here.) He started this book when he was 14 (the same age I am now, imagine) and worked on it for six years. Six years! That's some dedication. And if he worked on it for that long, I figured it had to be amazing...
Exposition: The prologue is a great starter for this novel. It raises many important questions. What's going to happen to Clarence? Why does Emry send Bran away and why does the woman want him? Why did the woman shoot Emry? Who is this trigger-happy lady anyway? And who's that little girl? All these questions make you want to keep reading.
The first chapter starts eight years later in the city of Dunce where there hangs a sign that reads: no gnomes, no mages, etcetera. You are introduced to the Wilomas family (Sewey, Mabel, Balder, and Baldretta), Rosie Tuttle who does their housework, and, of course, Bran who has lived with them since Sewey found him in the Third Band of Dunce's vault. All of these characters have their own quirks and aspirations. Sewey often gets tickets for speeding, Balder watches too much television and Baldretta is always eating something, Mabel is deathly afraid of sickness, Rosie wants to be put in the newspaper, and Bran is good at drawing. All of these things make them individuals and realistic. We have a nice opening, believable characters, and a firm setting. So far so good.
Rising Action: More characters are introduced: Shambles, Astara, Adi, Polland, Joris. More questions start to pile on. Who sent Shambles to find Bran? Who is this Mr. B that Rosie is receiving packages from? And then, after Bran performs magic to stop a truck from crushing him and Rosie, there are even more questions. Who is this man that Bran keeps seeing? Who leads Bran to the room of magic books? And what is so horrible about the Farfield Curse?
It takes quite a while for any of these to be answered. The questions just keep piling up without any answers to balance them. This makes the middle seem a little tedious. You want to know what's going on but you're not getting any answers. But then, what I like to call 'The Harry Potter Effect', where everything seems to fall into place and all the little details make sense, occurs. Mr. B happens to be Sewey's brother Bartley who Sewey has cut out of every picture in the house. Baslyn is the name of the man that Bran keeps seeing. Astara turns out to be the little girl from the prologue. Elspeth is the name of the woman who shot Emry. And Clarence and Shambles turn out to be the same person. The full horror of the Farfield Curse is exposed; they kidnapped mages and regular people to reap their magic and minds to animate the bodies Baslyn has created to build an army to overthrow the Mages Council. It all starts to fit together at last.
Climax: Baslyn is getting ready to kill Bran and Astara. They're tied to chairs, the floor is rigged to explode. The whole shebang. It seems that they could not get away, except that Joris took the batteries out of the magecuffs and Shambles has come to the rescue. Baslyn ends up fighting Bran on the helicopter landing outside the window (did I mention they're at the top of a tower?). It looks like Baslyn's winning; he throws the necklace at Bran. Bran realizes that his mother didn't want to be evil; she regretted her decision, and the necklace is her symbol of that. This is the personal climax. The public climax is when Astara and Bran manage to take down Baslyn. But while they're attending to Shambles who has been injured, Baslyn gets back up and hits the button for the explosives. Shambles sacrifices himself to save them and to kill Baslyn once and for all. This climax is well built and full.
Falling Action/Resolution: In the end, they revisit Emry Hambric's grave and bury the note she left Clarence/Shambles long ago. Oh, and Mr. Rat (who earlier in the story tried to sell Sewey magic papers) has to scrub sewers for two weeks. The end.