The Curse of the Thrax: Mark Murphy
What would happen if all of the information you received were what others wanted you to know? What would happen if you did not have access to computers, books, advanced technology and you were not exposed to the sciences and math in school? What would happen if your life centered on the rules and regulations that those who ran your world forced you to adhere to? What would happen if two young cousins both smart, strong and energetic find themselves face to face with a deadly dragon called a Thrax and have to find a way to escape its clutches before it’s too late? What would happen when this Thrax that carries a curse enlists on a journey to follow a young boy named Jaykriss, the war chief’s only male child and leads him on a path of knowledge, awakening, adventure and hope?
As Jaykriss and his cousin Marda leave for a day of hunting required by the God Priests and those living in this fictional place called Godswood, something happens on the way. Several young men called Geshans block their way, attempt to take them on and wind up learning a lesson they will never forget or did they? Leaving them to lick their own wounds and continuing to hunt Marda and Jaykriss talk about the Thrax but never expected to come face to face with it. Quick thinking, smart moves and a lot of good strategies the two work together to divert its attention, get away from the monster and wind up in front of a cave and here is where the story takes an interesting turn. Knowing that his destiny is to follow in his father’s footsteps we often hear the voice of Glyndich, see his vision and understand what he expects of his son. Guiding him from the Otherworld, leading him in the right direction, Jaykriss learns to stay focused and tries to prevent making any rash moves or decisions. But, while hunting for a dear with Marda, getting stalked by the Thrax, both boys are tested and the monster’s rage just might get them but something happens as they see this lone cave. Within the walls of this cave is man who relates a prophecy to Jaykriss. One prophecy that his mother already knows and someone else will explain to him in more detail. But first meet Mistress Lineya his teacher whose help and understanding guides him in many directions. Calling him to remain after class and discussing his actions she hands him something special to give to his mother. A special stone that he claims the Centurions would confiscate if a private citizen holds one: Tartrite gizzard stones: They would take away happiness if the could. This stone and I think most would like to have one allows you to focus better, pay attention getter and creates sharper judgment and more distinct perception. Colors are more vivid. Knowing that this would help him he places the stone in his pocket and returns home. But, classes continue and an archery championship is announced where not only will the official champion be crowned the competition might surprise readers. Imagine receiving the bow and arrow of the legendary warrior: Frydhom the Great. Wait until you meet him too! The history behind the bow and arrow is revealed as the author relates that Frydhom is in the Otherworld and on the first day of the next full moon the context will begin.
The fearsome Thrax, a monster of terrible power, chases Jaykriss. While the boys search for a place to hide, they stumble upon a mysterious old man who tells them of a prophecy that will change their lives forever. Jaykriss and his companions must undertake a dangerous mission to the Dead City, a place known only in legend. Along the way, Jaykriss learns that making the right choice can sometimes come with terrible sacrifices. Can Jaykriss fulfill his destiny and finally grow into his father’s shoes?
What would make Jaykriss question his future? What is the prophecy that would control his destiny? What if someone told you that you would not make it to adulthood? Walking around in a cloud Jaykriss was concerned about what he was told. The gods gave people or humans the ability to reason that everyone should use for good. But, as we know in real life there are many that use it for their own advantage and hurting others and using it at the expense of others to gain what they want is not uncommon.
Things change for Jaykriss and his family when he returns home and learns his mother and sister were taken by the God’s priests to marry and live with the War Chief. Priests were said to think they are above the law and widows like his mother are often taken away except if they have a male son living at home they can remain there. But, his mother and sister were gone and he was going to the Priest’s Bain and reclaims his family. The emotion put into the scene and the effort he uses to get through and get the door open is heart wrenching. At the War Chief’s Bain when the door is finally opened and the High Priest welcomes him what happens will surprise Jaykriss and possibly help him to understand why his mother agreed to this new arrangement? Why marry this man? His past was not the best but maybe he would change and his mother and sister would have a better life. Samaria explained her choice and he was escorted out. Leaving he finds his way to his teacher’s home where we learn more about Kranin his soon to be stepfather, the Mortal Challenge of the Priests and the Dark King. The Dark King is the one who first won this mortal challenge but others lost their lives. Set up by the Godswood Priests why would Jaykriss want to fight this until the death? Learning more about Fyrdhom that passed this test, the fact that the tests can be lethal, yet he saw no other way as he learns the connection between Mistress Lineya and Zamarcus.
Time period in the future yet the actions of the young teens and their loyalty to their families bring it into the present. A dangerous dragon and one encounter starts the adventure in a mystical direction but when we enter the cave that Zamarcus lives in a whole other world comes alive. Computers, books, technology and so much information that is being withheld to the people of Godwood who never question the Priests or the Dark King for fear of what might happen.
While Marda and Jaykriss enlist the help of both his teacher and Zamarcus huge decisions are made and they go on a journey to the Dead City that will take readers inside another world that might finally stop the Dark King. The Dark King used the prophecy to his advantage. The prophecy says that: The One Who Leads shall come from Godswood, and that he will have a Warrior by his side who will mete out his justice. So the Dark King decided to join with the Godswood priests and enlisted and got the services of Frydhom the Great the best archer of his times. Which surprised Marda, as he was no holding the famous archer’s bow. As more is revealed as to what happens when people get close to the Dark King. But, can he be stopped and what about Jaykriss’s mother and sister?
Although the characters aren’t the most complex, their motivations are clearly shown through balanced and natural dialogue. Jaykriss wrestles with his destiny and social place within his village, but many of the other characters feel one-dimensional. However, as part one of a trilogy, the book does an excellent job of establishing the characters who will become more important in the next installment, and that sense of anticipation about their growing roles is enough to offset any shortcomings. But, Jaykriss’s father Glyndich died at the hand of the dragon and he is determined to avenge his father’s death and proof he is a worthy warrior to lead. Things are not what they always seem and at times he and his cousin need to refocus and see the world and what is right in front of them in different ways. The Dark King is cruel, mean and will destroy anyone that attempts to undermine his power. Keeping his people in the dark makes it easier for him to rule. No one questions him or dares to question his motives and actions.
Enter Dead City and meet the Queen of the city whose challenge just might end both Marda and Jaykriss’s lives. A fight to the death with one of her minions and what happens will not only surprise readers but will help teens and adults understand the true meaning of compassion. Wanting to know more about the world and entering the Dead City but not before the author flashes back to a conversation Jaykriss has with his father, explanation about the Reckoning and what really happened to the people that lived in the Dead City. Listening to his father’s stories and learning about what happened to these people brings to light the lies told to the people, the reasons why he needed to find a way to avenge his father’s death. The Godswood priests retreated the author relates into the Priest’s Bain surrounded by their centurions and anyone that would listen was told mankind had sinned. As you read pages 174-176 you will learn more as Fyrdhom relates and their journey begins. Meet Queen Bathrania, listen to her challenge and find out what happens when her warrior Zag comes up against two teens that will fight to the finish with a twist. Tragedy strikes a close member of their team dies as they return to Godswood to fight a battle that might destroy them all. When Jaykriss learns that his mother has married and Kranin’s authority is challenged what happens next and all those that rally to his side will surprise readers. Can they defeat those that dear to challenge the War Chief? Why would the Geshans oppose him?
An ending filled with battles, a revelation that would endanger them all and a dragon that steals the show. What is the fate of the people of Godswood? What happens if a hidden truth is revealed? Who lives? Who will wind up in the Otherworld? The Curse of the Thrax: The story is just beginning. The Bloodsword Sword that belonged to his father: What is his destiny? Will the prophecy be fulfilled? Find out when the author pens the next chapter in the lives of all of these well crafted and depicted characters. Friendships, loyalties, honesty, deceit, lies and deceptions and moral lessons all revealed in this YA novel that even adults can learn from. Sometimes what you see is not what is really there!
Fran Lewis: Reviewer