Jewel Riders

All’s Fairy in Love and War, Chapter 2: A Whole New World

Kara and Lyra land in some sort of glade, and are immediately surrounded by strange fairy creatures. Lyra identifies them as fairy wraiths … but these are different from the super-sexy guardians of the Gates of Avalon. They’re tiny fairies that seem to hold an unusual interest in Kara’s dress in the new edition:

Luminous wide eyes stared at Kara as tiny hands covered thin mouths. They were giggling.

“Uh … hello,” Kara started — then jumped. Three more had zipped under her skirt, forming moving lumps in the pink silk.

“Hey!” Kara quickly stood, shaking her curious visitors loose. “It’s rented!” She smoothed out the long dress.

Wow, I bet you didn’t expect pervy fairies in a kid’s book. Whatever, the presence of this new species of fairy wraith is a sign that Kara’s in the Fairy Realms.

Other animals are attracted to Kara, because her Unicorn Jewel is Just That Awesome. But then the animals suddenly bolt, because Kara unknowingly attracted something evil. Kara detects evil, and is soon surrounded by a bunch of ent-things. Or those evil tree things from The Wizard of Oz.

Kara fires some Magic Missiles at the wrags (that’s what the books calls them), but she’s ultimately saved by a black-clad boy who calls himself the Forest Prince … who decides to flirt with her in the new edition:

“Are you injured?” he cried, looking at the bent wing of Kara’s costume.

“Fine,” Kara answered, impressed with his concern for her fairy costume. “Didn’t even rip it.”

The boy stared at Kara in amazement. “You are truly a vision of beauty.”

“Oh, em…” She brushed her stained dress self-consciously. “I usually look much better than this, but I’ve had a rough morning.”

Kara demands that she be escorted to the nearest portal back to Earth. However, the Forest Prince insists on bringing Kara to the Fairy Ring, because she was supposed to arrive there. Apparently Kara has to be there, or the Five Kingdoms will go to war. Musso was hired by someone named Tangoo to find Kara and bring her to the Fairy Realms, but the portal he used was connected to a mirror in the forest, not the Fairy Ring. Oh, and there are no portals in the Fairy Realms, only magic mirrors that can be calibrated by Mirror Masters. Kara, of course, isn’t a Mirror Master, but she still has one trick up her sleeve: her dragonflies.

Unfortunately, the dragonflies can’t open a stable portal to Earth, so Kara is stuck on the Fairy Realms until she can find a Mirror Master … like that Tangoo fellow the Forest Prince mentioned. Kara does manage to contact Adriane before leaving with the Forest Prince, and gives her a really quick recap of everything that’s happened so far. And then she asks Adriane to cover for her at the play. Hmm, that should be interesting.

Oh! All the party members get their own dragonfly now for inter-party communications! Kara gets Goldie, Adriane gets Fred, and Emily gets Fiona. Wow, they should’ve done this earlier in the series whenever they split up.

So Kara and the Forest Prince walk through the forest, which gives them a perfect opportunity for an infodump. Now we know that the Five Kingdoms belong to the five major fairy races: the goblins, dwarves, trolls, elves, and fairies. We’ve already seen goblins, elves, and fairies, so I’m curious to know what dwarves and trolls look like in this series. Also, we get more information on the new fairy wraiths in the new edition:

“You should see me on a good day,” Kara quipped. “How’d you find me anyway?”

“It wasn’t hard, the wraiths put on a quite a show,” he said, walking alongside Kara. “People search their whole lives to just see one.”

Ah, so these are Jewel Riders fairy wraiths! In the show, they only dance once a year (or something like that), and only for Very Nice People.

The Forest Prince points out a path leading to the Fairy Ring, and then ditches Kara. Hey, at least he was nice enough to give Kara directions. Kara follows the path and finds herself in the Fairy Ring, which is basically the Friendship Circle from Jewel Riders, only made out of purple wisteria. Actually, all the buildings in this part of the world are created out of trees and other flora … kinda like the Faery Realm from Jewel Riders.

Anyway, all the fairy creatures in the Friendship Circle Fairy Ring are pissed….

Status Update!
All mage party members receive: their own personal dragonfly!
The Forest Prince joins (and then leaves) the party! (He has a sword equipped.)

Next time: lots of arguing, and lots of changes.

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!
Credit where it’s due: original cover from the official Avalon site, new cover from Amazon.