The Cellar Beneath the Cellar by Lee Duigon

Rating 8.0/10
A good old-fashioned adventure.

Lee Duigon's sequel to Bell Mountain continues and expands the world of Obann. In the wake of the great Bell atop Bell Mountain being rung, the world has changed. The reality of the bell looms frequently in the background of many scenes in the book, as characters all seek to come to grips with whether the believe it really was the bell, what the bell's ringing means for Obann, and what they must do now that its peals have gone out.

The Heathen that dwell beyond the known lands heard the bell too, but do not know what to make of it. For them, Obst the Hermit is sent to them, to teach and show them as an example what this means and I found his adventures being captured by the Heathen some of the most interesting elements in the story. Meanwhile, the corrupt cleric, Lord Reesh, responsible for sending an assassin after Jack and Ellayne to stop them ringing the bell in the first book, now conspires to use the ringing of the bell to draw Obann into a nationalist campaign to slaughter the Heathen without mercy. He plots to plant a false scroll in the temple's scriptures which will allow him to regain control of the religious climate of Obann; with the ringing of the bell has come many prophets and seers, sent to warn Obann of its coming judgment and doom. Because these are ordinary people, children, peasants, women and the like, they are not believed.

For Jack and Ellayne, joined now by the former assassin Martis, have a new task. Though they are not aware that Reesh has planted false scriptures in the temple, they set out to locate some writings that have been lost for millennia, buried in the cellar beneath the cellar. They must venture across Obann alone while greater forces circle around them. The Heathen are invading, and the large Helki creates new alliances in Lintum forest.

The Cellar Beneath the Cellar is better than the first, and flows with a tighter, more focused narrative. The characters all come into their own, the scope and details of the world are more fully fleshed out, and we learn more about Obann and its history. The sense that forces are gathering and sides drawn for a greater conflict to come cannot be doubted. There is much here for Middle Grade and YA readers to get excited about. Duigon delivers another good old-fashioned adventure.

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