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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

The Seeker

Reviewed: February 22, 2006
By: Margaret Buffie
Publisher: Kids Can Press
368 pages, $8.95

A few years ago I reviewed a book called The Watcher by Magaret Buffie, and hazarded a guess that the story, although satisfying, had enough loose ends to suggest a sequel might be planned. In one of the rare responses that I sometimes get from writers after I send out my review copies to their publishers, Buffie wrote to say that I was correct and the next book would be forthcoming.

It turns out I wasn’t quite right, and that The Watcher’s Quest, as the story is now known, stretched to a trilogy. This is the second book in the cycle.

While it’s the second book, it has the feel of being a first book too. Most of book one took place on Earth, while Emma learned about her true otherworldly heritage, why she had been set to watch her family, and what the stakes in the interdimensional game were.

The Game is played on many dimensional levels, and is full of plots and counter-plots. The Players, the rulers of the worlds of the multiverse, do not hesitate to manipulate, coerce and sacrifice the lives of their subjects in order to win. They are addicted to gaming in the worst way and the circumstances of Emma’s earthly life were a consequence of this.

Book two takes place just about entirely in elsewhere, several elsewheres, actually, as Emma searches through a number of dimensions to find her adoptive mother’s real daughter, Ailla. Summer is the sister that Emma has always known, but we learned in the first book that Summer is the equivalent of a fairie changling, switched at birth with Ailla, the real daugher of Emma’s Earth mother, Leto. As Summer was sickly and ailing in our world, so Leto is declining on the island world of Argadnel. Emma has to find Ailla in order to restore Leto’s health and will to live.

To assist her she has Tamhas, the other watcher from book one. Watchers are natural shape shifters, but for helping Emma and her family, Tamhas was locked into the form of an owl and deprived of many of his abilities. While he is faithful to Emma, he is sometimes forced to act as a player in his master’s game.

Their quest takes them through a number of strange worlds, and introduces them to some equally strange allies and enemies. One of the more dangerous things about the multiverse is that it’s not always easy to tell which is which. The rulers of these worlds are addicted to game playing, and do not hesitate to lie, cheat, turn the tables and use the lives of others as pawns in their machinations.

In addition to all of that, Emma has to cope with the fact that Summer, her younger “sister”, is a queen in Argadnel, and under the influence of all sorts of advisors, who view Emma as a nuisance. In fact, there are times when Emma thinks that Summer may be getting just a bit too puffed up with her own self-importance, and too much under the sway of her courtiers. She’s not sure that Summer really understands the importance of her mission to help Leto.

Left behind in all of this is Emma’s Earth father, Dennis Sweeny, whose obsession with the patterns of standing stones was so vital in the first books. We pay him a short visit in this one, discovering that the departure from this reality of his wife and daughters has left him damaged in ways both physical and mental. There are issues to be resolved here.

As book two closes we have a sense that Emma is trying to sort out her complex relationships, that she needs to find her own real parents and sort out all the confusion that has come into her life since she first discovered who and what she really was. These things, will, I expect, be key issues in Finder, the last book in the trilogy.

Margaret Buffie is the WInnipeg-based author of a number of excellent young adult books, including The Watcher’s Quest trilogy, Who is Frances Rain? and Angels Turn their Backs. Her work is well known in Canada, and she has been published internationally in Germany, China, England, Sweden and Norway.

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