When the King sends Ven searching for the origins of a mysterious artifact, he warns the young Nain that entering the Gated City on this secret mission might be the last thing he ever does. Of course, that’s the one place where unique items are bought and sold (and stolen) - from merchandise and promises to dreams, memories, or even childhood!
Curiosity and courage are equally strong in Ven, who is just beginning to grow his beard at age 50 (a young teenager in human terms), thirteenth child of the famous shipbuilding Polypheme family. He has to make his friends in the Boys’ Lodge believe that the King has fired him (his first day on the job as Royal Reporter, no less) so that they won’t be in danger as the hunt for information takes them to strange places.
A guard dog with an attitude in the armorer’s shop, warnings to leave the Gated City’s Outer Market before last bell or be locked in for a week, spying birds who report to enemies and allies – Ven and his friends have perils to avoid and wonders to explore as he seeks the artifact’s history. The Raven’s Guild doesn’t take kindly to strangers being inside the Gated City walls after Market Day, and the Thief Queen rules the Raven’s Guild with an iron hand.
When Saeli disappears near closing time, they fear she’s been kidnapped and go looking for her. Daring to use the back alleys and rooftop ropewalks, Ven and friends find their way to the Inner Market gate, just as the last bell sounds.
Are the archers on the Gated City walls keeping the King’s citizens out after Market Day is over or making the Raven’s Guild and company stay inside? Why does Ida say she knows the Thief Queen? (Ida tells such tall tales) Will Ven live long enough to write this adventure in his journal or grow another hair in his beard?
Ven’s “rediscovered” journals have been carefully compiled by author Elizabeth Haydon, who enlisted Jason Chan’s help in restoring the maps and illustrations that our clever and oh-so curious young Nain included. Enjoy book 1, The Floating Island, first to learn how Ven wound up so far away from his family’s shipbuilding yard, then watch for book 3, The Dragon’s Lair.
Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA