Book 2 continues the adventures of Wirt established in Book 1 (you can read my review here). I enjoyed the second book more than the first, as I felt the characters were already established, and I was rooting for them from the start. In this book, a new student arrives, and no one seems to like him—that is, except all the girls! Roland is the object of everyone’s crush, including Alana, who has ended her relationship over the summer with Spencer, as Spencer’s father does not approve of the match. But Roland’s father has had a past conflict with Spencer’s father, and there is immediate tension there.
Wirt has been bothered by strange dreams involving Merlin, and he has been reassigned to room with Roland (at the request of Spencer’s father, who thinks Spencer should have a single room). While Wirt and Spencer are both jealous of Roland mostly because he has won Alana’s affection, there are hints that Roland is more sinister than a girl-stealing roommate. Upon first meeting, he shows Wirt a dangerous quantum ball, which is used for a deadly game (if you lose, you die!). We find out later that the school plans to reinstate such a game in the event of a tie-breaker for admittance into the elite class of third-years, which is a major conflict in the book.
The second-years are informed that they’re being tested all year—both with grades and official tests, and with informal observations and Quests. As a result of the testing, fourteen will be chosen to become the elite class of third-years. This means they will be trained in a specialty that will lead them to have an elite job (as a magical advisor to someone in power, for example, like Merlin was to Arthur).
In the meantime, Wirt has been discovering his talent in transmutation—turning one thing into another, surpassing even the talents of his teachers. It seems even the sinister headmaster recognizes Wirt’s talents, though no one will tell him much about his skills, or their significance, or their plans for him. Still, Wirt decides that he’s never had a real home—until he arrived at the Academy. With that in mind, he decides he desires to be accepted as one of the elite class next year, rather than being dismissed to a paltry job with the rest of the unselected students.
I read this book quickly, but I’ll give you fair warning: it ends on a cliffhanger, and you’ll want to read the third book right away!
I received a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. The views expressed in the above review are my own.