Our Princess Eloise Hydra Gumball III, Future Ruler and Heir to the Western Lands and All that Matters, is finally growing in wisdom (and travelling with a Wombat seer * might have helped a bit too). In The Light Bearer, Book 3 of Andrew Einspruch’s current fantasy series, we join the young heir to the Queendom of the Western lands on an unexpectedly wild adventure in her efforts to get home to a warm bath and a hairbrush that works. She has rescued her younger sister, Johanna, from a dodgy marriage and an even dodgier court jester. Together they have been "fogged" and should have died but instead lived to escape the purple fog that had killed everyone and everything else for 200 years. In the process, our Princesses discovers its menacing source inside a stone with its spell to eat all spells - a mini black hole for consuming magic itself. Eloise finds herself the reluctant recipient of the stone (ending The Spell) and begins her personal experience of what it means to be the new bearer of The Light. Now it is her turn to learn that 'personal' is not the same as 'important' when it comes to being both heir to her Mother's throne and the new Light Bearer. Eloise is shocked when her sister decides to remain behind in the North to help with the aftermath of their Uncle, The King's, very timely death. Eloise was supposed to bring her sister back home; it was the whole reason for this mad journey in the first place. Now what?
I found it fascinating to watch how Einspruch twists the focus of the quest once again by means of the enigmatic Turpy (our villain in diamond-patterned pantaloons). Turpy, the would-be usurper and all-round nasty piece of work, must be transported back to the Westie Queen for sentencing. It is Eloise who must make this happen. She is afraid. Afraid of the journey, afraid of what her Mother the Queen will say when she finally does get home, and most of all she is afraid of the stone at her side that contains The Light because it keeps sending her communications in punctuation...punctuation for Çalaht's sing-for-her-supper's sake! Fortunately, there are others who know more and can assist her quest (even if they do take half a day to say hello and goodbye to according to the specific cultural protocols of belonging the herd who call themselves "the Us"). So much happens to Eloise and her beloved companions on the hectic helter-skelter of a journey home that she covers almost all her known world, seeing much of the country that really-does-not-matter (until it does), along the way. Once again we are witness to the wonderful vegetarian meals we have come to appreciate that will satiate this troop, we stand with them in awe of the strange customs of "the Us" and learn a thing or three about shamanic rites done equine style. Our heroine’s accidents and setbacks remind us that magic always demands a price, and finally we share the biggest shock of all waiting for our heroine after her final bolt headlong for home. In other words, Book 3 of Einspruch's series is a riot, a romp, a riddle and resoundingly good read. I highly recommend you indulge for yourself.
* As you know, if you have already read ‘The Wombanditos’, the collective noun for wombats is a ‘wisdom of wombats’