Jewel Riders

All’s Fairy in Love and War: First Impressions

I remember the day I purchased the original edition of this book surprisingly well: It was Christmas Eve, and I was at Borders looking for last minute gifts. So I wandered into the children’s book section, and discovered that a new Avalon book had been released. So yeah … I bought myself an early Christmas present.

Obviously, this is a Kara-centric book. She’s on the cover, and the title is a play on a quote from another 17th-century playwright (“All is fair in love and war,” from John Lyly’s Euphues). I never really liked the title of this book, though, because I don’t think it makes much sense. Does everything concern fairies in love and war? Is everything of a fae nature? I get that the book introduces the Fairy Realms, but I think that could’ve been inserted in the title with a bit more finesse.

For you Jewel Riders fans, this book is most similar to “The Faery Princess”, in which the Jewel Riders have an adventure in a fairy kingdom. But there are shout-outs to “Wizard’s Peak”, “Full Circle”, and “Prince of the Forest”. Oh, and Kara spends most of this book in an outfit reminiscent of Gwen’s party dress.

Full disclosure here: I hate the cover to the original edition. I’m very glad to have purchased this book at Christmastime, so I could hide it under everything else I bought! Kara’s hanging out in a weird technicolor forest, accompanied by poorly-photoshopped fairies and a flaming horse. The only good thing about this is that I love how Kara’s Unicorn Jewel is depicted. But Kara’s dress isn’t the pink poofy costume described in the book, and the way the horse appears in the background has always bothered me. But hey, there’s no disturbing staring faces, which is nice.

Now, I just adore the new edition cover. Kara’s in one of her pimped-out outfits from the book, and we see one of the new token male characters! The dashing green boy is Beast Boy the Forest Prince, who ends up being a major side-character for the rest of the series. And he’s bad-ass, because he actually uses a sword the entire time he’s with the party. (Unlike a certain dragon-riding mage we know.) Also, we see a lot more interesting fairy creatures, and … well, it’s kinda spoilers to reveal who the donkey-headed guy is. Let’s just say it’s a male character we’ve already been introduced to.

What to expect from this book:

  • A new realm to explore!
  • Middle-schoolers butchering Shakespeare!
  • More fun with Kara’s convoluted family tree!
  • Pimped-out outfits galore!
  • A new party member!

Next time: Kara’s closet explodes.

Another Avalon Read-Along.

I know, I know, I said I was going on vacation. But my train to places not the greater Boston area doesn’t leave until tomorrow morning, so I can post some news tidbits.

These fine folks are doing their own Avalon: Web of Magic read-along book club thing. Unlike us here at the Archive, they’re doing a general discussion of each book at the end of the month. (And since they’re primarily Jewel Riders fans, they’ll probably catch more references to the show than I did.) This month they’re starting at the very beginning. So if you guys want to revisit the first half of the series as I struggle through the ever-exciting end, I’ll provide a link to their site in the sidebar.

Also, if you read along with them for the entire series, you may get a copy of the Avalon: The Warlock Diaries omnibus. Anyone who has a copy of that, please tell me if there are any awesome extras. I was stupid and got individual issues.

(And special thanks to the one guy in the comments who posted a link here. Was that you, Robert?)

Song of the Unicorns, Chapter 9: Portal Cut

(If you’re reading the original edition, this is Chapter 8.)

So the party and the herd of unicorns jumped through the portal into the ranch’s stables, but the cactus monster followed them! Adriane and Dreamer try to fend it off, but Dreamer does something insanely stupid: he gets swallowed by the monster! Luckily, the dragonflies close the portal, which decapitates the cactus-centipede.

Wow, that was violent.

Anyway, the party realizes that they have to keep the unicorns safe somehow before escorting them to the nearest portal back to Dalriada. Unfortunately, the Unicorn Amulet needs recharging, and the unicorns can’t control their magic long enough to power up the damn thing. Luckily, Emily comes up with a smart idea: using spellsinging to focus the unicorns’ magic! (Wow, and most of you probably thought that spellsinging would never be brought up again.) The plan works, and the amulet now has enough energy to … produce a Fairy Map charting the unicorns’ route to Dalriada.

So the party decides to focus Kara’s magic instead. This works kinda like those Enchanted Jewel Circles that make an appearance at least once an episode in Jewel Riders: the girls stand in a circle, and call out when they activate their Sparkly Rocks. Emily adds the “protection of healing magic!” Adriane contributes the “strength of a warrior!” And Kara has the “light of a blazing star!”

And then the shield is reactivated, and the unicorns are safe at the ranch … for now.

Next time: The unicorns are discovered anyway.

Jewel Riders on Netflix

Happy New Year, everyone! Just a brief update before I return to recapping: Jewel Riders is now available for streaming on Netflix. I’m not sure if it’s the American or international version, though. You can find it under Starla and the Jewel Riders, but the show description has both Gwen and Starla’s names. At some point I’ll get around to viewing it….

Expect more recaps next week. I’m going on a short vacation.

Song of the Unicorns, Chapter 5: A Sudden Burst of Exposition

(If you’re reading the original edition, this is the last half of Chapter 4.)

Hooray! It’s Ozzie’s first adventure on his own! Let’s see how well he does!

… Or not. He runs away from a sudden tornado of wild magic that transforms the wrecked wagon into ice (and, in the new edition, some cacti into mush). And while hiding behind a rock — the safest tornado hiding place ever — Ozzie bumps into a strange creature!

For you Jewel Riders fans, you’ll be seeing a lot more of these familiar wild magic outbreaks throughout the next six books. I guess Ms. Roberts really wanted to make this second half of the series as similar to Jewel Riders as possible!

Meanwhile, Emily tries to contact Ozzie with her Rainbow Jewel, but can’t raise him. (Don’t you love how the girls’ Sparkly Rocks suddenly gained walkie-talkie powers?) So Emily rides off to find Ozzie, telling Sierra that she has to find her “pet” ferret. Sierra’s totally okay with this.

Emily finally makes it back to the canyon, and finds a massive puddle where the wrecked wagon was. (Again, major gripe here: it’s supposed to be winter! That ice should still be a block of ice! New Mexico is not in the southern hemisphere!) Oh, and she finds Ozzie arguing with a twiggy figure.

This twig-thing is Tweek, an Experimental Fairimental designed by the regular-type Fairimentals to specifically survive on Earth. (Remember, every other Fairimental we’ve encountered couldn’t maintain their form on Earth.) Apparently the Fairimentals now have a research facility (wait … what?) on Aldenmor in the formerly-nuked-out Shadowlands … and they spent their time making the second most useless character in the series. And I say second most useless because Tweek can calibrate portals and carries a handy-dandy Handbook of Rules and Regulations for Fairimentals (HORARFF — or, as I call it, the in-book encyclopedia). Don’t count on him to cast a well-timed Magic Missile, however. He has no combat skills whatsoever. You can depend on him to make ill-timed arboreal jokes, though.

Today, Tweek plays the part of Mr. Exposition — as he will for the rest of the series. He does this even more so in the new edition, where he gives Emily and Ozzie a magitechnobabble-laden explanation for how he came to New Mexico:

“I materialized my elemental byproducts in Ravenswood but I was attacked by a pack of brimbees so I had to triangulate on your jewels, construct a portal path–“

To make a long story short, Tweek came to tell the party that Avalon’s magic is missing. Gee, I wonder how that happened. But Tweek can’t explain too much, because more wild magic tornadoes are barreling towards the party! Luckily, Emily, Ozzie, and Tweek outrace the tornadoes and make it out of the canyon in one piece.

Status Update!
Tweek joins the party! (But you can’t use him in battle. At least the party can calibrate portals now….)

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • Emily’s Rainbow Jewel glows crimson, not green, when sensing danger.

Next time: The party fights land sharks … or street sharks … or hockey-playing sharks ….

Song of the Unicorns: First Impressions

A long time ago, back when I finished reading the original Web of Magic series, I had no idea there was going to be a sequel. And then I walked into my local Borders a few weeks after completing the last book, and found a display for something called Avalon: Quest for Magic. I wasn’t sure if it was at all related to my favorite book series, since the series logo was in some generic font, but upon looking at the poorly-photoshopped cover and the description on the back, I knew for certain that the party’s adventures were going to continue somehow. And I say “somehow” because the original edition of Trial by Fire wrapped things up pretty nicely.

Song of the Unicorns is not my favorite entry in the series by any means. It’s like a filler episode of an anime series, except it serves to introduce new characters, new concepts, and a new conflict — the latter of which, in the original edition, is executed poorly. The only part of the book that excited me was that it took place in New Mexico, where I spent many a summer and winter in my youth. Unfortunately, my experiences were all in the mountains in the northern part of the state, where — gasp! — it snows during the winter. I know next to nothing about the Carlsbad Caverns and the surrounding area, where the story takes place. (What I can tell you, though, is that the party is severely underdressed for winter there ^_^)

In case you couldn’t tell, this is an Emily-centric book. She deals with a lot of family issues in this one, namely coping with her father’s remarriage.

It was a challenge to think of which Jewel Riders episodes this book was inspired by. It’s like mix of “Home Sweet Heartstone” (in which the Jewel Riders hang out with lots of young magical animals and sing songs) and “Morgana” (the start of the second season, which introduces a new villain and a new quest). Starting with this book, the Jewel Riders comparisons start to become more obvious, since the party is eventually charged with collecting Mineral McGuffins.

Not much to say about the covers: they both feature the party surrounded by unicorn colts and fillies. I don’t like the original cover, mainly because the girls don’t look like a cohesive party. Adriane’s looking off like there’s danger somewhere (or she’s on a rock album cover), Emily’s having fun with unicorns, and Kara looks like she’s having an unpleasant bowel movement. At least on the new cover the entire party’s enjoying their cute, My Little Pony-esque overlords. (Also, Dreamer makes another cover appearance.)

What to expect from this book:

  • More Fletcher family issues!
  • An even more annoying character than Ozzie!
  • A minor character we won’t see again for a long while!
  • Kara casting Polymorph like it’s going out of style!
  • A new quest!
  • Obnoxious unicorn bleating!
  • An Evil Council of Evil!
  • More fun with the original party!

Next time: Look, two new characters!
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Credit where it’s due: original cover from the official Avalon site, new cover from Amazon.

Trial by Fire: First Impressions

A long time ago, back when the original editions of Avalon were published, I bought the first six books all at once, thinking that that was the entire series. (The Quest for Magic / second half of the series hadn’t been released yet.) So when I finally got around to Trial by Fire, I thought, “OMG! This is it, the end we’ve all been waiting for! Everyone will fulfill their part of the prophecy, Avalon will be found, and the Sorceress will be defeated! Yay! This will be so freaking awesome.” And believe it or not, all of that happened, and I thought it was a satisfying end to my favorite guilty-pleasure series. Granted, that was before a) Quest for Magic was published and poorly tacked on that BS with the Power Crystals, and b) the new editions came out and added information on the original party and the Sorceress’ past that better connects both halves of the series.

So, if Avalon was a video game, Trial by Fire would be the Disk One Final Dungeon, which looks like the end, but totally isn’t. I mean, come on, the party raids the Sorceress’ lair, Kara reaches the Gates of Avalon, Stormbringer sacrifices herself, and the party defeats the Sorceress … and then in the next book (or at the end of this one in the new edition), the party discovers they have to collect Mineral MacGuffins and save the Magic Web. It’s like Final Fantasy VI, where you blow up the sky fortress … and then have to run around in the World of Ruin to find your party and defeat the big bad for good.

Trial by Fire doesn’t fit any of the series’ naming conventions, but it’s a party-centric, arc-ending book like Full Circle. And it totally makes up for the suckitude that is Spellsinger.

I can’t really think of an episode of Jewel Riders that corresponds to this book exactly. The closest I can think of is probably “Jewel Quest”, because in that episode the Jewel Riders raid Kale’s castle, Gwen gets her Sunstone, and the girls kick off their quest to find the Crown Jewels. Anyone else around here who’s watched Jewel Riders and read Avalon can chime in with their opinion, because I’m stumped.

original coverBoth covers do a decent job of showing that things start getting serious at this point. The original cover has Kara in possession of a Fairy Map, with the Sorceress watching her menacingly. Again, this is one of the few times we see a non-party member on the cover — and the only time in either edition that a villain makes a cover appearance! I actually kinda like those weird cat eyes she has. I’ve always liked the border around the image on this cover, too. The design of the Fairy Map … not so much. (Especially after you’ve read the entire series and discovered that the Magic Web looks like a random jumble of pathways, and not like a spider’s web.)

new coverNow, the new cover shows that things might not be in the party’s favor. The party is surrounded by all sorts of dark beasties mounted on giant black horses, and our heroes look like they may be screwed. Look at how freaked out the girls and Ozzie are! (Yay, Ozzie appears on a cover again! Oh, and this is Dreamer’s first cover appearance, too — if you can find him hiding behind the book’s title.) How’re they gonna get out of this mess?

What to expect from this book:

  • Awesome displays of badassery!
  • More fun in everyone’s favorite magical nuclear wasteland!
  • More thinking with portals!
  • Kara finally getting a Sparkly Rock!
  • Zach, the Token Male Character!
  • More powerful and annoying bosses!

Next time: Moonshadow tries to get out of a tiny net.
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Credit where it’s due: old cover from the official Avalon site, new cover from Amazon.