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Etcheon always believed he would live and die in his small village that he moved to with his grandmother, Granna Fela – safe, loved, and protected.

But with Granna’s death comes new information about Etcheon’s royal heritage and destiny, which suddenly throws him in the middle of a battle against a wicked king. On the run from hideous beasts sent to kill him, Etcheon is saved by a mysterious girl, a tree with magical powers, and several amazing animals. With his new friends to protect and teach him, Etcheon undertakes a journey that will challenge his abilities and define who he needs to become – a warrior-prince charged to save his people.

Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient by JoAnn Arnold is a grand, heroic tale that captures the imagination and doesn’t let it go. For days after reading the book, the characters and story stayed with me as I pondered why it ended the way it did and how things would have continued if it had not.

I haven’t felt this way about a book in a very long time. When I was reading I was completely transported into Prince Etcheon’s world. The unique combination of faery folk, unusual creatures and wizardry made it a fantasy unlike any I have read before. It’s part Lord of the Rings, part Harry Potter and part Star Wars Jedi training. The characters are deep, the descriptions full and I would love to see Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient as a movie.

The target market for this book is young adult, but I would highly recommend it for middle schoolers and any ambitious late elementary schoolers. The language is rich and the writing full in ways that are no longer common in children’s literature, challenging readers to stretch their imaginations and their comprehension. I did find some names of characters and items too long and complicated. Even though they were later simplified, it seemed unnecessary.

There are ample opportunities for discussions with children about purity of heart, what can corrupt purity, and whether power delivers everything it promises. Loyalty, wisdom and the value of learning from our history are themes that echo throughout the book and provide powerful lessons for the reader. The door was left open for a second book and I hope to hear soon that one has been written.

Because I could set it down for longer than a 5 star book and the complicated names bothered me, I would give this book 4 ½ stars if I gave out ½ stars. However, I will give it 5 out of 5 because I can’t wait for life to slow down a little so that I can read it again more slowly to enjoy the story all the more.

I give this book 5 stars out of 5.

I received this book free from Media Guests. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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