Book Review: Have Sword Will Travel 2: Let Sleeping Dragons Lie, by Garth Nix and Sean Williams

Following on from the first book in the series, the two young knights settle back into their village only to return to the fray when two travellers are attacked by vicious, odious creatures called bilewolves.

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The second book featuring Sir Odo and Sir Eleanor, knights of Lenburh, and their enchanted talking swords is as good as the first. This fantastic universe has remarkable similarities to medieval society except that gender equality rules and females can be knights too. The same is true for magic swords, as Runnel – Eleanor’s sword – reminds her younger and somewhat headstrong brother Biter – Odo’s sword.

Following their adventures in the first instalment, Have Sword Will Travel, the young knights have settled back into village life but even the initially reluctant Sir Odo pines for some excitement. It suddenly arrives with an attack on two travellers by bilewolves. These vicious, odious creatures have already killed and wounded some villagers and are being kept at bay by a blind old man and a brilliant swordswoman when Eleanor and Odo join the fray.

Magic is to the fore when it becomes clear the bilewolves were summoned by evil craftfire to specifically attack the travellers, who are far more than just an old, blind man and his companion. Just as the village learns that the travellers are the former king, Edga, who gave up his throne because he was old and blind, and his champion, Hundred – see if you can work out why she’s called that – yet more strangers arrive in the village.

The new arrivals have been sent by the old king’s sister, Odelyn, regent for his great nephew Prince Kendryk, who will be the next king when he comes of age, to establish her authority. These officious upstarts bring information on changes, usurping old ways and privileges, which will put more power into Odelyn’s hands as well as money, as she has devised new forms of taxation. Edga has already heard about the trouble being stirred up across the land by the regent, in fact it was the very reason he had ended his self-imposed exile and was travelling to confront his sister and to support Prince Kendryk.

As for all valiant knights on a quest, Sir Odo and Sir Eleanor, with Edga and Hundred, encounter both good and evil – which at times can be hard to distinguish. The fantasy journey is well-crafted with solid and interesting characters. We even meet one from the previous book however prior knowledge is not essential to enjoy this tale.

Look forward to lots of adventures in strange lands and you won’t be disappointed. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Jan Kershaw

Rating out of 10:  8

Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: November 2018
RRP: $14.99

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