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on Aug. 20, 2012 :
The Ultimate Fantasy - Chinese Hero is the third installment in Rob Henning's Ultimate trilogy. Like its two predecessors, this magical adventure doesn't disappoint---there is high adventure and hi-jinx enough to satisfy readers of any age, but it will be especially enjoyable for children. Set in Ancient China, this tale is brimming with mystical creatures, resourceful children, and temperamental royalty. Despite the magical setting and great adventure, Henning manages to enflesh his main characters well, take them to task for coddling their flaws, and reward them greatly for transcending those flaws---even the all-powerful Jade Empress had a little lesson or two to learn!
This is a tale of how a young orphan named Jia, her best buddy Manchu, and a magical rooster named Chi stumbled into the great adventure of trying to save China from the five deadly daughters of the Jade Empress. Jia's best buddy Manchu, who had a real talent for getting into BIG trouble, set them on the path of becoming China's unlikely heroes. When the First Princess of China was angered over losing the throne to her little brother, she decided to break the Egg of Chaos that held the five powerful daughters of the Jade Empress prisoner. Manchu and Jia were in the area and inadvertently happened to witness the event. When Chi arrived at the scene, he commandeered the two children (or possibly Manchu managed to volunteer their services---he really is very good at getting into trouble!) to help him find the Jade Empress's daughters and lock them away once more.
Henning's characters show his great respect for the talent and potential of children---Manchu and Jia are about nine, and because the Prince who became Emperor of China is about twelve, his elder sister the First Princess could not have been too far from childhood either. The First Princess was an accomplished warrior and had commanded armies at her young age; her little brother, though rather bratty at the beginning of the tale, eventually shows a grasp for learning from his mistakes that could make him a commendable Emperor someday. Manchu and Jia, two ordinary children, are pitted against five magical beings who control the elements: one who commands Fire, another who commands Water, and still others who command Earth, Wood and Air. The children do have magical help in the form of Chi---Guardian of Summer, a giant red rooster with the strength of a lion and pride to match---but these two children have the wits, the determination, and the heart between them to take on the powerful and magical creatures. One gets the impression that Henning believes children, just by being who they are, can already accomplish great things even before they grow up! I think that's an excellent perspective to take, and I think that will encourage children to aim high in anything they do.
This third book in the Ultimate series is full of action and adventure, but Henning does not forget to pepper the adventure with personality and heart. Jia and Manchu truly are best buddies, despite Manchu's endless quest to get Jia in trouble and Jia's eternal goal to bludgeon some sense into the boy. Chi is not some glittering magical creature in the distance---he's got more moxie than any other magical chicken would dare let on, and has some rather uncomfortable lessons about himself to face. It seems Henning took the charm he crafted in the first book of this series, mixed in the "edge of your seat" action he had in the second book, and produced a harmonious blend in this third one. Henning keeps getting better at crafting these tales, and if he ever extends the Ultimate trilogy to more books, I would certainly be there to pick up the next one!
Review also posted at Bookideas.com
(review of free book)
on June 19, 2011 :
Splendid fun! A whimsical fantasy ride into the mysterious orient with a crazy young boy, his serious friend, and a giant chicken with a huge chip on his shoulder. This story will appeal to those readers with giant imaginations who have always wondered what it would be like to save the world from chaos.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on June 18, 2011 :
lovely story really cute
(reviewed the day of purchase)