Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Endymion Spring

Title: Endymion Spring
Author: Matthew Skelton
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 2006

Endymion Spring and Blake Winters are two boys separated by over 500 years of history and tied together by a book. Endymion finds the book in an odd chest he isn't supposed to be rummaging around in. The book finds Blake in the St. Jerome library at Oxford 500 years later. And so the two set out, each in their own time, to keep Endymion's book from those who would use it for evil.

Endymion Spring, a mute thief turned apprentice, works for and lives with Johannes Gutenberg. He helps create the beautiful type that will turn Gutenberg's bibles into a masterpiece of both printing and art, revered around the world. The Bible is nearing completion when Gutenberg's investor, Fust, arrives with his own apprentice, Peter, and a demonically carved chest. Terrified but curious, Endymion is drawn to the box and learns it holds a magic type of paper, paper which contains the answers to every mystery on earth. Fust, a thief himself and supremely evil, will stop at nothing to gain that wisdom.

Shift to modern day Oxford. Blake and his sister Duck have been uprooted by their studious mother who is doing research at the college. Quite a lot of time is spent following Blake as he wanders around various libraries, prosaically describing the smell of the books and the dust in the air. And this is where the story started to lose me. Not that it wasn't easy to follow, but because Blake moped around a little more than I wanted to put up with.

Blake is a troubled boy who can't see why Endymion's book chose him, and frankly I wondered the same thing. Empathizing with Blake is easy; he's going through some troubled times while his parents split up, but that happens to many kids these days. Believing he was somehow deemed worthy by a mysterious book due to these troubles was a bit hard to swallow. I also had issues with his sister's name being Duck. Just because your daughter refuses to take off a raincoat that looks like a duck doesn't mean you change her name to fit the jacket. That's as good as saying she is the jacket, or that the jacket is her. I carried a stuffed cat around as a child, but they don't call me Kitty.

What kept me reading was how engaging Endymion was. While Gutenberg never quite seemed real, his apprentice Endymion did. I felt for Endymion. His terror for Fust, his grudging respect for Peter and his adoration for Gutenberg were almost palpable. It's too bad that didn't transfer to Blake's sections of the story.

This book is interesting, and switches from first person past tense for Endymion to third person limited for Blake. It's as though Endymion knows what is happening 500 years later, and is telling you Blake's story.

My Thoughts:
I'm not sure why this was a New York Times bestseller, but I've wondered that about many other books as well. I wasn't really drawn into the story. I thought it a lot of it was sort of fusty, and there were many things that seemed like they were going somewhere, and it turned out they were only there to cause confusion and didn't add anything to the story in the end. I find that supremely aggravating. A number of the lose ends were wrapped up far too neatly, and others that seemed so important were never explained at all. It wasn't a bad read, and I'll probably go back through it, but I might skip over certain sections so as to spend my time with the characters I liked.

Favorite Scene:
The Dance of Death where Endymion flees from Fust was strangely (and almost disturbingly) intriguing. I'd say more, but I don't want to give this part away.

Who this book is best for:
Kids in early middle school will love the style and completely relate Endymion... perhaps even with Blake.

Violence: 2.5 of 5 for a descriptive beating during the climax.

Stars: 3 of 5

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