Here’s the short version: If you’re not reading this series, you should be.
And now, the long version: The second of Curtis Jobling’s Wereworld novels, Rage of Lions falls into the “Empire Strikes Back” sequel category. Things get bad for our heroes and then they get worse. The novel even shares a couple of narrative points with that film, though whether or not that was on purpose I don’t know.
Drew Ferran is being readied for the future Kingship of Lyssia but he still seems to be getting into trouble – whether it be slavers or just not understanding girls.
Worse, war is coming to Lyssia, lead by the Catlords of Bast, railing from the defeat of their cousin Leopold in the last book. Jobling is the creator of CBBC’s Raa Raa The Noisy Lion but the Cats on show here are in a different league.
We still get some great fantasy adventure, but now we have political and military complications. Kicking off with a brief recap of past events (but really, do read Wereworld Rise of The Wolf if you haven’t already), we soon get stuck into the action. The story moves at a good pace, with plenty of time for action, twists, turns and character driven drama. In fact, character is never forgotten even in the midst of battle.
What impresses me most about this series is just how much I cared about the characters, their troubles, whether it be the threat of war, sibling rivalry or embarrassing confused teenage love. Deaths are sudden, shocking and in places heart wrenching. There are plenty of interesting developments, touching moments and fun to be had, especially whenever the roguish Count Vega is around. (Stereotypical rogue? Maybe. So well written it doesn’t matter? Definitely).
Although some characters fall into very defined good and evil roles that some might consider stereotypes, Jobling finds plenty of shades of grey, particularly with the younger characters.
Jobling really pushes the horror elements of the series; we have necromancy, zombies, monstrous rats, and ghosts. All of it feels real, a part of the world. We also get to meet new types of Werelords which is always exciting. Jobling writes in a way that leaves it easy to imagine the events as they unfold and the world building is consistently strong.
If there were any real faults with this book I was having too much fun to make note of them. As I understand it this is the second of four planned novels; I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Review by Sean Mason
Curtis Jobling is an author and illustrator famously known as the designer of the BAFTA winning BBC show Bob The Builder, as well as creator of Frankenstein's Cat. Early work in animation included model and puppet paintin [...]
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