Title: The Shifting Sands (Deltora Quest #4)
Author: Emily Rodda
Published: 1st July 2001
Synopsis: When the seven gems of the magic Belt of Deltora were stolen, the evil Shadow Lord invaded the kingdom and enslaved its people.
Determined to rid their land of the tyrant, Lief, Barda and Jasmine are on a perilous quest to find the lost gems, which are hidden in fearsome places throughout the kingdom.
They have found three gems. Now they must seek the fourth, hidden in a shimmering, barren waste, kept jealously by an unknown guardian.
Separation, confusion and strange, terrible enemies await them in the ordeal of the Shifting Sands.
Lief, Barda and Jasmine are seeking the fourth gem – the lapis lazuli as they continue their journey through Del to help defeat the Shadow Lord and end the awful reign Del has been under for sixteen years. To do so, they have to venture into the dangerous shifting sands, and face yet more dangers and obstacles.
One of their obstacles – The Riftwere Games – takes up much of the book, shifting from the adventure of the rest. I think this worked very well – it was a different kind of challenge they had to face to get to the fourth stone, and it suited the story well, giving a small rest from adventure yet still engaging the reader and keeping the characters on their toes as they complete their quest.
I’ve now read five of the eight books in the first Deltora Quest series – I had hoped to be finished it by now but have been busy with many other books and work and am working on getting to the end of this series and completing it for my challenges. Lief, Barda and Jasmine are a great team, and they work well together. To get to the Shifting Sands where they will find the lapis lazuli, they must compete in these games, and there is still an element of adventure in the games, it is just a bit more subtle than in the previous books. As they face each Guardian, a new challenge is posed and this is what makes the books interesting and interconnected as they move through the land of Del.
This was another great instalment in the series, and each book moves the characters and journey forward. They are quick reads, perfect for ages nine and up, and are engaging and fun to read.