“Septimus Heap” is a fantasy series written by Angie Sage. I’ve really enjoyed reading the five books that are out and I can’t wait until the last two are published! This series is technically for children, but it’s so good that I can’t help myself! Granted, I’ve never really paid attention to what age group a book was intended for. As long as I enjoy them, that’s all that matters.
This is the first book in the series. In spite of the title of the series, the book starts off with the death of Septimus Heap on the day he was born. He was the seventh son of a seventh son and as everyone knows, the seventh son of a seventh son is supposed to be extremely powerful. (The same holds true for the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter in other books and it’s a fairly common concept.) The day that Septimus is born and supposedly dies, his father Silas Heap finds another baby (also newborn) lying in the snow. Naturally, he doesn’t leave her and brings her home. She is named Jenna and is quickly adopted into the family without knowledge of who she is.
There are many lovable and warm characters in this book. They’re all written very well and, while reading, it’s quite easy to forget that they aren’t real people. One thing that I find confusing is the level of technology available to the characters in the book. At times it seems as though they have some fairly high-tech stuff (like modern flash lights), but they still use candles to light rooms. I’m not sure if it’s just a matter of incorrectly interpreting a description or not, but so far it hasn’t detracted from the reading experience.
The second book in the series starts about a year after the first book ends. Septimus is now apprentice to Marcia Overstrand, the ExtraOrdinary Wizard, and his oldest brother Simon Heap is not. Simon is very resentful of his previously dead brother and the book opens with him finding DomDaniel’s skeleton and making a deal with him. This book is a great second book to the series and, other than the continuing confusion of tech-levels, is a very solid read.
I’m trying to make sure that I don’t post too many, if any, spoilers from the first book which is why this review is so terrible. The books aren’t terrible, just my reviews! I’ll continue to avoid spoilers as best as I can for all the books even though it is taxing on my already weak reviewing skills. :-/
This third book begins with Silas and Gringe (the Northgate Keeper) breaking into a Sealed room in the palace and releasing an UnQuiet Spirit that had been Sealed in for everyone’s safety. Then the book follows around a total stranger with the unusual name of Snorri Snorrelsson. Snorri is a young, female Northern Trader who, along with her cat Ullr, proves to be quite an interesting character as the book progressed. Septimus is trying to learn all he can about Physik because he think it can help him cure a Sickenesse that’s been going around. As the book goes on, Septimus learns more about Physik than he planned in the most unusual way possible!
Book four starts off with Snorri and Nicko still in the past wandering around a market. Until the end of the book, though, that’s about all we see of those two. Around the middle of the book, we finally learn about the Queste that the book is titled after. That’s not to say that the first half of the book isn’t interesting, because it is, of course. However, by the time we reached the part about the Queste, I was already under the impression that, based solely on the happenings of the first half and the title, that there wasn’t going to be any mention of a specific Queste and that the Queste was merely going to be rescuing Snorri and Nicko from Time. Not there is anything “merely” about that, but you know what I meant, right?
In this fifth book, we meet a vicious Entity and an Apprentice from 500 years past. Jenna’s biological father Milo Banda gets more page time than he has in the previous books, and he’s not exactly father-of-the-year material. Septimus’s friend Beetle gets a lot more page time, too, which I like because he’s an adorable character. We also encounter a submarine, which makes me question again just how much technology is available to the characters. Granted, the submarine is obviously an unknown to the majority of the people in this world, based on the character’s reaction to it’s appearance, but it still exists. We also see more of Merrin Merideth, Simon Heap, and Lucy Gringe. Lucy is a lot less annoying that I would have though she would be based on our past encounters with her; very bossy and very scream-y, but decent overall. This installment of the series, I think, originally seems to consist less of one big adventure and more of several small, seemingly less important adventures; of course, we see how they all tie together in the end, but there are several mini-climaxes and the “main” climax suffers for that, in my opinion. Regardless, it’s a great addition to the series and I’m willing to wait until the next one comes out to see what happens to Sep and his friends next!
Naturally, as with all long series, the books have scattered their focus as the story progresses. The first book was a bit more scattered than I’ve come to expect from a “first book,” but it makes sense considering that we’re supposed to believe that Septimus is dead. Luckily for the series, Septimus is not dead. :-p
My absolute favorite part of these books would have to be the “epilogues.” They aren’t true epilogues, but they are full of background information about many of the characters that don’t get much page time. Some authors completely ignore the minor characters’ backstories or add random flashbacks or unnecessary scenes to give you information that, while interesting, isn’t vital to the story. Sage, though, adds a section at the end of each of her books and tells you, in plenty detail but without being too drawn out, the background or the future (or both) of those minor characters.
If you haven’t read these books yet, find your library card and hit the stacks because they’re great. As I mentioned above, they are written for younger children, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t interesting to adults. I thoroughly enjoyed reading them and, at some point in the future, I’ll buy them and add them to my “special” bookshelf. By that time I may have expanded the “special” section will probably be more than one bookshelf, but it will be there along with “Harry Potter,” “Dune,” “Eragon,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Twilight,” and the others. :-)