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Arch Enemy by Frank Beddor

Arch Enemy by Frank Beddor
Book Name: Arch Enemy
Author: Frank Beddor
Publisher(s): Speak (US) Dial Books (UK)
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperaback / Audiobook / eBook
Genre(s): YA Fantasy
Release Date: October 14, 2010 (US) October 15, 2009 (UK)

I entered the Looking Glass; Saw Redd and now there is an Arch Enemy. I coined this one all by myself and I think it goes well with the meaning and color painted by Beddor in his moving trilogy about Lewis’ Wonderland.

Frank Beddor did something that I never thought was possible. He turned Lewis’ work around and made epic on a scale beyond my own imagination. And I do have a very wicked sense of imagination. This book followed the largely spectacular Seeing Redd. Believe me, that is a hard act to follow. The beautiful thing is that he did his best to give us an ending that fit the flow and composition of his trilogy.

But whereas Arch Enemy is powerful, with amazing if not epic battle scenes, there is something it does not have that the second book did. It has the spark but not as bright as those of the other two books in the Looking Glass Wars trilogy. Maybe that comes with being stuck with a trilogy and not willing to push for a fourth book, I do not know. But despite that, this book is still amazing a wonderful addition to the trio.

Before going far, read this blurb:

The battle for Wonderland has come to a head. Imagination has been wiped from the land and even Queen Alyss has lost her powers. The Queendom hangs in the balance…

Let me start with the good of this book. There are a good number of them that outweigh the bad. As a big fan of the Mad Hatter and Redd, this book goes on to expand on this pair. Redd is shown as a wonderfully vicious, and for lack of a better way of stating it, a deviously clever weakling. In the last book with Wonderland’s magic (imagination) being removed, Redd is now on an even playing field.

All the people that feared her for her swashbuckling wielding of the blackest forms of imagination and her crippled scepter all have no real fear anymore. I can relate this to you being the only magic wielding king among rats and then your power disappears…POOF…the rats realize you might be just like them and just maybe you might be weak and ripe for a picking. Not to give anything away, you don’t just mess with Her Imperial Viciousness. There is a reason she is feared and you get to see it.

As regards to the last scion of the famed Millinery of Wonderland, I think the exploration of his relationship with his daughter is one of the best things to come out of this book. If you read the books before you see what being a father means (at least to the reader but not to the confused idiot that is Hatter) to the Queen’s famed bodyguard. Mind you his daughter is training to be Alyss’ bodyguard and it is really delightful to see the confusion this relationship causes.

I think, and this is a humble opinion, Molly and Hatter form a very important thematic influence in this book. They might not be primary characters but they are not secondary characters to be forgotten the moment you go through their parts in the book. They are what I like to call primary-secondary characters. They build on the overall story of our main character Alyss, while forming their own story arch which gets a good and fitting climax. Like I said I am giving nothing away.

Of course we have our deposed and misunderstood king, Arch. He has lost his throne to a woman he realizes is no longer all powerful. His revenge is one of the best lines that this book takes. He is the greyest of the characters in this book and I think he deserves what he gets. If he had been entirely shown as a useless if not undeserving git (and he is), I would have burnt this book.

As for Redd and Alyss; the eternal aunt and niece conflict that is the center of this book it is brilliantly done. Sure, they are both powerless but their conflict is brilliant. It is waved in simple fashions of good vs. evil and that to me was the most epic battle of all. Their desires to free the Heart Crystal from Arch’s machinations at the end of Seeing Redd are different but still enjoyable to see playing out in front of our eyes. In the end I can say that none of them wins but who am I to say…winning is different in many people’s eyes.

My biggest complaint about this book is the pacing. It was too fast. I know they say don’t dawdle but sometimes dawdling is necessary. It creates a grander and far more magnificent tale. That is what Beddor achieved with Seeing Redd. There was no sprinting in that book for you to feel underwhelmed and yet there was no walking to feel bored. In Arch Enemy, I felt he was trying to give too many perfect endings in one bound and forgot the true essence of telling the story.

The other complaint I have is Molly’s time in our world. It feels all too familiar. It’s exactly the same as our white imagination champion went through in the first book. Same people, same level of imagination and oddly uninspiring. Sure we meet the Liddels and see more of the imagined Alice Liddel and her family (the one Alyss abandoned in the first book), but it all feels oddly familiar.

The sparkle that Seeing Redd managed to pull off is somewhat dimmed with Arch Enemy’s flaws. Don’t get me wrong it is a good book but on basis of the other books in this trilogy, it could have been greater. It could have matched Seeing Redd in terms of new ideas instead of returning to the safety net of girls from Wonderland in our Earth.

But despite all of this, Arch Enemy brings an end to the conflict that was started in The Looking Glass Wars. The return of Ever Queen is wonderful and maybe gives all my complaints a bright light that does not overly expose their flaws in this piece of art. The battles and some of the creatures imagined by Beddor will wax over the flaws.

I recommend this book to you. But most of all, I recommend you to enter the Looking Glass and experience Beddor’s epic and grand war for Wonderland with all its players, flaws and brilliance combined.


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