Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Fire Thief Trilogy by Terry Deary

British writer Deary is well know for his irreverent take on history in his Horrible Histories books - "history with all the "nasty" bits left in". He doesn't think much of the formal education system, "I wouldn't have schools at all," says the Sunderland author. "Nowadays people assume schools are essential, but they're finished; they cannot cope with the demands of the modern world, but they spend £50 billion a year failing." He describes his writing for page and stage as "educainment". "Whether it's writing books or theatre shows, that sums up what I've been doing, because first you have to engage people and a good way to educate them is to entertain them," he reasons.
Deary's approach to "educainment" is popular with the kids. He has sold over 20 million copies worldwide and completes a book, on average, every six weeks. He has even turned several of his Horrible Histories in to plays and is working on a TV series for the BBC.
I did enjoy the first in his trilogy The Fire Thief but I had to get past the irritating footnotes and addresses to the reader at the beginning of each chapter. Deary's cynicism starts to drag you down after a while too, but luckily it is a fast paced story with believable elements of danger and surprise as well as a good dose of humor. The story is based on the Greek myths centering around Prometheus, half god/half Titan, who has been chained to a rock for 200 years as punishment for giving fire to the human race. Each day he is devoured by a ferocious raptor,the Fury, and left for dead only to come alive again the next morning. Aided by his friend Hercules, Prometheus escapes his bonds but is immediately caught by Zeus. Zeus offers him a chance at salvation if he can find a human hero. So Prometheus' quest begins.
A faster and less dense read than the Lightning Thief I think this series would be good for reluctant readers who need to be plunged immediately in to the action of the plot. I believe it may have been the one book one of my reluctant readers actually read the whole way through last year.

Titles in the series: The Fire Thief, Flight of the Fire Thief, and The Fire Thief Fights Back

If you like the humorous style of Deary, you may want to check out Terry Pratchett's books.

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