Angie Sage, Author, Mark Zug, Illustrator , illus. by Mark Zug. HarperCollins/ Tegen $17.99 (576p) ISBN 978-0-06-057731-5

Sage's debut novel, the launch title of the Septimus Heap series, introduces the seventh son of a seventh son, destined to have deep magical powers but who, as the book opens, appears to have died soon after his birth. Silas Heap, the father (who is also a wizard), has just returned home after discovering a newborn baby girl in the snow, and finds Septimus being whisked away from mother Sarah by the midwife. On the heels of these events, Marcia, the newly appointed ExtraOrdinary Wizard, commands Silas to raise the baby as his own, which he does and names her Jenna. The author quickly reveals the girl's heritage via a busybody tavern owner who passes along some gossip: it seems the Queen was assassinated and the baby princess disappeared. The tale then jumps ahead 10 years, where readers find corrupt wizard DomDaniel trying to finish off the royal line. A chase lands Jenna and friends at the island home of the matronly Aunt Zelda, at which point the pace slows dramatically. The author introduces several subplots, summarized rather than dramatized, incorporating many cameos (e.g., Jenna's best friend and Simon's fiancée are mentioned in passing), and one boy claims to be Septimus. The author eventually reveals the real Septimus in a clever, if predictable, turn of events, making way for the next installments. Ages 9-up. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/03/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
Genre: Children's
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