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Stroud, Jonathan. Buried fire.

STROUD, Jonathan. Buried fire. Hyperion, Miramax. 332p. c1999. 0-7868-5194-5. $6.95. JS

Deep beneath a hilltop in the English countryside, a dragon sleeps. It is neither a peaceful nor a willing slumber. Michael McIntyre sleeps on the hill above, blissfully unaware of the change that is about to take place in his life. For as Michael sleeps, the dragon dreams, and a single reptilian thought rises from the earth to envelop the boy. When Michael awakens, he finds that he has the ability to see people's true identities. As the days pass, he realizes that he also has three other gifts: the gift of fire, the gift of flying, and the gift of mind control. Michael takes his brother Stephen to the hilltop to initiate him into the small group of villagers who have been changed by the dragon. However, Stephen resists the use of his gifts. Meanwhile, the Reverend Tom Aubrey of St. Wyndham church has made an interesting discovery in his churchyard: the arm of a large Celtic cross has been lifted from the ground. What he does not realize is that this cross bound the dragon into the earth, and with its removal the dragon's power has increased.

Although Buried Fire has exciting fantasy elements, it is not a book that will appeal to all. The point of view within the text shifts from character to character, creating a fractured narrative that would be hard for a lower-level reader to follow comfortably. Also, the victory at the end of the story becomes dependent upon some minor secondary characters that are not terribly well developed, and as a result the conclusion feels convenient. However, the tale itself is intriguing. Although the dragon is the core menace of the story, the humans who are acting on his behalf reflect the real conflict. Their interpersonal relationships remain human while their actions become reptilian. This thriller will appeal to those fantasy fans who are strong readers. It will especially appeal to those who eagerly await the final volume in Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus trilogy. Heather Lisowski, YA Libn., Castle Rock, CO

J--Recommended for junior high school students. The contents are of particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers.

S--Recommended for senior high school students.
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Author:Lisowski, Heather
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2005
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