Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Monday, January 2, 2012

Secrets, Magic and Power--Within The Walls of This Museum

Goldie Roth hated the punishment chains.

Goldie lives in the city of Jewel; ruled by The Grand Protector and The Fugleman, head of the Blessed Guardians.  On this Day of Separation,  a day that should be perfect and filled with happiness, her impatience and boldness has earned her extra discipline.  The children in Jewel all wear a silver guardchain on their left wrist from the time they begin to walk; leaving the house they are always bound to a parent or Blessed Guardian and at night to their bedpost.  The brass chains around both her wrists are a humiliation to be born; being separated when twelve instead of sixteen is a new rule courtesy of The Grand Protector.  Guardian Hope to further punish Goldie has taken her good luck charm, a family heirloom, a brooch.  A voice in her head, there for as long as she can remember, guides her in and out of trouble.  Now it tells her to steal back the brooch.

Goldie does have considerable skills that have caused her more worry than not.  These talents have not gone unnoticed by those who would seek her help.  Caretakers from an unusual museum know that a time of terrible upheaval is fast approaching; faster than any of the parties can imagine.

Museum of Thieves written by Lian Tanner, who has lived in Tasmania her entire life, is the first book in a series, The Keepers. 

As Goldie's ceremonial white silk ribbon is to be cut, a bedraggled man staggers into the Great Hall.  It is The Fugleman claiming that a bomb has been set off endangering the children of Jewel.  During the chaos, confusion and discussion Goldie makes her escape, thus endangering those she loves most.

As Goldie makes her way alone for the first time in her life in the city, she notices a stranger.  Unbidden he seems to be guiding her toward an unknown destination, The Museum of Dunt.  Home to an intriguing cast of characters, Herro Dan, Olga Ciavolga, Sinew, Toadspit, Morg, the Slaughterbird and Broo, the last of the Brizzlehounds, its rooms, walls, and displays shift and change as if alive. 

At all costs the secrets contained within the confines of The Museum of Dunt must be protected for the common good of all outside its walls.  Dire results the like of which history has not seen in many an age will result if the balance maintained in this realm is upset.  Goldie as an apprentice learns quickly; she will be the link in the chain of defenders that turns the tide, if she can with the help of her counterpart, Toadspit.

When teaching the genre of fantasy to students, abiding by the characteristics set forth by the State of Michigan, Museum of Thieves passes with flying colors;  a perfect or secondary world, Jewel, heroes and heroines in the form of the museum protectors, special characters, Morg and Broo, magic and fantastical objects found in the museum and good versus evil, the sadistic Blessed Guardians along with their power-mad Fugleman thwarted by The Good Protector and the champions of the Museum of Dunt.  But Museum of Thieves has so many more threads woven into the fabric of its fantasy.

It is the story of a girl overcoming her fears; discovering her talents and strengths.  It is the story of how those seemingly at odds can be bound by a common goal.  It is the story of what is means to be free; of how being too safe can take away the true essence of life. 

Lain Tanner's descriptive, intimate writing style and her use of realistic, snappy, emotion-filled dialogue moves this tale at a breakneck pace; adventure, mystery, fear-filled tension--it has it all.  Sample these passages that she so graciously gave me permission to use:

...There were different sorts of fear, she realized that now.  There was the awful fear of having a musket held to your head, or having black oily water try to snatch you into its depths. There was nothing easy about that fear.  It made your heart nearly tear itself out of your chest, and weakened the long bones in your legs so that you could barely stand.  ...

But there was another sort of fear, the fear that you would never be allowed to be who you really were.  The fear that your true self would have to stay squashed up, like a caged bird, for the rest of your life. ...

"But there are some things, child, that you should steal.  That you must steal, if you have enough love and courage in your heart.  You must snatch freedom from the hands of the tyrant.  You must spirit away innocent lives before they are destroyed.  You must hide secret and sacred places."

Readers will be glued to this title until the final page when Tanner throws in yet another twist causing them to exclaim out loud, "Are you kidding me?!" as they throw their arms in the air, thus setting the stage for this tale's continuation in book two, The City of Lies, which can not get into my possession fast enough.

Be sure to check out Lian Tanner's web site linked above as well as the link to the fascinating, official The Keepers trilogy web site; including but not limited to a book trailer, a first chapter, and a great game.

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