An Adventure in Presadia
Enjoyed a visit to Narnia or Middle-earth? Try An Adventure in Presadia…
For fans of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, and J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, new author Luke Aylen’s Presadia series may well offer some entertaining hours of reading. With the second book, The Forgotten Palace (Lion Hudson), published this spring, it’s worth also finding a copy of the first, The Mirror and the Mountain, which appeared in 2018.
The Mirror and the Mountain introduced us to Jonah and Summer, two eleven year olds who, exploring a tunnel under a church, find a magical mirror which transports them to a strange land – Presadia. Here they encounter dwarves, dragons and a war-torn kingdom with a missing king. By the end of the book, it seems that Jonah and Summer travel back through the mirror to their own world, but the synopsis of The Forgotten Palace suggests that they may instead have reached somewhere else... We don’t meet them again in this book which focuses on Antimony, a giant dwarf (if that’s possible!) who we met in the first book - but there are definitely hints that we will see Jonah and Summer in a future story.
Throughout the read, comparisons with Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia are immediately obvious, but while Lewis’ references are
more subliminal, when Aylen wrote The Mirror and the Mountain, he had an overtly Christian allegory in mind. Discussion questions at the end of the book reflect his intention for the novel to directly relate to the Gospel of James, part of the Apocrypha to the New Testament of the Bible. Unlike Lewis’ Christian parallels, which are ever present but never made so explicit as to interrupt the fantasy, Aylen’s whole purpose is to link this first book to the Gospel of James. As well as a theme which looks at adoption, The Forgotten Palace highlights society’s attitude to refugees and the destruction of the planet, and again includes ‘follow-up questions for families to explore together’. It is also clear that the chapter ‘The Moonlight Wanderer’ parallels the story of Christ’s role in the battle between good and evil. Aylen writes well, and these are adventure tales which can be enjoyably read at face value without any need to interrogate the detail of the religious subtext if the reader doesn’t wish to delve that deep. The essence of an exciting adventure is to battle danger to reach safety, and to overcome evil to foreground good. An Adventure in Presadia skillfully achieves both.