Arnacin was happy enough, but happiness is not everything. At only fifteen, he set sail alone in search of a place to be a hero. What he found was a place to be a soldier. Pledging aid in return for aid, Arnacin joined Mira’s war against the savages, only to discover how right and wrong can blur into each other. With The Savage War, Esther Wallace spins a tale that balances moral conviction with moral complexity. The right side of the war is hard to find. Gentle romance and subdued supernatural elements add to the dominant theme without displacing it. The characters’ motivations are not always persuasively established, and the novel takes on an episodic feel as certain events leave no lasting impact. Still, many readers will welcome the moral complexity and religious hints of this fantasy tale.
Best for: Middle-grade and YA audiences; fantasy fans.
Discern: Battle sequences and violent deaths, but none graphic; one instance of brief and non-explicit torture; someone is drugged against his will; two teenage heroes are affirmed in their rebellion against parental and governmental authority.