Magic, Djinn, Ogres, and Sorcerers. Thirteen-year-old Zardi loves to hear stories about fantastical beings, long banned from the kingdom of Arribitha. But anyone caught whispering of their powers will feel the rage of the sultan—a terrifying usurper who, even with his eyes closed, can see all.
When her own beloved sister is captured by the evil ruler, Zardi knows that she must go to any lengths to rescue her. Along with her best friend, Ridhan—a silver-haired, violet-eyed boy of mysterious origins—and an unlikely crew of sailors led by the infamous Captain Sinbad, Zardi ventures forth into strange and wondrous territory with a seemingly impossible mission: to bring magic back to Arribitha and defeat the sultan once and for all.
In this stunning MG novel, Jasmine Richards has brought life to a mesmerizing fantasy story of magic, friendship, and adventure. The world of Arribitha will pull you in and captivate you page after page. The characters, the magic, the journey, the settings--each element is woven together beautifully to create a magical story that will delight readers of all ages.
Enter the world of Arribithia--where magic is forbidden and everyone is at the mercy of the all-powerful Sultan--including his advisors. This is the world we enter when we meet Zardi, a young tomboy of a girl who dreams of sailing the open seas and embarking on dangerous quests. Zardi's best friend (and basically adopted brother) Rhidan, her constant companion in her (mis)adventures, is a mystery in and of himself. He was simply left abandoned by his family, whoever them may be. In the span of a day both of their lives change drastically--Rhidan is given a clue to his past from a story Sinbad the sailor shares and Zardi's sister is taken by the Sultan to be the new "praisemaker"--a position that means eventual death for the girl unfortunate to hold the position. The two set off on a quest to discover the past and hopefully save the future.
Zardi and Rhidan are instantly loveable characters. Their sense of wonder at the world around them and their fierce determination to accomplish extraordinary things make them come alive as strong yet quite naive characters. Maybe it's their bright-eyed wonder and maybe it's their dreams of grandeur that make them seem this way, but whatever it is, these two are a pair to get to know and become friends with. As you accompany them on their journey, they each discover strengths they never knew they had and learn to lean on each other for support. Rhidan, who is definitely the quieter of the two at the beginning, really comes into his own as he discovers more about himself and gains the self-confidence that he seemed to lack at the beginning. He definitely becomes more than just Zardi's "side-kick."
The world itself is a site to see. Ms. Richards employs vivid imagery that truly immerses you in the various settings. Whether it's on the docks in Taraket or on Desolation Island, the images that the story conveys are mesmerizing. You'll find yourself right there alongside Zardi and Rhidan as they embark on their journey. The fantasy world of magic truly comes alive for the reader.
My only regret with this book is that I don't get to keep it! I'll be sending it along for the ATWT very soon and I'm sad to see it go. The ending leaves me thinking that Ms. Richards plans to continue the story and I most certainly hope that she will! Trust me--I'll be first in line to read it if she does!