Free Lance and the Lake of Skulls by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell (Free Lance Trilogy #1)

Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 8+

Free Lance gets about a bit, his previous novels; Free Lance and the Field of Blood and Free Lance and the Dragon's Hound might have been his grand adventures, but his best is right here. First published by Hodder and Stoughton, Paul and Chris thought a dyslexia friendly version of the popular fantasy novel would be a good idea for all those trendy kids who wouldn't gel with all those long words.

Free Lance doesn't have much in the way of luck. When he's on his travels looking for his next job he's often starving and without the cash he needs to be able to feed his horse, let alone him. Life is hard, but with the right people around he can find his way into earning a few bags of coin if he's got the right lord to work for. The last lord he'd worked for had a wife who fell in love with him, leaving Free Lance having to find a new lord who would pay for his upkeep. In a story that reminded me of the old D&D books from the 80s, you tend to feel sorry for Free Lance's journey through hell and back, though there's a fair bit of laughing to do first.

Chris has a different style of illustrating a book. Instead of the usual bits of art dotted around the story, Chris uses his talents to make detailed, yet scratchy caricatures of the main characters which I love.

Like the previous novel covers, this one looks the part with a metallic silver and black image of the hag from the story. With blue, green and red lettering it is as eye-catching as it gets.

8/10 Free Lance's best adventure

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