Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson – Peter and the Sword of Mercy
5. Peter and the Sword of Mercy by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson (2009)
Starcatchers, Book 4
Read By: Jim Dale
Length: 11h 32m (528 pages)
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fantasy
Started: 03 January 2012
Finished: 12 January 2012
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I’ve enjoyed the past books in this series, and you can’t go wrong with Jim Dale.
later, and the Starcatchers
still need Peter’s help.
Summary: Molly Astor and all of the rest of the Starcatchers had thought that the dark forces of Lord Ombra were defeated forever in the desert outside of Rundoon. Molly has grown up, married George Darling, and had children of her own. But something is stirring… passengers are disappearing from the underground, and the King has been behaving strangely. Molly’s father, Lord Astor, tells Molly of a secret cache of starstuff hidden somewhere in London – the last starstuff on the planet, other than that which keeps Peter and the inhabitants of Neverland forever young. The cache was thought to be safe, reachable only by means of a sword that has been lost for generations. But it soon seems like the Others will stop at nothing to get their hands on the starstuff, and now neither London nor the island is safe from evil.
Review: What I really enjoy about the Starcatchers books is how well they function at a number of different levels. On the surface, they’re fun and exciting kids’ adventure stories, and even if that’s the only level you read them for, they succeed really well. There’s plenty of action and adventure and danger, with likeable protagonists, believable dialogue, a nicely drawn setting, and quite a bit of humor mixed throughout. The story manages to hit a nice balance of ages as well, since I think it’d be understandable and engaging for kids, but isn’t dumbed down or juvenile, and is perfectly enjoyable by adults. I did think that this book had an overly-complicated ending, with too many people showing up so that it made it a little difficult to keep track of who was where, but it also managed to integrate the London and Neverland storylines better than have previous books.
But the real reason I enjoy these books so much is the level that’s below the surface, and that’s the level that appeals to someone who has grown up with the Peter Pan story close to their heart. In the first few books, this came across mostly as identifying the various elements of the familiar story – the crocodile, Captain Hook’s hook, the name “Neverland”, etc. – and seeing how Barry & Pearson weave their origins into an original story. But as the books have progressed, the thing that has intrigued me most is seeing how Peter interacts with “normal” people, and how that changes. This story takes place right before Barrie’s original Peter Pan story – Wendy, Michael, and John are all present. But in the context of the other Starcatcher books, that means that Peter now has to deal – for the first time – with the fact that he stays a boy forever while his friends grow up and move on. I think the authors managed to get Peter and Molly, and then Peter and Wendy’s relationship note-perfect, and there’s actually a really poignant and almost heartbreaking story lurking underneath all the action and adventure. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: I’ve loved Peter Pan ever since I was a kid (literally; he was my first crush), and I think that anyone else who feels the same would enjoy this series… but definitely start at the beginning; they’re not at all stand-alones.
First Line: Charlemagne, Conqueror of Europe, knelt before the stone altar.
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