Whitley, David. Children of the Lost (Agora Trilogy)
Roaring Brook Press (see macmillan children's pub) 2011 357p 16.99
978-1-59643-614-5 Fantasy VG-BN
Banished from Agora, where all transactions are bartered, Mark and Lily discover the seemingly idyllic land of Giseth. Should the two outcasts abandon their quest for the children of the lost to settle in Giseth? Second in the Agora Trilogy, the back story is easy to piece together; readers need not have read, “The Midnight Charter,” in order to enjoy “Children of the Lost.”
Lily and Mark are exiled to the forested wilderness that surrounds the City-State of Agora. Raised in a competitive urban environment, where every transaction is bartered, the two are ill prepared to survive in the untamed environment. But Lily, whose parents had previously been banished to the forest, looks upon her exile as a quest to locate her parents. Mark reluctantly agrees to help her search -- though he feels betrayed that she has included him on this adventure without his consent, just as he was finally becoming acquainted with his own father.
The Nightmare inhabits the dark woods and threads itself into dreams, with violent results. Even when Lily and Mark are brought to Aeccer, a village in the land of Giseth, where all are equal and all resources are shared, where the residents appear happy and selfless, the Nightmare lurks beneath the surface. Lily embraces the “perfect” society that mirrors the aspirations and dreams that led her to create the Almshouse in Agora. Mark is skeptical and searches for flaws in the new society.
In a fantasy exploring extreme consumerism (Agora) versus communism/socialism (Giseth) it is not surprising that conflict, secrets, and betrayals abound. The plot moves forward at a smoothly page-turning pace. The ending, open to accommodate the forthcoming final volume, leaves our protagonists separated with their quest unfulfilled. Readers will look forward to revisiting these well-rounded characters in the next installment.
Those who enjoyed Pullman’s “His Dark Materials, “ or Collins’ Mockingjay series, will enjoy David Whitley’s Agora Trilogy.