Fleabag and the Ring’s End, by Beth Webb, is the third and final book in the author’s Fleabag trilogy, a fantasy adventure series aimed at 7-11 year olds. I reviewed the first book here and the second book here. This final instalment offers another dose of high octane action, adventure, magic and dragons – along with a reveal of the incorrigible Fleabag’s true name, and how he lost his leg.
The story opens with a young boy, Kern, being hired by Fleabag (who is a three legged talking cat) to play fiddle at the palace Fire Festival. Here Kern meets Phelan the King, Fire Wielder Gemma and her bodyguard, the Princess Rowanne, all of whom played key roles in the previous books in the series. When Kern looks into Rowanne’s eyes he realises that she is the intended recipient of a secret message he has been tasked with delivering by M’Kinnik, the chief wizard at Porthwain where the university is based. The wizards from this establishment draw power from evil, blue magic which the ruling Fire folk believed they had defeated.
A delegation from the university arrives at the palace. They wish to enact a Great Challenge, as the law states anyone may do who believes a ruler or Fire Wielder are unfit to perform their duties. Using sorcery and tricks the wizards force the young Fire folk to accept the challenge immediately. They threaten war if Phelan and Gemma do not travel alone to perform the required tasks at the wizard’s stronghold.
The blue magic is corrupting all it touches. Phelan, Gemma and Fleabag (who was banned from attending but came anyway) are being held as virtual prisoners. As they try to prepare for what is ahead, Rowenna is in mortal danger. Kern tries to help but the wizards seem to anticipate the Fire folks every move.
The action is non stop. The plot twists and turns as skill, strength, wit and wisdom are pitted against tricky magic and those who will stop at nothing to gain power. Even Fleabag must dig his claws into the action, between naps and tummy rubs that is.
There is much to take from this story apart from the compelling tale. Neither good nor evil are absolutes and people are rarely as they first seem. Being entrusted with a task does not mean only that person is capable of carrying it out, yet there may be reluctance to hand on what could lead to personal gain, even for the greater good. Few feel comfortable revealing all their secrets; other’s motives can be difficult to comprehend.
The denouement was unexpected but worked perfectly, especially given the lesson briefly touched upon that omnipotence is a role more than an individual. Of course, I read this as an adult. These books are written for children, and they will adore Fleabag. They will also understand that power contaminates because they experience that amongst their peers every day.
Although the book can be enjoyed standalone it builds on the background offered in the previous instalments. As before, the words are accompanied by illustrations which add to the visual appeal.
A rollicking fantasy adventure that will feed a child’s imagination. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this captivating tale.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the author.