Deltora Quest Omnibus #1 by Emily Rodda – Deltora Quest wrap up

Deltora Quest 1.jpgTitle: Deltora Quest Omnibus #1

Author: Emily Rodda

Genre: Fantasy Adventure

Publisher: Scholastic Australia

Published: 1st October 2008

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 774

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: Here, for the first time, the eight books of the international best-selling fantasy series Deltora Quest are brought together in one superb volume.

For centuries, the evil Shadow Lord has been plotting to invade Deltora and enslave its people. All that stands against him is the magic Belt of Deltora with its seven gems of great and mysterious power.

When the gems are stolen and scattered throughout the kingdom, the Enemy triumphs, and Deltora is lost. Abandoned by their king, suffering under the Shadow Lord’s cruel tyranny, the people live in ignorance, terror and despair.

But while most have abandoned hope, three unlikely companions have not.

The great gems have been hidden in fearsome places throughout the kingdom and are protected by terrible guardians. But Lief, Barda and Jasmine believe that they can be found. They cling to their faith that if the magic Belt can be restored, the Shadow Lord will be banished from their land. With only a sketchy map to guide them, the companions set out into the unknown.

So begins the perilous quest which has captured the imagination of millions throughout the world.

~*~

The Deltora Quest series, consisting of eight books, is the story of Lief, Barda and Jasmine seeking to restore the magical Belt of Del and defeat the Shadow Lord who has invaded their homeland. To start with, I have linked each individual review here in this post, listed below.

The Forests of Silence

Deltora Quest 1

The Lake of Tears

lake of tears

City of the Rats

city of rats

The Shifting Sands

the shifting san ds

Dread Mountain

Dread Mountain

The Maze of the Beast

The Maze of the Beast

The Valley of the Lost

valley of the lost

Return to Del

return to del

I read each book and this omnibus as part of the 2019 Australian Women Writer’s Challenge and for a few other challenges, fulfilling several categories, some which I managed to do by bending and reimagining the parameters given in the challenge. Currently, I have this one slated to fulfil my novel of 500 pages or more, as so far, I have not read one yet in all my reading this year so far, but am keeping this open in case something does come across my desk for review or general reading purposes.

Being able to read all eight books in this omnibus version was a very good thing, as I was able to flick backwards and forwards, putting the clues together from each book as I read it over the past few months in between my work as a quiz writer, editor and book reviewer. So, I finally finished it, and really enjoyed it. Throughout, each novel built on the previous ones, whilst still being individual stories. Yet their interconnection means that it is best to read them in order, so everything makes sense and fits in together like a puzzle or game while you read.

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In wrapping up this series, I have not been as expansive as other posts, as I have included each individual review. Astute readers will piece the clues together as they read, and each clue is cleverly included throughout, culminating in the final books to reveal the secrets that need to be uncovered.

Overall, it was a very engaging and action packed series, with the right amount of adventure, humour, darkness and light for readers of all ages to enjoy and engage with.

Return to Del (Deltora Quest #8) by Emily Rodda

return to del.jpgTitle: Return to Del (Deltora Quest #8)

Author: Emily Rodda

Genre: Fantasy Adventure

Publisher: Scholastic Australia

Published: 1st November 2001

Format: Paperback

Pages: 132

Price: $14.99

Synopsis:Lief, Barda, and Jasmine have finally retrieved all the gems of the Belt of Deltora and now, in their final step towards overthrowing the Shadow Lord, they must find the true heir to the kingdom’s throne.

~*~

With all the gems of the Belt of Deltora intact, Lief, Barda and Jasmine set out back to Del, where they hope to defeat the Shadow Lord and find the true heir to the throne after the debacle with Dain. On their journey, they are plagued by those who work for the Shadow Lord and want to see them fail. But with protection from members of the seven tribes of Deltora to help escort them home, they hope to make it back and uncover the secrets they have been seeking for so long.

2019 BadgeIn the final epic adventure, Lief, Barda and Jasmine face more dangers from the Shadow Lord on their way home who are determined to prevent the trio from succeeding and restoring the heir, and order to the throne of Deltora. Through several more ups and downs, Lief, Barda and Jasmine arrive home safely – discovering more secrets upon their return about the true heir than they were expecting, resulting in a finale that is satisfying and enjoyable.

Finally, Lief is able to begin his journey home, after reuniting the gems with the belt. His journey home is a little easier than his journey to find the gems but is not without its challenges either. In this one, the threats coming after him are determined, but also, it seems, desperate to stop him.

Reading this series through to its end was a wonderful joy. It is a wonderful example of Australian fantasy for kids, and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading over the past few months. Following Lief’s journey has been fun, and enjoyable, and one that I hope to revisit and also read the further books in the subsequent series. It concludes the series nicely and neatly, with a good lead in to the next set of books, that will continue the adventures of Lief, Jasmine and Barda, that I am looking forward to reading.

Pulling together seven books worth of story succinctly, and all the clues that have been dropped throughout the previous seven books, Emily Rodda has connected each element together in a really good way, and intriguing way for readers of all ages. A good read, and a good conclusion to the series.

The Valley of the Lost (Deltora Quest #7) by Emily Rodda

valley of the lost.jpgTitle: The Valley of the Lost (Deltora Quest #7)

Author: Emily Rodda

Genre: Fantasy Adventure

Publisher: Scholastic Australia

Published: 1st October 2001

Format: Paperback

Pages: 132

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: Lief, Barda and Jasmine, searching for the seven lost gems of the magic Belt of Deltora, have almost reached their goal.

Six gems now gleam in the Belt, but the last must be found before Deltora can be freed from the tyranny of the evil Shadow Lord.

The companions have faced many terrors with strength and courage. Now they are about to meet dark mysteries that strength and courage alone cannot defeat.

If they fail, their quest will be lost, and they will remain forever trapped in the swirling mists of the Valley of the Lost.

~*~

2019 BadgeOnwards the intrepid trio venture, towards Tora as they uncover more secrets about the fate of Endon, his queen and the heir to the throne of Deltora, whose presence will unite the lands and be revealed once they have fitted the final stone, the diamond, to complete the belt and unlock the powers that have for many years been hidden and kept from the one person who can reunite the kingdom.

Lief, Jasmine and Barda have come so far – and now they face their final trial – gaining the diamond from the Guardian. To do this, they must be honest and fair in the game they must play with him and try to keep others from thwarting them in their quest to reunite the gems with the belt. And this is where the plot twists come in – two – that evolve throughout the rest of this book and then in the final book that at first, will have readers cheering and breathing a sigh of relief before yanking the carpet out from underneath you.

In doing so, it gives the adventure more energy and a sense that all is not what it seems for Lief, Barda and Jasmine – whose bond has never broken throughout the series. When a new threat rears itself over the three companions, they must work with the people of the seven tribes of Deltora to find a way to keep themselves safe so they can finally defeat the Shadow Lord.

In the penultimate book, Emily Rodda has started to bring all the threads of the previous six books together as Lief, Jasmine and Barda start to discover secrets linked to the stones and those they have met. It is all cleverly done, so not everything is revealed at once, and like a treasure hunter, the reader gets to discover new and exciting facts as they read on throughout the series. The series has danger, adventure and excitement in equal measures, with enough variance to each story thus far to keep readers interested yet at the same time, with the familiar plot thread running through to connect them all.

Once the final stone has been found, and placed in the belt, it is the start of the journey home to Deltora, to finally defeat the Shadow Lord. There are more challenges to come, and more puzzles to solve on their journey home. In this one, the stakes get higher as they get closer to reuniting the stones – creating an exciting story that seems to just fly by as you read it.

Another great book in the Deltora Quest series, which is perfect for any aged eight and over, because it is filled with adventure and friendship, games and puzzles to solve as the series starts to come to an end. It has been really fun reading these books and discovering a new adventure with the characters. I’ll be reviewing the final book and doing a wrap-up post for the omnibus here soon.

The Maze of the Beast (Deltora Quest #6) by Emily Rodda

The Maze of the Beast.jpgTitle: The Maze of the Beast (Deltora Quest #6)

Author: Emily Rodda

Genre: Fantasy Adventure

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: 1st September 2001

Format: Paperback

Pages: 144

Price: $14.99

Synopsis:The next missing gem from the magical Belt of Deltora lies hidden in the underwater lair of the hideous and ferocious Glus. Lief, Barda, and Jasmine must summon all their strength and courage to make it through the Maze of the Beast.

The evil Shadow Lord has become aware that Lief, Barda and Jasmine are searching for the seven lost gems of the magic Belt of Deltora. He knows that if the gems can be restored to the Belt its power will threaten his tyranny.

Five gems have already been found. The next stone lies hidden in the underwater lair of the hideous and ferocious Glus.

Already exhausted, and pursued by the servants of the Shadow Lord, the three companions will need all their strength and courage to face the Maze of the Beast.

~*~

Lief, Jasmine and Barda have found five gems since leaving Del in their quest to reunite the seven gems with the belt. So far, they have found the topaz, the ruby, the opal, the lapis lazuli, and the emerald. With only the amethyst and diamond left, which will they find next?

To find the sixth stone, the must venture into the dark, underwater lair  of the beast known as Glus, whose maze will test them as they venture through in search of the gem, so they can return the belt to Endon and the rightful heir of Deltora.

As well as traversing a dark maze on their way to Tora, to find the final gem in the next book and reunite the gems in the belt, Lief, Barda and Jasmine meet several characters who become important in the seventh book, and another character, Dain, who also has a significant role towards the end.

The three companions have faced many dangers since starting out on their quest in the first book. The bond the three have has grown since they set out on their journey, and they are determined to finish the task they have been set and restore peace to Del, and their kingdom.

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With each book, it feels like more pieces of the puzzle are coming together, and once the seventh gem has been found, many of the hints will hopefully start to make sense. As the dangers increase, and new threats are encountered, readers of all ages will be kept intrigued and on the edge of their seats as they venture further and further into Lief’s world.

I’ve been reading this series on and off for months now, in between work and other things that I have to do, so it has taken me longer than I hoped to get to this point. But I am here now, and nearly at the end of this series. I have been enjoying it, and its core values of friendship and family as the key relationships in this series are something that I have been enjoying. With each book, something new comes forth, but at the same time, each book works to bring the story full circle, and it will be interesting to see how it is all brought together.

Blood and Circuses (Phryne Fisher #6) by Kerry Greenwood

blood and circuses.jpgTitle: Blood and Circuses (Phryne Fisher #6)

Author: Kerry Greenwood

Genre: Crime/Historical Fiction

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: 1st February 2005

Format: Paperback

Pages: 300

Price: $22.95

Synopsis:Phryne Fisher goes to the circus for her sixth mystery. Stripped of her identity and wealth, it’s only Phryne’s keen wit and sharp thinking that will help her now.

Astute, suave and divine, Phryne Fisher moves at flashing pace through this thrilling sixth adventure.

The Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher is feeling dull. But is she bored enough to leave her identity, her home and family behind and join Farrell’s Circus and Wild Beast Show? There have been strange things happening at the circus. And when Phryne is asked by her friends Samson the Strong Man, Alan the carousel operator and Doreen the Snake Woman to help them, curiosity gets the better of her.

Peeling off her wealth and privilege, Phryne takes a job as a trick horse-rider, wearing hand-me-down clothes and a new name. Someone seems determined to see the circus fail and Phryne must find out who that might be and why they want it badly enough to resort to poison, assault and murder.

Diving into the dangerous underworld of 1920s Melbourne and the wild, eccentric life under the big top, Phryne proves her courage and ingenuity yet again, aided only by her quick intelligence, an oddly attractive clown, and a stout and helpful bear.

~*~

In late 1928, The Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher finds herself bored with her life and the many luxuries she has. Her days seem the same, and so she makes the daring decision to leave behind her identity and luxuries and join the circus for a while. She has friends in the circus who come to her for help first, to find out what is behind the strange goings on and recent murder at their circus. Under her new name, Fern, and much to Detective Inspector Jack Robinson’s worry, she heads into an unknown world where she soon finds herself in danger, and the circus under threat from someone within.

2019 BadgeOnce in the circus, Phryne must find a way to fit in, whilst her friends, Samson, Alan and Doreen, try to keep her identity safe from everyone else so they don’t suspect she’s trying to ruin them. During her stay, Phryne makes friends, enemies and learns a few tricks as a horse rider while she investigates murder, poisoning and assault, and tries to get information to Jack surreptitiously, without the circus people finding out.

Set in the dying years of the 1920s, as the world is about to plunge into the Great Depression and many years of hardship, the Phryne Fisher series shows the differences between the various classes, genders and other aspects of society that in the 1920s, were a lot more restrictive in their expectations than they are today, and where someone like Phryne would also have had certain assumptions and expectations about what she should or should not do.  But in true Phryne style, like many of her friends, she ignores these demands and does her own thing, which is what makes her such a fun and invigorating character to read.

In her sixth outing, Phryne Fisher does nit disappoint. True to form, she uses all her assets to solve the crime – and pulls Jack into the case too. Throughout the novel, it goes back and forth between Phryne at the circus, and her training, and Jack at the police station, looking into the murder that triggered Phryne’s change of lifestyle, however temporary it is.

This series evokes a sense of the 1920s society in Melbourne, Australia, and the issues of class, wealth and gender of the time. Dot and Mr and Mrs Butler play a background role in this story, and appear towards the start and end, bookending the two lives Phryne lives in this book. With each novel, moving through the late 1920s, and the interwar period, there is a sense of comfort but also, a sense of discomfort captured in the lives of those living on the fringes or who might face discrimination. Knowing what is to come as a reader in the next decade of Phryne’s world as a reader, whilst the other characters have no notion or inkling of what is to come from Europe and what it will lead to. It is interesting to read this in hindsight, knowing what we know and where it might lead the characters in years to come.

This is a very good series, that highlights various aspects of society at the time, and is thoroughly enjoyable, and they are quick reads as well. I have fourteen more books to go in the series, and hope to get through them soon.

Mermaid Holidays: The Magic Pearl by Delphine Davis and Adele K Thomas (Illustrator)

the magic pearlTitle: Mermaid Holidays: The Magic Pearl

Author: Delphine Davis and Adele K Thomas (Illustrator)

Genre: Children’s fantasy

Publisher: Puffin

Published: 2nd July 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 128

Price: $9.99

Synopsis: Willow decides to celebrate the first day of the holidays by throwing a MERMAZING slumber party! The besties are so excited. But when Willow discovers a beautiful shimmering pearl, some very strange things start to happen that none of the mermaids are prepared for.

Could this pearl have magical powers?

~*~

Mermaid Holidays continues in the latest addition to the new series by Delphine Davis This time, the story is told from Willow Wave’s perspective as she hosts a sleepover for her friends, where they make necklaces. Willow makes a pearl necklace, and afterwards, her octopus companion, Frida, tells them the story of a magical pearl and the creation of their home, Turtleton by Tobias Turtleton. When Sophia works out that her pearl is the magical pearl of the story, she makes a wish that could see the end of their home forever.

Willow meets the merhag of the old story of the pearl appears and tells her she needs to find a way to fix things, Willow sets about setting things right for the whole of Turtleton.

2019 BadgeThis is the second in this series that started this year, with the third due in September. Aimed at the same audience as the first book, for both new and returning readers, we get to see Turtleton and the adventures the four friends have through Willow’s perspective. Willow’s book is blue, and her tail is shown as blue in the illustrations to show she is the primary mermaid in this book, with her octopus companion, Frida. It is yet another story of friendship and working together. Yet at the same time, learning and growing as an individual to find a solution to a problem that Willow inadvertently causes.

This was another fun kids’ book, and a great addition to the series. It’s fun to see how the author has created the characters and stories to be fun yet at the same time, teach young kids about responsibility in a fun and subtle way.

The Time Travel Diaries #1 by Caroline Lawrence

Time Travel Diaries 1.jpgTitle: The Time Travel Diaries #1

Author: Caroline Lawrence

Genre: Fiction, Adventure, History

Publisher: Piccadilly/Allen and Unwin

Published: 1st July 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 272

Price: $14.99

Synopsis:From the million-copy-selling author of The Roman Mysteries comes a nail-biting time-travel adventure in Roman London – where past meets present.

From the million-copy-selling author of The Roman Mysteries comes a nail-biting time-travel adventure in Roman London – where past meets present.

Billionaire Solomon Daisy is obsessed with the skeleton of a blue-eyed girl from Roman London. He has managed to invent a Time Machine so that he can go and find her, but it’s estimated that for each hour spent in the past, the time traveller’s life will be shortened so Solomon recruits a potential child time traveller: Alex Papas, a twelve-year-old boy who knows a smattering of Greek and Latin.

Alex’s mission is to go back to Londinium through a portal in London’s Mithraeum and find out all he can about the blue-eyed girl.

There are just three rules:

1. Naked you go and naked you must return.
2. Drink, don’t eat.
3. As little interaction as possible.

But Time Travel is no picnic – and Roman London is far more dangerous than anyone could have known.

~*~

Alex Papas lives with his grandmother and goes to school every day. He loves history, Latin and Greek. He’s going about his life at school when a teacher calls him in to see her, and soon he is recruited by billionaire Solomon Daisy to travel back to Roman London – Londinium in 260 AD. However, when he goes back, Alex is followed by Dinu, the new boy at school and a bully. Arriving in Londinium, they must find a way to blend in and follow the rules set forth by Solomon relating to time travel. On a quest to find the blue-eyed girl with the ivory knife, Alex and Dinu mustn’t communicate with people – yet other forces have other ideas. One small change in the past is said to change the future – and nothing can come back with them.

So as Alex and Dinu seek the blue-eyed girl, Londinium of 260 AD is revealed, and Alex gets to use his Latin – and readers get to learn a little too, and realises that everything he has been told or seen. And, he has to try to stay alive so he can get back.

Finding the girl proves to be easier than Alex thought – but trying to get home is harder, especially when Dinu goes missing and Alex must find him and get them both home safely. But can he succeed, and what awaits them in the future?

This book combined fantasy, history and Latin – in a fun, and easily accessible way for all readers. Knowing some basic Latin, I was able to understand some of the Latin. Having the English translation is good, as it is included seamlessly and allows readers to go on without going to a translator.

As the first in a series, I am looking forward to seeing how this progresses and where else Alex gets to go, especially after the ending of this one. I never saw it coming and it is an amazing away to end the first novel, and has me excited to see where it takes us.