(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“The students of Oakhurst Academy believe they have triumphed over the Shadow Knights. But Spirit, Burke, Muirin, Loch, and Addie know better. Under the guise of a company called Breakthrough Adventure Systems, the Shadow Knights have actually taken over the campus. The new regime is brutal, designed to turn the students into soldiers wielding both weapons and magic. Anyone who protests disappears.
Desperate, the group decides that Muirin should go undercover to spy on Breakthrough. But Muirin’s act is a little too good, and Spirit begins to fear that her friend’s loyalties might have truly changed. Surrounded by enemies and friends who suddenly seem like strangers, Spirit has to decide who can—and cannot—be trusted.”
I’ve been pretty open about the fact that I think the quality of Lackey’s work hasn’t been as good the past few years. This series has been the exception. I don’t know if this is due to Edghill’s influence or the fact that this type of book suits Lackey more at this time, but it’s likely a combination of both. And I did like this book, in spite of the fact that it had a few hiccups for me.
For one, this story is much slower than the ones that preceded it. It takes a while for the action to get going, although once it does, some interesting events take place. Also, I almost feel like this was only the first half of a longer book. Given the novel’s pacing, and given the way the story ends, I got the impression of a smaller bit of story expanded to fill more pages than maybe it should have. That said, I like the setting and characters enough that a little extra time spent among them is no great trial for me.
I also have to admit that this novel reminded me a lot of the fifth Harry Potter novel, at least the parts relating to things at Hogwarts. Like that story, Sacrifices has the students confined to an almost militaristic version of their school, rife with rules and regulations, and being trained in combat. The similarity isn’t a bad thing, but if you’ve read any of Rowling’s books, you’re going to recognize this set-up.
On the plus side, I really like the characters that the authors have created. I especially liked how Muirin was portrayed in this book. With her rebellious nature having been established in previous novels, it’s easy for readers to question her actions as she gets deeper into her role as a spy. You wonder about which side she’s working for up until the very end.
I also enjoyed the sections where the Oakhurst kids have to deal with the kind of training that they’re expected to participate in. The tension is ratcheted up as the students begin pushing back against the worst of the physical abuse, and it’s so well written that you’ll probably be wincing right along with those getting beaten under the guise of weapons training.
This series is one of the ones that I wait for every spring, knowing that the story will be action packed and engaging. Sacrifices is a little slower than I might like, but it’s still a good addition to the series. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next volume.
Also by Mercedes Lackey: Bastion, Brightly Burning, Changes, Changing the World, Conspiracies (with Rosemary Edghill), Crossroads, Elemental Magic, Exile’s Honor, Exile’s Valor, Finding the Way, The Firebird, The Gates of Sleep, Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit, Home from the Sea, Intrigues, Joust, Legacies (with Rosemary Edghill), Phoenix and Ashes, Redoubt, Sacrifices (with Rosemary Edghill), The Serpent’s Shadow, Steadfast, Take a Thief, Under the Vale, Unnatural Issue
Also by Rosemary Edghill: Conspiracies (with Mercedes Lackey), Legacies (with Mercedes Lackey)
Series: Shadow Grail
Publisher: Tor Teen
Page Count: 304
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
Acquired: Provided by the publisher
Author website–Mercedes Lackey
Author website–Rosemary Edghill
Read an excerpt