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Covenant Communications
"Drums of Desolation" is the latest in the Tennis Shoes series.

"TENNIS SHOES ADVENTURE SERIES, Book 12: Drums of Desolation," by Chris Heimerdinger, Covenant Communications, $17.99, 468 pages (f)

Author Chris Heimerdinger's latest installment of the "Tennis Shoes Adventure Series Book 12: Drums of Desolation" might leave some readers with mixed feelings.

The good news: "Drums of Desolation" does not disappoint in maintaining the style and pattern of the series, which Heimerdinger indicates has sold more than 1 million copies over the last few decades. The characters are colorful, there is page-turning action and the final battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon offers a compelling setting for the story.

The big twist: The 12th book in the series requires a 12-page cast of characters in order to help the reader keep everyone straight. In this volume, Heimerdinger has also merged two novels into one (Tennis Shoes and the Passage to Zarahemla series), which makes for a slightly complex plot. If you haven't read the entire series, along with both Passage to Zarahemla books, "Drums of Desolation" may be hard to follow. And, oh yes, the Tennis Shoes series will be continued at least one more book to No. 13.

Got all that?

See if you can follow this now. The story picks up where no. 11, "Sorcerers and Seers," left off. At the beginning of "Drums," there are a handful of main players, including Jim Hawkins and others in Jerusalem during the Savior's final week on Earth.

Joshua Plimpton and others are among the Jaredites.

The rest of the extended family band of time-travelers are at the Hill Cumorah with the prophet Mormon and his son Moroni prior to the destruction of the Nephite nation. They are surrounded by millions of blood-thirsty Lamanites. The heroes are also accompanied by their faithful jaguar and falcon, not to mention one more useful animal that becomes an ally during the story.

As you get into the story, it's easy to appreciate the creativity and imagination that Heimerdinger has put into this book. His descriptions of the corrupt Nephites and the hate-filled Lamanites help bring the scriptures to life and would be fun for a family to read together. He has also gone through the trouble to include notes and interesting facts at the end of select chapters.

The book, also available on audio book, jumps around with different characters telling the story. There are some fun twists in store, including the dramatic death of one bad guy that has haunted the family for some time.

It's been interesting to see how Heimerdinger has spun the series for so many years, but readers may hope the end is soon in sight.

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