Bk. 2. 327p. (Order of Darkness). S & S/Simon Pulse. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442476875. LC 2012050609.
Gr 9 Up—It is 1453, and Luca Vero is an inquirer, sent by the head of a mysterious order to investigate signs of the End of Days. In this sequel, Luca and his companions, his servant, Freize; the Lady Isolde and her servant, Ishraq; and the clerk and recorder Brother Peter, continue their journey across Europe. Although the pace is slow in the beginning, reflecting the pace of the travelers, the action explodes midway when a tsunami drowns hundreds of children on a pilgrimage lead by the prophet Johann. This cataclysmic event focuses the reader on the novel's philosophical motif: the clash of reason and belief, science and superstition. Each character embodies aspects of this debate, principally Ishraq, a half-Arabic scholar, representing science and reason, and Luca, who, despite his role of church inquirer, appears on the verge of questioning his beliefs and his mission. There is also the leader of the Order of Darkness, willing to use any means to root out and defeat the infidel Ottoman Empire, which his order believes is responsible for the End of Days. Gregory has crafted a novel full of depth and texture that stands on its own. Readers who have not read the first book will be inspired to do so after finishing this one and will eagerly await the next installment.—Nina Sachs, Walker Memorial Library, Westbrook, ME
Luca (Changeling) investigates Johann, leader of the Children's Crusade, who claims to be a prophet but may be inadvertently doing Satan's work. The question of whether miracles actually exist is thought-provoking, and the medieval setting is intriguingly drawn. Attempts to create tension and drama never quite succeed, but readers who like their historical fiction with a supernatural twist will still enjoy this installment.

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