Just Hatched is a feature where I share my first impressions of a book after the first chapter. Check out the announcement post for more information.
Note: I received an advanced copy of DEFENDER OF THE REALM from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Defender of the Realm by Mark Huckerby, Nick Ostler (Defender of the Realm #1)
Published by Scholastic Press on March 28, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 306 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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For hundreds of years the United Kingdom has been protected by a mysterious guardian known as the Defender. Part myth, part superhero, few truly believed the Defender existed . . . until now.
Alfie thinks he knows his destiny. As Prince Alfred, heir to the throne of Great Britain, he's fated to become the most disappointing king in the nation's history. Alfie longs for a way to prove himself, but little does he realize that with the throne of England comes an ancient secret. He who wears the crown must protect the country as the legendary hero -- the Defender of the Realm.
Hayley is an ordinary girl, living an ordinary life. She certainly never believed in the mysterious superhero, the Defender. Then, after witnessing a very public battle at the Tower of London, everything is different, and Hayley is left with no doubt. The Defender is real.
Two kids with two very different lives are about to get caught up in a centuries-long battle for the fate of a nation. Monsters and criminals, villains and dragons, together Hayley and Alfie must protect their home at all costs.
How is the writing style?
The prose is straight-forward and crisp but manages to describe the setting, action and feelings of the protagonist in sufficient detail to immerse the reader in the action without getting bogged down. It definitely will not give middle-grade readers too much difficulty as they turn pages to follow the plot.
The point of view shifts between two people: Prince Alfred (“Alfie”) and Hayley, an average girl whose life is, apparently, going to change dramatically once the two story lines connect. Since the two are quite different, it will be interesting to see how they interact!!
General tone of the beginning
Defender follows the classic pattern of a young, awkward protagonist who suddenly finds himself with superhero powers, an important destiny, and an evil villain to slay. The hero’s arc includes an initial set up reminiscent of Disney’s Sword in the Stone, although in the case of our hero, Prince Alfred, he knows he will one day be king. He just didn’t know the full extent of his job description, nor that it the mantle would fall on his shoulders so soon in life.
Setting, genre, etc?
This middle-grade adventure fantasy takes place in an alternative Britain, where the current monarch is King Henry IX. Unknown to the general populace, there is a hidden world of monsters (dragons … sea serpents … etc.) that have threatened this island. They have been all kept safe and unawares of a elusive hero known as the Defender of the Realm, a man who rides around on a spectral horse and has not only super powers but also a collection of gizmos that James Bond would have coveted.
- My current read, leave me alone! (~5 stars)
- Reading in the near future *hides from TBR pile glare* (~4 stars)
- Hoping to get back to eventually (~3 stars)
- Probably not getting back to but someone else will like it (~2 stars)
- Don’t really want to push this copy on anyone else (~1 star)
I’m giving it 3 stars, but I have to say that fans of middle-grade fantasy adventure would probably enjoy it. There’s plenty of promise between the covers: a hero who has to prove himself, lots of action, and a few plot twists.
Have you read this one yet? Are you inclined to check it out?
Defender of the Realm by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler
© 2017, Barbara. All rights reserved.