The Voyage of Gethsarade (Book Two of the Elderwood Chronicles)
by M. G. Claybrook

"'I’m sorry, but could you please stab me again? If you could be so polite as to end my misery instead of making me listen to you talk?'"

The story begins with a look at Sangareth, the squirrel. Eccentric in multiple ways, two of which are his captaining a ship while writing a manuscript for his infant son, he is challenged by his nemesis, a pirate rat named Barrogan Black, to find a fabled place where it has been said rodents can fly. So begins the story of the constantly questing, quirky, indecisive Gethsarade, the (apparently) evil Barrogan, and the squirrels of the city Hesperia in a young adult fantasy tale that is practically worthy of the pen of T.H.White, the acclaimed author of The Once and Future King.

There are many wonderful components in this story. For example, the main characters are flawed, and sometimes they revel in that knowledge. Often the reader wants to shake Gethsarade out of his cowardice and rationalizations of his plights. Barrogan Black's villainy does not only stem from a gleeful sociopathy, although he does kill or threaten to kill anyone who does not take him seriously. Instead, his murderous intentions arise from a commitment to logic and truth, a trait that has been a vehicle for other villains. The Shoes of the Fisherman and The Princess Bride, two diverse stories, provide examples of the villain as a conduit for questioning the morality of the status quo in society. Barrogan's commitment to his perspectives obliges Gethsarade to deal with himself honestly. It's the lesson illustrated in many tales that reflect life. In effect, the situation or being which we may least want to encounter ends up teaching us the essential lesson.

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