (f) (ages 10 and up)

In "The Dark Eagles: First Flight," Kief's world is turned upside down when his home is overrun by the Gars, an enemy nation. When Kief's father refuses to pay the Gars' exorbitant taxes, he is taken by the army to be a slave. Using the mysterious map and stone that Kief's deceased grandfather left him, Kief and his friends are left to fight the soldiers who have occupied their home and to try to regain freedom for their people.

"The Dark Eagles: Wells in Desolation" begins with what should have been the culminating attack in "First Flight" and then abruptly shifts focus from fighting the Gars in Kief's homeland to finding Kief's father. Kief and his friends travel through grand adventures including encounters with pirates, gladiator-style imprisonment and the perils of completing a cross-continent quest.

"Wells in Desolation" has good momentum, and author David R. Smith keeps the action coming. Younger teenagers and older gradeschoolers will likely be highly entertained by the book, which is free of profanity and contains only one brief sexual innuendo.

Surprisingly, "Wells in Desolation" contains no backstory, leaving readers to stumble through this new installment. Presumably to create mystery surrounding Kief's stone, its significance isn't made clear. It's obvious that other people want the stone, but the stone's powers are left generally unused and readers are left generally unmoved. This failure in the subplot may leave older readers somewhat dissatisfied.

While the female characters were a main asset in his first book, they disappear after the first 25 pages of this story, and no new female protagonists are introduced.

Overall, the main plot is engaging, but Smith's book reflects aspects of being self-published and could use the attention of an editor. Readers willing to overlook these aspects will find a fun, easy-to-read novel.

Miranda H. Lotz is a military wife, mother of five and book lover who currently lives in Colorado Springs.

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