SPOTLIGHT AND REVIEW: TREE OF WATER
ABOUT THE BOOK:
As Royal Reporter of the land of Serendair, it is the duty of young Charles Magnus “Ven” Polypheme to travel the world and seek out magic hiding in plain sight. But Ven needs to escape the clutches of the nefarious Thief Queen, ruler of the Gated City, whose minions are hunting for him. His friend, the merrow Amariel, has the perfect solution to his dilemma: Ven and Char will join her to explore the world beneath the sea.
As they journey through the sea, Ven finds himself surrounded by wonders greater than he could have ever imagined. But the beauty of the ocean is more than matched by the dangers lurking within its depths, and Ven and his friends soon realize that in order to save thousands of innocent lives, they may have to sacrifice their own. For everything in the ocean needs to eat…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Elizabeth Haydon was working in educational publishing in 1994 when she met up with an editorial friend and mentor in New Orleans at the American Library Association conference. He asked her to write for him a fantasy that might cross over to other genres and contain some of their shared mutual interests: medieval music, history, anthropology, and herbalism among others. Thus, The Symphony of Ages was born. These novels have made numerous “Best of the Year,” as well as national bestseller lists. A harpist and madrigal singer, Elizabeth Haydon lives on the East Coast with her husband and three children, where she is writing fantasy novels for both The Symphony of Ages for adults and the Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme for children.
Praise for the Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme series
“Haydon not only maintains the dazzling action, convincing characterizations, and vigorous world-building of the first book, but also carefully paves the way for further installments in The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme series. Another surefire winner.” —Booklist on The Thief Queen’s Daughter
“A delightful epic fantasy that will attract a readership both older and younger than the target audience.” —Booklist (starred review) on The Floating Island
“Haydon spins a story both warm and thrilling.” —Publishers Weekly on The Floating Island
“Haydon’s fantastical universe, originally created for her adult novels, is filled with fun details, interesting characters, fast-paced adventure, snappy dialogue, and plenty of humor and heart.” —School Library Journal on The Floating Island
Tree of Water: Elizabeth Haydon
How far down into the darkness will you go to before you need to come up into the light? Just where will you go in order to change the outcome of many incidents and create a future for those that are close to you praying that you will survive? Charles Magnus Ven Polypheme is a Nain. That means he can exist or live in our world or the upper world and below the surface of the earth in the water or the sea. Charles or Ven as he is called, is a Royal Reporter living in the land of Serendair where he has a most unusual job. Imagine being commissioned you might say by the King of Serendair to find and record all of the magic that is hiding in plain sight. But, for some reason the Thief Queen or ruler of the Gated City is after him and will do everything in her power to hunt him down. Friendships run as far down or deep as the deepest part of the ocean and the willingness to risk it all for a friend is one of the major issues brought to light in this novel titled: Tree of Water.
Ven and his best friend Char have agreed to the merrow, Amariel, to search for the magic and see the wonders of the underwater world or the sea. Along with Char, Amariel, Ven will risk it all putting himself at times in grave danger, withstanding the many creatures within her Amariel’s water world, to find and search not only for the magic but for the fated Tree of Water hoping to safe it from extinction. But, first before anything he and Char might have to undergo a procedure to create their own gills. Before the knife slices him open time stops, the world stands still and Madame Sharra the fortuneteller appears. Her presence alone is captivating and her message and reason for being their enlightens Ven to what he will undergo, presenting him with two stones that will help him and Char breath so they do not need to undergo the knife as the author takes us into the mind or journals of Ven where he describes the stones, what they will do and how precious they are. As a Nain he is capable of living in both worlds but breathing underwater might become difficult without gills or the stones. Two stones: Black Ivory: black ivory as he relates in his journal entry “ is a piece of stone so dead that every particle of magic has been stripped completely out of it. As a result it can hide anything from any type of sight.” Truly remarkable and in this case vital and its power is described in Chapter 3 in detail as the author explains the importance of Frotha the Tree of Water. Before embarking on their journey the fortuneteller reminds him “everything in the sea is food to something else. And the sea is always hungry.” Some journeys are undertaken for the sake of learning about a world foreign to some and comfortable to others. Amariel is a merrow or mermaid and at times seems spoiled, selfish and unyielding. Not understanding that Ven and Char in her world are only 12 and in our world would be middle aged or adults, she often finds herself critical of their actions, confronting them. The author introduces several words that most readers would be unfamiliar with: Thrum: the vibration or sound that is heard when a specific water creature speaks but each one’s thrum expresses his/her emotions and emotional state adding to the tension and suspense of many of the scenes. But, Ven and Char have a mission. They want to enter the Gated City that is ruled by the Thief Witch who is after Yen hoping to save the lives of the people living there that are good and deal with evil in a different way. With the knowledge that there is an underwater sea tunnel that has torn the reef apart killing millions of coral and other creatures, Ven is looking for a way to destroy it once and for all. But, the dangers he faces and the creatures they meet along the way will allow readers into the world underneath the deepest parts of the sea as we meet Coral, Stingrays, sea otters, sea dragons and herring. Which ones do they eat in order to survive? Which ones does the merrow say to steer clear of and what happens when Ven does not listen?
As Amariel’s thrum or voice echoes in his head as Ven creates a situation that might endanger everyone when he startles or frightens a stinger. Incidents like this happen throughout the novel often putting the merrow and Ven at odds. The descriptions he relates from his journal of the seaweed, the kelp, the coral and its formation, the school of beautiful orange and white ones helps make the story come alive along with the amazing black and white illustrations of the many sea creatures. How would they continue and what will happen if they do not destroy the city and seal the tunnel? But, this comes to light when they meet and encounter the Cormorant who plainly tells him that he is out of place in the sea and does not belong there. The issue of integration, races of humans and non-humans that should not mingle with the sea creatures and the fact that he wants to attend the Summer Festival with his friends, explore the sea and hopefully find the Tree of Water, sets the stage for what the Cormorant demands of them and the danger he places Ven, Amariel and Char as well as Coreon his son. The Cormorant has a mission and goal to destroy the Gated City and seal the tunnel not caring if innocent people are killed. So, can Coreon, who has lost favor with his father, Ven, Char and Amariel find the Sea King and stop what the Cormorant as already set in motion? The ocean floor is vividly described and the current that flows within each scene tense and filled with suspense you wonder just how the characters survive. What happens when the meet the Cormorant will surprise you as they might face a fate worse than death if he decides to place them in the Drowning Cave with no way out. Learn what happens when they face the Airwheel, the mission that the sea Lirin insists they undertake and the fact that young Lirin-mer can speak and breath easily in the air as Amariel explains but Char and Ven cannot. Reading his journals we learn more about his origin, his relationship with his father as he realizes why his father was training him for so many jobs. But, first the Cormorant explains whey all of those living in the Gated City must be destroyed and why Ven states that killing everyone will kill bad people but he is taking innocent lives? Do his pleas go to underwater deaf ears you might say? What will save these people and how? Meeting dragons, merfolk and other sea creatures, learning the magic of the world beneath the lowest and darkest part of the sea Ven realizes that his only hope is to find the Sea King, ask him to send a special message to the Cormorant and then find the Tree of Water which has been his goal all along but why and how will astound readers. Between meeting the hippocampus and watching them races, barely escaping the giant sharks and hearing a special diving bell that will envelope him and his friends, as he not only has to find the Tree but save the life of someone dear to him too. As Amariel faces death, and her Thrum is faint and her body limp, can Ven, Char and Coreon find a way to save her before it’s too late. What happens when they find the tree and who comes to their aid? The Tree of Water needs to breath more life, its arms need to rise up and dance and the magic he finds and the story he will tell will mystify his King, enlighten Ven as to his mission in life as the author shares his journal and his story on pages 367- 369 titled: The Gift of Scales. Returning back to the upper world is where he belongs and understanding more about his father and his relationship with the King sets the stage for his next adventures. But, does he save the Tree? What happens when he enters this dark world and cannot really see? What happens when the light does not shine and he and he alone can save his friend? Tree of Water or Tree of Life? You decide when reading this outstanding novel. There are many lessons learned within this novel as friendships, trust, loyalties, differences, understanding, tolerance and much more can be taught as lessons in character education to students of all ages. So, enter the ocean, get your own special breathing stones, and join Char, Ven and Amariel on their journey to explore the unknown world of the sea. Ven, at times immature yet smart and resourceful. Amariel at times rude, spoiled and bratty and Char you just have to love him fears and all. Three different characters from three different worlds and creatures that live in another one proving that if you try really hard everyone can live together in harmony if you try! How far into the darkness will you go to save a friend? Find out what Ven does?
Fran Lewis: Reviewer
Fran Lewis: Reviewer