The action starts straight away in Dianne Lynn Gardner’s Rubies and Robbers , with Ian and his Kaempern friend Jeppe chasing after their foe. A ship rocks on the water. Salt air settles on the tongue. And a welcome sense of magic and danger draws the reader in while reminding Ian of when he went hunting, on earth, in the real world, with his long-lost dad.
Readers of The Dragon Shield will know what to expect, remembering Abbi’s rescue, the enigmatic enemy Adrian and the strangely dangerous Daryl. But details trickle quickly back into the text, and into mind, welcoming forgetful readers too, and new. The Menek’s dragon has joined forces with pirates now. Gunfire echoes across the land. And the peace loving Kaemperns are drawn inexorably to war. Revenge vies with honor while fear gives way to humorous dialog. And the teens of these adventures, while as natural, awkward, and eager to tease as teens should always be, are clearly growing up. Time and danger will teach them the values of patience, courage, friendship, honor and love.
Heroes come in many shapes in the real world and in Ian’s Realm. What makes a dad, or a warrior? How can love linger on in the face of loss? How can enemies be forgiven? And how can a boy know how he wants to spend his life? There’s a beauty to the tale and its telling. There’s wisdom in the characters’ growth. And there’s a delightful, satisfying symmetry to this journey’s end. For a great story, enjoy all three books in the trilogy, then search for more. Ian’s Realm will welcome you back.
Disclosure: I got to read this before publication and it's not out yet, but I can tell you it's well worth waiting for. Meanwhile Deception Peak and the Dragon Shield come before it and are highly recommended for middle-grade readers and up.