“Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia” by Brandon Sanderson

When Alcatraz and Grandpa Smedry make a pilgrimage to the Free Kingdom city of Crystallia, the Smedry home base, Alcatraz is shocked to see that he is, in fact, a legend. When he was a baby he was stolen by the Evil Librarians, and his mother, a Librarian herself, was behind the whole scheme. Now, with his estranged father, who is acting indeed strange, Bastille, who has been stripped of her armor, and Grandpa Smedry, who is, as always, late to everything (that’s his Talent), Alcatraz tries to save a city under siege. From who? Why, the Librarians of course!

Alcatraz Versus the Evil LibrariansI’ve reached the third installment of Brandon Sanderson’s Alcatraz series and I have to say that I’ve been rather impressed with where he has taken this story. A lot of times when you get to a third or fourth book in a series a lot of time has passed for the characters which sort of spreads things out, but not with these. By the end of Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia there has barely been six months of time since the beginning of the first book, Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians.

As usual, this book follows the humorous, snarky, side-tracked, whimsical nature of the first two books, but in addition it adds a little bit more depth. The relationship between Alcatraz and Bastille takes an interesting turn into what I’m sure if familiar territory for most 13-year-old boys and girls. As a result of previous actions Bastille goes through a tough time and Alcatraz wants to help as her friend but just finds everything so awkward and difficult while trying to. Awkward interactions between friends at that age is something most of the intended audience can certainly relate to on a personal level I think.

Even more impressive to me was the chance that the reader finally has to visit Nalhalla, the capital of the Freelands. For two books I’d been wanting to see what life was like for the Freelanders in comparison to the Hushlanders and I finally got my wish. A city of castles, magical dragon taxis, teleportation rooms, etc. It took the whimsy and fun to an entirely new level for the series. Impressive, considering there are talking dinosaurs in the first book.

Bastille goes through some serious growth in this book and I found it interesting to watch the decisions she makes as a result. She sort of learns to stand on her own opinions more than simply what is “expected” of her by the Knights of Crystallia. Of course, Alcatraz in his usual way completely fails to understand what’s going on with her until the last minute.

Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia continues the story of Alcatraz Smedry in a great way while still allowing for the characters to break out of their shells from the first two books without changing who they are at their core. I think it provides some great lessons for young readers buried in between the fun and silly that permeates the pages. If you haven’t already, give these books a try, I think there is a little something for everyone, young and old alike.

Grade: B
Length: 336 pages

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