Circus Maximus by Damian Dibben
Review by Jasper de Joode
The History Keepers are in terrible danger once more. Stocks of Atomium – the crucial ingredient which allows them to travel through time – are perilously low, and the agents must embark on a risky mission to find more. And now a new and even more evil member of the Zeldt family is planning a hideous take-over of the Ancient world, and they are forced to travel further back into history than ever before in order to save the day. Well, all of the days actually.
Circus Maximus is the second book in Damian Dibben’s History Keepers series, following directly on from events in The Storm Begins. Before I picked up this book I strapped on my seatbelt, because if Circus Maximus was as fast as its predecessor I would need it! Circus Maximus was indeed a great dash through time but I felt that the pace had lessened which made for a better story and everything came together well in the end.
This time around Jake and his friends Nathan and Charlie visit Sweden and Italy, searching for Topaz after receiving a cryptic message that she is located somewhere deep in history. Character-wise things remains pretty much the same but there is now time for the author to further elaborate on each. The dialogue still feels natural and there is a certain confidence now present between Jake and the others, in the way that jokes and puns are thrown at each other.
There is one thing that is a small bother to me though… While reading about Jake, now I know he is the main character and that he can pull off stuff and not get seriously hurt… But looking at what Jake does, the often fool-hardy actions he undertakes, which he is explicitly told by his friend to NOT do, he does anyway and the story takes a turn for the worse. I found this “doing what he feels like” often become predictable. Jake is enthusiastic, and that is understandable but I would just like to see him be more reserved in his actions and grow up a bit. Jake’s friends, mainly Nathan and Charlie are just plan funny in their habits and greatly add to the story.
Next up the villains. What would a children’s story be without some villainous action? We have already met Prince Zeldt, now Agatha Zeldt fills the role of main baddie. I felt that the plot in Circus Maximus was better constructed and Agatha ‘s diabolical preparation took every detail into account and built up to a great final climax.
In conclusion… Circus Maximus is a great race through time, albeit at a slower pace than found previously in The Storm Begins. But this was not a let-down, actually quite the opposite as I found the more sedate pace brought the characters and their surroundings to life even better. The revisiting of historical events was again nicely done and this is what makes these books such a great adventure tale. The History Keepers is a great series for young and old alike; with agents, double-agents and spies, you never know where Jake will end-up as he attempts stop those who would change history!
A big thanks to Random House for kindly providing a review copy.
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