Wizards of Once: Knock Three Times by Cressida Cowell

Title: Wizards of Once: Knock Three Times

Author: Cressida Cowell

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books/Hachette

Published: 24th September 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 460

Price: $19.99

Synopsis: The No.1 bestselling series from the author of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, Cressida Cowell. Enter a land of wizards, warriors, mythical creatures and powerful Magic in an exciting fantasy adventure.

The No.1 bestselling series from current Waterstones Children’s Laureate and author of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, Cressida Cowell. Enter a land of wizards, warriors, mythical creatures and powerful Magic in an exciting fantasy adventure. Wish and Xar are outlaws on the run, hunted by Warriors, Wizards and worst of all by WITCHES …

Can they find the ingredients for the spell to get rid of Witches before the Kingwitch gets his talons on the Magic-that-Works-on-Iron?

Their next Quest is the most terrifying and treacherous of all … and someone is going to betray them. Are you ready to KNOCK THREE TIMES?

~*~

Wish, Xar, and Bodkin are back, along with their band of sprites and animals. They’re outlaws on the run from Wizards and Warriors, and Witches as they continue their quest to find the ingredients for a spell to get rid of witches. Given sanctuary in a school for magic, the heroes must face their fears, and maintain their cover – until they’re betrayed. We meet more fun characters, who have links to some of the ones we already know as well. Welcome to the third and penultimate book in the Wizards of Once series!

I’ve been reading this series this month as I was sent the fourth book to review, and have now caught up, and am ready to delve into book four to find out what happens next for Wish and Xar.

While Xar and Wish are in hiding, their parents are hunting them, and this builds up the tension and excitement. This is one of those series that you never know what is around the corner, whilst still drawing on fairytale, myth and fantasy tropes that have been pulled together to create something vibrant, new and fresh in a fantastic quartet that ends with Never and Forever, out on the 22nd of September.

I have demolished the first three books within about two weeks, and I have adored each one. Children’s literature has such a rich history, and Cressida Cowell has brought something vibrant and exciting to the world of children’s books and literature. It’s so refreshing to see characters with visible differences, with learning disabilities reflected in a positive way. All kids will hopefully see something of themselves in Xar, Wish and Bodkin, and the unity of friendship between these three characters who some might say are unlikely friends – Xar is a Wizard, Wish is a Warrior and Bodkin is an Assistant Bodyguard, and everything tells them they should be enemies and there are lines that Bodkin should not cross when it comes to class systems in the Warrior fort.

Xar and Wish are on a dangerous journey, but Cressida Cowell has executed these dangers, so readers feel on edge, but so that they don’t get too scared. Magic abounds in this book as Wish and Xar seek to rid Xar of evil Magic, and Wish grapples with her Magic eye, and Magic that works on iron (cleverly written as Cressida draws on the folktale trope that magical folk can’t touch iron, which is a nice touch). The Unknown Narrator tells this story, and their nice little intrusions make the story fun. The identity of this narrator is also part of the quest to destroy the Kingwitch and has been an ongoing mystery throughout the first three books – and hopefully, their identity will be revealed in the final one.

I have had a few guesses as to who it might be. It could be anyone, and this is what makes this so fun. All readers are going to have their own opinion. Onwards to the final book, which shall be reviewed here next week!

If you have read the first three books, who do you think the Unknown Narrator is?

The Wizards of Once: Twice Magic by Cressida Cowell

Title: The Wizards of Once: Twice Magic

Author: Cressida Cowell

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Hachette Australia/Hodder

Published: 20th September 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 480

Price: $19.99

Synopsis: The No.1 Bestselling Series. Enter a land of wizards, warriors, mythical creatures and powerful magic in an exciting fantasy adventure from the author of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON.

The No.1 Bestselling Series Enter a land of wizards, warriors, mythical creatures and powerful magic in an exciting fantasy adventure from the author of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON.

Witches are creating havoc in the Wildwoods and danger lurks behind every tree trunk.

Wish is in possession of a powerful, Magic Spelling Book; Xar has a dangerous Witchstain on his hand. Together they can save the Wildwoods from the curse of the Witches but they are separated by the highest wall imaginable, and time is running out …

It was unlikely that these heroes should meet in the first place. Is it possible they are destined to meet TWICE?

~*~

Picking up several weeks after the first book, Twice Magic begins with Xar trapped in a prison for dangerous Magic people. Wish is back at the Warrior fort. As they grapple with their new situations, the Wildwoods are attacked by Witches. Xara and Wish reunite – and begin to fight the curse before time runs out – but can they convince their parents to put aside their differences?

Wish and Xar visit a dying giant as part of this journey, where all fairy tale and fantasy tropes are combined to tell a unique story and series, aimed at middle grade readers. But readers of all ages will enjoy this series. I’m working my way through this series and am halfway through at this point – with book three ready to go as soon as I can start it.

The continuation of the themes of friendship, unity and acceptance are ever present in this novel, and build on what has come before. Wish and Xar are powerful and unique characters, who promote creativity, intelligence and empathy, and the role these play in problem solving, friendship and understanding each other. The world is also exquisitely detailed, and the illustrations by Cressida add something magic and unique to the text, creating a story that is full of life and joy.

Danger lurks beneath the surface of Xar and Wish’s fun. They’re on a quest to defeat the Kingwitch, and remove the Witchstain from Xar’s hand, and they are accompanied by a band of sprites, including Squeezjoos, a raven called Caliburn and Wish’s bodyguard, Bodkin. Together, they are going to save the world!

I’m in love with this series – the good thing is, I have all four to read, so I don’t have to wait to find out what happens, but at the same time, a little sad that there are only four books to enjoy. It is an imaginative series, and I think the use of an Unknown Narrator telling the story is a powerful and creative way to draw readers in. With each book, the mystery of just who this narrator is intensifies and becomes a driving force to hook readers of all ages in, along with the magical quest Xar and Wish are on.

This series manages to have an ongoing thread as well as a separate narrative for each book, which adds to the magic and intrigue, and ensures that readers remain engaged and the plot is steadily built upon effectively. I’m looking forward to delving further into this world, which is in a way historical, if we are to believe the Unknown Narrator, that this is a world before the British Isles were known as the British Isles. Cressida also cleverly draws on folklore and pulls it into the story effectively and ensures that whilst it is still recognisable as folklore, there are also unique twists on each characteristic and the individual characters, especially Wish and Xar.

A fantastic series about acceptance for readers aged eight and over.  

Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell

wizards of onceTitle: Wizards of Once

Author: Cressida Cowell

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Hachette/Hodder Children’s Books

Published: 8th May 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 455

Price: $15.99

Synopsis: From the bestselling author of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON comes an exciting high-adventure series – set in an ancient, magical time, full of Wizards, Warriors, Giants and Sprites.

#1 Sunday Times Bestseller Winner of the Blue Peter Book Award

This is the story of a young boy Wizard and a young girl Warrior who have been taught since birth to hate each other like poison; and the thrilling tale of what happens when their two worlds collide.

Perfect for boys and girls who love fantasy adventure…

Once there was Magic, and the Magic lived in the dark forests. Until the Warriors came…

Xar is a Wizard boy who has no Magic and will do anything to get it. Wish is a Warrior girl, but she owns a banned Magical Object, and she will do anything to conceal it.

In this whirlwind adventure, Xar and Wish must forget their differences if they’re going to make it to the dungeons at Warrior Fort.

Where something that has been sleeping for hundreds of years is stirring…

~*~

Wish is a Warrior, and she owns a banned Magical Object. She’s out riding with her bodyguard, Bodkin, when she meets Xar, a Wizard boy without magic, beyond the age when magic usually comes in. Xar and Wish clash as they argue about who is superior in a fantasy land that mirrors the British Isles before they were known as such, according to the Unknown Narrator, who intrudes into the story with commentary every now and then, breaking the fourth wall in a very clever and entertaining way.

Xar and Wish forget their differences quickly when one of Xar’s sprites, Squeezjoos, is infected with Witch-blood. But saving Squeezjoos will be a challenge. Should they succeed in their quest to get into the dungeons of the Warrior fort, they could unlock a dangerous enemy that nobody wants to face.

I picked up this series because Hachette sent me the fourth and final book to review. That book is out at the end of the month, and I decided to read the whole series and have fun with it. I was absolutely hooked from the first page and devoured the first book within two days. I loved the alternating chapters that moved seamlessly back and forth when necessary, so we understood everything that was happening and how it fitted together.

This is one of those unique novels and series that is funny, serious and magical at the same time. It draws you into its world and invites you to experience every aspect through Xar and Wish, Cressida’s fabulous and evocative prose and her delightful, fun and joyful illustrations that contribute wonderfully to the story. I am setting out to read all four back-to-back during the next few weeks.

As the Unknown Narrator says, this is a world set in the British Isles, long before this name was used, feeding into the delicious fantasy world that Cressida Cowell has built, and that cleverly leads into the second book, which I am about to start reading. This looks to be a promising and clever series, drawing on tropes and common themes within fantasy, and giving them a twist that will entertain and capture the imaginations of readers of all ages.