Set in 1939 on the eve of World War II, Wardens of Eternity follows Ziva, an orphan with magical skills, barely scrapping by working in a New York City clothing factory. Hunger is a constant companion, but Ziva refuses to use her magic inappropriately for personal gain. Monstrous forces are drawn to her power, and, one night, as she is battling an uninvited guest, she meets siblings Nasira and Sayer. They introduce Ziva to her people: an ancient Egyptian group, the Medjai. As Ziva embraces her roots, she learns of her pivotal role in the resurrection of an ancient queen. While the world braces for war, there’s another war being waged by the Egyptian god, Set, who has his own agenda.
Moulton writes an entertaining story that moves quickly from battle to battle as Ziva and her new friends look for artifacts in New York City, London, and Cairo. The inclusion of airships provides elements of steampunk, so Wardens of Eternity presents an alternate history of events leading up to WWII. Moulton’s passion for ancient civilization, as well as her mixed European-Mediterranean ethnicity, are efficiently and effectively integrated into Ziva’s narrative. This brings Ziva to life, and readers will easily find themselves identifying with and invested in her personal journey. Moulton's knowledge of the ancient Egyptian gods in a modern era is refreshing and unique, since, usually, readers are transported back in time as the main character, typically male, solves a mystery. And, even though this story is targeted for a YA audience, Moulton easily shares a story that an older readership will enjoy.
Fanbase Press is the home of celebrating fandoms, and in honor of the company's tenth anniversary, we are focusing on the importance of narrative storytelling with the recently announced initiative, #StoriesMatter. As a person who is passionate about history, particularly ancient Egyptian history, the inclusion of gods/goddesses, Egyptian locales, and ancient Egyptian words introduces readers to a new culture and its people. For instance, Moulton re-images Anubis (god of death) as a protector of the human race. Often, the jackal-headed god is portrayed as a villain. (Just watch contemporary mummy horror films,) Set, who cut up Osiris and fought Horus for the throne, is not so much the archvillain as he is a complex character like Anubis and Ziva. The Egyptian characters are a welcome change from the typical Caucasian hero. As mentioned above, Ziva is such a well-developed character dealing with issues of identity and self-confidence, and those emotions transcend ethnicity.
Why does this story matter for a larger audience? In addition to casting a non-traditional (Caucasian) hero, Ziva is on a personal journey of discovering herself, and, on that journey, she encounters death. First, Moulton takes the orphan origin story a different direction; rather than creating an ineffectual character, Ziva find personal strength in her journey to find her identity. She is positive, but not annoyingly so. She is learning about herself, and readers have the opportunity to strength and comfort in their own skin, too. Second, death is almost always glossed over quickly in stories rather than taking time with the character. Ziva has to come to terms with death and injury and instead of shying away from the topic, Moulton allows Ziva time to grieve, process loss, and learn to continue to live.
Based on the ending, one hopes that Wardens of Eternity is the start of a lengthy ongoing series. (This reviewer is already anxious for book two.) This YA novel will provide readers an entertaining story and a main character that is a worthy role model for impressionable readers. Saying that, Moulton has a free educator’s guide available through her website that was created by high school teacher Kathryn Elise Barnett that parents can use as a tool to mediate the story with their young readers. HarperCollins notes that this novel is “perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and Kiersten White."
Creative Team: Courtney Moulton (writer)
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