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ISBN 978-1-4847-8801-1 $16.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4-7
Twelve-year-old best friends Zed and Brock think their dreams have come true when they’re both chosen for the guilds they’d hoped to join—until the mysterious and dangerous Adventurers Guild claims Zed from the Mages Guild, and Brock naturally gives up his spot in the Merchants Guild to go with him. Made up of misfits and outcasts, the Adventurers Guild keeps the city of Freestone safe from the Dangers outside the walls, but the rest of Freestone would rather pretend that neither Dangers nor Adventurers exist. Along with fellow apprentices Liza and Jett, the boys discover that the magical wards that protect Freestone have begun to weaken, and it seems that someone inside the city may be undermining them. Dungeons and Dragons players will feel especially at home in this world of guilds and monsters, but no gaming experience is necessary to enjoy this fast-paced adventure. The diverse group of friends—both in the sense of fantasy races (Zed is half-elf) and earthly ones (most of the characters are shades of brown)—works solidly as a team, but secrets and divided loyalties create enough tension to keep things interesting. Familiar character tropes get some welcome reversals, with mischievous Brock arguing for trusting the adults and following the rules while timid Zed throws caution to the wind. An early injury that leaves Jett facing amputation of his leg is handled with sensitivity, never reducing him to a tragic side plot, but the female characters could all use some more depth—something they’ll hopefully acquire as the series goes on. A cliffhanger of an ending sets up a larger conflict for the next volume, and readers will be eager to join the guild for their further adventures.